On today's very special episode of Music Video Monday, we pay tribute to The King.
...and I'm not talking about Jon Snow.
It's Elvis Week in Memphis, which means tens of thousands of people are in town to celebrate the legacy of the King of Rock n' Roll on the 40th anniversary of his passing.
Elvis' earliest recordings for Sun Records are the subject of a new box set, A Boy From Tupelo. Memphis writer/director Robert Gordon created a 15 minute short film about Elvis' formative years in The Bluff City, featuring contemporary Memphis musical talent such as John Paul Keith, Amy LaVere, and Matt Ross Spang. It is unfortunately not embeddable, but I highly recommend you watch it on the box set's official Sony website.
Elvis' career, and thus rock music itself, is inextricably intertwined with TV. Elvis' appearances on variety shows hosted by Tommy Dorsey, Milton Bearle, Steve Allen, and most famously, Ed Sullivan, catapulted him to unprecedented stardom in 1956. Elvis quickly broke into film, and a segment in his third movie, Jailhouse Rock, was arguably the genesis of the modern music video.
The famous "Jailhouse Rock" segment, which carries the mark of Busby Berkely's Depression-era dance extravaganzas, still feels fresh. The music might seem dated and, compared to the rawness of his Memphis recordings, a little cleaned-up, but who wouldn't be proud of a performance that electric in a music video today?
Throughout the 1960s, Elvis churned out up to three films per year. There were many more performances in Elvis' film career, and not all of them were great. But this one from Viva Las Vegas has always stood out for me. When you see the phrase "onscreen chemistry" thrown around, they're talking about what's going on between Elvis and Ann Margaret in "C'Mon Everybody".
By 1968, with the rock revolution he had kicked off in full swing, Elvis was a footnote, a star of cheesy films. Against the advice of his manager, Col. Tom Parker, he agreed to appear in an NBC TV special for director Steve Binder, who had helmed the famous TAMI Show. The show, which became known as the '68 Comeback, featured several big, "Jailhouse Rock"-style numbers. But Binder was inspired when he saw Elvis messing around with the band in rehearsal and insisted on giving Elvis an opportunity to present an unguarded face to his audience. The segment, which served as the inspiration for the "unplugged" genre of live music videos, is one of the greatest musical performances ever committed to film.
Elvis' final feature film appearance was Elvis On Tour, a concert documentary that shows Elvis in prime form as he hits the road for the first time in a decade, backed by a crack team of Memphis players.
Elvis' final televised triumph came in 1973. Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite was watched by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide—approximately 26% of the entire population of the earth at the time.
You'll never be as big as Elvis, but if you would like to see your music video on Music Video Monday, email firstname.lastname@example.org