Elvis Presley is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but he ruled country music, too.
Elvis was raised on country, gospel and blues music. He brought all of those influences with him when he stepped into Sun Studio to record his early music. His music had the soul of blues music and the twang of country, and because the term “rock ‘n’ roll” was still in its infancy, Elvis’ music was initially labeled as country.
Throughout his life, Elvis loved playing, listening to and recording country music, even if his name became synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll.
Elvis spent much of his early career on tour with great American country stars. He performed at the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium – the “mother church of country music” – in 1954 and sang the classic country tune “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” His rock ‘n’ roll swagger wasn’t a perfect match with the traditional country crowd, and a few weeks later he joined the Opry’s competitor, the Louisiana Hayride. Between the Hayride and other tours and performances, Elvis toured and shared the stage with the likes of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Slim Whitman and Faron Young.
“I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” a single Elvis released in 1955 on Sun, was his first No. 1 single, and it topped the country charts.
(“Heartbreak Hotel,” which he released on RCA, was his first single to go Gold, and his first No. 1 on the pop chart.)
Elvis’ success paved the way for other young country stars to find national success, too.
Elvis’ extensive personal record collection is full of gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, classical and, of course, country.
He had records by his fellow Memphis musicians such as Johnny Cash and his old touring partners like Marty Robbins and Hank Snow.
His collection also includes music by country stars like Ray Price, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Ronnie Milsap, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
Elvis and his producer Felton Jarvis recorded many songs during several recording sessions in 1970 and realized many of the tracks were country, or had a country flavor. It was out of these sessions that the idea for “Elvis Country,” a complete album full of country tunes, was born. They recorded several more country songs that fit the bill and the album was released on January 2, 1971.
The album includes tracks such as the singles “I Really Don’t Want to Know” and “There Goes My Everything” as well as the Willie Nelson-penned “Funny How Time Slips Away” and his country take on “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
Elvis’ contributions to country music led to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.
If you love Elvis’ country music, you won’t want to miss Elvis Week.
Singer-songwriter Andy Childs, a Memphis native, and his band will pay tribute to Elvis’ country side at Elvis Country, a concert dedicated to Elvis country songs. The show is Wednesday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Elvis Week Main Stage. Break out your best pair of cowboy boots and get your tickets to this show today!
Elvis Country is just one exciting event happening during Elvis Week this year – there’s a lot more going on! Check out the Elvis Week schedule of events.
Which Elvis country songs are your favorites? Share them in the comments!