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Elvis Presley's Hair

Elvis Presley began his music career early on in his life through regular attendance at a church. He fell in love with Gospel music and was influenced by it through his early career. His first recording was done on his lunch break from the machine shop where he was working. He recorded two songs for his mother, and was shortly afterwards discovered by Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Mr. Phillips had been looking for a new star to combine some of the most popular sounds of the time. During this time of segregation, he was also looking for a caucasian performer who could sound like a lot of the popular african- american artist at that time. He saw the rising popularity of R&B music and accurately surmised that a caucasian artist with and african- american sound would be immensely popular and stood to bring in a lot of money to his company.

While Elvis had some very natural sex appeal, he began his career looking very polished and buttoned up. His image was that of the good, boy-next-door whom you would be happy to bring home to meet your parents. While this may have been the beginning of his rise to fame, the creation of his particular singing and performance style didnÕt happen until accidentally goofing off one day in the studio. Once his lowered voice had been settled on, he began booking more live performance engagements.

It was during a particularly rowdy show that he was performing at that his dance and movement style really began to take shape. He was apparently so nervous that his legs began to shake uncontrollably. It was this that made the audience go crazy since his wide-legged pants accentuated the movement and his pelvic area. The reaction from the fans was palpable. In the mid-fifties, sexuality was still a very buttoned up topic. There was very little discussion about it, and it was a very private part of peopleÕs lives. It was certainly did not take up the amount of media it does in todayÕs world.

ElvisÕ hair and his hairstyle could be seen as a metaphor for the blossoming of a more public sort of sexuality into popular culture. When he was young and beginning his career, his publicity photos show him with a slicked back pompadour which had less volume and not a hair out of place. As he began performing with more fervor and his dancing and hip gyrations shook his whole body his hair began to slowly come out of the Êperfectly aerodynamic Ôdo. American mainstream culture suppressed sexuality so much in the Õ50Õs Êthat womenÕs sanitary products could not be advertised on TV, and Lucy and Desi slept in two separate twin beds. I believe that we can credit popular recording artists and culture icons with addressing sexuality and at least bringing it into a public discussion. If Elvis had danced with less aggression and his hair stayed in that perfect pompadour, he wouldnÕt have gone on to achieve sex symbol status that cemented his place in the history books.

If you dress up as Elvis for Halloween, the first and perhaps most important element of his costume is his hair. You can find Elvis wigs online or style your hair in the classic black pompadour, but donÕt forget to flip a little piece out of the pompadour in the front!
















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