Elvis Presley Biography: A Life of Shock and...by Mike Bells
There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them." In Memphis, Presley frequently
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Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel. His mother recalled that from the age of two, at the Assembly of God church in Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform.
There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them." In Memphis, Presley frequently attended all-night gospel singings at the Ellis Auditorium, where groups such as the Statesmen Quartet led the music in a style that helped create Presley's future stage act.
As a teenager, Presley's musical interests were wide-ranging, and he was deeply informed about African American musical idioms as well as white ones. Though he never had any formal training, he was blessed with a remarkable memory, and his musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his first professional recordings in 1954 at the age of 19.
When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues. At a press conference the following year, he proudly declared, "I know practically every religious song that's ever been written."
At RCA, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars and a tougher, more intense manner.
While he was known for taking songs from various sources and giving them a rockabilly/rock and roll treatment, he also recorded songs in other genres from early in his career, from the pop standard "Blue Moon" at Sun to the country ballad "How's the World Treating You?" on his second LP to the blues of "Santa Claus Is Back In Town".
- Mike Bells
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