Ritesh K Srivastava
At a time when the world is mourning the sudden, unexpected and untimely death of Pop superstar Michael Jackson and numerous conspiracy theories related to his demise are feeding the news-crazy world media, critics have already started drawing parallels between two of the world’s greatest titans of the music industry.
The comparison between Rock n Roll king Elvis Aron Presley and the King of Pop Michael Jackson is obvious as the two have so many things in common - starting from their humble beginnings to their mysterious untimely deaths.
Elvis Presley’s fascinating journey from a poverty-stricken background to superstardom is no less thrilling than Jacko’s rise to the pinnacle of success defying hardship and a plethora of traumatic experiences, which he underwent as a child.
If Elvis was the undisputed King of Rock n Roll, the other rightfully earned the status of ‘virtual God’ in the Pop music circuit.
The comparison between the two legends of the music industry is similar to several failed attempts made by western critics to figure out who is the bigger of the two biggest Hollywood superstars Robert Di Nero or Al Pacino.
Both Elvis and Jackson, were superstars in their own genre and had a distinct voice and style that challenged the social and racial barriers of their times and catapulted the western music to unparallel heights.
If the female fans of Elvis admired his striking good looks, sex appeal and magnetic persona coupled with a good sense of humour and his hip-swinging numbers, Jacko also earned a billion hearts through his groovy dance numbers and his signature ‘moonwalk’ which nobody in the world has managed to imitate with a copy-book perfection till date.
During the mid 1950s, when Elvis made his foray into the world of music, the timing was not perfect, considering the bitter memories of the World War II and the fast changing geo-political situations.
In his short but highly successful career, Elvis sold over a billion records, more than any one in the music record industry, earned 14 Grammy awards nomination (winning 3), and was named one of the 10 most outstanding young men of the nation for 1970 by the United State Junior Chambers of Commerce. He was one of the highest paid actors of that time and acted in 33 successful movies, including classics like Jailhouse Rock (1957) and King Creole (1958). The financial success of his films further added to Elvis’ popularity as eleven of his movie soundtracks made their place in top 10. The soundtrack for his film GI Blues, which was released in 1960, was number one on the Billboard top 100 album charts for ten consecutive weeks and remained on the charts for 111 weeks.
The record American sale of his 141 plus albums has earned Elvis the Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum Awards, a feat that remains unequalled. Although, Elvis performed mostly in United States, barring five live concerts in Canada in 1957, he earned global recognition and much popularity through his albums, films, concerts and TV shows.
Presley also courted controversies as his music was blamed for the rebellion of an entire generation of teenagers. Presley was accused of his highly erotic dance moves and many American parents barred their children from listening and watching his songs.
All this undoubtedly makes Elvis one of the twentieth century’s most influential figures in the music world. His Graceland mansion in Memphis, which draws more than 6 lakh visitors annually, his ever-expanding fan club and several posthumous accolades and recognitions instituted by the US govt, still boasts of a revolution which he brought into American pop music.
Same as his predecessor, Jackson’ march to success was not as easy. He saw several ups and downs in his roller-coaster like life. Although, Jackson’s enchantment with music and dance came at a tender age, it was in the year 1971 that Jacko earned worldwide recognition with the release of his first solo album ‘Off the Wall’. The album created history by breaking all records and fetched him platinum sales. As if the best was yet to come for Jacko, he stunned the world with the release of his epic album ‘Thriller’, which remains world’s best selling album ever.
“Thriller” earned him several prestigious music awards and showcased the world that he was a natural singer, a gifted dancer and a born artiste.
The success of Thriller also established his credentials as a songwriter, composer and a dancer, whose dancing abilities and style of singing has charmed continents.
Jackson’s success with ‘Thriller’ continued with the release of three other best selling albums ‘Bad’, ‘History’ and ‘Dangerous’.
Michael Jackson, who became a singing sensation and a phenomenon, ruled the music world for nearly two decades, has 8 Guinness’ world records, 13 Grammy awards, 13 number one singles to his credit. Besides, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.
However, Jacko, unlike his predecessor, paid a heavy price for his hard-earned success by facing media ire for his irrational behaviour, his estranged relationships with his family members and loved ones, his addiction for drugs, his obsession for surgery and skin replacement, his moves for changing his looks, his lavish Neverland Ranch, and the worst - paedophile allegations, which virtually shredded his reputation.
Both Elvis and Jackson died at a young age due to heart failure but unlike MJ, the former’s autopsy revealed no signs of drug addiction. Among the other similarities which Jackson had with Elvis, there was one direct link between the two as the former married the daughter of the Rock n Roll king, Lisa Marie Presley.
Although, the two music legends now rest in their heavenly abode, there is no denying the fact that both Elvis and Jacko had a great influence on the world culture and will remain greatest of all entertainers, who left behind a legacy that would be remembered for generations to come. Elvis’ sudden demise created a vacuum which was later filled by Jackson. However, the world, especially the music industry is now holding its breath for a reincarnation of an Elvis or a Jackson to fill the void created by King of Pop’s departure.