Today marks the birthdays of two major forces in modern popular music, one has sadly passed on and the other continues to create original and challenging music. I am, of course, referring to the legendary and iconic Elvis Presley and David Bowie.
Elvis Presley was born on this day in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. It was in the Assembly of God church in Tupelo that Elvis first discovered his love for music. He entered a singing contest at the age of ten at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, winning fifth place, and, a few weeks later, got his first guitar for his birthday. He would take lessons over the following year and would watch and learn from other guitarists but he remained shy and nervous about performing in front of other people.
He eventually began bringing his guitar to school on a daily basis, playing and singing during his lunchtime, despite being teased for playing “hillbilly” music. He became a fan of Mississippi Slim’s radio show on the local radio station WELO, and Slim’s younger brother, who was a classmate of Presley’s, began taking him to the station. Slim begain showing the young Presley guitar chord technique and eventually scheduled him for two on-air performances. He chickened out of the first one but made it to the second.