Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are arguably the most influential figures in American music, having contributed to the evolution of the country’s popular music culture in the 20th century. Although the careers and lives of Jackson and Presley are distinct and different, a number of similarities exist within their characters, personalities and contribution to the American culture.
Backgrounds of Jackson and Presley
The shaping of an individual’s character, career and personality is subject to his or her background. An in-depth analysis of the backgrounds of Jackson and Presley provides adequate evidence to support this claim. Both characters were born and brought up in poor families. Born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley experienced the effects of poverty in his early age. His parents, Vernon Presley and Gladys Love, were relatively poor.
He had an identical twin brother who died minutes after their birth (Guralnick 21). Despite the fact that he was the only child in the family, poverty shaped his career. He began singing early in his school days. For instance, under encouragement from his teachers at the East Tupelo Consolidated School, Presley entered into a singing context in 1945, aged only ten.
He was forced to stand on a chair to reach the microphone. Here, he performed his first music in public named “Old Shep” and emerged fifth in the contest. Later, he took guitar in his local church under the guidance of his uncles and the pastor. Throughout the period, Presley and his parents lived in a poverty ridden African-American neighborhood in Tupelo, although his parents were of the white race with European origins. In 1948, the family relocated from Tupelo to Memphis, but they could not even afford to rent a house.
They resided in rooming houses for one year before they befitted from the Lauderdale Courts’ public housing program, which grated the family a two-bedroom house. Presley taught himself music because his family could not afford to take him to a music school. In Memphis, he had an opportunity to interact with various music personalities, including visits to recording studios. Between 1953 and 1960, Presley entered into the music industry, recording various songs that achieved popularity in the US and beyond.
Similarly, Michael Jackson was born in a relatively poor family in 1958 (Young 128). Unlike Presley, Jackson was born in a large African-American family with ten children. He was he eight of the ten children born to Joseph Jackson and Katherine Scruse. Like Presley, Jackson experienced the impact of poverty in his family.
His father forced his children to perform music, hoping that it would pay well and deliver them from poverty. Like Presley, Jackson made his first public performance when still a child. In addition, his future career was shaped by his experiences as a child (Young 128).
Achievements and accolades
Jackson and Presley achievements in music are undoubtedly the most admired in American history. Presley became the “King of Rock and Roll” Jackson became the “King of Pop”. The two individuals contributed to the evolution of the American popular music. In addition, both individuals were associated with unique characteristics in their lives.
For instance, both men wore flashy costumes that were sparkly and tight fitting, giving them unique public figures. Moreover, they developed unique dance moves that were normally controversial but unique. Their body moves proved that they were gifted and able to utilize these gifts to achieve fame.
Thirdly, both Jackson and Presley had a taste of nature and animals. For instance, Jackson resided in his Neverland Ranch, where he kept various wild animals. Similarly, Presley resided in his Graceland, a unique ranch with various animal parks.
Despite their popularity, Jackson and Presley were often associated with violation of social norms in some instances. For instance, Presley was associated with drug use, although no solid evidence was presented during his life (Hopkins 32). In addition, he died of health issues associated with drug use. Similarly, Jackson was believed to have sexually abused children and used drugs. His death was also associated with drug use.
Guralnick, Peter. Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley. New York: Little & Brown, 2004. Print.
Hopkins, Jerry. Elvis: The Final Years. Berkley: OUP, 2008. Print
Young, Julie. “A Hoosier Thriller: Gary, Indiana’s Michael Jackson”. Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Indiana Historical Society, 21.4, (2013): 18-21. Print