“Without preamble, the three-piece band cuts loose. In the spotlight, the lanky singer flails furious rhythms on his guitar, every now and then breaking a string. In a pivoting stance, his hips swing sensuously from side to side and his entire body takes on a frantic quiver, as if he had swallowed a jackhammer.”
- "Time Magazine," May 15, 1956
"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people."
- Frank Sinatra, 1950s
“It isn’t enough to say that Elvis is kind to his parents, sends money home, and is the same unspoiled kid he was before all the commotion began. That still isn’t a free ticket to behave like a sex maniac in public.”
- Eddie Condon, "Cosmopolitan," December 1956
“I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy.”
- Ed Sullivan, during Elvis’ third appearance on his show, January 6, 1957
“As the lad himself might say, cut my legs off and call me Shorty! Elvis Presley can act...Acting is his assignment in this shrewdly upholstered showcase, and he does it."
- Howard Thompson, Review of "King Creole," New York Times, 1958
“A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood.”
- Hal Wallis, Producer of nine of Elvis' films
“There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home...He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect from rock ‘n’ roll singers.”
- John Landau, Review of "Elvis" (1968 TV Special)
“It was the finest music of his life. If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it.”
- Greil Marcus, From his book "Mystery Train," remembering the 1968 TV Special
“There are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars.”
- "Newsweek," August 11, 1969, Review of Elvis’ Las Vegas engagement
“...a style and panache that come close to pure magic. Lithe, raunchy, the sweat pouring down his face, he now moves with the precision of an athlete, the grace of a dancer...flamboyant and flashy, sexy and self-mocking, he works with the instincts of a genius to give poetry to the basic rock performance.”
- W.A. Harbinson, From his 1975 book "The Illustrated Elvis" in a passage reflecting upon Elvis' 1969 Vegas engagement
“So what it boils down to was Elvis produced his own records. He came to the session, picked the songs, and if something in the arrangement was changed, he was the one to change it. Everything was worked out spontaneously. Nothing was really rehearsed. Many of the important decisions normally made previous to a recording session were made during the session. What it was was a look to the future. Today everybody makes records this way. Back then Elvis was the only one. He was the forerunner of everything that’s record production these days. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone imitated him. People started doing what Elvis did.”
- Bones Howe, Recording Engineer, as quoted in Jerry Hopkins’ 1971 book, "Elvis, A Biography"
“A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.”
- Jackie Wilson
“You have no idea how great he is, really you don’t. You have no comprehension - it’s absolutely impossible. I can’t tell you why he’s so great, but he is. He’s sensational.”
- Phil Spector
“Elvis is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything, music, language, clothes, it’s a whole new social revolution - the 60’s comes from it.”
- Leonard Bernstein, 1960s
"There have been many accolades uttered about Elvis' talent and performances through the years, all of which I agree with wholeheartedly. I shall miss him dearly as a friend. He was a warm, considerate and generous man."
- Frank Sinatra, 1977
“Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique, irreplaceable. More than twenty years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense. And he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of this country.”
- President Jimmy Carter, his official statement following Elvis' death in 1977
“Elvis had an influence on everybody with his musical approach. He broke the ice for all of us.”
- Al Green
“...At Sun Studio in Memphis Elvis Presley called to life what would soon be known as rock and roll with a voice that bore strains of the Grand Ole Opry and Beale Street, of country and the blues. At that moment, he ensured - instinctively, unknowingly - that pop music would never again be as simple as black and white.”
- David Fricke, "Rolling Stone," 1986
“He was an instinctive actor...He was quite bright...he was very intelligent...He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated.”
- Walter Matthau, who co-starred with Elvis in "King Creole," from a 1987 interview
“There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king.”
- Bruce Springsteen
“...it was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.”
- Bruce Springsteen
“When I first heard Elvis' voice, I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss...Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.”
- Bob Dylan
“A lot has been written and said about why he was so great, but I think the best way to appreciate his greatness is just to go back and play some of the old records... Time has a way of being very unkind to old records, but Elvis' keep getting better and better.”
- Huey Lewis
“Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps.”
- Rod Stewart
“He was a unique artist - an original in an area of imitators.”
- Mick Jagger
“Before Elvis, there was nothing.”
- John Lennon
“This boy had everything. He had the looks, the moves, the manager, and the talent. And he didn’t look like Mr. Ed like a lot of the rest of us did. In the way he looked, way he talked, way he acted - he really was different.”
- Carl Perkins
“I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him. Last time I saw him was at Graceland. We sang Old Blind Barnabus together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother."
- James Brown
“He was the firstest with the mostest.”
- Roy Orbison
“That’s my idol, Elvis Presley. If you went to my house, you’d see pictures all over of Elvis. He’s just the greatest entertainer that ever lived. And I think it’s because he had such presence. When Elvis walked into a room, Elvis Presley was in the f***ing room. I don’t give a f*** who was in the room with him, Bogart, Marilyn Monroe.”
- Eddie Murphy
“He was ahead of his time because he had such deep feelings. He had the privilege of deep feelings because he was deeply loved by his mother, Gladys. He was able to appreciate profound beauty in sounds. And he started a musical revolution. They say all revolutions start from love.”
- Imelda Marcos
“It’s rare when an artist’s talent can touch an entire generation of people. It’s even rarer when that same influence affects several generations. Elvis made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer.”
- Dick Clark
“Elvis Presley was an explorer of vast new landscapes of dream and illusion. He was a man who refused to be told that the best of his dreams would not come true, who refused to be defined by anyone else’s conceptions. This is the goal of democracy, the journey on which every prospective American hero sets out. That Elvis made so much of the journey on his own is reason enough to remember him with the honor and love we reserve for the bravest among us. Such men made the only maps we can trust.”
- Dave Marsh, from his book, "Elvis"
“It’s always been my dream to come to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis.”
- Senator Al Gore, accepting the nomination for vice president at the 1992 Democratic Convention & prior to Bill Clinton's (aka "Elvis" by his security staff) acceptance of the presidential nomination
“You know, Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don’t think Bush would have liked Elvis very much, and that’s just another thing that’s wrong with him.”
- Bill Clinton, during the 1992 presidential campaign
"He had total love in his eyes when he performed. He was the total androgenous beauty. I would practice Elvis in front of the mirror when I was twelve or thirteen years old."
- k.d. lang
"I'm sitting in the drive-through and I've got my three girls in the back and this station comes on and it's playing "Jailhouse Rock," the original version, and my girls are jumping up and down, going nuts. I'm looking around at them and they've heard Dad's music all the time and I don't see that out of them."
- Garth Brooks
"Ask anyone. If it hadn't been for Elvis, I don't know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it all off, and he was definitely the start of it for me."
- Elton John
"It was Elvis that got me interested in music. I've been an Elvis fan since I was a kid."
- Elton John
"The first concert I attended was an Elvis concert when I was eleven. Even at that age he made me realize the tremendous effect a performer could have on an audience."
"Elvis was a giant and influenced everyone in the business."
- Isaac Hayes
"I learned music listening to Elvis' records. His measurable effect on culture and music was even greater in England than in the States."
- Mick Fleetwood
"I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun Studios. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra's. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness."
- B.B. King
"I don't think there is a musician today that hasn't been affected by Elvis' music. His definitive years - 1954-57 - can only be described as rock's cornerstone. He was the original cool."
- Brian Setzer
"It’s insane the charisma he had. I’ve never seen anything like it to this day.”
- Faith Hill
“When you think of Vegas, you think of Elvis; you think of show business; you think of flash. You think of those performances.”
“People think that we’re crazy because we do six nights a week. I would physically not be able to take it, especially when you see how much he put into every show... He created this larger than life style and he pulled it off.”
- Rob Thomas
“Elvis was never short of any stage performance. There is still a lot to be learned there. It gives you an idea of how to work a stage. He drew people in, you know, defiantly. He had that look; he looked like a star.”
- Chris Daughtry
“I can’t compare myself to Elvis, not even a little bit. People put you on a pedestal; it almost feels like you’re being worshiped sometimes which is not normal for a human being to deal with, not even a little.”
- Chris Daughtry
“That period was different. When Elvis was there, they were stopping everything. Elvis had the moment for real. While I’m here, its not all about 50 Cent, but it was all about Elvis.”
- 50 Cent
“They’re talking ‘bout the hood, talkin’ ‘bout where we come from. My mother always listened to this song when I was young. They talk about the things she went through, you know. She had a bunch of kids, like 9 kids, you know what I’m sayin’. That’s how you get somebody to listen to your song, you talk about what they know about and what they want to hear.”
- Paul Beaureguard, Jordan Houston, Three 6 Mafia
“Woman wanted him, men wanted to BE him, or just hang out with him.”
- Dewayne "The Rock" Johnson
“He embodied rock ‘n’ roll, he owned it 100% - he was that.”
- David Lynch
“You couldn’t take your eyes off of him.”
- Joe Perry
“When I saw Elvis on television, I just fell in love with him completely. As a singer, I want to be able to relate to an audience like this man does. Of course, nobody can – he was the best there ever was.”
- Faith Hill
“It was THE beginning of rock ‘n’ roll.”
- David Lynch
“Elvis is iconic; a lot of performers today look to that for inspiration.”
“The first thing I think of when I think about coming to Las Vegas and playing is always Elvis; its always the first thing on my mind.”
- Brandi Carlile
“Elvis, to me, is a symbol of tremendous promise and that kind of American hopefulness, where you can come from nowhere and have nothing and build yourself up and chase that American dream.”
- Patti Sciaifa
“Tonight, I would like to pay tribute to the greatest entertainer of all time, Mr. Elvis Presley. Elvis was Las Vegas. And if it wasn’t for him, so many performers like myself would not have the chance to do what we do in this town. He really was the king.”
- Celine Dion