Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are two of the most iconic figures in American pop culture. Both of these men have had a profound impact on the music world, and their tragic, young deaths and failure to handle their fame effectively are both sad stories that pain many of their fans.
Still, Elvis and MJ are both remembered for the great accomplishments that they achieved than for the later wrestles they experienced, and they had huge effects on the way that we listened to music today.
Elvis is seen as a pioneer of rock music. During a time in which it was seen as against the social norms to perform music in the provocative manner in which he did, Elvis broke the barriers and popularized a form of the blues that had been prevalent in African American culture for many years before. He was the biggest music sensation during the 1950s and part of the 1960s.
As for Michael Jackson, his legacy is a more recent one, and he’s literally known as the most successful pop musician to ever grace the planet. His body of work spanned an amazing five decades, as he began singing as a young kid with his brothers through the Jackson 5 in the 1960s.
As for who made a bigger impact, it’s really hard to answer this question definitively since they both thrived in different eras.
Here are a few pieces of food for thought though:
Presley’s seven year deal with Paramount Pictures landed him in many movies. A hand of these were top grossing movies at the box office. Jackson never achieved the same box office success. While he was in movies like the Wiz, his on screen appearances were generally limited to his videos. Then again, Jackson’s videos were some of the most watched of all time and could there ever be considered acting gigs.
Jackson’s music also remained mainstream for more decades. With top hits in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and even some during the early part of the 00s, his music was at the top of the charts during a longer era. Elvis, on the other hand, faded somewhat in popularity during the late 60s, and he blames the emphasis on his acting for this.
In the end, who was bigger? It’s a really hard question to answer, as they both impact millions and millions of people around the world.
Jackson’s work may seem more relevant today, but none of it may have been possible if not for the barbers that Elvis seemed to break down.