Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was such a pivotal figure in the history of popular music that in retrospect, he seems to have been destined to emerge when he did. Sun Records honcho Sam Phillips anticipated his coming anyway. In one of the most oft-repeated stories in American musical history, Phillips is reported to have said that he could make a fortune if he could find a white singer who could master the black vocal style.
Elvis was that singer, and the rockabilly sides he cut for Sun in 1954 function as a kind of Rosetta stone for mid-century pop music. He was the point at which black and white, urban and rural, and country and rock styles converged. His country tunes rocked, and his rock had country roots. Neither tradition was ever the same after Elvis.