With rock ‘n’ roll in its infancy, radio was pumping out the Carvel soft ice cream music of Perry Como, Patty Page and the Lemon Sisters. It’s hard to put into words the culture shock of “Heartbreak Hotel” and Elvis Presley. It was the sound of sex personified at a time when you couldn’t say the word “pregnant” on television. Everything about it was exciting… the beat, the echo; the breathy growling raucous delivery… none of us had ever heard anything like it before.
Collecting every fan magazine, record and picture, I learned all the lyrics and spent hours mimicking his groans. Elvis was the symbol of youth and rebellion. Parents and teachers and ministers and politicians spoke out against him as I tried desperately to make my hair straight with hot metal combs and gobs of Brylcream. All over the country, teenage collars went up and side burns grew down. Pants got tighter and my lip began to curl when I sang. Radio broke wide open with the Rockabilly music of Carl Perkins, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis… and for the first time in my life, the fact that I could sing became important.