How Elvis Presley’s Iconic Career Inspired Michael Jackson to Become King of Pop

by Clayton Edwards

Elvis Presley was an icon. His music and way of life changed the world forever. He made rock and roll mainstream. At the same time, he lived a life of excess. Countless superstars used his lifestyle as a blueprint for their own lavish lives. At the heart of it all, though, Elvis was a talented musician who came from humble beginnings. His good looks, golden voice, and tireless work ethic propelled him to stardom. He was born to working-class parents in Tupelo Mississippi. He died a king in his lavish and sprawling castle. In a way, Elvis’ life was a fairytale.

Elvis Presley didn’t just influence artists in a musical sense. He gave them a roadmap. At least, he gave them a goal. Countless young men and woman have set their eyes on Elvis’ throne and used it as their North Star as they navigated their careers. Many fell by the wayside before getting close to the throne. A handful came close. However, no one has ever been able to unseat the King of Rock and Roll.

Michael Jackson is one of the countless young people who had their eyes on Elvis Presley’s throne. Jackson wanted to create the biggest-selling record of all time. He had this dream in mind when he started his career at six years old, according to The Wrap. He achieved that dream with 1984’s Thriller. However, that wasn’t good enough for Jackson. He wanted more than superstardom. He wanted to be the King.

Michael Jackson often lamented the fact that Elvis Presley was crowned the King of Rock and Roll. He wanted to know, “What about me?” Then, in 1989, he released Bad. After it shook the world, he was crowned King of Pop by music journalists. However, he still felt as though he lived in the shadow of Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley And Michael Jackson: Mirror Images

The truth is, Michael Jackson never came close to dethroning Elvis Presley. After all, Elvis set the bar for stardom. He didn’t just have a huge fanbase that bought his albums and made him a force on the charts. He changed things. Elvis created an entire market almost singlehandedly. That’s something that Jackson could never do.

However, he did tread some of the same ground that Elvis Presley walked. Their careers were almost mirror images in many ways. For instance, they both had drug habits that came from necessity and turned into addictions. Elvis started taking speed early in his career. Like many musicians from that time period, he did so to keep up with his demanding schedule. On the other hand, Michael Jackson became addicted to painkillers after the infamous Pepsi commercial incident. He needed them to dull his pain so he could work. Later in life, he was just hooked on painkillers.

Both Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson were spurred to greatness by record producers. Sam Phillips of Sun Records helped Elvis get his first big break. Jackson, on the other hand, was pushed by Berry Gordy, the head of Motown Records. Both men knew that they were working with stars almost from the beginning.

In the end, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson died in their homes. It could be said that their addictions killed them.

Elvis Presley once wrote, “The image is one thing and the human being is another, it’s very hard to live up to an image.” It seems that Michael Jackson matched the human being. However, he never truly lived up to the image of the King.