Elvis Presley, American Roll & Roll icon, began playing guitar at a young age. It is said that he was taught by Brother Frank Smith, a young black minister at the First Assembly of God Church in Tupelo, though Brother Frank notes that Elvis already had a guitar method book when he first came in contact with him. It is also said that Brother Frank taught Elvis the A,D and E chords which were needed to play “Old Shep”, a tune that a very young Elvis learned and eventually sang at his first public performance, a Mississippi State Fair talent show. Elvis had relatives who played and undoubtedly he was shown things about playing by them.
As a player Elvis was not a guitar player’s player. At least publically he played simple chords and that’s about it. Elvis was a huge influence on the world of guitars by being such a great performer with a guitar in his hands. The popularity of the instrument skyrocketed with his rise to fame.
In 1958 my parents told me that I was going to take music lessons and that I could pick any instrument aside from the drums. I narrowed it down to the trumpet or the guitar and Elvis tipped the scale. It was the case for so many kids of my generation.
In 1993, in Detroit, I got a new student who happened to be an 8 year old black child. His name was Michael Bembury and he turned out to be a guitar prodigy. Michael played his first show after 5 lessons and continued to bring the house down thru my long association with him. At his first lesson I asked him why he wanted to play the guitar and he told me Elvis Presley.