• Gav Munro

Elvis Collection

Of all the male icons of the 20th century that I've sketched or painted I've produced more work on Elvis Presley than anyone else.

From a young kid growing up in the 80s as much as I loved the indie music of the north of England I had a huge fascination with the early exponents of rock n roll. When I heard/saw the great rockers from the 1950s it was as though I'd met the grandparents of bands like The Stone Roses and Oasis. It was more than the music, it was the look and more importantly The Attitude.

Rock and Roll was everything, is still everything and will always be. Why? because it's about a feeling and a way of looking at life. In my opinion no-one reflected this free-spirited abandon better than Elvis Presley.

If you only know Elvis from his later days in Vegas or the impersonators that tend to style themselves on that part of his life, forget it and go watch his 68 Comeback Special.

That's probably when he was at his peak, he'd been at the top of his game in the late 1950s, then drafted to Germany with the US army, then made a tonne of crappy musical movies that made him millions but lost him his musical credibility. It was 1968, while he's been singing about Bossa Nova Babies and putting Old MacDonald Had a Farm to a rock rhythm the musical world had changed.

Elvis at the Line for the draft- This sketch is from the day Elvis joined the army

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix- all these young contenders had come along and Elvis was at best a thing of the past or at worst a laughing stock.

And then it happened...with a single TV special and a double dose of rock and roll Elvis reminded the world who he really was and more. From his single magnetic performances through his jams with his old mates to the closing crooning finale of If I Can Dream the king of Rock and Roll showed in a single appearance why he relevant and responsible for the past, present and the future.

I've done many portraits of Elvis but most of them focus on this moment he reclaimed the world.


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