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Elvis Presley, odd man out

One of the first and most obvious signs that the pre-fame Elvis Presley was going to be different to everyone else in the country & western field was the way he looked and the way he dressed.

The standard fare for hillbilly singers during the 1940s and 1950s was to effect some form of cowboy look (ten-gallon hat imperative), with rhinestone-patterned jackets, string ties, and high-heeled boots.

Since the age of sixteen, long before he stepped into a recording studio, Presley had favoured the more hep-cat approach to his clothing: pink shirts, pegged trousers, bright green sports jackets, and two-tone shoes. He wore his hair in what he called the "Tony Curtis" style and grew his sideburns as soon as he was able.

He carried his 6' frame like a western gunfighter, displaying an innate sense of effortless physical grace, moving like a dancer both off-stage and on, and when combined with his stunning good looks, the effect was breathtaking.

It was this, together with his love of r&b music, that provoked such outrage, firstly in the hillbilly community, and then in the wider world. He faced regular verbal and physical assault during these years but never compromised his approach, musically or visually.

Take a look at this picture of a touring hillbilly troupe from 1955.

Spot the odd man out ...

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