History:Elvis Presley began 1957 as the biggest star in America, and, arguably, the biggest star America had ever had, even if everyone in the entertainment business would have told you he couldn't stay that way for long. But this year saw him expand his fame out to all corners of the world, despite never setting foot farther out than Toronto -- and yet large, powerful forces were already at work to neutralize him, to remove the controversial singer from the throne of teenage savior and restore society to what it had been.
That, of course, was impossible, although the same people who just knew Elvis would be back driving a truck in a year or two couldn't see the social forces already at work in The Land Of Opportunity. The fact that Elvis sang like a black man seemed distasteful to some, but the idea of him dancing like one was what sparked the real outrage. Presley's raw, unselfconscious sensuality placed two of America's oldest and dearest tenets -- capitalism and puritanism -- up against each other in a conflict that continues in its culture to this day. As a result, no one in the business quite knew what to do with him.
Finding a safe cultural identity for The King became the hallmark of 1957, a year which began with censors insisting he be filmed only from the waist up on Ed Sullivan and ended with a draft notice. Along the way, he found the early seeds of his own destruction and dissipation: a sick mother, the dissolution of his old band, and the mansion already known as Graceland. But it was also the year he established himself as a credible leading man in Hollywood, began working with Lieber and Stoller in earnest, and confounding his moral critics by producing gospel music that was not only legitimate but powerful. As the next few years would show, Elvis Presley was far too complex (and powerful) a figure to be so easily written off.