The King is gone but will never be forgotten. 79 years ago today a poor boy with a funny name was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. That boy was Elvis Aaron Presley and he would go on to not only change the course of popular music, but of the world itself. He helped bring the sound of African-American rhythm & blues into the suburban confines of white America, in no small way helping to create the sound and very idea of rock n’roll and setting nascent, teenage minds afire. Nearly no significant rocker of the past 50 + years has not cited him as an inspiration, from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin, from U2 to Green Day. His influence on hard rock and even heavy metal lingers on its sense of dangerous sexuality and patented, anti-authoritarian sneer as heard in the following 15 hard rocking Elvis covers. Now, despite his stylistic innovations and impact, most Elvis Presley covers are actually covers of songs Elvis covered as he wasn’t much of a songwriter. However, there’s no doubting, he was The King Of Rock N’ Roll. All hail the King.
Led Zeppelin “Let’s Have a Party”
These avowed Elvis fanatics peppered many a concert with lively covers of his songs, including this 1972 romp though this tune originally sung by rockabilly Queen, and onetime Presley paramour, Wanda Jackson.
ZZ Top “Jailhouse Rock”
The little ole band from Texas have always worn their love for rock’s roots on their sleeves and absolutely tear into this, one of Presley’s most covered tunes.
Jimi Hendrix “Hound Dog”
This Leiber & Stoller standard was originally a hit for R&B singer Big Mama Thornton before The King recorded it in 1956 and Jimi Hendrix performed it live in 1967 for a BBC live recording.
Van Halen “Heartbreak Hotel”
When the boys from L.A. wanted to have some fun in concert they busted out this Elvis chestnut and let her rip (even if Diamond Dave couldn’t remember the lyrics).
Black Sabbath “Blue Suede Shoes”
The Fathers of modern metal lay down an impossibly heavy version of this song which is technically a Carl Perkins cover however it’s the Elvis’ version that most people know.
Manowar “An American Trilogy”
These power metal titans display not only their love for The King Of Rock N’ Roll but also for The United States Of America in this medley of patriotic melodies Elvis started performing in the early ‘70s.
The Jeff Beck Group “All Shook Up”
Formed around one of rock’s greatest guitarist, the original Jeff Beck Group featured singer Rod Stewart and future Rolling Stone Ron Wood. Here they get loose on another signature Presley hit.
Montrose “Good Rockin’ Tonight”
The band that launched the career of Sammy Hagar definitely got things rocking’ on this R&B standard which Elvis covered in his early days.
The Saints “Kissin’ Cousins”
Even punk rockers loved The King, as evidenced by this ferocious cover by one of the greatest punk bands of all time, Australia’s Saints.
Dead Kennedys “Viva Las Vegas”
These iconoclastic San Francisco trouble makers delivery an irony laded version of Elvis at his cheesy ‘60s best.