For members of the Web 2.0 generation, The Ed Sullivan Show may seem like an ancient relic of days long gone. Yet in its heyday the show was considered the equivalent of a popular Myspace page or, for the less idealistic, an appearance on American Idol.
With that considered, it’s fair to say that Presley’s three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show were paramount in not only cementing Presley’s image in the American consciousness but also, along with Beatlemania, helped launch America’s, and eventually the world’s, infatuation with celebrity.
Presley’s appearances on the show, all occurring between late 1956 and early 1957, made him both a hero to the youth and an enemy of the state. By the time his final appearance on the show (January 6, 1957) rolled around, his influence had become so bothersome to the moral majority that the show refused to let the cameras shoot him below the waist. The contrast of this, compared to today’s flesh-baring television standards, is a stunning, and somewhat disturbing, reminder of how much America has changed in the last fifty years.
Presented in a lavish three-disc set, all three shows are included in their entirety and provide a great keepsake for hardcore fans. They also provide a time warp-like glimpse of the creation of one of music’s biggest stars for younger fans.
These days it’s often contested, especially by the hip-hop community, if Presley deserves his long-standing title of “The King,” but there is no denying that in the late '50s Presley’s popularity made the success of American Idol look like boring reruns of C-SPAN Senate hearings.