As we celebrate what would’ve been the King of Rock and Roll’s 80th birthday, it’s easy to forget that Elvis Presley was once not regarded as a music legend and pop culture icon. In fact, he was initially received by many as a lewd, hip-swinging, even talentless hack threatening everything good about American music. (Perhaps the Justin Bieber of his day?)
To get a taste of the early media coverage of the musician, check out Time’s first profile on the King, published in the May 14, 1956, issue of the magazine and excerpted below. He is accused of disturbing parents and “puckering the brows of psychologists” with his uncanny ability to incite hysteria in teenaged girls.
Even more amusing are the reader letters Time received in reaction to the story, ranging from the snarky (“Are you sure that fellow’s real name isn’t Pelvis Presley?”) to the vitriolic. (“There must be some error, since in your May 14 issue I find Elvis Presley in the Music section. What does that idiotic howling have to do with music—except the fact that it is on records?”) Head over to Time to read the letters in full.