By Zack Nechvatal

This coming Tuesday, January 8, we’re celebrating the birthdays of two rock masters: The Thin White Duke, David Bowie, and the King, Elvis Presley. Elvis would have turned 78 and more people claim they have seen him the last few years than Bowie, who is alive and well, but hasn’t toured or released an album since 2003, and hasn’t staged a live concert since ’04. Bowie has been preoccupied with other pursuits; his wife told Contact Music recently that “he’s a painter, he does sculpture, and he’s a dad to our 10-year-old daughter so I think his life is full.”

Even though we haven’t seen much new material from either of these two legends lately, their impact on Rock n Roll is undeniable. It’s hard to imagine how rock music would have evolved through the 60s and 70s, if or if it would have existed as we know it at all, if it wasn’t for Elvis Presley. Elvis brought Rock n Roll into the mainstream, and into every American’s living room, with his controversial and sexually suggestive television appearances. Check out the King in his prime performing Carl Perkin’s”Blue Suede Shoes

As influential as Elvis’ live performances were on the rock legends of the 60’s and 70’s, such as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, it would also be hard to imagine what Bowie’s contemporaries and artists that followed him in the late 70s, 80s and 90s, such as Joy Division, Lou Reed, and Roxy Music to name a few, would have sounded like without his impact. It would be equally difficult to imagine current cutting edge rock, indie, and electronic bands with Bowie (and all his alter-egos) subtracted from the equation of rock music’s evolution. Check out his video of “Let’s Dance” (with Stevie Ray Vaughan contributing a guitar solo) below.

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