“It has long been well established that gospel music was one of the main ingredients in the original rock ‘n’ roll stew. Yet it must be emphasized that the particular gospel style that most influenced the founders and forefathers of rock was as much on the fringes of the musical mainstream as the religious views of groups like the Millerites were from the norms of biblical interpretation. Everyone knows, for instance, that Elvis was in large part formed by gospel and that gospel music is a significant part of the Elvis canon. There is a vast difference, however, between the style of gospel upon which Elvis drew to help create the rock blueprint and the gospel records, based within a more mainstream tradition, he made later in his career.“How Great Thou Art” is not a rock ‘n’ roll urtext; the premillennial musical expressions of sects such as the Holy Rollers is.
In his definitive biography of Elvis, Peter Guralnick tells the story of how Elvis and his girlfriend Dixie would sneak out of their all-white “home” church during Sunday service in order to experience the ecstatic service of the black church down the street. There, Elvis would have heard Reverend Brewster, whose sermons were also broadcast on the radio, deliver the apocalyptic “theme that a better day was coming, one in which all men could walk as brothers.” Yet even if Elvis did not pick up on that message, which is doubtful, it is obvious that he was directly influenced by the “exotic” and ecstatic music of such soul stirrers as Queen C.Anderson and the Brewsteraires, the church soloists. His first audiences did not fail to make this connection.”
(via Pop Matters)