Elvis has become an integral part of modern society throughout the entire world.He is the biggest selling recording artist ever! In 1992, Elvis had sold more than 1 billion records and CDs worldwide since 1954. When Elvis first hit the scene, there was nothing like him. He became the icon for a new style of music. He became the King of Rock ‘n Roll.
On January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, Gladys Presley gave birth to identical twins Jesse Garon Presley and Elvis Aaron Presley. Unfortunately, Jesse Garon was stillborn (born dead), but Elvis Aaron was born alive and healthy. Elvis would be their only child.
Elvis grew up in a close knit family made up of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who all lived close to one another. Money was tight, but Vernon and Gladys did their best to raise little Elvis.
Elvis attended the Assembly of God Church with his family, and the music and preaching registered deeply. Other influences were black bluesmen in the neighborhood and country music radio programs enjoyed by his family.
Elvis’ parents could not afford a bicycle that Elvis wanted, so Gladys talked him into accepting a guitar instead. Elvis' first guitar cost $12.95 and was purchased at the Tupelo Hardware Company.
Elvis played his guitar and sang "Leaf on a Tree" for his Milam Junior High class in Tupelo as a farewell. Elvis and his parents packed their belongings in a trunk strapped to the roof of their 1939 Plymouth and moved to Memphis, Tennessee in search of a better life economically.
In Memphis, Elvis attended Humes High School. The teenage Elvis got to be known for singing with his guitar. He bought his clothes on Beale Street and he absorbed the black blues and gospel he heard there. He wore his hair long (compared to the day’s standards) and slick, and let his sideburns grow. He was really different from the other kids, a good-natured misfit. While at Humes High, Elvis nervously sang with his guitar at a student talent show. Much to his own amazement, he got more applause than anyone else and won.
After High School, Elvis got a job working as an electrician, but he still enjoyed singing and playing. One day while recording a song for his mom at a local studio, Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records overheard Elvis and signed him to a record deal. Phillips had found a white guy that had the sound and feel of the black “Rhythm and Blues” musicians he had been recording.
It was through Sam Phillips that Elvis met guitarist Scotty Moore (left) and bassist Bill Black (right). The trio would stay together for many years to come. Moore and Black have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Elvis began to perform regularly in the South and became known as the Hillbilly Cat. His live performances with Moore and Black began to get more and more wilder. His swiveling hips were very controversial, and his unusual style and good looks started to cause more and more excitement wherever he played. Sometimes the crowds would break through the barricades in near-riot behavior. Elvis gained more and more popularity and began to receive national attention.
In March of 1956, Colonel Tom Parker, a former carnival and circus promoter became Elvis' official manager for a 25 percent fee. Parker was a good promoter. Almost right away, he managed to get Elvis an unprecedented $40,000 contract with RCA records. Parker was Elvis’ manager until his death, never representing another artist.
Elvis’s first record with RCA, “Heartbreak Hotel”, quickly sold over a million copies, becoming Elvis’ first gold record. Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black soon began to make network TV appearances on shows like Jackie Gleason’s “Stage Show,” “The Milton Berle Show,” on ABC and “The Steve Allen Show” on NBC.
Due to his dancing on The Steve Allen Show, Elvis got the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis.” Many parents across the country were appalled at this gyrating young boy who was making their daughters scream.
Some parents thought that just by watching Elvis, kids could turn into juvenile delinquents.
Among the highest rating TV shows was “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS. Ed Sullivan had said that he would never have the likes of Elvis Presley on his show. But, after the high ratings on the other shows, Sullivan committed to getting Elvis on his show too. The only stipulation was that Elvis must be filmed “from the waist up” while performing.
For his Ed Sullivan appearances, Elvis often performed his more serious music to appeal to the parents. Here he is seen returning to his religious roots and performing a church hymn. The backup vocals are provided by “The Jordanaires,” a vocal group which Elvis would use often. (click below to play the video)
At this point, Elvis’ had many songs on the charts making millions for himself and the Colonel. There was now only one thing left to conquer . . . Hollywood. The Colonel got Elvis a 7-year movie contract with Paramount Pictures.
Elvis’ first movie was “Love Me Tender.” The movie and the single from the soundtrack became instant hits, and the critics reviews weren’t bad either.
The Colonel now saw an open merchandising market for Elvis’ name, image, and likeness. Soon, “Elvis” jeans, shirts, hats, cologne, lipstick, stuffed hound dogs, bookends, magazines were available for sale. This was to be forever a part of the marketing of Elvis Presley, feeding a never-ending demand even up to today.
By the end of 1956, Elvis had gained national and international popularity. Even though other countries were begging Elvis to come tour in their country, Elvis never got to tour outside the U.S. except for 2 shows in Canada.
In 1957, Elvis continued filming movies. In each movie, Elvis got the chance to sing his new songs to sell the soundtracks. Loving You Jailhouse Rock
Elvis’ fourth movie, “King Creole” is believed to be his best acting performance ever, and it received rave reviews. Unfortunately for Elvis, he would never be regarded as a serious actor.
Also in 1957, Elvis built a very beautiful and expensive home in Memphis called “Graceland.” Graceland was Elvis’ refuge from the world.It was here that Elvis felt most at peace. Graceland provided Elvis with safety and privacy.
In 1958, Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army. He later stated “The Army made a man of me. I was glad for the experience, glad no one can now say that I had it made."
Elvis had to serve his 2-year term in the army. While there, Elvis’ mother died. He was devastated. Elvis and his father
It was in the army that Elvis met Priscilla Ann Beaulieu. She was a 14-year-old girl that Elvis became friends with. They would eventually get married, but not until she was 22.
Whenever Elvis returned from the army, he was afraid he would have lost his audience. He was wrong. They were waiting patiently. He appeared on the Frank Sinatra variety show and then released an album titled “Elvis is Back.”
Throughout the 1960’s, Elvis was busy making movies. He starred as a G.I., a sheik, a cowboy, an Indian, a boxer, a mafia boss, and every other conceivable character. All together, Elvis would star in 33 movies, each with a soundtrack of his songs.
In May, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married in the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas in a private ceremony for family and friends.
Exactly 9 months after their wedding, Priscilla and Elvis had a baby girl. They named her Lisa Marie Presley. She would be Elvis’ only child. Priscilla at 62 Lisa Marie
On December 3, 1968, Elvis had a TV special called the “’68 Comeback.” This was Elvis’ first time in eight years to television, and he gave one of the most electrifying performances of his life. Some even say this was his best, and that he was at his best time in his career. But one thing was for sure, and that is Elvis did reclaim his title of King of Rock-n-Roll.
For Elvis’ remaining years, he would tour the U.S. several times and continue to break attendance records in Las Vegas. Of note is a show he performed in Hawaii that was shown around the world live via satellite. The show was called “Aloha from Hawaii” and was seen by well over 1 billion people worldwide! (click below to play)
In 1973, Elvis and Priscilla got a divorce. From this point on, Elvis’ life went downhill.
Elvis already had some health problems, but it really started to decline due to his overuse of prescription drugs and excessive eating of junk food
Elvis is the most written about person in the world (with the exception of Jesus Christ). More than 1,000 books about Elvis have been published since the 1950s!There are more than 400 active Elvis fan clubs around the world with memberships ranging from 15,000 to 10. In Australia there are at least seven active fan clubs. Elvis Facts
There are more than 500 Elvis impersonators in the US and around a dozen in Australia. Some, such as David Cazalet, Michael Hoover and Max Pellicano have their own fan clubs. Elvis Facts
Elvis Facts Elvis' home, Graceland, is visited by more than 600,000 vistors each year, making it the second most popular 'home' attraction in the US behind 'The White House'. Graceland’s Meditation Garden
Elvis has 110 gold and platinum albums in the U.S. alone and hundreds more throughout other parts of the world. Here is a collection of some of his awards in what used to be the racquetball court in his Graceland home. Elvis Facts
Elvis Facts When Elvis died in 1977, he had given away ALL of the billion dollars he had earned, mostly to charity.
Elvis Listening 1) Hound Dog 2) Love Me Tender