Born08 January 1935
Died16 August 1977
Elvis Aaron Presley was a noted American singer and actor. He is most acknowledged for his contribution to the Rock and Roll genre of Western music. Also known as ‘The king of Rock and Roll’, Presley popularized rockabilly, which was a blend of rhythm and blues and Country music. His performance style was a combination of energy and erotic sensuousness. He was greatly influenced by the African-American singers like Arthur Crudup and his music cut across racial prejudices. This made him quite a controversial figure. His gorgeous looks and scintillating stage performances brought Hollywood to his threshold. He acted in several movies and even composed music for movie soundtrack albums. After a seven year long break from live performances, Presley returned to the small screen with ‘Elvis’, a show that became an instant hit. He was the first performer whose concert was broadcast via satellite. He received numerous music awards and was included in several music halls of fame. He is also the best selling solo artist in the history of music. One of the most celebrated music and cultural icons of the twentieth century, Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 due to drug overdose.
Childhood & Early Life
Elvis Presley was born in the family of Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love, on January 8, 1935, at Tupelo, Mississippi. His identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before him. Presleys were a religious family and attended an Assembly of God Church regularly. He found his first musical inspiration here.
His first public performance was on October 3, 1945 at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show where he sang ‘Old Shep’.
On his twelfth birthday, he was gifted his first guitar. He received basic lessons of guitar from his uncles and the new pastor at the family's church..
He was greatly inspired by country singers like Ted Daffan, Ernest Tubb and Southern Gospel singer, Jake Hess.
Younger brother of Mississippi Slim (a singer who had a radio show on Tupelo's WELO during the late 1940s) was a classmate of Presley and often took him to the station. Slim arranged two on-air performances for Presley when he was just 12. In June 1953, when he graduated from high school, Presley had already chosen music as his career.
Elvis Presley’s first demo record was cut at Sun Studio. On July 5, 1954, DJ Philips recorded Presley singing Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s all right’. Three days later, the song was played on air and it became a huge hit. The same song was his first single.
Backed with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley played publicly at the Bon Air Club on 17th July,1954. They were soon joined by a drummer.
By that time, Presley had appointed Tom Parker as his executive manager. Both Phillips and Parker negotiated for a contract between Elvis Presley and ‘RCA Victor’. The deal was struck on November 21, 1955 and Elvis’s Sun contract was sold for a price of $40,000.
On January 28, 1956, Presley made his television debut on ‘Stage Show’. This was followed by ‘Milton Berle Show’, ‘Steve Allen Show’ and many more.
In March 1956, he appeared for an audition for the movie ‘Love me Tender’ with the Paramount Movie Studios. He was signed on to do six more movies.
About two weeks after his audition, Elvis received his first gold record for "Heartbreak Hotel," which had sold one million copies.
On December 20,1957, Presley received a draft notice. He could have got himself excused from joining the military but he chose to enter the US army as a common soldier. He was away from the music scene for two years, but his manager Parker excelled in keeping up his fame.
On March 2,1960, he was discharged from the army with the rank of sergeant and he returned to the United States.
His first comeback album was ‘Elvis is Back’ which was followed by ‘Something for Everybody’. He soon began appearing in TV shows like ‘The Frank Sinatra Timex Special’.
Presley was offered a number of movies at this stage. Most of them were same old musical comedies like ‘Paradise, Hawaiian Style’.
On December 3, 1968, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised comeback special Elvis. The success of the show buoyed him to produce his first non soundtrack album ‘From Elvis in Memphis’.
He met the then president Richard Nixon, on December 21, 1970.
Elvis Presley kept on with his album recordings, tours, concerts and shows even with poor health.
It is estimated that Elvis had sold more than one billion records globally. His most memorable hits include ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Blue Christmas’, ‘My Baby Left Me’.
He starred in 31 feature films in the central role. Most remembered of his movies are ‘Love me Tender’, ‘Wild in the Country’, ‘Blue Hawaii’, ‘King Creole’, among others.
He also appeared in three television specials, –‘Elvis’, ‘Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite, and ‘Elvis in Concert’.
Awards & Achievements
Elvis received 14 Grammy nominations and won three times for the album ‘How Great Thou Art’ (1967), the album ‘He Touched Me’(1972) and his live Memphis concert recording of the song ‘How Great Thou Art’.
In 1971, NARAS gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award. Six of Elvis' recordings have been included into the NARAS Hall of Fame.
On January 16, 1971, The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce named Elvis One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation.
A Unique Style
Elvis had a unique style of music and performance all his own. His music was a combination of country and gospel music. He also danced around on stage shaking his hips. At the time, many adults were shocked by his music and dancing. When he went on TV, he was usually asked not to dance or was filmed from the waist up. Teenagers, however, loved Elvis' music and dancing. They had never seen anything like it and they loved it.
Rolling Stone magazine called "That's All Right" the first ever rock-and-roll recording.
Elvis bought a mansion outside of Memphis called Graceland. Today Graceland serves as a museum.
His daughter Lisa Marie was married to Michael Jackson.
He was nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, winning 3 times.
When Elvis first met his future wife Priscilla, she was only fourteen years old.
Elvis recorded 40 top 10 songs including 18 number one hits.
His music and movies are still very popular. He made an estimated $55 million in 2012.
Family, Personal Life & Death
On May 1, 1967, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulie at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. They divorced in January 1973.
Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie, was born on February 1, 1968. She, too, went on to become a singer.
His drug addiction worsened after the divorce. On the morning of August 16, 1977, Elvis was found on the floor of his bathroom at Graceland. The doctors said he died of drug overdose. He was only 42.
“When things go wrong, don't go with them.”
“Animals don't hate, and we're supposed to be better than them.”
“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away.”
“Sad thing is, you can still love someone and be wrong for them.”
“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do”
“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess.”
“The image is one thing and the human being is another. It's very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.”
“To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.”
Your kisses lift me higher...like the sweet song of a choir. You light my morning sky, with burning love.”
“I'd rather go on hearing your lies, than to go on living without you.”
“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine. Ain't nowhere else in the world where you can go from driving a truck to cadillac overnight”
“Where could I go but to the Lord?”
“Don't criticize that man unless you have walked in his shoes.”
“I don't do any vulgar movements.”