Elvis Presley
American singer, song producer and actor
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. A cultural icon, he is commonly known by the single name Elvis. One of the most popular musicians of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or "the King". Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family at the age of 13.
Biography
Elvis Presley's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Elvis Presley
News
News abour Elvis Presley from around the web
Tribute to Elvis fan 'princess' - The Press Association
Google News - over 5 years
The oil worker, from Aberdeen, had been in Memphis for an annual festival marking Elvis Presley's death. A Facebook page has been set up "in loving memory and honour" of Ms Lawrie. Her partner Roger Williams wrote on the site: "Gerrie,
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Jerry Leiber: Remembering One Of Rock's Great Songwriters - NPR
Google News - over 5 years
Jerry Leiber (right) looks over Elvis Presley's shoulder at the sheet music for "Jailhouse Rock" in Los Angeles in 1957. His songwriting partner Mike Stoller stands to the left. Jerry Leiber (right) looks over Elvis Presley's shoulder at the sheet ... - -
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Elvis whirlwind hits the First State - Middletown Transcript
Google News - over 5 years
By Anonymous Two simultaneous, must-see, Elvis Presley tribute events will launch this week, one which features the renowned Dominic Joseph “DJ” Fontana, the King's original drummer. Dover Downs Hotel & Casino will host its second annual Elvis tribute
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Jerry Leiber dies at 78; lyricist in songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
1 hit was Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog.' They also wrote for the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King and many other artists. A popular musical based on their songs, 'Smokey Joe's Cafe,' opened on Broadway in 1995. Rock 'n' Roll songwriters Jerry Leiber, ... - -
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Elvis Presley's 'Blue Moon' at 57: His best ballad? - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
It's a bold statement, for sure, that Elvis Presley's interpretation of "Blue Moon" is his greatest-ever ballad performance. You could quibble all day long about which of those classic early sides show the King at his peak: "Can't Help Falling in Love ... - -
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All shook up: Bachmann flubs Elvis birthday - CNN (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Michele Bachmann stepped all over Elvis Presley's blue suede shoes while stumping Tuesday, when she mistakenly wished "The King" a "Happy Birthday." August 16 actually marks the 34th anniversary of Presley's death. "Before we get started, let's all say ... - -
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Elvis Presley Look-alike Robs English Betting Parlors - Huffington Post
Google News - over 5 years
Elvis Presley made his fortune shaking his hips, but he's inspired a robber in England who prefers to make his by shaking bookies down, according to the Sun. The rocking robber, who was armed, held up a Ladbrokes betting shop in Brighton, England,
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Fort Hood all shook up during Elvis Presley's service - Temple Daily Telegram
Google News - over 5 years
Army Pvt. Elvis Presley is pictured in an Associated Press photo as he dabbed at some green salad in a Fort Hood mess hall shortly after arriving for basic training on March 29, 1958. (AP file photo) Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in
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'All Shook Up' at Ritz Theatre features Elvis Presley's hits - The Times of Trenton - NJ.com
Google News - over 5 years
Fans of Elvis Presley have “All Shook Up,” now running at Oaklyn's Ritz Theatre. The show spotlights 24 Elvis successes built into a story line by Joe DiPietro, whose other musicals include the New Jersey-based “Toxic Avenger: The Musical
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Elvis Presley
    FORTIES
  • 1977
    Age 42
    President Jimmy Carter remarked on his legacy in 1977: "His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture.
    More Details Hide Details His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country." Presley also heralded the vastly expanded reach of celebrity in the era of mass communication: at the age of 21, within a year of his first appearance on American network television, he was one of the most famous people in the world. Presley's name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around the globe. He has inspired a legion of impersonators. In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans. "Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century", said composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. "He introduced the beat to everything and he changed everything—music, language, clothes. It's a whole new social revolution—the sixties came from it." Bob Dylan described the sensation of first hearing Presley as "like busting out of jail".
    Between 1977 and 1981, six posthumously released singles by Presley were top ten country hits.
    More Details Hide Details Graceland was opened to the public in 1982. Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it is the second most-visited home in the United States, after the White House. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Presley has been inducted into five music halls of fame: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998), the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001), the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (2007), and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2012). In 1984, he received the W. C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation and the Academy of Country Music's first Golden Hat Award. In 1987, he received the American Music Awards' Award of Merit. A Junkie XL remix of Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" (credited as "Elvis Vs JXL") was used in a Nike advertising campaign during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It topped the charts in over 20 countries, and was included in a compilation of Presley's number one hits, ELV1S, that was also an international success. In 2003, a remix of "Rubberneckin'", a 1969 recording of Presley's, topped the U.S. sales chart, as did a 50th-anniversary re-release of "That's All Right" the following year. The latter was an outright hit in the UK, reaching number three on the pop chart.
    While Presley's main physician, Dr. Nichopoulos, was exonerated of criminal liability for the singer's death, the facts were startling: "In the first eight months of 1977 alone, he had prescribed more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines and narcotics: all in Elvis's name."
    More Details Hide Details His license was suspended for three months. It was permanently revoked in the 1990s after the Tennessee Medical Board brought new charges of over-prescription. Amidst mounting pressure in 1994, the Presley autopsy was reopened. Coroner Dr. Joseph Davis declared, "There is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack." Whether or not combined drug intoxication was in fact the cause, there is little doubt that polypharmacy contributed significantly to Presley's premature death.
    Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis on the evening of August 16, 1977, to begin another tour.
    More Details Hide Details That afternoon, Ginger Alden discovered him unresponsive on his bathroom floor. Attempts to revive him failed, and death was officially pronounced at 3:30 p.m. at Baptist Memorial Hospital. President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture". Thousands of people gathered outside Graceland to view the open casket. One of Presley's cousins, Billy Mann, accepted $18,000 to secretly photograph the corpse; the picture appeared on the cover of the National Enquirers biggest-selling issue ever. Alden struck a $105,000 deal with the Enquirer for her story, but settled for less when she broke her exclusivity agreement. Presley left her nothing in his will. Presley's funeral was held at Graceland on Thursday, August 18. Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third. Approximately 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother. Within a few days, "Way Down" topped the country and UK pop charts.
    Journalist Tony Scherman writes that by early 1977, "Presley had become a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self.
    More Details Hide Details Hugely overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopoeia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts." In Alexandria, Louisiana, the singer was on stage for less than an hour and "was impossible to understand". Presley failed to appear in Baton Rouge; he was unable to get out of his hotel bed, and the rest of the tour was cancelled. Despite the accelerating deterioration of his health, he stuck to most touring commitments. In Rapid City, South Dakota, "he was so nervous on stage that he could hardly talk", according to Presley historian Samuel Roy, and unable to "perform any significant movement." Guralnick relates that fans "were becoming increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to go right past Elvis, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his spiritualism books." A cousin, Billy Smith, recalled how Presley would sit in his room and chat for hours, sometimes recounting favorite Monty Python sketches and his own past escapades, but more often gripped by paranoid obsessions that reminded Smith of Howard Hughes. "Way Down", Presley's last single issued during his lifetime, came out on June 6. On the next tour, CBS filmed two concerts for a TV Special, Elvis in Concert, to be aired in October. On the first of these, captured in Omaha on June 19, Presley's voice, Guralnick writes, "is almost unrecognizable, a small, childlike instrument in which he talks more than sings most of the songs, casts about uncertainly for the melody in others, and is virtually unable to articulate or project."
  • 1976
    Age 41
    Presley and Linda Thompson split in November 1976, and he took up with a new girlfriend, Ginger Alden.
    More Details Hide Details He proposed to Alden and gave her an engagement ring two months later, though several of his friends later claimed that he had no serious intention of marrying again.
    On July 13, 1976, Vernon Presley—who had become deeply involved in his son's financial affairs—fired "Memphis Mafia" bodyguards Red West (Presley's friend since the 1950s), Sonny West, and David Hebler, citing the need to "cut back on expenses".
    More Details Hide Details Presley was in Palm Springs at the time, and some suggest the singer was too cowardly to face the three himself. Another associate of Presley's, John O'Grady, argued that the bodyguards were dropped because their rough treatment of fans had prompted too many lawsuits. However, Presley's stepbrother David Stanley has claimed that the bodyguards were fired because they were becoming more outspoken about Presley's drug dependency.
  • 1975
    Age 40
    Recorded on March 20, it included a version of "How Great Thou Art" that would win Presley his third and final competitive Grammy Award. (All three of his competitive Grammy wins—out of 14 total nominations—were for gospel recordings.) Presley returned to the studio in Hollywood in March 1975, but Parker's attempts to arrange another session toward the end of the year were unsuccessful.
    More Details Hide Details In 1976, RCA sent a mobile studio to Graceland that made possible two full-scale recording sessions at Presley's home. Even in that comfortable context, the recording process was now a struggle for him.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1974
    Age 39
    Eight studio singles from this period released during his lifetime were top ten hits on one or both charts, four in 1974 alone. "My Boy" was a number one adult contemporary hit in 1975, and "Moody Blue" topped the country chart and reached the second spot on the adult contemporary chart in 1976.
    More Details Hide Details Perhaps his most critically acclaimed recording of the era came that year, with what Greil Marcus described as his "apocalyptic attack" on the soul classic "Hurt". "If he felt the way he sounded", Dave Marsh wrote of Presley's performance, "the wonder isn't that he had only a year left to live but that he managed to survive that long."
  • 1973
    Age 38
    RCA, which had enjoyed a steady stream of product from Presley for over a decade, grew anxious as his interest in spending time in the studio waned. After a December 1973 session that produced 18 songs, enough for almost two albums, he did not enter the studio in 1974.
    More Details Hide Details Parker sold RCA on another concert record, Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.
    Since his comeback, he had staged more live shows with each passing year, and 1973 saw 168 concerts, his busiest schedule ever.
    More Details Hide Details Despite his failing health, in 1974 he undertook another intensive touring schedule. Presley's condition declined precipitously in September. Keyboardist Tony Brown remembers the singer's arrival at a University of Maryland concert: "He fell out of the limousine, to his knees. People jumped to help, and he pushed them away like, 'Don't help me.' He walked on stage and held onto the mike for the first thirty minutes like it was a post. Everybody's looking at each other like, Is the tour gonna happen?" Guitarist John Wilkinson recalled, "He was all gut. He was slurring. He was so fucked up.... It was obvious he was drugged. It was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body. It was so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible.... I remember crying. He could barely get through the introductions". Wilkinson recounted that a few nights later in Detroit, "I watched him in his dressing room, just draped over a chair, unable to move. So often I thought, 'Boss, why don't you just cancel this tour and take a year off?' I mentioned something once in a guarded moment. He patted me on the back and said, 'It'll be all right. Don't you worry about it.'" Presley continued to play to sellout crowds.
    Toward the end of 1973, he was hospitalized, semicomatose from the effects of Demerol addiction.
    More Details Hide Details According to his primary care physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, Presley "felt that by getting drugs from a doctor, he wasn't the common everyday junkie getting something off the street."
    Presley's divorce took effect on October 9, 1973.
    More Details Hide Details He was now becoming increasingly unwell. Twice during the year he overdosed on barbiturates, spending three days in a coma in his hotel suite after the first incident.
    For all the concerns of his label and manager, in studio sessions between July 1973 and October 1976, Presley recorded virtually the entire contents of six albums.
    More Details Hide Details Though he was no longer a major presence on the pop charts, five of those albums entered the top five of the country chart, and three went to number one: Promised Land (1975), From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee (1976), and Moody Blue (1977). The story was similar with his singles—there were no major pop hits, but Presley was a significant force in not just the country market, but on adult contemporary radio as well.
    In January 1973, Presley performed two benefit concerts for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in connection with a groundbreaking TV special, Aloha from Hawaii.
    More Details Hide Details The first show served as a practice run and backup should technical problems affect the live broadcast two days later. Aired as scheduled on January 14, Aloha from Hawaii was the first global concert satellite broadcast, reaching millions of viewers live and on tape delay. Presley's costume became the most recognized example of the elaborate concert garb with which his latter-day persona became closely associated. As described by Bobbie Ann Mason, "At the end of the show, when he spreads out his American Eagle cape, with the full stretched wings of the eagle studded on the back, he becomes a god figure." The accompanying double album, released in February, went to number one and eventually sold over 5 million copies in the United States. It proved to be Presley's last U.S. number one pop album during his lifetime. At a midnight show the same month, four men rushed onto the stage in an apparent attack. Security men leapt to Presley's defense, and the singer's karate instinct took over as he ejected one invader from the stage himself. Following the show, he became obsessed with the idea that the men had been sent by Mike Stone to kill him. Though they were shown to have been only overexuberant fans, he raged, "There's too much pain in me... Stone must die." His outbursts continued with such intensity that a physician was unable to calm him, despite administering large doses of medication.
  • 1972
    Age 37
    The Presleys separated on February 23, 1972, after Priscilla disclosed her relationship with Mike Stone, a karate instructor Presley had recommended to her.
    More Details Hide Details Priscilla relates that when she told him, Presley "grabbed... and forcefully made love to" her, declaring, "This is how a real man makes love to his woman." Five months later, Presley's new girlfriend, Linda Thompson, a songwriter and one-time Memphis beauty queen, moved in with him. Presley and his wife filed for divorce on August 18. According to Joe Moscheo of the Imperials, the failure of Presley's marriage "was a blow from which he never recovered."
  • 1971
    Age 36
    Presley and his wife, meanwhile, had become increasingly distant, barely cohabiting. In 1971, an affair he had with Joyce Bova resulted—unbeknownst to him—in her pregnancy and an abortion.
    More Details Hide Details He often raised the possibility of her moving into Graceland, saying that he was likely to leave Priscilla.
    Three new, non-film Presley studio albums were released in 1971, as many as had come out over the previous eight years.
    More Details Hide Details Best received by critics was Elvis Country, a concept record that focused on genre standards. The biggest seller was Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, "the truest statement of all", according to Greil Marcus. "In the midst of ten painfully genteel Christmas songs, every one sung with appalling sincerity and humility, one could find Elvis tom-catting his way through six blazing minutes of 'Merry Christmas Baby,' a raunchy old Charles Brown blues." According to Guralnick, "the one real highlight" of one of the 1971 sessions were the recording of "I Will Be True," "It's Still Here," and "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," a trio of songs that Presley recorded in a rare solo set, sitting at the piano after everyone else had gone home: "Yearning, wistfulness, loneliness, need—all were communicated with a naked lack of adornment that Elvis was seeming to find increasingly difficult to display in the formal process of recording."
    The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named Presley one of its annual Ten Most Outstanding Young Men of the Nation on January 16, 1971.
    More Details Hide Details Not long after, the City of Memphis named the stretch of Highway 51 South on which Graceland is located "Elvis Presley Boulevard". The same year, Presley became the first rock and roll singer to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award (then known as the Bing Crosby Award) by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Grammy Award organization.
  • 1970
    Age 35
    On December 21, 1970, Presley engineered a meeting with President Richard Nixon at the White House, where he expressed his patriotism and his contempt for the hippies, the growing drug culture, and the counterculture in general.
    More Details Hide Details He asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, to add to similar items he had begun collecting and to signify official sanction of his patriotic efforts. Nixon, who apparently found the encounter awkward, expressed a belief that Presley could send a positive message to young people and that it was therefore important he "retain his credibility". Presley told Nixon that the Beatles, whose songs he regularly performed in concert during the era, exemplified what he saw as a trend of anti-Americanism and drug abuse in popular culture. (Presley and his friends had had a four-hour get-together with the Beatles five years earlier.) On hearing reports of the meeting, Paul McCartney later said he "felt a bit betrayed" and commented: "The great joke was that we were taking illegal drugs, and look what happened to him", a reference to Presley's death, hastened by prescription drug abuse.
    Presley returned to the International early in 1970 for the first of the year's two month-long engagements, performing two shows a night.
    More Details Hide Details Recordings from these shows were issued on the album On Stage. In late February, Presley performed six attendance-record–breaking shows at the Houston Astrodome. In April, the single "The Wonder of You" was issued—a number one hit in the UK, it topped the U.S. adult contemporary chart, as well. MGM filmed rehearsal and concert footage at the International during August for the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is. Presley was by now performing in a jumpsuit, which would become a trademark of his live act. During this engagement, he was threatened with murder unless $50,000 was paid. Presley had been the target of many threats since the 1950s, often without his knowledge. The FBI took the threat seriously and security was stepped up for the next two shows. Presley went onstage with a Derringer in his right boot and a .45 pistol in his waistband, but the concerts went off without incident.
  • 1969
    Age 34
    Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio, which led to the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis. Released in June 1969, it was his first secular, non-soundtrack album from a dedicated period in the studio in eight years.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1967
    Age 32
    It was not until October 1967, when the Clambake soundtrack LP registered record low sales for a new Presley album, that RCA executives recognized a problem. "By then, of course, the damage had been done", as historians Connie Kirchberg and Marc Hendrickx put it. "Elvis was viewed as a joke by serious music lovers and a has-been to all but his most loyal fans."
    More Details Hide Details
    Of the eight Presley singles released between January 1967 and May 1968, only two charted in the top 40, and none higher than number 28.
    More Details Hide Details His forthcoming soundtrack album, Speedway, would die at number 82 on the Billboard chart. Parker had already shifted his plans to television, where Presley had not appeared since the Sinatra Timex show in 1960. He maneuvered a deal with NBC that committed the network to both finance a theatrical feature and broadcast a Christmas special. Recorded in late June in Burbank, California, the special, called simply Elvis, aired on December 3, 1968. Later known as the '68 Comeback Special, the show featured lavishly staged studio productions as well as songs performed with a band in front of a small audience—Presley's first live performances since 1961. The live segments saw Presley clad in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock-and-roll days. Bill Belew, who designed this outfit, gave it a Napoleonic standing collar (Presley customarily wore high collars because he believed his neck looked too long), a design feature that he would later make a major trademark of the outfits Presley wore on stage in his later years. Director and coproducer Steve Binder had worked hard to reassure the nervous singer and to produce a show that was far from the hour of Christmas songs Parker had originally planned. The show, NBC's highest rated that season, captured 42 percent of the total viewing audience. Jon Landau of Eye magazine remarked, "There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home.
  • 1966
    Age 31
    Shortly before Christmas 1966, more than seven years since they first met, Presley proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu. They were married on May 1, 1967, in a brief ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.
    More Details Hide Details The flow of formulaic films and assembly-line soundtracks rolled on.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1961
    Age 26
    In February 1961, Presley performed two shows for a benefit event in Memphis, on behalf of 24 local charities.
    More Details Hide Details During a luncheon preceding the event, RCA presented him with a plaque certifying worldwide sales of over 75 million records. A 12-hour Nashville session in mid-March yielded nearly all of Presley's next studio album, Something for Everybody. As described by John Robertson, it exemplifies the Nashville sound, the restrained, cosmopolitan style that would define country music in the 1960s. Presaging much of what was to come from Presley himself over the next half-decade, the album is largely "a pleasant, unthreatening pastiche of the music that had once been Elvis's birthright." It would be his sixth number one LP. Another benefit concert, raising money for a Pearl Harbor memorial, was staged on March 25, in Hawaii. It was to be Presley's last public performance for seven years. Parker had by now pushed Presley into a heavy film making schedule, focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies. Presley at first insisted on pursuing more serious roles, but when two films in a more dramatic vein—Flaming Star (1960) and Wild in the Country (1961)—were less commercially successful, he reverted to the formula. Among the 27 films he made during the 1960s, there were few further exceptions. His films were almost universally panned; critic Andrew Caine dismissed them as a "pantheon of bad taste". Nonetheless, they were virtually all profitable. Hal Wallis, who produced nine of them, declared, "A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood."
  • 1960
    Age 25
    Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant on March 5.
    More Details Hide Details The train that carried him from New Jersey to Tennessee was mobbed all the way, and Presley was called upon to appear at scheduled stops to please his fans. On the night of March 20, he entered RCA's Nashville studio to cut tracks for a new album along with a single, "Stuck on You", which was rushed into release and swiftly became a number one hit. Another Nashville session two weeks later yielded a pair of his best-selling singles, the ballads "It's Now or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight? ", along with the rest of Elvis Is Back! The album features several songs described by Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues "menace, driven by Presley's own super-miked acoustic guitar, brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots Randolph. Elvis's singing wasn't sexy, it was pornographic." As a whole, the record "conjured up the vision of a performer who could be all things", in the words of music historian John Robertson: "a flirtatious teenage idol with a heart of gold; a tempestuous, dangerous lover; a gutbucket blues singer; a sophisticated nightclub entertainer; a raucous rocker".
  • 1958
    Age 23
    Parker effectively ended the relationship, deliberately or not, with the new contract he sent Leiber in early 1958.
    More Details Hide Details Leiber thought there was a mistake—the sheet of paper was blank except for Parker's signature and a line on which to enter his. "There's no mistake, boy, just sign it and return it," Parker directed. "Don't worry, we'll fill it in later." Leiber declined, and Presley's fruitful collaboration with the writing team was over. Other respected songwriters lost interest in or simply avoided writing for Presley because of the requirement that they surrender a third of their usual royalties. By 1967, Parker's contracts with Presley gave him 50 percent of most of the singer's earnings from recordings, films, and merchandise. Beginning in February 1972, he took a third of the profit from live appearances; a January 1976 agreement entitled him to half of that as well. Priscilla Presley noted that, "Elvis detested the business side of his career. He would sign a contract without even reading it." Presley's friend Marty Lacker regarded Parker as a "hustler and a con artist. He was only interested in 'now money'—get the buck and get gone."
    Between his induction and discharge, Presley had ten top 40 hits, including "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck", the best-selling "Hard Headed Woman", and "One Night" in 1958, and "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" and the number one "A Big Hunk o' Love" in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details RCA also generated four albums compiling old material during this period, most successfully Elvis' Golden Records (1958), which hit number three on the LP chart.
  • 1957
    Age 22
    Each of the three Presley singles released in the first half of 1957 went to number one: "Too Much", "All Shook Up", and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear".
    More Details Hide Details Already an international star, he was attracting fans even where his music was not officially released. Under the headline "Presley Records a Craze in Soviet", The New York Times reported that pressings of his music on discarded X-ray plates were commanding high prices in Leningrad. Between film shoots and recording sessions, the singer also found time to purchase an 18-room mansion eight miles (13 km) south of downtown Memphis for himself and his parents: Graceland. When he reported to the film studio for his second film, the Technicolor Loving You, released in July, "The makeup man said that with his eyes he should photograph well with black hair, so they dyed it." Loving You, the accompanying soundtrack, was Presley's third straight number one album. The title track was written by Leiber and Stoller, who were then retained to write four of the six songs recorded at the sessions for Jailhouse Rock, Presley's next film. The songwriting team effectively produced the Jailhouse sessions and developed a close working relationship with Presley, who came to regard them as his "good-luck charm".
    Presley made his third and final Ed Sullivan Show appearance on January 6, 1957—on this occasion indeed shot only down to the waist.
    More Details Hide Details Some commentators have claimed that Parker orchestrated an appearance of censorship to generate publicity. In any event, as critic Greil Marcus describes, Presley "did not tie himself down. Leaving behind the bland clothes he had worn on the first two shows, he stepped out in the outlandish costume of a pasha, if not a harem girl. From the make-up over his eyes, the hair falling in his face, the overwhelmingly sexual cast of his mouth, he was playing Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, with all stops out." To close, displaying his range and defying Sullivan's wishes, Presley sang a gentle black spiritual, "Peace in the Valley". At the end of the show, Sullivan declared Presley "a real decent, fine boy". Two days later, the Memphis draft board announced that Presley would be classified 1-A and would probably be drafted sometime that year.
  • 1956
    Age 21
    Nonetheless, he was nervous: his only previous Las Vegas engagement, in 1956, had been dismal, and he had neither forgotten nor forgiven that failure.
    More Details Hide Details To revise his approach to performances, Presley visited Las Vegas hotel showrooms and lounges, at one of which, that of the Flamingo, he encountered Tom Jones, whose aggressive style was similar to his own 1950s approach; the two became friends. Already studying karate at the time, Presley recruited Bill Belew to design variants of karatekas's gis for him; these, in jumpsuit form, would be his "stage uniforms" in his later years. Parker, who intended to make Presley's return the show business event of the year, oversaw a major promotional push. For his part, hotel owner Kirk Kerkorian arranged to send his own plane to New York to fly in rock journalists for the debut performance. Presley took to the stage without introduction. The audience of 2,200, including many celebrities, gave him a standing ovation before he sang a note and another after his performance. A third followed his encore, "Can't Help Falling in Love" (a song that would be his closing number for much of the 1970s). At a press conference after the show, when a journalist referred to him as "The King", Presley gestured toward Fats Domino, who was taking in the scene. "No," Presley said, "that's the real king of rock and roll." The next day, Parker's negotiations with the hotel resulted in a five-year contract for Presley to play each February and August, at an annual salary of $1 million.
    In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender.
    More Details Hide Details In 1958, he was drafted into military service. He resumed his recording career two years later, producing some of his most commercially successful work before devoting much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and their accompanying soundtrack albums, most of which were critically derided. In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Presley was featured in the first globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii.
    On January 10, 1956, Presley made his first recordings for RCA in Nashville.
    More Details Hide Details Extending the singer's by now customary backup of Moore, Black, and Fontana, RCA enlisted pianist Floyd Cramer, guitarist Chet Atkins, and three background singers, including first tenor Gordon Stoker of the popular Jordanaires quartet, to fill out the sound. The session produced the moody, unusual "Heartbreak Hotel", released as a single on January 27. Parker finally brought Presley to national television, booking him on CBS's Stage Show for six appearances over two months. The program, produced in New York, was hosted on alternate weeks by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. After his first appearance, on January 28, introduced by disc jockey Bill Randle, Presley stayed in town to record at RCA's New York studio. The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins' rockabilly anthem "Blue Suede Shoes". In February, Presley's "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", a Sun recording initially released the previous August, reached the top of the Billboard country chart. Neal's contract was terminated and, on March 2, Parker became Presley's manager.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1955
    Age 20
    Presley renewed Neal's management contract in August 1955, simultaneously appointing Parker as his special adviser.
    More Details Hide Details The group maintained an extensive touring schedule throughout the second half of the year. Neal recalled, "It was almost frightening, the reaction that came to Elvis from the teenaged boys. So many of them, through some sort of jealousy, would practically hate him. There were occasions in some towns in Texas when we'd have to be sure to have a police guard because somebody'd always try to take a crack at him. They'd get a gang and try to waylay him or something." The trio became a quartet when Hayride drummer Fontana joined as a full member. In mid-October, they played a few shows in support of Bill Haley, whose "Rock Around the Clock" had been a number-one hit the previous year. Haley observed that Presley had a natural feel for rhythm, and advised him to sing fewer ballads.
    By early 1955, Presley's regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas.
    More Details Hide Details In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Presley and brought the singer to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker, whom he considered the best promoter in the music business. Having successfully managed top country star Eddy Arnold, Parker was now working with the new number-one country singer, Hank Snow. Parker booked Presley on Snow's February tour. When the tour reached Odessa, Texas, a 19-year-old Roy Orbison saw Presley for the first time: "His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing.... I just didn't know what to make of it. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it." Presley made his television debut on March 3 on the KSLA-TV broadcast of Louisiana Hayride. Soon after, he failed an audition for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on the CBS television network. By August, Sun had released ten sides credited to "Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill"; on the latest recordings, the trio were joined by a drummer. Some of the songs, like "That's All Right", were in what one Memphis journalist described as the "R&B idiom of negro field jazz"; others, like "Blue Moon of Kentucky", were "more in the country field", "but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both". This blend of styles made it difficult for Presley's music to find radio airplay. According to Neal, many country-music disc jockeys would not play it because he sounded too much like a black artist and none of the rhythm-and-blues stations would touch him because "he sounded too much like a hillbilly."
  • 1954
    Age 19
    In January 1954, Presley cut a second acetate at Sun Records—"I'll Never Stand In Your Way" and "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You"—but again nothing came of it.
    More Details Hide Details Not long after, he failed an audition for a local vocal quartet, the Songfellows. He explained to his father, "They told me I couldn't sing." Songfellow Jim Hamill later claimed that he was turned down because he did not demonstrate an ear for harmony at the time. In April, Presley began working for the Crown Electric company as a truck driver. His friend Ronnie Smith, after playing a few local gigs with him, suggested he contact Eddie Bond, leader of Smith's professional band, which had an opening for a vocalist. Bond rejected him after a tryout, advising Presley to stick to truck driving "because you're never going to make it as a singer". Phillips, meanwhile, was always on the lookout for someone who could bring to a broader audience the sound of the black musicians on whom Sun focused. As Keisker reported, "Over and over I remember Sam saying, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.'" In June, he acquired a demo recording of a ballad, "Without You", that he thought might suit the teenage singer. Presley came by the studio, but was unable to do it justice. Despite this, Phillips asked Presley to sing as many numbers as he knew. He was sufficiently affected by what he heard to invite two local musicians, guitarist Winfield "Scotty" Moore and upright bass player Bill Black, to work something up with Presley for a recording session.
  • 1953
    Age 18
    In August 1953, Presley walked into the offices of Sun Records.
    More Details Hide Details He aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided acetate disc: "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". He would later claim that he intended the record as a gift for his mother, or that he was merely interested in what he "sounded like", although there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making service at a nearby general store. Biographer Peter Guralnick argues that he chose Sun in the hope of being discovered. Asked by receptionist Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Presley responded, "I sing all kinds." When she pressed him on who he sounded like, he repeatedly answered, "I don't sound like nobody." After he recorded, Sun boss Sam Phillips asked Keisker to note down the young man's name, which she did along with her own commentary: "Good ballad singer. Hold."
    By the time he graduated from high school in June 1953, Presley had already singled out music as his future.
    More Details Hide Details
    Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the Lauderdale Courts, he competed in Humes's Annual "Minstrel" show in April 1953.
    More Details Hide Details Singing and playing guitar, he opened with "Till I Waltz Again with You", a recent hit for Teresa Brewer. Presley recalled that the performance did much for his reputation: "I wasn't popular in school... I failed music—only thing I ever failed. And then they entered me in this talent show... when I came onstage I heard people kind of rumbling and whispering and so forth, 'cause nobody knew I even sang. It was amazing how popular I became after that." Presley, who never received formal music training or learned to read music, studied and played by ear. He also frequented record stores with jukeboxes and listening booths. He knew all of Hank Snow's songs, and he loved records by other country singers such as Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Ted Daffan, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Wills. The Southern gospel singer Jake Hess, one of his favorite performers, was a significant influence on his ballad-singing style. He was a regular audience member at the monthly All-Night Singings downtown, where many of the white gospel groups that performed reflected the influence of African-American spiritual music. He adored the music of black gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Like some of his peers, he may have attended blues venues—of necessity, in the segregated South, on only the nights designated for exclusively white audiences. He certainly listened to the regional radio stations, such as WDIA-AM, that played "race records": spirituals, blues, and the modern, backbeat-heavy sound of rhythm and blues.
  • 1950
    Age 15
    In 1950, he began practicing guitar regularly under the tutelage of Jesse Lee Denson, a neighbor two-and-a-half years his senior.
    More Details Hide Details They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts. That September, he began ushering at Loew's State Theater. Other jobs followed, including Precision Tool, Loew's again, and MARL Metal Products. During his junior year, Presley began to stand out more among his classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew out his sideburns and styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline. In his free time, he would head down to Beale Street, the heart of Memphis's thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers. By his senior year, he was wearing them.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1946
    Age 11
    Entering a new school, Milam, for sixth grade in September 1946, Presley was regarded as a loner.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, he began bringing his guitar in on a daily basis. He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music. The family was by then living in a largely African-American neighborhood. A devotee of Mississippi Slim's show on the Tupelo radio station WELO, Presley was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger brother, a classmate of Presley's, who often took him into the station. Slim supplemented Presley's guitar tuition by demonstrating chord techniques. When his protégé was 12 years old, Slim scheduled him for two on-air performances. Presley was overcome by stage fright the first time, but succeeded in performing the following week. In November 1948, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts. Enrolled at L. C. Humes High School, Presley received only a C in music in eighth grade. When his music teacher told him he had no aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the next day and sang a recent hit, "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me", in an effort to prove otherwise. A classmate later recalled that the teacher "agreed that Elvis was right when he said that she didn't appreciate his kind of singing." He was usually too shy to perform openly, and was occasionally bullied by classmates who viewed him as a "mama's boy".
  • 1945
    Age 10
    The contest, held at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance: dressed as a cowboy, the ten-year-old Presley stood on a chair to reach the microphone and sang "Old Shep".
    More Details Hide Details He recalled placing fifth. A few months later, Presley received his first guitar for his birthday; he had hoped for something else—by different accounts, either a bicycle or a rifle. Over the following year, he received basic guitar lessons from two of his uncles and the new pastor at the family's church. Presley recalled, "I took the guitar, and I watched people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in public. I was very shy about it."
  • 1941
    Age 6
    In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his instructors regarded him as "average".
    More Details Hide Details He was encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his schoolteacher with a rendition of Red Foley's country song "Old Shep" during morning prayers.
  • 1936
    Age 1
    The Presleys survived the F5 tornado in the 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak.
    More Details Hide Details In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of kiting a check written by the landowner, Orville S. Bean, the dairy farmer and cattle-and-hog broker for whom he then worked. He was jailed for eight months, and Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives.
  • 1935
    Age 0
    Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Gladys Love (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) and Vernon Elvis Presley (1916 – 1979), in the two-room shotgun house built by Vernon's father in preparation for the child's birth.
    More Details Hide Details Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before his own birth. As an only child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God, where he found his initial musical inspiration. Although he was in conflict with the Pentecostal church in his later years, he never officially left it. Rev. Rex Humbard officiated at his funeral, as Presley had been an admirer of Humbard's ministry. Presley's ancestry was primarily a Western European mix, including Scots-Irish, Scottish, German, and some French Norman. Gladys's great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was possibly a Cherokee Native American. Gladys was regarded by relatives and friends as the dominant member of the small family. Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, evincing little ambition. The family often relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance.
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