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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Elvis Presley


Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in the Mississippi city of Tupelo.

Elvis was actually one half of a set of twins. His twin brother, later named Jesse Garon Presley, died during birth, which was not terribly uncommon for a family in 1935 Mississippi.

With no other siblings, Elvis was raised an only child.

As a one-year-old in Tupelo on April 5, 1936, Elvis and his family survived a tornado that was ranked as the fourth deadliest in United States history. It took 216 lives.

Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi

According to elderly witnesses, Elvis was no tearaway but a scholarly, contemplative child. He apparently loved to read Enid Blyton books.

On January 7, 1946 a tornado ripped through Tupelo, forcing a ten-year-old Elvis Presley into the cellar with his mother, Gladys.

For his 11th birthday, Elvis Presley asked for a bicycle. Instead, his father bought him a guitar.

In 1949 the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where young Presley attended L.C. Humes High School, graduating in 1953.

Elvis Presley received a 'C' in his 8th grade music class. His teacher told him he "had no aptitude for singing."


Before he found fame, ‘the King’ auditioned for a band called the Songfellows — they turned him down, suggesting he couldn’t harmonize.

In the summer of 1953 Elvis first came to the attention of Sam Phillips, president of the Sun Record Company, when he went there to make a personal recording intended as a present for his mother.

In April 1954, Presley began working for the Crown Electric company as a truck driver. Sam Phillips had retained interest in the 19-year-old and arranged some sessions with a couple of local session players. The trio tried a few different songs in various styles, finally hitting the mark when they informally started playing Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1946 blues song "That's All Right," in a fast style. Phillips liked what he heard and it became Presley's first commercial recording.

Elvis Presley made his radio debut in 1954 when WHBQ Memphis played his first recording for Sun Records, "That's Alright Mama."

On July 12, 1954 Elvis Presley signed a recording contract with Sun Records.

Presley in a Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954

The Blue Moon Boys made their live debut on July 20, 1954 appearing on the back of a flatbed truck outside a new drug store in Memphis. The band line up was Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. The name was taken from a song they had recorded as a the b-side to "That's Alright Mama.", a cover of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky."

By early 1955, Presley had become a regional star. In January of that year music promoter Colonel Tom Parker became his manger.

Before becoming Elvis's notorious manager, Colonel Tom Parker used to paint sparrows yellow and sell them as canaries.

Elvis made only one advertisement in his life: a TV commercial for Southern Made Doughnuts in 1954. His only line of dialogue was: "You get 'em piping hot after 4am."

In 1955, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips sold Elvis Presley's contract to RCA for $35,000. It wasn't such a disastrous decision by Phillips: Presley had just one year left on his contract, and Phillips invested the money in a local hotel chain called the Holiday Inn, which made him a bigger fortune than anything he did in music.

On January 28, 1956, Elvis Presley made his first television appearance on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. He sang "Shake, Rattle and Roll."

Publicity photo for Elvis 1st appearance on the CBS program Stage Show


On February 25, 1956, Elvis Presley earned his first # 1 hit with "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," topping the country chart for two weeks.

The 21-year-old Presley created a sensation with his rock 'n' roll-styled "Heartbreak Hotel," the first of his 14 records in a row that sold more than a million copies each. Released on January 27, 1956, it climbed to the top of the pop chart reaching #1 in April and spending eight weeks at the summit. The success of "Heartbreak Hotel" began his period as the most famous American musician and teen idol.

Wikipedia Commons

Love Me Tender, Elvis' first film, was released that same year.

On September 9, 1956 Elvis Presley made the first of three appearances on TV's Ed Sullivan Show. While Ed recovered from an auto accident, actor Charles Laughton introduced Elvis, who sang his forthcoming single "Love Me Tender.". He was watched by an agog audience of approximately 60 million viewers—a record 82.6 percent of the television audience - instantly becoming the most famous 21-year-old in the world.

Ed Sullivan and Presley during rehearsals for his second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, 

Elvis' pelvic gyrations on the Ed Sullivan Show were considered so scandalous that during his third and final appearance on the program on January 6, 1957 he was shot only down to the waist.

Elvis Presley received his draft notice on December 20, 1957, but applied for and received a 60-day deferment to fulfill his commitment to the movie, King Creole.

On March 15 1958, Elvis Presley performed his last concert before leaving for the Army, a show at Memphis' Russwood Park. Aside from two benefit shows in 1961, this would be the last Presley concert until 1969.

Presley's records, 45 of which sold more than a million copies each, his 33 motion pictures, and his appearances on television and in live concerts made the young singer into a one-man industry who by the mid-1960s was the highest-paid performer in show business history.


Elvis shocked the more staid Americans with his ducktail haircut, long sideburns and undulating hips.

Presley in a publicity photograph for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock

Elvis' hip gyrations, which some viewers thought too suggestive, earned him the nickname Elvis the Pelvis.

His favourite aftershave was Brut.


Elvis Presley was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1958. He went through regular training and then served as a truck driver in West Germany

Presley being sworn into the U.S. Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, March 24, 1958

Sergeant Elvis Presley was discharged honourably from the U.S. Army in 1960. Elvis set foot in the UK for the first and only time on March 2, 1960 when he landed briefly at Prestwick airport in Scotland to refuel on his way home after his military service in Germany.


Resuming his career under Colonel Parker's supervision, Elvis worked up a touring act, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and attracted an ever-expanding public.

On January 14, 1973 Elvis Presley's concert Aloha from Hawaii was broadcast live via satellite, and set a record as the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history. Later released as a double album, it became one of Elvis's bestselling releases of the '70s.

Presley in Aloha from Hawaii, broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973


While in Friedberg, Germany, Presley met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. They would eventually wed after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship.

Elvis and Priscilla were married on May 1, 1967, in a brief ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, was born on February 1, 1968.

The Presleys with newborn Lisa Marie, February 1968

The Presleys separated on February 23, 1972, after Priscilla disclosed her relationship with Mike Stone, a karate instructor Presley had recommended to her. They were divorced in 1973.


Though in his pioneering rock 'n' roll days in the 1950s he was much criticized by the church for the 'sinful gyrations' included in his act, Elvis was a lover of Gospel music and usually included some spiritual songs amongst his repertoire.

Elvis wore a Star of David, the Hebrew letter chi and the cross as jewellery, explaining himself with, "I don't want to miss out on heaven due to a technicality."


The Graceland site was originally part of a 500-acre farm owned by Stephen C. Toof, founder of S.C. Toof & Co., the oldest commercial printing firm in Memphis.

The "grounds" were named after Toof's daughter, Grace. She inherited the farm/grounds from her father in 1894. After her death, the property was passed down to her niece Ruth Moore, a Memphis socialite, who together with her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore, built a 10,266 square feet (953.7 m2) Colonial Revival style mansion in 1939.

Dr and Mrs Moore divorced in 1952. After her divorce, Mrs Moore allowed a local church group to use her property until they could build a church on adjoining property.

Their daughter, Ruth recalled that Elvis's offer (just over $100,000) was chosen over others' not due to her mother's love of rock 'n' roll, but Elvis's love of gospel music and church. He completed the purchase in the spring of 1957.

Elvis used Graceland, a lavish plantation mansion set in a 13-acre park, as a retreat from the enthusiasm of his public.


Presley was known for a life of luxury and excess, as exemplified by his estate at Graceland. He owned a number of expensive motor vehicles, including three pink Cadillacs.

The Pink Cadillac on display in 2012

Elvis named a private jet after daughter Lisa Marie. It had a blue suede bed and gold taps.

When he was in his early 20s Elvis Presley had a pet spider monkey called Jayhew.

Elvis had a pet chimp called Scatter, which developed a taste for Scotch and bourbon.


In the last years of his life, Elvis devoured vast amounts of food. He breakfasted on twenty rashers of bacon and five banana splits.

There were two cooks on twenty-four hour duty to provide the meat loaf, fried chicken, peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate gravy that Elvis loved.

At its height, Elvis's daily food intake was an estimated 94,000 calories, nearly twice that of an Asian elephant.

The last food Elvis ate was four scoops of ice cream and six chocolate chip cookies.


The Army introduced Presley to karate, which he studied seriously, later including it in his live performances.

 In Memphis, Presley earned his first-degree black belt in 1960 under Chito-Ryu stylist Hank Slemansky.

In his quest to become an honorary undercover agent for the DEA and do his bit for the never-ending war on drugs, Elvis was invited to the White House on December 21, 1970 to offer his services to President Richard Nixon. Reportedly under the influence of heavy prescription barbiturates, the king gave the leader of the free world a chrome-plated Colt .45 pistol. In exchange, Nixon gave Presley a Narcotics Bureau badge.

Presley meets U.S. President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office

By 1976 Elvis had a vast collection of police badges, in February of that year he was made a reserve Memphis policeman.


Unable to go anywhere without being mobbed by fans, Presley became increasingly reclusive. He gained weight and took various prescription drugs.

Elvis died of heart failure in Memphis on August 16, 1977. He was sitting on a toilet at the time reading The Scientific Search for Jesus.

Elvis' death in 1977 in no way diminished his popularity with his fans. is records continued to sell, and his legend brought on a whole generation of imitators.

Presley's gravestone at Graceland
Although Elvis's middle name on his birth certificate was 'Aron', his grave has it as 'Aaron', which was his own preferred spelling.

Memphis police caught three body snatchers trying to steal Elvis, just a week and a half after his burial. As a result, the singer's father Vernon Presley had his son's and wife's bodies moved from Forest Hill cemetery to the grounds at Graceland.

When the United States Post Office decided to do an Elvis stamp in 1992, they put it up for a vote: a young Elvis or an old Elvis image. The young Elvis won by a landslide, getting more votes by a factor of three to one.

A lock of Elvis Presley’s hair was sold at auction for $115,000 in 2002.


At the age of 36, Elvis Presley became the youngest recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The alphabet positions of the letters in 'Presley'' add up to 100.

The world record for the longest non-stop Elvis impersonation is 55 hours.

Elvis Presley recorded over 600 songs, but never wrote any of them.

The famous phrase "Elvis has left the building" reflects the fact that Elvis Presley never performed an encore.

Sources Triple Radio, Compton's Encyclopedia

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