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Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley, often referred to mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer, actor, and sergeant in the United States Army. Dubbed the "King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. His energised interpretations of songs and performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across colour lines during a transformative era in race relations, led him to great success. His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humour endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life.

Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family when he was 13 years old. His music career began there in 1954, recording at Sun Records with producer Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African-American music to a wider audience. Elvis, on rhythm acoustic guitar, and accompanied by lead guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, was a pioneer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. In 1955, drummer D. J. Fontana joined to complete the lineup of Elvis's classic quartet and RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who would manage him for more than two decades. Elvis's first RCA Victor single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. Within a year, RCA would sell ten million Elvis singles. With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, Elvis became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll.

In November 1956, Elvis made his film debut in Love Me Tender. Drafted into military service in 1958, Elvis relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. He held few concerts, however, and guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and soundtrack albums. Some of his most famous films included Jailhouse Rock (1957), Blue Hawaii (1961), and Viva Las Vegas (1964). In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed television comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Elvis gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast around the world, Aloha from Hawaii. Years of prescription drug abuse and unhealthy eating habits severely compromised his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 at his Graceland estate at the age of 42.

Having sold an estimate of over 600 million records worldwide, Elvis is recognised as the best-selling solo music artist of all time. He was commercially successful in many genres, including pop, country, rhythm & blues, adult contemporary, and gospel. Elvis won three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. He holds several records, including the most RIAA certified gold and platinum albums, the most albums charted on the Billboard 200, the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the UK Albums Chart, and the most number-one singles by any act on the UK Singles Chart. In 2018, Elvis was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His life and career were dramatised in the 2022 biopic Elvis.

Early Life[]

Presley was born in a two-room house without running water or electricity in East Tupelo, Mississippi during the great depression. Presley's identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was stillborn 35 minutes before him. Presley's mother Gladys almost died from the birth, and both were taken to the hospital. The Presley family lived in near poverty during the early years of Presley's life. They were on welfare and got help from their neighbors. Vernon supported the family by working different odd jobs. Despite living in poverty, Presley benefited from a closely knit family. On May 25, 1938, Vernon was sentenced to three years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary for check forgery. During the brief time Vernon spent in prison, Gladys and Presley had to temporarily live with Gladys' in-laws next door. Vernon was released on February 6, 1939, on account of good behavior.

Presley received a guitar for his eleventh birthday. The store owner said he wanted a rifle. Some other variants of the story claim he wanted a bicycle, though it was most likely the rifle. However, Gladys did not want her son to have one and he eventually settled on the guitar. He would often sing in school for his classes, and they were pleased with him.

The Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee on November 6, 1948, where a thirteen-year-old Presley was influenced by the gospel music of an Assembly of God Pentecostal church. He was also influenced by country, pop and the African American music he heard on the streets of Memphis. On September 21, 1949, the Presley family moved to a building complex in Memphis. He was exposed to a great deal of music and was in a band with four other boys. Vernon, Gladys, and the teenage Presley worked various jobs to support the family. However, the family stayed closely knit. After graduating from L.C. Humes High School in Memphis in 1953, Presley worked at Crown Electric as a truck driver to pay for recording sessions at Sun Records.

Presley's ancestry was primarily a Western European mix, His father (Vernon Presley) Originated from German/Dutch Descent, whereas his mother (Gladys Presley), Great Great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee. But Gladys originated from German Scots Irish decent with some French Norman who were travelers from Northern Sicily and west Salerno. But Elvis was mostly of German Descent as Presley's original name was Preslar which originated from South Germany but was westernized (changed).


Early Career[]

Elvis's musical Inspirations came from black rhythm and blues with country gospel. After graduating from high school, Elvis became a truck driver. Shortly after Presley paid to record two songs meant to be a birthday gift to his mother. The songs “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” would be his first steps toward becoming what many say was the greatest entertainer of the century and “the King of Rock n’ Roll.”

In 1954, Sun Records released “That’s All Right,” a 45-rpm record with the B-side “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Within a few days, it was a hit when Memphis radio station WHBQ began programming the record and Presley began a regular touring schedule outside of the Memphis area. His second single, “Good Rockin' Tonight,” with “I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine” was released in September 1954, and a month later, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the “Louisiana Hayride”, a country music radio show, in Shreveport to the delight of a large audience. He was signed to a one-year contract with the Hayride for a weekly performance.

Presley moved from Sun Records to RCA by the suggestion of his manager Colonel Tom Parker, who officially became Presley's manager after his contract with former manager Bob Neal expired on March 26, 1956. RCA paid $35,000 to Sun and $5,000 to Presley, a sum unheard of at that time. A few months later in 1956 his first single on the RCA label “Heartbreak Hotel”, topped the charts at #1.

Elvis Presley had a physical style in his concerts that was considered by many to be suggestive and scandalous. He gyrated his body with the music, in a way that would be considered tame by contemporary standards but was unheard of at the time. He was sometimes given the name "Elvis the Pelvis" for this and was sometimes shown in television concerts only from the waist up.

Ed Sullivan Shows[]

Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956. Sullivan entered Presley after rival Steve Allen received a jump in ratings due to Presley's appearance on his show. His second appearance on the Sullivan show was on October 28, 1956. That appearance included Elvis performing "Don't Be Cruel", and "Love Me Tender", as well as a four-minute version of "Hound Dog".


A multiple Grammy award winner, in his first dozen years Presley had 100 hits on the Billboard charts and was the most famous entertainer in the world. Presley's first released single was "That's All Right" under the Sun label. It was after Colonel Parker transferred Presley to RCA that he would record his first number-one hit, "Heartbreak Hotel". His early music was mainly rocking, such as his hit singles "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", and "All Shook Up". He also recorded gospel songs, such as "Peace in the Valley", which Presley said was one of his mother's favorite songs.

During his Hollywood career, the main music Presley produced was movie soundtracks. After his career in film, Presley recorded a slew of new material at various studios. Included in these sessions were several gospel albums including His Hand in Mine. He later had a studio built in his home that was called the Jungle Room.

Presley makes more money than any deceased artist on re-releases of his records and compilations such as Elvis 30 #1 Hits. Special compilations of certain areas of his musical works, such as Elvis Ultimate Gospel have sold reasonably well. He has also had some of his more popular songs remixed in publications such as Viva Elvis.


Presley starred in thirty-three enormously profitable films, most of which were lighthearted comedic musicals. His first film, Love Me Tender, a western, was released in 1957. His film Loving You was released soon after. He then starred in Jailhouse Rock, playing an anti-hero character. For a while, Presley was one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors. He starred in King Creole, for which he deferred his Army service to star in. After his service, he starred in G.I. Blues. He was cast in light, clean-cut roles during the 1960s, and Presley was not happy about it, since he aspired to be a serious actor. These feature films were generally poorly received by critics, often for "them all being the same", but still sold extremely well, and were popular with fans. Charro was an exception, as it did not feature music other than a title song. After his final feature film in 1969, the only Presley films released were concert documentaries, such as Elvis: That's the Way it Is.

Concert Performances[]

During his career, Presley performed many concerts. Many of these concerts were sold out and fans waited for days in line just to buy tickets. His first concerts were performed in the 1950s. His other major concert era came after his career in film. He performed in Las Vegas and did a road tour.

Early Concerts[]

Presley started touring in the 1950s and he caused controversy over his hip gyrations and music. The older generation thought his style was vulgar. As a result, Presley's performances on television were often shot from the waist up so it would not offend anyone. Many of Presley's fans were young women, and they would often scream incessantly at his concerts, a practice which has since become commonplace during concerts of male heartthrobs. His style of dancing came from his nervousness about dancing in front of women.

In 1956, Presley made his network television debut with the first of his six appearances on Stage Show, a weekly variety program hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. On The Milton Berle Show, he performed "Hound Dog" and the performance was considered very provocative for the time.

1968 Comeback Special[]

He stopped touring while he was in Hollywood until 1968 when he released his '68 Comeback on NBC. The network originally wanted it to be a soft Christmas special with Presley in a tuxedo, but Presley did a rock performance in leather. He saw this as his comeback from his films to live performing. He performed many of his previous hits and had a gospel section in the performance which included the famous song "If I Can Dream". The concert was later sold on VHS and DVD by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Colonel Parker originally wanted the show to be a Christmas performance with little more than Presley performing Christmas carols. He believed that this could be a television version of the Christmas show Presley performed the year before. However, producer Steve Binder felt that this would not be best for the singer since they wanted to reestablish his reputation with this concert after he made many films and recordings of varying quality.

The concert consisted of an informal jam session with Presley performing in front of a small audience consisting of friends and family members. He performed hits such as "Heartbreak Hotel", "Jailhouse Rock", and "Don't Be Cruel".

1970s Live Concerts[]

After two more feature films, The Trouble With Girls and Change of Habit, the only other films Presley starred in were concert documentaries. In 1969, he performed a series of concerts at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Between 1969 and 1976, Presley performed in Vegas at locations such as the Hilton Hotel, as well as on a road tour. Despite deteriorating health, Presley performed over a thousand sold-out concerts during the 1970s. He performed some of his early hits, as well as new hits and cover versions of songs by artists such as The Beatles, the Righteous Brothers, and Chuck Berry. He was accompanied by gospel quartets, an orchestra, and other band members. He was notorious for wearing various extravagant jumpsuits during these concerts and for passing out scarves to female fans. He occasionally gave extravagant rings to audience members.

Aloha from Hawaii[]

Presley’s "Aloha from Hawaii" concert was originally broadcast on January 14, 1973, was the first of its kind to be broadcast worldwide via satellite, and was seen by at least a billion viewers worldwide. It took place at the International Convention Center Arena in Honolulu. Despite the satellite innovation, the United States did not air the concert until April 4, 1973, per network decision. The concert aired in forty countries across Asia and Europe. The concert cost $2.5 million and raised $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund. It featured an array of old and recent hits by Presley including "Hound Dog", "Steamroller Blues", "Blue Suede Shoes", and "Suspicious Minds". The concert also was released via soundtrack and later CD and DVD.

Elvis Lives Concerts[]

After Presley's death, concerts were put together using past live performances of Presley's, and his original band played live on stage with Presley's concert footage on a large screen via computer technology. Everything from the performances but Presley's voice is edited out and gives the simulation of a real concert. Many sold-out concerts were performed across the world. Presley could not perform in many different countries due to his manager, Colonel Tom Parker's immigration status.

The tours started in 1997 and have been extremely popular throughout the world. A concert was conceived on August 16, 1997 (twenty years after Presley's death) after EPE was experimenting with Presley recordings and discovered through multi-tracking how to remove virtually all background music except Presley's voice, and it featured Presley's original 1970's backup band (TCB Band), his backup singers (The Stamps Quartet, The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations, and Millie Kirkham) and was performed at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis.

In 2007, a DVD of the twenty-fifth-anniversary concert was sold.

Personal life[]

Army service[]

At the age of eighteen, like all young American men, on January 19, 1953, Presley registered for the Selective Service system. At the time, there was a draft and all young men in good health were to be able to serve two years in the military and then spend four years in the reserves. Presley, after signing up, became the sensation he was. Then Presley received a draft notice, No. 40-86-35-16 on December 20, 1957, but sought deferment to finish his film King Creole. Presley went to the Memphis Draft Board on March 24, 1958, to be processed into the Army. He then spent 10 weeks in advanced tank training and chef duty in Fort Hood, Texas. Presley returned soon after to see his mother, Gladys, who was gravely ill. She died on August 14, 1958. Presley served for two years and was assigned as an M48 Patton tank crewman to Company A, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armor Regiment of the 3rd Armored Division. He was stationed at Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany. He would often patrol the German border in a tank and chef duty. And would listen to Italian Opera during his spare time songs like 'O Sole Mio' which would be a number 1 hit after he had finished his duty in the army.


Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu, who was ten years younger than Presley, on May 1, 1967. Presley met her while he was in the Army. Both of them wanted children. Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' only and Priscilla's first child, was born on February 1, 1968. During their marriage, Elvis Presley had many affairs. Priscilla tried to repair the relationship but was largely unsuccessful. The marriage ended on October 9, 1973, and affected Presley for the rest of his life; many of Presley's recordings later in his career were about lost, love.


Presley died at the age of 42 in his home in Memphis on August 16, 1977. The cause of death was believed to be related to overuse and overdose of prescription drugs, combined with poor eating habits.

He was scheduled to fly to Portland, Maine that night, do a show the next day, and finish his tour. During the early morning of the 16th, Presley was taking care of last-minute details. He went to his suite at 5:00 AM and died of heart failure. Within hours, the news was being announced on the radio, and grief struck the nation.


Presley has had a great effect on music and has a satellite radio station dedicated to his works, his home is a historic landmark and attracts many visitors across the world, and many entertainers make a living impersonating him. Presley also makes the most money of any deceased performer.

Halls of Fame[]

In 1986 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1998 the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2001 the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In 2007 Elvis Presley was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Elvis Presley Enterprises[]

Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) originally founded by former manager Neal in 1954, created Graceland as a tourist attraction, secured copyrights for Presley's image and intellectual property. They have become the official organization to sell Presley merchandise. Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley are involved with and solely owned the company until CKX Inc. acquired an 85% stake with Lisa Marie with a 15% stake.

EPE is responsible for all legally produced Presley merchandise such as music, movies, costumes, action figures, hot sauces, and any other piece of Presley memorabilia.


Graceland is the former residence of Presley and is where he is buried, after being moved from Forest Hill Cemetery at 1661 Elvis Presley Blvd due to an unsuccessful break-in by grave robbers. It is a large white-columned mansion located on 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis about nine miles away from Downtown Memphis and less than four miles north of the Mississippi border. The Elvis Presley estate earns over $40 million and draws over 600,000 tourists yearly, a record for a deceased entertainer. Graceland Mansion, his home while alive, and his burial place are designated as National Historic Landmarks. Graceland garners many tourists and is second only to the White House in the number of tourists visiting a private residence. Tourists are invited to see much of the house and the meditation garden where the family is buried, but the upstairs is reserved for Presley's family.

After Presley died, his father Vernon was responsible for the house. When he died in 1979, Priscilla took over. A CEO, Jack Soden, was responsible for making Graceland a moneymaker since Priscilla could not afford the upkeep of the house, which was over $500,000 a year. Every year thousands of people flock to pay their respects to the man who reshaped our culture.

Sirius-XM Elvis Radio[]

With the launch of satellite radio, a channel dedicated entirely to the works of Elvis Presley was created. The 24-hour station plays his studio recordings, live performances, lost and rare studio sessions, and interviews with many of Presley's former friends, acquaintances, and band-mates. The station is located in Memphis across the Graceland estate. The Elvis Quiz Show is periodically hosted on the network, where fans can answer questions about Presley and his work to earn prizes.


Elvis worked with many bands and studio musicians over the course of his career. The following is a list and timeline of the most prominent musicians that worked with Elvis during his lifetime.

  • Scotty Moore — lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1954–59, 1960–69; died 2016)
  • Bill Black — double bass, bass guitar, backing vocals (1954–58; died 1965)
  • DJ Fontana — drums, backing vocals (1955–59, 1960–69; died 2018)
  • Gordon Stoker — backing vocals, piano, organ, accordion, percussion (1956–59, 1960–68, 1969–71; died 2013)
  • Neal Matthews, Jr. — backing vocals, guitar, bass guitar, double bass (1956–59, 1960–68, 1969–71; died 2000)
  • Hoyt Hawkins — backing vocals, piano, organ, percussion (1956–59, 1960–68, 1969–71; died 1980)
  • Hugh Jarrett — backing vocals (1956–58; died 2008)
  • Ray Walker — backing vocals (1958–59, 1960–68, 1969–71)
  • Bob Moore — double bass, bass guitar (1958–59, 1960–68; died 2021)
  • Dudley Brooks — piano, celeste (1957–59, 1960–63; died 1989)
  • Tiny Timbrell — rhythm and lead guitars, mandolin (1958–59, 1963–68; died 1992)
  • Hank Garland — lead guitar, bass guitar (1960–61; died 2004)
  • Floyd Cramer — piano, organ (1960, 1963–68; died 1997)
  • Boots Randolph — saxophone, vibraphone, percussion (1960–62, 1964–68; died 2007)
  • Buddy Harman — drums, percussion (1960–63, 1964–68; died 2008)
  • Clifford Scott — saxophone (1962–64; died 1993)
  • Tony Terran — trumpet (1963-1968, 1971-1972; died 2017)
  • Hal Blaine — drums, percussion (1963; died 2019)
  • Charlie Hodge — rhythm guitar, harmony and backing vocals (1967–77; died 2006)
  • Reggie Young – lead guitar (1969; died 2019)
  • Mike Leech – bass guitar (1969)
  • Tommy Cogbill – bass guitar (1969)
  • Bobby Wood – piano (1969)
  • Bobby Emmons – electric piano, organ (1969)
  • Gene Chrisman – drums (1969)
  • James Burton — lead guitar (1969–77)
  • John Wilkinson — rhythm guitar (1969–77; died 2013)
  • Jerry Scheff — bass guitar (1969–73, 1975–77)
  • Ronnie Tutt — drums (1969, 1970–77; died 2021)
  • Larry Muhoberac — piano, electric piano (1969; died 2016)
  • Bob Lanning — drums (1970)
  • Glen D. Hardin — piano (1970–76)
  • Emory Gordy, Jr — bass guitar (1973)
  • Duke Bardwell — bass guitar (1973–75)
  • David Briggs — electric piano, clavinet, piano, organ (1975–77)
  • Tony Brown — piano, organ (1976–77)
  • Bobby Ogdin — electric piano, clavinet, piano (1977)


A vast number of recordings have been issued under Elvis' name. The total number of his original master recordings has been variously calculated as 665 and 711. His career began and he was most successful during an era when singles were the primary commercial medium for pop music. In the case of his albums, the distinction between "official" studio records and other forms is often blurred. For most of the 1960s, his recording career focused on soundtrack albums. In the 1970s, his most heavily promoted and best-selling LP releases tended to be concert albums.

Studio albums[]

  • Elvis Presley (1956)
  • Elvis (1956)
  • Elvis' Christmas Album (1957)
  • Elvis is Back! (1960)
  • His Hand in Mine (1960)
  • Something for Everybody (1961)
  • Pot Luck (1962)
  • Elvis for Everyone! (1965)
  • How Great Thou Art (1967)
  • From Elvis in Memphis (1969)
  • From Memphis to Vegas / From Vegas to Memphis (1969)
  • That's the Way It Is (1970)
  • Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old) (1971)
  • Love Letters from Elvis (1971)
  • Elvis sings The Wonderful World of Christmas (1971)
  • Elvis Now (1972)
  • He Touched Me (1972)
  • Elvis (1973) (The "Fool" Album)
  • Raised on Rock / For Ol' Times Sake (1973)
  • Good Times (1974)
  • Promised Land (1975)
  • Today (1975)
  • From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee (1976)
  • Moody Blue (1977)

Soundtrack albums[]

  • Loving You (1957)
  • King Creole (1958)
  • G.I. Blues (1960)
  • Blue Hawaii (1961)
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
  • It Happened at the World's Fair (1963)
  • Fun in Acapulco (1963)
  • Kissin' Cousins (1964)
  • Roustabout (1964)
  • Girl Happy (1965)
  • Harum Scarum (1965)
  • Frankie and Johnny (1966)
  • Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
  • Spinout (1966)
  • Double Trouble (1967)
  • Clambake (1967)
  • Speedway (1968)