also known as The King of Rock
and Roll, or as just simply The King, was
who had an immeasurable effect on world culture. He
started his career under the name the Hillbilly Cat
and was soon nicknamed Elvis the Pelvis
because of his sexually suggestive performance style.
Presley was the first real rock and roll star. A white
southerner who singing blues laced with country and
country tinged with gospel, Presley brought together
music from both sides of the color line. Presley
performed this music with a natural hip swiveling
sexuality that made him a teen idol and a role model for
generations of cool rebels. Presley was repeatedly
dismissed as vulgar, incompetent and a bad influence.
However the force of his music and image signaled to the
mainstream culture it was time for a change.
Morrison claims that Elvis was of Scottish descent.
In an as-yet-unpublished book, Morrison claims to have
found that his ancestors lived in Lonmay, Aberdeenshire
in the 1700s.
According to Morrison, records show that Andrew Presley
married Elspeth Leg in Lonmay in 1713.
Their son, also called Andrew, went to the English
colonies in 1745. Through
his father's mother Minnie Mae, Elvis was descended from
II of England. Elvis' maternal grandmother was
Elvis and Vernon Presley 1937
January 8, 1935, in East Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley
was the son of Gladys and Vernon Presley, a sewing
machine operator and a truck driver. Presley's twin
brother Jesse Garon was stillborn, and he grew up as an
only child. At age three, Vernon was sent to prison for
forgery. It seems that Vernon, Travis Smith, and Luther
Gable changed the amount of a check from Orville
Bean,Vernon's boss, from $3 to $8 and cashed it at a
local bank. Vernon pled guilty and was sentenced to
three years at Parchment Farms Penitentiary. Vernon's
boss, Mr. Bass calls in a note that Vernon signed to
borrow money to build the house. Gladys is forced to
move in with Vernon's parents. Vernon would only serve
eight months. Afterward Vernon's employment was spotty
and the family lived just above the poverty line. The
Presleys attended the First Assembly of God Church whose
Pentecostal services always included singing.
the fifth grade, Presley is asked by his teacher, Oleta
Grimes to enter a talent contest on children's day at
the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. At the age
of ten , dressed in a cowboy suit, and standing on a
chair to reach the microphone, Presley for his rendition
of Red Foley's "Old Shep" won second place, a
$5 prize and a free ticket to all the rides. On his
birthday the following January he received a guitar
purchased from Tupelo Hardware Store. Over the next
year,Vernon's brother Johnny Smith and Assembly of Good
pastor Frank Smith. gives him basic guitar lessons.
1948 after losing another job Vernon moved the family to
Memphis. Glady's brothers get him a job at the Precision
Tool Company and the Presleys moved into a small
apartment at 370 Washington Street for $11 a week. On
September 13 Elvis enrolls at L.C. Humes High School.
his sophomore year Presley works in the school library
and after school at Loew's State Theatre. In 1951, his
receives his first driver's license, joins the ROTC unit
at Humes High, tries out for the football team (he's cut
by the coach when he won"t trim his sideburns and
ducktail), and in his spare time hanging around the
black section of town, especially on Beale Street.
Senior Class picture
his senior year Presley gets his first car, a 1942
Lincoln Zephyr, from Vernon. At eighteen majoring in
Shop, History, and English he graduates from Humes High
day after graduation he took a job at Parker Machinists
Shop. By June was working at the Precision
Tool Company and then drove truck for the Crown Electric
Co. After a short time in the stock room he is promoted
to truck and began to wear his long hair pompadoured,
the current truck driver style. That summer he recorded
"My Happiness" and "That's When the Your
Heartaches Begin" at Memphis Recording
Studios, a sideline Sam Phillips had started at his Sun
Records studios where anyone could record a ten inch
acetate for four dollars.
would never have guessed any of this back in 1953 when a
young worker from the Parker Machinists Shop wandered
into the Memphis Recording Service on his lunch hour to
record two songs as a belated birthday present for his
mother. Okay, maybe that's just folklore as this was
summer and Gladys' birthday was in April. Maybe he just
wanted to record. That's okay. Whatever the motivation,
it was worth the $3.98 shot.
Presley choose to record two Ink Spots tunes, "My
Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches
Begin." What's interesting about the choices is
that Sam Phillips, the owner, also owned Sun Records, an
independent record label, and was known to be looking
for a white man who could sing in a black R&B style.
However, Sam Phillips wasn't impressed then or when the
young Presley tried again in January of 1954, when Elvis
recorded, "Careless Love" and "I'll Never
Stand In Your Way." (Some say the song was
"Casual Love Affair, but the Sun site says
"Careless Love" and that's good enough for
July of 1954 Elvis was back in the studio singing
"That's Alright Mama" only now at Phillips
suggestion, he has Scotty Moore playing guitar and Bill
Black on bass. Phillips, finally recognizing the
potential, knew he had the breakthrough star he had been
looking for. Specifically, Phillips had found a white
guy who had the sound and feel of the black R&B
artists he had been recording.
Elvis joined Sun Records and what would come to be
called Sun's "Million Dollar Quartet" - the
foursome of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash
1955 Elvis had recorded 5 songs for Sun Records and
gained some popularity in the South. What he also
acquired was a new manager, Col. Tom Parker. Giving
Parker his due - the man knew how to market. Parker
launched a campaign aimed at garnishing national
exposure for Elvis.
first appeared on CBS' Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. On
The Steve Allen Show, he sang "Hound Dog" to a
real dog. From his performance on Milton Berle's Texaco
Star Theatre he got the nickname Elvis the
Pelvis - which worried the family minded
Ed Sullivan. By the third performance, Sullivan decided
to "crop" Elvis. Thus, the now famous
"from the waist up only" appearance on the
Sullivan show. It is estimated that one of these
Sullivan performances was viewed by 52 million people -
one out of every three Americans.
wanted to move Elvis away from Sun so he began some
fancy negotiations. According to the legend, Parker
hawked the contract to Decca, Mercury, Columbia and
Atlantic - pitting them against one another to get
progressively higher bids. Ultimately, RCA bought Elvis'
Sun contract for $40,000, a huge sum for that time.
Because he was under 21 and therefore, still a minor,
Elvis' father, Vernon had to sign the contract.
In February of 1956 Elvis recorded his first five songs
for RCA. Among these was Heartbreak Hotel, which quickly
rose to the top of the charts to become Elvis' first
Number 1 hit.
second half of the decade was good to Elvis. Amazingly,
eight of his lifetime Top Ten songs are from the
Fifties. This in spite of the fact that from 1958
through 1959, Elvis was in the U.S. Army.
Presley: The Missing Years [DVD] (Rare Army footage) -
With the advantage of hindsight, we all know what the
future would hold for Elvis Presley. Circumstances would
catapult Elvis into a stardom unknown before or since by
any single artist. And, the road would wind into a sad
and tragic end. Beyond the Fifties we would never again
have the intimate, close feeling that Elvis evoked. It
would be the last time that we felt we could touch The
Presley - portrait
his lifetime, Elvis Presley:
104 singles that hit the Top 40 of the Billboard
18 number 1 Billboard hits, including four
singles in 1956
that occupied the top of the charts for a cumulative
total of 25 weeks. The total (18) is surpassed only
Beatles, who had 20 number 1 hits.
38 Top 10 Billboard hits. This total is
currently unchallenged; the closest competitor, Madonna,
has 35. (The Beatles had 34 Top 10 hits during their
the record was broken by Boyz
II Men's "End of the Road" in November 1992,
Elvis Presley's double-side "Don't Be Cruel/Hound
Dog" was the undisputed champion of singles in
terms of weeks spent at number one. The record spent 11
weeks at the top starting on August
are other records set by Presley's recordings:
March 1956 to November 1959,
every week there was at least one Elvis song on the
1956 to 1962 Elvis set the record with 24
consecutive top 5 hit singles (singles listed with
B-side songs and original U.S.A. release dates):
Hotel" / "I Was the One" -
Want You, I Need You, I Love You" /
"My Baby Left Me" - 5/4/56
Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog" - 7/13/56
Me Tender" / "Any Way You Want
Me" - 9/28/56
Much" / "Playing For Keeps" -
Shook Up" / "That's When Your
Heartaches Begin" - 3/22/57
Bear" / "Loving You" - 6/11/57
Rock" / "Treat Me Nice" -
/ "I Beg Of You" - 1/7/58
the above 24 singles also sold over 1 million copies
each as well. That is another record yet to be broken.
1962, the closest anyone has come to matching this was
Madonna in the late 1980s
and early 1990s,
with 19 consecutive top 5 hits.
on the official United Kingdom Top 40 chart, "It's
Now Or Never" reached number one in the week of
Sunday, January 30, 2005, 27 years after Presley's
and see our whole new look with lots of new products
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early 1957 Presley became the target of criticism by
teachers, clergymen, and even other entertainers who
his style was to suggestive. He was nicknamed
"Elvis the Pelvis" by one writer. On January
6, he made the last of his three appearances on the Ed
Sullivan Show and was shown only from the waist up.
March 1957 Presley purchased Graceland,
a former church and converted it into a twenty three
room mansion. In February "All Shook Up"
began an eighteen week stretch at number #1
was the first rock star to crossover into films with
consistent commercial success. Loving You,
his second film, was released in July 1957 and
"Teddy Bear" from it's soundtrack went to #1
on the pop, country, and R&B charts, as did
"All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse
Rock," the title song from his next movie.
December he received his draft notice, but was given a
30 day deferment to complete the filming of King
Creole. Presale's first four feature films are
considered his best. Originally Presley intended to be
a serious actor. Unfortunately after he left the
service, the choice of roles was left entirely to
Colonel Parker with poor results. Since Presley would
not tour until the early Seventies, it was through
these movies that his fans most fans saw him and that
alone accounted for their massive success.
March 24, 1958 Presley entered the Army. The next
months saw number one hits with "Don't" and
"I Beg You." A few months later he went on
leave to be with sick mother. Gladys Presley died the
day after his arrival home in Memphis, on August 14,
1958. Presley would call her death the greatest
tragedy in his life. He returned to the Army and was
shipped to Bremerhaven, West Germany. In January 1960
he was promoted to sergeant and was discharged that
his time in the service Colonel Parker continued to
release singles recorded before his departure so his
fans wouldn't forget him. a number of these were hits
including "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,"
"Don't cha Think It's Time," "Hard
Headed Woman," "Don't Ask Me Why,"
"One Night," "I Got Stung,"
"A Fool Such as I," "I Need You, I Love
You," "A Big Hunk O' Love," and
"My Wish Came True". In 1958 alone Presley
earned over $2 million. After his release, in March
1960, he recorded his first stereo record, "Stuck
On You" and later that month he taped a TV
program with Frank Sinatra, The Frank Sinatra
Vernon Presley and Davada "Dee" Stanley
July Vernon, Presley's father remarried. Vernon
Presley's second wife was Davada "Dee"
Stanley. At this time Presley began gathering more
closely around him his friends, employees, and hangers
on that would become known as the Memphis Mafia and
would accompany him almost constantly until his death.
Presley's world would become increasingly insular.
Picture from G.I. Blues
Blues was released in in 1960 and "It's Now
Over Never" reached #1 . Presley had five number
#1 hits in the early 60s, "Stuck On You,"
"It's Now or Never, "Are You lonesome
Tonight," (1960); "Surrender (1961); and
"Good Luck Charm" (1962). Priscilla
Beaulieu, a teenage daughter of an Army officer that
Presley had met while in Germany, visited Graceland
during Christmas 1960. In early 1961 she moved in, it
was said, under the supervision of Vernon and Davada.
The press went along with the spin Colonel Parker put
on the story, and few seemed to care the King of Rock
and Roll was sharing his house with a teenaged
a live performance on March 25, 1961 Presley quit
performing and spent the next eight years making
movies. The soundtracks from his movies were generally
poor. By the mid-Sixties Presley was earning $1
million per movie plus a large percentage of the
gross. Each movie had a concurrently released
soundtrack album, five of which went gold. Presley was
displease with these films, but Colonel Parker
insisted that Presley stick with this winning formula.
Years later Parker's shortsightedness would result in
his turning down Barbara Streisand's offer to have
Presley costar with her the 1974 remake of A Star
Is Born. Parker felt Streisand didn't deserve
equal billing with Presley.
Priscillia, Lisa and
the British invasion, teenagers were hearing more of
his disciples than Presley himself. Presley, unlike
most American rockers wasn't swept away, but the Top
Ten was increasingly beyond his reach. Presley turned
increasing inward, focusing on the family. On May 1,
1967 Presley married Priscilla in Las Vegas; on
February 1, 1968 their only child Lisa Marie was born.
Fearing he had been forgotten, Presley defied Parker
and made a comeback television special. Over the
summer he taped the television special that was
released on December 3 to high ratings. It's
soundtrack reached #8 and produced his first Top
Twenty single "If I Can Dream" (#12, 1968)
since 1965. With this success Presley turned to
performing in Las Vegas. On July 26, 1969
Presley began a month long appearance at the
International Hotel. This set the course for all of
his future performances. His fee for four months was
over a $1 million. Riding the crest of the comeback
Presley released a series of top singles, including
"In the Ghetto," "Suspicious
Minds," "Don't Cry Daddy," and The
Wonder of You". Presley began touring again, his
shows selling out and frequently breaking box office
records. Two on tour documentaries were released Elvis:
That's the Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour
(1972), the latter which won the Golden Globe Award
for Best Documentary.
was honored with countless Elvis Presley days around
the country, and the U.S, Jaycees named him one of the
ten most outstanding young men of America in
1970. His birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi was opened
to the public and a portion of Highway 61 South that
ran in front of Graceland was renamed Elvis Presley
Boulevard. That October Presley had his last Top ten
hit "Burning Love" (#2).
Presley's personal life had become the subject of
countless tabloids.In February 1972, Presley
separated from Priscilla and on his birthday in 1973
filed for divorce. Less than a week later the TV
special Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii was
broadcast over satellite to over a billion people in
forty countries, an indication of his international
appeal although (with the exception of three dates in
Canada in 1957 and an impromptu performance in Paris
while on leave in 1959) Presley never performed
outside the United States. During his career Presley
had 94 gold singles, three gold EPs, and over 40 gold
albums. His movies grossed over $180 million and
millions more were made by the merchandising of Elvis
products, the rights which were controlled by Colonel
Presley was more popular than ever and one of the
biggest personality cults in modern history was taking
hold. Off stage Presley was plagued with self doubt,
poor management, and a basic dissatisfaction with his
life. He repeatedly threatened to quit show business,
but debts and financial obligations to his large
extended family, employees, and assorted hangers on
made that impossible. Presley turned to drugs. After
leaving the army he became wary of the public and
would often rent whole movie theatres and amusement
parks that he would visit at night. By the late
Sixties he was an almost total recluse. Although
evidence that Presley began taking drugs shortly after
began performing or while in the army, his abuse of
prescription drugs increased during the last years of
his life. Through all this he remained highly
spiritual and publicly denounced the use of
the end of his life he would babble incoherently on
stage and rip his pants, having grown quite obese, and
at least once collapsed on stage. Despite
deteriorating health, Presley maintained a frantic
tour schedule, because in 1973 Colonel Parker
negotiated a deal with RCA to the rights of many of
his masters in exchange for a lump sum payment of
which only 2.8 million came to him. After 1973, Parker
was earning nearly 50% commission. Worse yet Presley
wasn't earning royalties on records recorded before
1973, although they continued to sell millions.
Presley opposed tax shelters on principle; naively
relied on his father for business advice; gave away
expensive gifts and cash. The result was by the
mid-Seventies was an impending financial disaster.
26, 1977 Presley performed live for the last time in
Indianapolis. On August 16, 1977, the day before his
next scheduled concert, Presley was discovered by his
girlfriend Ginger Alden dead in his bathroom at
Graceland. His death was attributed to congestive
heart failure. A later autopsy revealed advanced
hardening of the arteries and an enlarged liver. Later
it was determined that drug abuse may have been a
contributing factor. in September 1979 Presley's
private doctor Dr. George Nichopoulos was charged by
the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners with
indiscriminately prescribing 5,300 and vials in the
seven months before his death. He was later acquitted.
Presley RIP - Gracelands
gathered at Graceland where his body lay in state
before he was buried in a mausoleum at Forest Hills
Cemetery in Memphis. After attempts to break into the
mausoleum, Presley's body and that of his mother were
moved to the Meditation Garden behind Graceland.
Nearly two years later, Vernon died and was also
buried there. The estate now passed on to Lisa Marie.
battles over the estate ended in June 1983 after
twenty one months of litigation with a settlement of
four lawsuits. Colonel Parker was forced to turn over
most of his interests in Presley's audio and visual
recordings to RCA and the Presley family in return for
a large monetary settlement. Priscillia Presley
assumed control of the estate and through a number of
business moves made Presley's estate more valuable
than it had ever been. The cornerstone of the Elvis
Presley Enterprise, Inc. financial empire is the
Tennessee state law Priscillia Presley pushed for that
guarantees to heirs of commercial rights to the
deceased celebrity's image and likeness. as a result
Elvis Presley is a trademark and anyone selling
Presley related memorabilia in the U.S. must pay EPE
an advance fee plus a royalty on every item sold.
the funds were needed to maintain the property,
Priscillia opened Graceland to the public in
1982. Though not maintained exactly as Elvis left it
and the second floor, where the bedroom was remains
off limits to the public, millions from all over the
world have visited Graceland. Approximately 675,000
people visit Graceland yearly. The Presley estate in
now estimated at well over a $100 million.
he holds records for the most Top Forty hits (107),
the most Top Ten hits (38), the most consecutive #1
hits (10) and the most weeks at #1 (80). As far as his
stature as a cultural icon, which continues to grow
even in death, writer Lester Bangs said it best:
"I can guarantee you one thing - we will never
again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis."
Nixon and Elvis Presley
more than 25 years after his death, Presley remains a
foremost pop icon of the 20th
century. His image, especially his trademark
forelock, is instantly recognizable. He is still the
gold standard against which modern notions of fame are
measured. At least one modern recording artist, Elvis
Costello, borrowed Presley's first name to help
his fledgling career.
all too often Elvis Presley's kitsch
appeal and the industry which has grown up around it,
chronicling his dietary and chemical predilections and
the trappings of his celebrity, have tended to obscure
the vibrant and vital music he made as a young man,
the vocally-influential recordings of his later
career, and the lasting influence both he and his
music had on American popular culture. Connected with
this is a continuing urban
myth that Elvis is still alive. "Elvis
sightings", in which Presley is reported to have
been located (frequently in mundane and out-of-the-way
places, such as a supermarket in South
Dakota), are common events, and one of the staples
interest in his music returned during the buildup to
World Cup, when Nike
used a Junkie
XL remixed version of his "A
Little Less Conversation" (credited as Elvis
Vs JXL) as the background music to a series of TV
commercials featuring international soccer
stars. The remix hit Number 1 in over 20 countries,
including the United
States, the United
Kingdom and Australia
(it was also his first top 10 hit in the UK for nearly
22 years, and his first #1 there for nearly 25 years).
At about the same time, a compilation of Presley's US
Number 1 hits, ELV1S:
30 #1 Hits, was being prepared for release.
"A Little Less Conversation" (remix version)
was quickly added as the album's 31st track just
before its release in October 2002.
Nearly 50 years after Presley made his first hit
record and 25 years after his death, ELV1S: 30 #1
Hits reached number 1 on the charts in the US, the
UK, Australia and many other countries. A re-release
from the album, "Burning
Love" (not a remix) also made the Australian
top 40 later in the year.
renewed fame continued with another remix in 2003
(this time by Paul
Oakenfold) of "Rubberneckin'", which
made the top 3 in Australia
and top 5 in the UK.
This was followed by another album called 2nd
to None, a collection of his B-sides,
including the "Rubberneckin'" remix.
to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Presley's first
professional recording, "That's All Right",
the recording in question was re-released, and made
the charts around the world, including top 3 in the UK
and top 40 in Australia.
in the United
Kingdom, RCA began to re-issue his 18 UK #1
singles as CD-singles in the order they were
originally released, one of them a week. The first of
these re-issues, "All
Shook Up", was chart ineligble due to the
fact that it was sold together with a collectors' box
which holds all 18 singles in it (it actually sold
enough to be #2). The second of these re-releases,
Rock", was the number one in the first chart
of 2005, and "One
Got Stung", the third re-release in the
series, replaced it on the January
16 chart (and thus becoming the 1000th UK number
one). However, the fourth re-release, "A
Fool Such As I/I
Need Your Love Tonight" was beaten the next
week by Ciara's
at the end of the respective sales week, leaving him
at #2 (even though he had been leading throughout most
of that week). He was beaten due to the fact that
these re-releases were "limited edition",
and not as much could be sold to keep it in the lead
on that weekend. Due to this, RCA is now pressing more
copies of each re-release single.
fifth re-release, "It's
Now Or Never", returned him to the top spot
yet again the next week. But the week after that, when
the sixth re-release "Are
You Lonesome Tonight?" was leading at midweek
figures, he was beaten once again, even though there
were increased copies due to extra pressings, making
this re-release the highest selling out of the
previous five. The act he was beaten by was Eminem,
with his song "Like
Toy Soldiers" selling higher than Elvis' song
by a mere 996 copies due to a weekend surge. The week
after, he was beaten yet again, with rock
You Can't Make It On Your Own" beating Elvis'
Heart", always seeming to be beaten only at
the end of the week. Elvis was beaten once again the
next week, with "Surrender"
being beaten this time by Jennifer
Lopez and her song "Get
beaten for the third week in a row by established
artists suggests that the sales for the rest of the
chart is picking up slowly (due to recent slumps)
compared to Elvis' sales, but he is still selling
consistently, being at #2 for a few weeks with
different singles. But the week after this, not only
was he beaten again, but "(Marie's
The Name) His Latest Flame/Little
Sister" only made #3 that week, beaten by
Jennifer Lopez for a second week, and Nelly
McGraw's #1 debut "Over
and Over". The week after, his "Rock-A-Hula
Help Falling In Love" was also at #3, beaten
once again by Nelly at #2, but also by the #1 that
week, which was Stereophonics'
He did manage to regain a top 2 position the following
week with "Good
Luck Charm", beaten only by McFly's Comic
Got A Friend".
re-releases are breaking many chart records there,
making Elvis the only artist so far to spend at least
1000 weeks in the top 40 (coincidently, he broke this
record on the week he held the 1000th UK #1 song), and
also having the most songs in the top 40, but they
have also made him break the record for the biggest
drops from the #1 and #2 positions ever. A further 7
Elvis singles are due for re-release.
his many accomplishments, Elvis Presley is only one of
two singers (Roy
Orbison being the other) to ever have two Top 5
albums on the charts simultaneously. He has been
inducted into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country
Music Hall of Fame (1998), and the Gospel
Music Hall of Fame (2001). In 1993,
Presley's image appeared on a United
States postage stamp.
The Presley family, including Elvis, spelled his
middle name "Aron" throughout his life,
although Elvis is said to have considered changing it
to "Aaron". His birth certificate and tombstone
both read "Aaron".
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PRESLEY ENTERPRISES, INC.
P.O. Box 16508
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Memphis, Tennessee 38186-0508
TTY: (901) 344-3146
Elvis Aron Presley is born to Gladys and Vernon Presley
in a two-room cabin on North Saltillo Road in East
Elvis Presley stops at Memphis Recording Service to
record two songs, "My Happiness" and
"That's When Your Heartaches Begin," as a
birthday present for his mother. Phillips notes that
Presley has a good feel for ballads and should be
July 18, 1953
Elvis Presley, then earning his keep as a truck driver,
drops by the Memphis Recording Service, home of Sun
Records. He privately records two songs ("My
Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches
Begin") for the sum of $4, leaving with a ten-inch
acetate. Office manager Marion Keisker jots a note for
Phillips: "Good ballad singer."
January 4, 1954
A young Elvis Presley visits the Memphis Recording
Service to record "Casual Love Affair" and
"I'll Never Stand in Your Way" and meets Sun
Records owner Sam
June 27, 1954
After several fruitless recording sessions, Sam
Phillips pairs Elvis Presley with guitarist Scotty
Moore and bass player Bill Black. He hopes
the singer might find his voice by rehearsing with other
musicians cut from the same country, pop, gospel and
July 5, 1954
Rock and roll history is made when Elvis Presley, Scotty
Moore and Bill Black spontaneously perform
bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup's
"That's All Right" in romping, uptempo style.
The next day, bluegrass pioneer Bill
Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" is
given a similarly playful treatment. On July 19th, the
two songs are released as Elvis Presley's first single,
which bears the legend "Sun 209."
July 19, 1954
Sun releases "That's All Right" and "Blue
Moon of Kentucky" by Elvis Presley, backed by
Moore and bassist Bill Black.
July 20, 1954
Elvis Presley makes his first public appearance,
performing on a flatbed truck in Memphis. This
inaugurates a period of wildly performed and riotously
received concerts that will be interrupted only by
Presley's induction into the U.S. Army.
August 15, 1955
Elvis Presley signs a management contract with
"Colonel" Tom Parker, whose other clients
included country-music stars Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow.
The relationship with Parker will continue till
November 1, 1955
Despite Presley's growing popularity, his five Sun
singles fail to make a dent on the national charts.
Phillips sells his contract to RCA Records for $35,000.
November 20, 1955
Elvis Presley's contract with Sun Records, including all
previously released and recorded material, is sold to
the New York-based RCA label for $35,000.
January 27, 1956
Elvis Presley's debut single for RCA, "Heartbreak
Hotel," is released. The first of Presley's 17
Number One hits, it holds down the top spot for eight
weeks. "Heartbreak Hotel" establishes Elvis
Presley and rock and roll itself as national phenomena.
January 28, 1956
Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on network TV
as a guest on Stage Show, hosted by jazz bandleaders
Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Throughout 1956, Presley's
biggest year, he will also appear on The Milton Berle
Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
April 15, 1956
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
July 22, 1956
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Elvis Presley) was a
August 4, 1956
What many consider to be one of rock's greatest
double-sided singles, "Don't Be Cruel" and
"Hound Dog," is released. Both sides will
share the top spot for 11 weeks.
August 12, 1956
Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
October 28, 1956
Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
November 15, 1956
The film Love Me Tender, which features Elvis Presley in
the first of 31 Hollywood movie roles, premieres at the
New York Paramount. Two months earlier, on September
9th, he performed the title song on the Ed Sullivan Show
to a record viewing audience estimated at 54 million.
December 4, 1956
Four legendary past and present Sun Records recording
artists—Elvis Presley, Jerry
Lee Lewis, Carl
Perkins and Johnny Cash—gather at Sun for
an informal jam session. Later dubbed the Million Dollar
Quartet, the stars (sans Cash, who stays only briefly)
perform gospel standards and recent hits in relaxed,
December 4, 1956
The "Million Dollar Quartet"—Presley,
Perkins, Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis—records old gospel,
country and pop songs at an impromptu session. The
recordings aren't officially released until the
Leiber & Stoller are summoned to New York by Elvis's
Brill Building music publisher to write songs for the
movie 'Jailhouse Rock.' The title song soon reaches #1.
January 6, 1957
Elvis Presley sings five songs in his final performance
on the Ed Sullivan Show.
January 8, 1957
Elvis Presley passes the pre-induction exam for the
February 3, 1957
Too Much (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
April 7, 1957
All Shook Up (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
July 2, 1957
(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
September 1, 1957
Hendrix goes to see Elvis Presley perform
at Sicks Stadium.
October 15, 1957
Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
December 19, 1957
Elvis Presley is served with his draft notice while home
at Graceland for the Christmas holidays. He is sworn in
as a private in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958, and
later sent to basic training in Fort Hood, Texas.
Shipped to Germany, he will serve in Company D, 32nd
Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps, from October 1, 1958,
to March 1, 1960.
February 4, 1958
Don't (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
July 15, 1958
Hard Headed Woman (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
August 4, 1959
A Big Hunk O' Love (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
April 19, 1960
Stuck On You (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
May 12, 1960
Elvis guest-stars on a Frank Sinatra-hosted TV special,
Welcome Home Elvis, and cuts his first post-Army
recordings in Nashville. They yield the hit album Elvis
Is Back and such million-selling singles as "It's
Now or Never" and "Are You Lonesome
August 9, 1960
It's Now Or Never (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
November 22, 1960
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
March 14, 1961
Surrender (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
December 16, 1961
The soundtrack to Blue Hawaii reaches #1 on the album
charts, where it will remain for 20 weeks. With sales of
2 million, it is Elvis Presley's best-selling album to
April 15, 1962
Good Luck Charm (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
July 26, 1965
Elvis Presley's version of the
Orioles' "Crying in the Chapel" peaks
at #3 on the pop chart.
August 27, 1965
Beatles spend the evening talking and
playing music with Elvis Presley at his Bel air home.
May 1, 1967
Elvis Presley marries Priscilla Beaulieu, who he met
eight and a half years earlier during his tour of duty
in Germany, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Their
daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, is born exactly nine
months later, on February 1, 1968.
December 3, 1968
NBC airs "Elvis," a television special that
revitalizes Elvis' career as a rock and roll performer.
December 8, 1968
The hour-long special Elvis, sponsored by Singer Sewing
Machines, airs on NBC-TV. Clad in black leather, Elvis
successfully pulls off the greatest comeback in rock and
roll history. After his decade-long stint as a movie
star, he re-establishes himself as a musical performer
and cultural totem on this electrifying, widely viewed
January 13, 1969
Presley enters American Sound Studio in Memphis, where
he will cut some of the finest recordings of his career,
including the hits "In the Ghetto" and
"Suspicious Minds." It is the first time he's
recorded in his hometown since 1956.
July 31, 1969
Elvis Presley performs his first live concert since
March 25, 1961, opening a four-week engagement at the
1,500-capacity Showroom at the International Hotel in
Las Vegas. The remaining eight years of Presley's life
will largely be devoted to live performances, either on
the road or at the International Hotel.
October 26, 1969
Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley) was a hit.
Elvis Presley returns to the road. His guitarist and
bandleader is James Burton, who will remain with Presley
until his death in 1977.
January 9, 1971
Elvis Presley is named one of 10 Outstanding Young Men
of the Year by the U.S. Jaycees.
October 9, 1973
Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce in Santa Monica,
June 26, 1977
Elvis Presley delivers his last live performance, at
Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.
July 16, 1977
The last of 105 singles by Elvis Presley to reach the
Top Forty in his lifetime, "Way Down," enters
Billboard's Top Pop Singles chart, peaking at #18.
August 16, 1977
An unconscious Elvis Presley is rushed to Baptist
Memorial Hospital around 3 p.m. Despite efforts to
revive him, Presley is subsequently pronounced dead. At
a press conference that evening, medical examiner Dr.
Jerry Francisco indicates that the cause of death
appeared to be "cardiac arrhythmia," noting
that, "There was severe cardiovascular disease
January 23, 1986
Elvis Presley is inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame at the first induction dinner. Julian and Sean
Lennon are his presenters.
The Elvis Presley postage stamp is released.
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