Elvis Presley was a poor Southern boy who became the king of rock and roll, a Hollywood movie star, and a cultural icon of the 20th century, adored by fans the world over. From humble beginnings, his story is the ultimate fulfillment of the American dream, of rags to riches.
There were so many special things about Elvis. He was only one of a kind. His good looks, charisma and irresistible Southern charm captivated the hearts of millions worldwide, his name, image and versatile voice made him instantly recognizable and, his singing, movies, television appearances and record-breaking live concert performances brought a lot of happiness and endeared him to so many the world over. He was also, a great American who served his country in the U.S. Army and a devout Christian. The legacy that he created in the 1950’s lives on and will be remembered throughout the ages because the magic that was, and is, Elvis will shine bright forever.
Known the world over by his first name or simply, the king, he became a symbol for the young generation and created a whole new social revolution. He went on to capture the hearts and minds of young and old around the world and had an immeasurable effect on music, language, fashion and attitudes. From him, a whole generation took its lifestyle. And, underneath the superstar image and worldwide adulation, there was a real human being who was devoted to his mother and, who had God in his heart.
Elvis’ unique sound and style made him a success in many different kinds of music genres such as rock and roll, country, gospel, rhythm and blues and ballads. He is the best-selling artist in the history of popular music having sold over 1.3 billion records worldwide, more than any other musical artist or group in the world. And, 1.5 billion people worldwide watched him in his Aloha from Hawaii special in 1973. His home, Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee is one of the most visited homes today attracting over 600,000 visitors annually and is the most famous home in America after the White House. In 1991, Graceland was placed on the National Register Of Historical Places.
No other entertainer has inspired so much tribute and adulation. Why are there so many Elvis impersonators around the world today? (about 78,000 worldwide) This is a testament to Elvis’ immense influence and iconic status. Also, in 1993, the U.S. Postal Service issued an Elvis Presley commemorative postage stamp. It is the most widely publicized stamp issue in the history of the U.S. Postal Service and, is the top-selling commemorative postage stamp of all time. And, he is the only entertainer to have been inducted into three separate music Halls of Fame-the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
The Early Years
Elvis was born on January, 8, 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression, into a poor but, close-knit, working class family, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was one of twins. His brother, Jesse Garon Presley was stillborn. For Vernon and Gladys, their only son was the center of their lives. During his childhood he sang in church with his parents and raised to have strong faith in God. The beautiful, gospel music of his childhood became an important influence on him as did the country and blues of America’s Deep South in which he was raised. It was the combination of these different styles that was to provide his unique musical identity.
On his eleventh birthday, young Elvis was given a guitar, as a gift by his parents. In 1948, Elvis and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in search of a better life and, at sixteen, he cultivated a new image by combing his hair back and growing sideburns. He graduated from Humes High School in 1953.
His entry into the music business began in 1953 when he paid to record a demo of the song My Happiness, as a gift for his mother. The studio manager, Marion Keisker, noted Elvis’ unusual vocal style and informed Sun Record’s owner, Sam Phillips of his potential. Sam got Elvis together with country guitarist, Scotty Moore and bass player, Bill Black and he began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues.
In 1954, Elvis recorded his debut disc “That’s All Right” at Sun Records which becomes a local hit and, in 1955, Colonel Tom Parker became his manager. In 1956 Elvis cuts his first album, “Elvis Presley” for new label RCA and it becomes a number 1 smash as did his first hit record Heartbreak Hotel in the same year. Also in 1956, the singer’s first movie, Love Me Tender, is released in cinemas across the United States.The rest is history. He became an international sensation and rose to become the world’s greatest rock and roll superstar and a legend. Elvis married Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967 and their daughter, Lisa Marie was born in 1968. Elvis is, and always will be the king. There has never been anyone like him and never will be.