Elvis Presley

Elvis was a singer and actor. He is well known as one of the most remarkable cultural figure of the …….

QUICK FACTS

Nationality: American

Born: January 8, 1935

Born Place: Tupelo, Mississippi, United States

Died: August 16, 1977

Death Place: Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Gender: Male

Spouse: Priscilla Beaulieu (m. 1967; div. 1973)

Genres:

  • Rock and roll
  • pop
  • rockabilly
  • country
  • gospel
  • R&B

BIOGRAPHY

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known simply as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. He is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King”. His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race relations, led him to great success—and initial controversy.

Presley 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. Presley, 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 Presley’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. Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, he became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll.

In November 1956, Presley made his film debut in Love Me Tender. Drafted into military service in 1958, Presley 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, most of them critically derided. 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, Presley gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast around the world, Aloha from Hawaii. Years of prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 at his Graceland estate at the age of 42.

With his rise from poverty to significant fame, Presley’s success seemed to epitomize the American Dream. The best-selling solo music artist of all time, he was commercially successful in many genres, including pop, country, R&B, adult contemporary, and gospel. He won three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. Presley holds several records; the most RIAA certified gold and platinum albums, the most albums charted on the Billboard 200, and the most number-one albums and number-one singles on the UK Albums Chart and UK Singles Chart, respectively. In 2018, Presley was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

EARLY LIFE

Childhood in Tupelo

Present-day photograph of a whitewashed house, about 15 feet wide. Four bannistered steps in the foreground lead up to a roofed porch that holds a swing wide enough for two. The front of the house has a door and a single-paned window. The visible side of the house, about 30 feet long, has double-paned windows.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis (April 10, 1916 – June 26, 1979) and Gladys Love (née Smith; April 25, 1912 – August 14, 1958) Presley in a two-room shotgun house that his father built for the occasion. Elvis’s identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was delivered 35 minutes before him, stillborn. Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration.

His father, Vernon’s, forebears were of German or Scottish origin. On his mother’s side Presley’s ancestry was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman. His mother, Gladys, and the rest of the family apparently believed that her great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was Cherokee; this was confirmed by Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough in 2017. Elaine Dundy in her biography supports the belief, although one genealogy researcher has contested it on multiple grounds. 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. In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check written by his landowner and sometime employer. He was jailed for eight months, while Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives.

In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his teachers regarded him as “average”. 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. The contest, held at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance. The ten-year-old Presley was dressed as a cowboy; he stood on a chair to reach the microphone and sang “Old Shep”. 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.”

In September 1946, Presley entered a new school, Milam, for sixth grade; he was regarded as a loner. The following year, he began bringing his guitar to school on a daily basis. He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a “trashy” kid who played hillbilly music. By then, the family was living in a largely black neighborhood. Presley was a devotee of Mississippi Slim’s show on the Tupelo radio station WELO. He was described as “crazy about music” by Slim’s younger brother, who was one of Presley’s classmates and often took him into the station. Slim supplemented Presley’s guitar tuition by demonstrating chord techniques. When his protégé was twelve 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.

Teenage life in Memphis

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 that 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”, 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”. In 1950, he began practicing guitar regularly under the tutelage of Lee Denson, a neighbor two and a half years his senior. 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 working as an usher at Loew’s State Theater. Other jobs followed: 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 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’ thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers. By his senior year, he was wearing those clothes. Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the Lauderdale Courts, he competed in Humes’ Annual “Minstrel” show in April 1953. 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 in school after that.”

Presley, who received no formal music training and could not read music, studied and played by ear. He also frequented record stores that provided jukeboxes and listening booths to customers. 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, only on 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. Many of his future recordings were inspired by local African-American musicians such as Arthur Crudup and Rufus Thomas. B.B. King recalled that he had known Presley before he was popular when they both used to frequent Beale Street. By the time he graduated from high school in June 1953, Presley had already singled out music as his future.

ACHIEVEMENTS

To this day, Presley remains the best-selling solo artist, with sales estimates ranging from 600 million to 1 billion sales.

Presley holds the records for most songs charting in Billboard’s top 40—115—and top 100: 152, according to chart statistician Joel Whitburn, 139 according to Presley historian Adam Victor. Presley’s rankings for top ten and number-one hits vary depending on how the double-sided “Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel” and “Don’t/I Beg of You” singles, which precede the inception of Billboard’s unified Hot 100 chart, are analyzed. According to Whitburn’s analysis, Presley holds the record with 38, tying with Madonna; per Billboard’s current assessment, he ranks second with 36. Whitburn and Billboard concur that the Beatles hold the record for most number-one hits with 20, and that Mariah Carey is second with 18. Whitburn has Presley also with 18, and thus tied for second; Billboard has him third with 17. Presley retains the record for cumulative weeks at number one: alone at 80, according to Whitburn and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; tied with Carey at 79, according to Billboard. He holds the records for most British number-one hits with 21, and top ten hits with 76.

As an album artist, Presley is credited by Billboard with the record for the most albums charting in the Billboard 200: 129, far ahead of second-place Frank Sinatra’s 82. He also holds the record for most time spent at number one on the Billboard 200: 67 weeks. In 2015 and 2016, two albums setting Presley’s vocals against music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, If I Can Dream and The Wonder of You, both reached number one in the United Kingdom. This gave him a new record for number-one UK albums by a solo artist with 13, and extended his record for longest span between number-one albums by anybody—Presley had first topped the British chart in 1956 with his self-titled debut.

As of 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) credits Presley with 146.5 million certified album sales in the U.S., third all time behind the Beatles and Garth Brooks. He holds the records for most gold albums (101, nearly twice as many as second-place Barbra Streisand’s 51), and most platinum albums (57). His 25 multi-platinum albums is second behind The Beatles’ 26. His total of 197 album certification awards (including one diamond award), far outpaces the Beatles’ second-best 122. He has the third-most gold singles (54, behind Drake and Taylor Swift), and the eighth-most platinum singles (27).

In 2012 the spider Paradonea presleyi was named in his honor.

In 2018, President Donald Trump awarded Presley the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

DISCOGRAPHY

A vast number of recordings have been issued under Presley’s 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)
 

FILMOGRAPHY

  • Love Me Tender (1956)
  • Loving You (1957)
  • Jailhouse Rock (1957)
  • King Creole (1958)
  • G.I. Blues (1960)
  • Flaming Star (1960)
  • Wild in the Country (1961)
  • Blue Hawaii (1961)
  • Follow That Dream (1962)
  • Kid Galahad (1962)
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
  • It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)
  • Fun in Acapulco (1963)
  • Kissin’ Cousins (1964)
  • Viva Las Vegas (1964)
  • Roustabout (1964)
  • Girl Happy (1965)
  • Tickle Me (1965)
  • Harum Scarum (1965)
  • Frankie and Johnny (1966)
  • Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
  • Spinout (1966)
  • Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)
  • Double Trouble (1967)
  • Clambake (1967)
  • Stay Away, Joe (1968)
  • Speedway (1968)
  • Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
  • Charro! (1969)
  • The Trouble with Girls (1969)
  • Change of Habit (1969)
  • Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970)
  • Elvis on Tour (1972)

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 4 July 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

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