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Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977) was an American singer, known as the King of rock and roll.

Born to a poor family in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley was raised both in Tupelo and in Memphis, Tennessee to where his family moved when he was 13. He had a twin brother (Jesse Garon Presley), who died at birth. The young Elvis took up guitar at 11 and, after leaving school, worked for a while as a truck driver. In 1953, however, he recorded a one-off record at Sun Studios as a present for his mother, singing "My Happiness" and "That's When The Heartaches Begin", two popular ballads of the time.

Sun Records owner Sam Phillips heard the disc and, recognizing Presley's nascent talent, had him record for his label. The resulting record, "That's All Right", backed by guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black, was a huge local hit and regular touring started to expand his fame beyond Tennessee.

A string of hit records followed as the public's desire for his product seemed insatiable. 52 million people watched his January 28, 1956 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, for which the networks insisted he be filmed only from the waist up due to his customary suggestive hip movements. He entered the music charts for the first time on February 22, 1956, with "Heartbreak Hotel". On January 20, 1958, however, Presley received a draft notice for a 3-year tour with the US Army. Presley served in Germany where he drove a jeep for Sgt. Ira Jones.

Presley was deeply religious, and he recorded several gospel albums.

Following his release from the army on March 5, 1960, Presley began starring in motion pictures, on the advice of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. These were usually musicals based around Presley performances and marked the beginning of his transition from rebellious rock and roller to all-round family entertainer. The 1960s saw the quality of his recorded output drop, although he was still occasionally capable of creating records equal to his best. With this drop-off, and in the face of the social upheaval of the 1960s and the British Invasion spearheaded by The Beatles, Presley's star faded slightly before a triumphant TV comeback special in 1968 that saw him return to his rock and roll roots.

The 1970s again saw Elvis retreat from the public, battling an addiction to prescription drugs and the resulting weight problems while making occasional appearances as a headliner at leading hotels in Las Vegas, notably the Las Vegas Hilton. He died at his palatial home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee in 1977 and was buried on its grounds. The local medical examiner found his death to be a consequence of an overdose of mixed drugs and complications of severe heart disease. After his death, there have been numerous conspiracy theories and Elvis sightings.

Now, more than twenty years after his death, Presley remains one of the icons of the 20th century. His image, especially his trademark quiff (or 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.

But all too often, Elvis Presley's kitsch appeal, the industry which has grown up around chronicling his dietary and chemical predilictions and the trappings of his celebrity have tended to obscure the vibrant and vital music he made as a young man, and the lasting influence both he and his music had on American popular culture. Nonetheless, in October 2002, nearly 50 years after he made his first hit record, and 25 years after his death, an Elvis Presley album titled "ELV1S 30 #1 Hits," reached number 1 on the charts.

Amongst his many accomplishments, Elvis Presley is only one of two singers to ever simultaneously have two Top 5 albums on the charts.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Elvis Presley Facts

Birth NameElvis Aron Presley
OccupationMusician, Actor
BirthdayJanuary 8, 1935
SignCapricorn
BirthplaceTupelo, Mississippi, USA
Date of deathAugust 16, 1977 (age 42)
Height6' (1m83)  How tall is Elvis Presley compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Elvis Presley: From the Beginning to the End
Elvis 75th Birthday Collection
4 Film Favorites: Elvis Presley Musicals
Girl Happy
It Happened at the World's Fair
Speedway
Elvis Presley: He Touched Me
Elvis Presley: The Great Performances
Stay Away, Joe
Continue » Find more details on the Elvis Presley Movies page