PRESLEY, ELVIS ARON - Nicknamed as "The King Of Rock And Roll", Elvis Presley is probably the most famous singer and entertainer of the 20th century.
Born at 4:35 a.m. on January 8, 1935 (Astrological sign of Elvis is Capricorn) in East Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Smith Presley, and reared in Memphis in
near poverty, he became an international celebrity and one of the wealthiest entertainers in history. Elvis' twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn and buried in an unmarked grave in the Priceville Cemetery the next day.
In his early childhood, Elvis Presley loved to sing the gospel songs that were sung in the First Assembly of God Church just one block from his family's home. Elvis attended the church with his parents, who also
enjoyed joining in on the musical praises.
While in the fifth grade at Lawhon Elementary School, Elvis' teacher, Mrs. J.C. Oleta Grimes, discovered that Elvis had an
unusual singing talent when he extemporaneously sang "Old Shep" in class one day. Grimes informed the school's principal, J.D. Cole, of Elvis' talent and, on October 3, 1945, he entered Elvis Presley in the annual talent contest at the Mississippi- Alabama
Fair and Dairy Show. The talent contest was sponsored and broadcast live by Tupelo radio station WELO. Singing "Old Shep", Elvis Presley did not win second place, five dollars. Nubin Payne actually won second price that year, she still has her trophy.
On Elvis' birthday on January 8, 1946, he received his first guitar - a $7.75 model purchased by his mother at the Tupelo Hardware Store. According to the proprietor, Forrest L. Bobo, Elvis
wanted a rifle and raised quite a ruckus in the store when it became evident that Gladys was not about to buy him the gun.
Elvis Presley was influenced by many country,
gospel, and blues artists from his area, who lived adjacent to the African American neighborhoods of ''Shake Rag'' and ''On the Hill'' location next to the railway tracks, and according to musicians who have stated that Elvis Presley may have been especially
swayed by the music of ''Tee-Toc'' or Lonnie Williams, and in the summer of 1948 the Presley's moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Though the circumstances remain clouded, it appears that Vernon Presley was in trouble with the law. Apparently he had been selling
moonshine whiskey. Reportedly, Tupelo authorities gave Vernon two weeks to leave town. In any case, the Presley's moved from Tupelo to Memphis in September 1948, and Elvis Presley was enrolled at the Christine School. The following year he entered Humes High
From 1948 to 1953, Elvis Presley frequent on Beale Street and he joins the black bars and jukes listening to the black musicians, and his years at Humes High
were unevenly, except for his senior year. During that year, 1952 to 1953, Elvis Presley was persuaded by his history and homeroom teacher Mrs. Mildred Scrivener, to perform in the annual Humes High Minstrel Show, which she produced.
While attending Humes High School, Elvis Presley went to work for the Precision Tool Company on June 3, 1951. He was employed there only a month. After graduating from high school, Elvis Presley
frequently in the Beale Street area's, and was hired by the Crown Electric Company as a truck driver. His job consisted primarily of delivering supplies to the men on construction sites.
During a lunch break on a Saturday afternoon in July 1953, Elvis Presley stopped in front of the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The Memphis Recording Service was a lucrative sideline for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records.
While there were several similar companies in Memphis. Elvis chose the Memphis Recording Service because it was owned by Sam Phillips. Legend has it that Elvis wanted to make a record for his mother's birthday; however, Gladys Presley's birthday was on April
25, so that story can be discounted.
Marion Keisker, a former "Miss Radio of Memphis" and then Sam Phillips' studio manager, was in the studio when Elvis Presley proceeded
to record two songs "My Happiness", and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Midway through "My Happiness", Keisker recognized in Elvis Presley the quality that Sam Phillips was looking for: "A white singer with a Negro voice". She immediately threaded a piece
of discarded recording tape onto the Ampex tape recorder used in the studio and succeeded in recording the last third of "My Happiness" and all of "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Before Elvis left the studio with his record, Keisker asked for his address
and telephone number.
On Monday, January 4, 1954, Elvis Presley again returned to the Memphis Recording Service to make another four-dollar demo. In early June of 1954,
Sam Phillips couldn't locate the black singer of a demo record of "Without Love" that he brought back from Peer Music in Nashville. He decided to record it with someone else, and Marion Keisker suggested he try Elvis Presley.
On Monday, July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley made his first commercial recording session at Sun Records. The first song he put on tape was "Harbor Lights". During a refreshment break, Elvis began cutting up and singing
an upbeat version of Arthur Crudup's blues standard "That's All Right", and his musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in. The next evening they decided on an up-tempo version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" for the flip-side of the record.
Sam Phillips took acetates of Elvis' first record to many of the local disc jockeys. On the evening of July 7, 1954 on his WHBQ radio program, "Red Hot and Blue", disc jockey Dewey Phillips
played "That's All Right". The response was so terrific that Dewey Phillips called Elvis at home to arrange an interview. The interview and record made Elvis an overnight celebrity in Memphis.
On July 12, 1954, Elvis Presley signed a managerial contract with Scotty Moore, and later that week signed a recording contract with Sun Records. The following week, on July 19, "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" (SUN 209) was released.
Eventually sales totaled less than twenty thousand copies, but it was the beginning of a career that would be unmatched by anyone in the history of the entertainment industry.
Presley's first professional appearance after signing with Sun Records was at the Overton Park Shell on July 30, 1954. Slim Whitman was the featured performer that day.
soon began making many professional appearances, among them the grand opening of the Katz Drug Store in September 1954. On October 2, 1954, he made his first and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, singing "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".
The audience response was lukewarm and Jim Denny, the talent coordinator for the Grand Ole Opry, suggested that Elvis Presley go back to driving a truck. Two weeks later, however, Elvis performed on the "Louisiana Hayride", and the response was so good that
he was asked to become a regular.
On January 1, 1955, Scotty Moore, no longer able to fully devote his time to the management of Elvis Presley's career, relinquished
his managerial duties to WMPS disc jockey Bob Neal.
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black auditioned for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" in New York City in April
1955, failing to make the show.
In the fall of 1955, Sam Phillips was faced with a problem: should he continue to devote his energies to promoting Elvis, or should he
sell Elvis' contract to the highest bidder and use the money to develop several of the potential stars he had at Sun Records. He chose the latter. At the Warwick Hotel in New York City, on November 20, 1955, Sam Phillips sold Elvis' Sun contract to RCA Victor
for the total sum of $40,000 ($25,000 from RCA and $15,000 from the Hill and Range Music Company), plus a $5,000 bonus to Elvis Presley to cover the amount he would have received in royalties from Sun Records.
Though he was with Sun Records for only sixteen months, Elvis Presley recorded five records: SUN 209 ("That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky''); SUN 210 ("Good Rockin' Tonight"/"I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"); SUN
215 ("Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker"); SUN 217 ("Baby, Let's Play House"/"I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone"); SUN 233 ("Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget").
In late 1954, Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker, a former carnival worker, began taking an interest in Elvis' career, and it was Parker who helped to secure the RCA Victor contract. In 1955, Parker assisted Bob Neal in booking several performances
for Elvis Presley. Although Bob Neal was Elvis' legal manager, Parker began to guide his career in mid-1955. On March 15, 1956, Tom Parker officially took over the managerial duties.
signing with RCA Victor, all of Elvis' Sun singles were re-released on RCA's label, and on January 10, 1956, Elvis Presley had his first recording session for RCA Victor in Nashville, Tennessee. The first song put on tape was "I Got A Woman", but the big hit
from the session was "Heartbreak Hotel", a tune written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton. "Heartbreak Hotel", backed with "I Was The One", was released on January 27, 1956, and the following evening, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill made their national television
debut on the Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show". Five more appearances followed. By the time of the last appearance, on March 24, "Heartbreak Hotel" was the number one song on Billboard magazine's popularity chart, and Elvis Presley was on his way to becoming a
Elvis Presley made a screen test for Hal Wallis of Paramount studios on April 1, 1956. He did a scene from "The Rainmaker" with veteran actor Frank Faylen
and sang "Blue Suede Shoes". Two days later, Elvis made the first of two appearances on "The Milton Berle Show". A disastrous two-week stand at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed later in April and early May. Originally scheduled for four
weeks. Elvis' last Las Vegas debut was cut short after the second week because of poor audience response. On June 5, 1956, Elvis made his second appearance on "The Milton Berle Show", and "The Steve Allen Show" followed on July 5, 1956. Elvis Presley's big
break came when he performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on September 9, 1956. After that he was truly a national phenomenon. His performance was viewed by an estimated 54 million people.
Elvis' first movie, Love Me Tender, premiered in November 1956, and he was on his way to becoming a successful movie star. Three other films were made in the 1950s: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole.
Before filming King Creole, Elvis Presley received his draft notice. Originally scheduled to report for duty on January 20, 1958, Elvis requested and received a deferment to March 24, 1958 so that he could finish
filming King Creole.
On Monday morning, March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army. He received his indoctrination at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and was
then sent to Fort Wood, Texas, for boot camp. Though Elvis' Army career was primarily uneventual, two events did occur that were to change his life.
While Elvis was stationed
at Fort Wood, Texas, his mother Gladys became ill. She died on August 14, 1958, at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis. Gladys Presley was forty-six, though it was erroneously believed she was forty-two.
In September 1958, Elvis Presley was assigned to the Second Armored Division in West Germany. During his stay in Germany, Airman Currie Grant introduced Elvis to his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu.
Vernon Presley also met his future wife in West Germany. Davada (Dee) Stanley was in the process of divorcing her husband, an Army sergeant, when Vernon met her. On July 3, 1960, Vernon Presley and Dee Stanley
were married in a private ceremony in Huntsville, Alabama. Elvis Presley did not attend.
Soon after Elvis' discharge on March 5, 1960, he travelled to Miami, Florida,
to film the Frank Sinatra-Timex Special "Welcome Home, Elvis" for ABC-TV. Just before Christmas 1960, Elvis placed a call to Colonel Joseph Beaulieu to ask for permission for Priscilla to spend the holiday at Graceland. After talking with Vernon Presley, Colonel
Beaulieu agreed. More that a year later, Elvis arranged Priscilla to live at Graceland, enroling her in Immaculate Conception High School in Memphis.
Elvis Presley gave
a benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial Fund in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 25, 1961. It was to be his last live performance for eight years. "Good Luck Charm", was Elvis' last number one single until 1969, was released the following year.
During the 1960s, Elvis busied himself with making movies, filming twenty-seven of them during the decade. His most successful film was Viva Las Vegas in 1964. None of the movies received
rave reviews from the critics, but Elvis' legion of fans made certain that they all showed a profit at the box office.
Musically, the mid-1960s was a period of decline
for Elvis Presley. None of his singles released reached number one and almost all of them were from his movies. His records weren't the giant hits they were in his golden years of the 1950s and early 1960s. Elvis' decline can be attributed to several factors.
Foremost among them is the advent of the British invasion and, specifically, the Beatles. The sheer number of instrumental and vocal groups and single performers on the music charts simply diluted the market. There was more competition for the public's record-buying
dollar, and it took a much stronger record to reach number one or to become a million-seller.
On May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married at the Aladdin Hotel in
Las Vegas, Nevada. Nine months later, on February 1, 1968, their child, Lisa Marie, was born. Elvis' marriage and the birth of Lisa Marie seemed to give him a new drive for success and the urge to perform before a live audience again.