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Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Presley in a publicity photograph for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock
Born
Elvis Aron Presley

(1935-01-08)January 8, 1935
Died August 16, 1977(1977-08-16) (aged 42)
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee
Education Humes High School
Occupation
  • Singer
  • actor
Spouse(s)
Priscilla Beaulieu
(m. 1967; div. 1973)
Children Lisa Marie Presley
Relatives Riley Keough (granddaughter)
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).svg Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously; 2018)
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
Years active 1946–1977
Labels
Associated acts
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  Army
Years of service 1958–1960
Rank Army-USA-OR-05.svg Sergeant
Unit Headquarters Company, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor Regiment, 3d Armored Division
Awards Army Good Conduct Medal ribbon.svg Good Conduct Medal

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known simply as Elvis, was an American singer, musician 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 provocative performance style, combined with a mix of different music influences led him great success.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee with his family when he was 13 years old.

His music career began in Memphis 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 music, a 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 weren't that great.

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.

He won three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall 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 by a solo artist on the UK Albums Chart and the most number-one singles by any act on the UK Singles Chart.

In 2018, Presley was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Early life

Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi to 18-year-old Vernon Elvis Presley and 22-year-old Gladys Love Presley (née Smith), in the two-room house built by Vernon's father in preparation for the child's birth. Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before him.

As an only child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an unusually tight bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration.

Vernon moved from one odd job to the next. The family often relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance.

The Presleys survived the F5 tornado in the 1936 Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak. In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check written by the landowner. He was jailed for eight months, and Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives.

He moved to Memphis, Tennessee with his family when he was 13 years old.

Artistry

Influences

Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel. His mother recalled that from the age of two, at the Assembly of God church in Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform.

Though he never had any formal training, he was blessed with a remarkable memory, and his musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his first professional recordings in 1954 at the age of 19. When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues.

Musical style and genres

PresleyPromo1954PhotoOnly
Presley in a Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954
Elvis Presley first national television appearance 1956
Publicity photo for the CBS program Stage Show, January 16, 1956

Presley was a central figure in the development of rockabilly, according to music historians.

At RCA, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars and a tougher, more intense manner.

In 1957, his first gospel record was released, the four-song EP Peace in the Valley. Certified as a million seller, it became the top-selling gospel EP in recording history. Presley would record gospel periodically for the rest of his life.

After his return from military service in 1960, Presley continued to perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially toned down.

While Presley performed several of his classic ballads for the '68 Comeback Special, the sound of the show was dominated by aggressive rock and roll. His stylistic range now began to embrace a more contemporary rock sound as well as soul and funk. In the mid-1970s, many of his singles found a home on country radio, the field where he first became a star.

Personal life

Presley entered the military in 1958, and was stationed in Germany. He was honorably discharged from the military, and returned to the United States in 1960.

In Germany, he met Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he married in 1967. They had a daughter which they named Lisa Marie (who was married to pop singer Michael Jackson).

In 1973, Priscilla and Elvis divorced.

Death

He died on August 16, 1977 from a heart attack. He hadn't been well in his later years due to being overweight and having too many prescription drugs.

Presley's funeral was held at Graceland on Thursday, August 18. About 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother.

Interesting facts about Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley Pink Cadillac on display
Elvis Presley's iconic Pink Cadillac on display in 2012
  • Elvis has sold over one billion records.
  • Elvis used to darken his hair with shoe polish.
  •  Elvis Presley bought Graceland in 1957 for himself and his family. It is one of the most famous houses in the world. It was opened up to the public as a museum in 1982.
  • Elvis bought a jet plane and he named it the “Lisa Marie” after his daughter.
  • Elvis loved Karate. In 1960 he received his black belt.
  • Elvis was a car collector. He also liked gifting cars to friends. He loved Cadillacs and he owned more than 100 Cadillacs during his lifetime.
  • He made more that 30 movies.
  • In his career he recorded over 600 songs.
  • He loved donuts and fried chicken.
  • He didn't like eating fish and didn't like people eating fish around him.

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