On January 8, 1935--little did the world know that the child born to Vernon and Gladys Presley would one day become one of the most influential and legendary performers of all time... the King of Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley.
Elvis was born in a small, modest two-room home to a poor family in the heart of Depression along with his younger stillborn brother, Jesse Garon.
By the age of 13, his family moved to Memphis. After graduating from high school in 1953, instead of working on his singing career, he opted to work full time as a truck driver; but that soon changed.
For his own pleasure, Elvis decided to record a few demos at Sun Records primarily to play for friends and managed to capture the interest of Sun owner Sam Phillips.
Phillips had been looking for a white singer with a "black feel" to his voice and Elvis fit the bill. He teamed Elvis with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. Almost by accident, apparently, the trio hit upon a version of an Arthur Crudup blues tune, "That's All Right Mama," that became Elvis' first single.
The band began to perform in smalltime concerts. Elvis eventually signed to Hank Snow Attractions owned by Snow and Colonel Tom Parker, who became his exclusive manager. Under the new management he was ready to hit the charts and signed a contract with RCA Records before then recorded the single "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1956. The single ranked #1 for eight weeks on Billboard's Pop Singles chart, earning Elvis his first gold record award after it successfully sold over one million copies. His recording company quickly launched his debut album "Elvis Presley," which topped the Billboard's Pop Album chart for ten weeks. It made over $1 million in sales and earned him his first gold album award.
Elvis attracted much attention as he made a controversy by doing a sensuous dance while singing "Hound Dog" at the Milton Berle Show in June 1956. The adult and religious community objected the seductive performance, but ever since, the hip-movement became Elvis' trademark. With his good look and unusual sideburns style, he soon became an idol to fanatics, especially females.
After the Milton Berle Show controversy, he decided to make another step. He signed a seven-year movie contract with Hal Wallis and Paramount Pictures and started his first movie Love Me Tender (1956). Several of his movies, Jailhouse Rock (1957), King Creole (1958) and Flaming Star (1960), were all considered the best and received good reviews from movie critics. Meanwhile, where in Jailhouse Rock his acting was regarded as his best act ever, his appearance in Flaming Star, an interracial drama with limited music, earned appreciation from a Native American tribal. And for all his life, Elvis has starred in 31 movies, including the fanatics' favorite Blue Hawaii (1961) and Viva Las Vegas (1964).
He spent some of his movie earnings to buy a Graceland Mansion, where his parents along with his paternal grandmother were brought to move in.
In 1956, Elvis had to leave Graceland and was sent to U.S. Army for a two years duty at Memphis Draft Board. He cut his famous hair and thus, creating a new G.I. haircut style. He was sent to Fort Hood, Texas, for basic training and stationed there ... for six months. Colonel Parker managed to make Elvis exists as he already did a recording session after the basic training. Moreover, one of his movies King Creole (1958) was released during the mission. But due to his mother's condition who was suffered from acute hepatitis, Elvis was permitted to leave his troops and visit her for a few days before she eventually died on August 14, 1958. Shattered, he went back to his base, sent to New York and eventually stationed in Friedberg, Germany, for 18 months. In 1960, he was discharged from active duty and flight back to Graceland. Approvingly, Elvis did not entirely lose his uniform as he soon had a role in GI Blues (1960), which soundtrack topped the Billboard album charts for ten weeks. He continued to make records and played in several other movies afterwards.
The peak of "British Invasion" in 1964 was soon become a threatening sign for Elvis' career. Thus, his popularity decreased as many people got their eyes on The Beatles, which reportedly was formed after being influenced by him. The band marking the start of the new era and eventually flight to America in 1965 to meet the legend in ... person. The visit went quite well as they were reported to have an informal jam session with him for several hours. Elvis tried not to be anxious about the sign and concentrated on his personal life instead. He proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu who is the stepdaughter of his former commanding officer in Germany. The couple met in 1959 and has been living together in Graceland since 1963. They eventually got married in a private ceremony on May 1, 1967, and had their only daughter Lisa Marie Presley born nine months after the wedding. Sadly, after a nearly six-year of marriage, Elvis began seeing Linda Thompson and dating her before eventually broke up in 1976. He soon found another woman named Ginger Alden who became his companion until his death.
In the late sixties, he was totally devastated since many of his movies failed to hit the box office. Yet, he was not fully giving up. He arranged his first television special called The '68 Special and gave his best performance on stage where he wore a two-piece black leather outfit that eventually started the era of James Dean. That was when Elvis Presley was proclaimed the King of Rock 'n' Roll for the first time. Moreover, the United States Jaycees also listed him as one of the ten outstanding Young Men of the Nation in 1970, and by the age of 36, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award (1971). Ever since, Elvis started to arrange his first post-army tours. He also appeared on the cover of Look Magazine and had a biography Elvis: A Biography released in 1971. His fame is unstoppable as a long stretch of Highway 51 in front of Graceland mansion is officially renamed Elvis Presley Boulevard. What's more, in 1993, a commemorative stamp that featured his image was brought out by the U.S. Postal Service and became the top selling stamp of all time.
Even though his American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, all Grammies he received came from gospel albums. A rendition of "How Great Thou Art" won him the 1968 and 1975 Grammy. Meanwhile, another Grammy was received from his gospel album titled "He Touched Me" in 1973. The achievement has somehow put his spirit back on track, as in 1973, he made a comeback on ... a small screen concert titled Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii broadcast via satellite special and was noted in a television and entertainment history. "A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It's my favorite part of the business - live concerts," says Elvis before the gig.
Regretfully, Elvis' health worsened after the memorable concert and his divorce with Priscilla. He spent several days in hospital fighting his addiction to prescription drugs. Still, Elvis refused to take a career break and continued arranging several other tours with his family and staff. He finally hit his self-limitation on August 16, 1977. He was found dead on the floor of his bathroom and his dead body was soon transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital. Doctors who examined it claimed he dead at 3.30pm and careful medical assessment mentioned heart attack as the main cause. No matter what, his generosity and commitment to serve the community exist through his foundations. The Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation (EPCF) was formed in 1984 and created the Elvis Presley Endowed Scholarship Fund at the College of Communication & Fine Arts at the University of Memphis. Graceland also supportw music education for children through a non-profit organization called "Little Kids Rock." Other foundations, such as Goodwill Homes and Presley Place, are focusing on families and facilities to break the poverty cycle. Above all, Elvis himself still remains in the heart of his nowadays fans. To commemorate his mammoth contribution to music, Elvis-A-Rama Museum was built. It is located at 3401 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, Nevada.
After his death, Graceland as well as his home in Tupelo opened to the public. Elvis and Gladys' remains are laid in Graceland after an attempted theft from the previous grave at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis. Graceland is the second most famous home (after the White House).