Elvis Presley

At the age of ten Presley made his first performance by being dressed like a cowboy and standing on a chair at a microphone and singing in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi Alabama Fair and Dairy show. For Presley’s 11th birthday in 1946 he received his first guitar, he had wanted a bicycle or a rifle for his birthday however his parents could only afford a guitar.

His breakthrough came in January 1956 when Presley made his first recording for RCA. The session produced “Heartbreak Hotel” the public reaction to this encouraged RCA to release it as a single in its own right and by April it had hit number one in the U.S charts, selling in excess of one million copies.

The rest is history… now transform into Elvis and keep the legend alive….

The Story
Elvis Presley was American; he was a singer, a musician and an actor. Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two roomed house in Mississippi on 8th January 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon was stillborn, leaving Elvis as an only child. Growing up Elvis was unusually close to his mother and his family lived just above the poverty line and attended an Assembly of God Church. His father had several low paying jobs including sharecropper and truck driver and his mother worked as a sewing machinist. His father was often described at being adverse to work and responsibility and in 1938; he was jailed for an eight dollar check forgery. This caused Gladys and Elvis to lose their family home and move in with relatives.

In Presley’s time at school he was often bullied, his classmates would throw things at him because he was different; he was mama’s boy and stuttered. Despite this Presley was a well mannered and quiet child.

At the age of ten Presley made his first performance by being dressed like a cowboy and standing on a chair at a microphone and singing in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi Alabama Fair and Dairy show.

In September 1948 when Presley was 13, Presley and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating, Presley took odd jobs working as a movie theatre usher and a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He began singing locally as “The Hillbilly Cat” then signed with a local recording company.

Presley did a lot to establish early rock and roll music, bringing black blues singing into the white, teenage mainstream. Teenage girls became hysterical over Presley’s sexual gyrations.

His breakthrough came in January 1956 when Presley made his first recording for RCA. The session produced “Heartbreak Hotel” the public reaction to this encouraged RCA to release it as a single in its own right and by April it had hit number one in the U.S charts, selling in excess of one million copies.

1956 saw the year where Presley had increased exposure and was brought to national television. He and the band headed for RCA New York Studio and started recording songs along the more commercial and mainstream sound like “Blue Suede shoes”. In March Presley released his first album “Elvis Presley” and this went to the top of the pop album charts for 10 weeks. In April Presley launched his acting career with a screen test for Paramount Pictures. His first motion picture, “Love me tender” was released in November and this was the first of 33 movies he starred in.

In 1957 Presley purchased Graceland, a former church and he converted it into a twenty three roomed mansion. Presley was the first rock star to crossover into films with consistent success. Loving you, his second film and “Teddy bear” from its sound tack went to number one.
In December 1957, Presley received his draft notice. Paramount pictures had already spent $350,000 on the film king Creole, and they did not want to suspend or cancel the project. The Memphis draft Board granted Presley a deterrent to finish it.

In 1958 he was inducted as a US army private and he completed basic training and he was then posted to Friedberg in Germany where his service took place. In August of 1958, Presley’s mother, Gladys Presley had become very ill with acute hepatitis. Elvis Presley was granted emergency leave, he arrived back in Memphis two days before his mother passed away, she was 46 years old and her body lies in state at Graceland. Presley would call her death “The Greatest tragedy in his life”. In August 1959 Captain Joseph Beaulieu moved near to Friedberg accompanied by his wife and children, including his 14 year old daughter Priscilla and through a mutual friend, Priscilla was invited to a party at Presley’s home, where the couple met. In 1960 he was promoted to sergeant and was discharged that March.

Once leaving the army Presley had his first post army recording session and in April he began filming and recording his first post army movie “G I Blues”.

After a live performance in March 1961, Presley decided to quit performing and he spent the next eight years making movies. In 1962 Presley signed a new contract with RCA that ran until 1966.

Presley stayed in contact with Priscilla over the phone and they saw each other again In the summer of 1962. After another visit at Christmas, Priscilla’s parents let her move to America with Elvis for good. Shortly before Christmas 1966, Presley proposed to Priscilla and they married on 1st may 1967, amongst a small group of family and friends in Las Vegas. In the summer of 1967, while Presley was recording his 26th movie “Speedway” news of Priscilla’s pregnancy was announced and in November 1967 Elvis and Priscilla bought their first home in Beverley Hills. On 1st February 1968 Priscilla gave birth to Lisa Marie Presley.

By this time Elvis was profoundly unhappy with his career and fearing he had been forgotten, Presley made a comeback television special. Its soundtrack reached and produced his top twenty single. With his success Presley turned back to performing in Las Vegas. Presley was back on top with a sell out tour.

In 1972, Presley separated from Priscilla and on his birthday in 1973, he filed for divorce. A week later the TV special Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii was broadcast over the satellite to over forty countries showing what international appeal Presley had. Presley never performed out side the United States.

Outwardly, Presley was more popular than ever, however off stage he was plagued with self doubt, poor management and basically he was dissatisfied with his life. He kept threatening to quit show business but his financial obligations prevented that. Presley turned to drugs and became a total recluse. Towards the end of his life Presley would become incoherent on stage; he became fairly obese and had been known to collapse on stage. By the mid seventies Presley was facing financial disaster.

On the 26th June 1977 Presley performed for the final time in Indianapolis. On 16th August 1977, the day before his next scheduled concert, Presley was discovered dead in his bathroom at Graceland. His death was attributed to heart failure. An autopsy revealed advanced hardening of the arteries and an enlarged liver to which drug abuse may have been a contributing factor.

Thousands gathered at Graceland’s where his body lay in state. His body was buried in the meditation garden behind Graceland along with his mothers.

His talent, charisma and good looks endeared him to millions along with his human kindness. He was known world over by his first name and he is regarded as one of the most important figures of the twentieth century popular culture. Elvis is a cultural icon, also known as “The King of Rock and Roll”.

by Peter Walker

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