Elvis Aaron Presley was born to be a legend. He had all the formulas he needed; the good looks, talent, success and generosity.
He and his stillborn identical twin Jesse were born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. Born to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith, Elvis has shown his musical talent since he was just a little boy as he once participated in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show held in Tupelo. Ever since, he sang with his guitar that his mother bought for him. Later on in the late 1948, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where in 1953, he graduated from Humes High School before previously attended at Milam Junior High in Tupelo. He soon worked at Parker Machinists Shop after graduation. One day, during his hectic activities, Elvis wondered what was it like to have his voice recorded. Thus, he went to Memphis Recording Service, later renamed to Sun Studio, to record a demo entitled "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" for about $4.00 and gave it to his mother. He moved from his old job and worked at Precision Tool Company. He also went to a night school, where he studied to be an electrician and eventually landed on another job at Crown Electric Company.
When Elvis went to make another demo tape, the Sun's owner Sam Phillips asked him to team up with local musicians and started to make records in 1954. The singles "Big Boy" and "That's All Right" went quite well and the band began to perform in smalltime concerts. Elvis did tried a solo performance on the Grand Ole Opry radio station, which sadly failed, but he finally was hired to other station called Hayride for a fifty-two Saturday night appearances. He was 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 a single titled "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. And as everyone has expected, it reached over $1 million in sales and earning him his first gold album award.
The young artist 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. "Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess," says Elvis talking about his way of moving on stage.
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. After his death in 1977, Graceland as well as his house in Tupelo open for public and have had a mansion tour for every place, except the upstairs to keep the family privacy. Elvis and Gladys' remains are laid in Graceland after an attempted theft of his body from the previous grave at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis. And based on the amount of the visitors, Graceland became the second most famous home after the White House and noted on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Moreover, a fashionable boutique hotel called "Heartbreak Hotel" was also built for visitors convenient.
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.
Finally, Elvis dedication to music was paid off. Even though his American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, all Grammy 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, his health began to get worse since the memorable concert. And after his divorce with Priscilla was settled at the same year, he spent few days in hospital, as he had to fight his addiction to prescription drugs and weight problem. Still Elvis, who has made nearly 1,100 concerts since 1969, refused to take a career break and continued arranging several other tours with his family and staff. Yet, the King of Rock 'n' Roll 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. Moreover, Graceland also supporting 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, there built the Elvis-A-Rama Museum, which is the largest private collection of him. It is located at 3401 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, Nevada.