Elvis is one of the most iconic figures in music history. Known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” the entertainer burst onto the scene in the 1950s with his mix of country music and rhythm and blues. His first single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was a huge hit and set the stage for numerous other number-one songs.
While you may have seen photos of Elvis on stage, on film, and in later years after he gained a lot of weight, there are many images of the star you may not have come across, including photos of him as a child and in a soldier’s uniform. Remember The King with these rare photos.
Elvis Had Scottish, Irish, German & Cherokee Roots
Here’s a photo of Elvis as a child, circa the early 1940s. The singer was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, so he was likely under age 10 in this picture. Elvis had an identical twin brother who was stillborn and had a very strong relationship with both of his parents, particularly his mother, Gladys Love Presley.
His mother was Scots-Irish and French, and also had some Cherokee Indian genes. His father had German and Scottish roots.
His Family Lost Their Home When He Was Still A Toddler
Elvis is just two years old in this picture in which he poses alongside his parents, Gladys and Vernon. Life wasn’t easy for the Presley family. His father changed jobs frequently and didn’t exhibit much ambition when it came to having a career. When Elvis was just one-year-old, his family was evicted from their home.
Elvis’s father had written a bad check and went to jail for eight months. Elvis and his mother moved in with relatives while his father served time in prison.
He Dressed As A Cowboy In His First Public Appearance
This image shows Elvis dressed as a cowboy complete with a cowboy hat and a pistol. He made his first public appearance in 1945 at age 10 at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. He dressed up as a cowboy and sang the song “Old Shep”. During his performance, he required a chair to reach the microphone. The singer later recalled he took fifth place in the competition.
Shortly afterward, he received a guitar as a birthday gift, even though it’s not what he wanted. His pastor and uncles gave him lessons, but he was very shy about singing in front of other people.
Elvis Makes His Film Debut
Here is an image of Elvis circa 1957. The year prior, the singer’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” hit number one. Before long, he released several more chart-topping songs and made numerous television appearances. Elvis became the symbol of rock and roll.
At this point, Elvis was hugely popular because of his provocative dance style and ability to appeal to people of all races. This, however, also made him a controversial figure. Also in 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender.
Elvis’ Mother Helped Him Decorate Graceland
This photo shows Elvis strolling around the Graceland estate circa 1957. Earlier that year he gave his parents $100,000 to find him a farmhouse property. At the time, Graceland was quite secluded from urban Memphis, Tennesse. The singer purchased the property for $102,500.
Elvis’ mother died the following year, and in 1960 his father married a woman named Dee Stanley. The couple moved to Graceland where they lived for a while until Elvis got fed up with his stepmother’s attempt to rearrange the rooms his mother had originally helped him decorate.
He Maintained A Close Relationship With His Mom
This image shows Elvis next to his father and kissing his mother on the eve of his introduction into the Army. He was drafted in 1958, the year after he purchased Graceland. As we mentioned earlier, Elvis was particularly close to his mother. When he was a youngster, they attended the Assembly of God church, where he learned to love music.
Elvis was drafted in March, and his mother died in August after being diagnosed with hepatitis and suffering from heart failure. She was just 46 years old, and the singer was inconsolable. The pair used to communicate with each other in baby talk, and Elvis even called his mother several pet names.
He Spent 16 Months In The Army
Elvis served 16 months in the 3rd U.S. Armoured Division. In this image, the singer is receiving his first bundle of mail at the Friedberg U.S. Army base in Germany. Elvis had no problem with serving his country and is credited with saying, “The Army can do anything it wants with me.”
Two years after joining the Army, Elvis went back to recording music. He didn’t do many concerts but instead turned his focus to Hollywood films and soundtrack albums.
He Seemed To Get Along Quite Well With His G.I. Blues Co-Stars
Here’s a photo of Elvis during the making of G.I. Blues in 1960. He’s surrounded by three sets of twins. California employment laws were strict when it came to children, so three sets of baby twins were required to create the film. Elvis had movies on his mind while he was still serving in the Army.
Producer Hal Wallis visited him in Germany to talk about the script and film some scenes with an Elvis body double. Elvis finished his stint in Germany in March 1960 and began working on the film the following month.
Elvis Played Football & Met The Beatles In 1965
In this photo, Elvis plays football wearing a helmet and pads in 1965. Just six years later he would meet President Nixon where he set up a meeting to discuss the fight against the hippie culture. Meanwhile, in 1965 Elvis and his friends met the Beatles at his home in Bel Air, California.
When Elvis met Nixon, he claimed the Beatles were Anti-American. Paul McCartney later said he felt “betrayed” by the meeting, particularly considering how Elvis ended up dying due to drug dependence.
A Rare Moment Is Caught Between Elvis, His Wife, & Their Daughter
Here is an image of Elvis hanging out on a lounge chair with his wife Priscilla and their daughter Lisa Marie. Elvis proposed to Priscilla around Christmas time in 1966, over seven years after they met. The pair tied the knot on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.
During this time the entertainer’s penchant for starring in formulaic films and dropping associated soundtracks started to adversely affect his career. Fewer and fewer people were taking him seriously as a singer.
He Had Recently Started Performing Again When This Photo Was Taken
This photo shows Elvis feeding a pair of whales during a visit to Marineland of the Pacific at Longs Point in Southern California in December 1969. The previous year he made his ’68 Comeback Special, which was notable because the singer had not done a live performance since 1961.
Elvis wore a tight black leather ensemble and had the energy he embodied during his earlier years. It was NBC’s highest-rated show of the season, and fans and critics loved the performance.
His Career Hit A Low Point When He Started His Family
Here’s another photo of Elvis with Priscilla and Lisa Marie. Elvis’ daughter was born on February 1, 1968. Elvis was very frustrated with his career at this point. That year the soundtrack album Speedway would only reach number 82 on the Billboard chart. His luck changed after he appeared on NBC’s ’68 Comeback Special.
In 1969 he released his first non-soundtrack album in eight years. Critics loved it. It contained “In the Ghetto,” which hit number three on the pop chart.
Around The Time This Photo Was Taken Elvis Was Referred To As ‘The King’
In summer 1969, Elvis returned to Las Vegas (his first performance there in 1956 was not a good one). Over 2,000 fans attended, and he got a standing ovation before he even sang. He then received two additional standing ovations from the crowd. A journalist called him “The King” at a press conference afterward.
The following day, Elvis’s team negotiated with the hotel to create a five-year contract for the singer in which he would play each February and August for an annual salary of $1 million.
He Kept Performing (& Sending Out Christmas Cards) Up Until His Death
This image shows Elvis posing with Colonel Tom Parker (dressed as Santa Claus) and two St. Bernard dogs in this Christmas card that he sent out circa 1975. Between 1973 and 1976, Elvis recorded six albums, five of which entered the top five of the country chart.
With three number-one hits, Elvis was still a strong presence in the U.S. and contemporary markets. The last single of his career, “Way Down,” was released on June 6, 1977. His final concert was held in Indianapolis on June 26th of the same year.
His Funeral Procession Was Huge
This is an image of Elvis’s funeral cortege in Memphis on August 18, 1977. Before his death, despite his deteriorating health, he did the best he could to show up to his engagements.
His girlfriend Ginger Alden found him in an unresponsive state in the bathroom on August 16th. He was pronounced dead later that day. The initial cause of death was cardiac arrest, but he was also chronically sick.