Elvis Presley was the beacon for future musicians. Everyone after him owes a debt of gratitude to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. While he had no map, the Mississippi native forged a path of his own.Before Presley knew it, his songs were dominating the Billboard charts as he topped the charts with over a dozen No. 1 singles, along with starring in 31 movies.
Of all the things he accomplished in his career, his declining health, marriage and hectic work schedule were some of his downfalls. His time with the military is one of the most impactful in music history. Nevertheless, the King will forever be known as the 19-year old who throttled into the spotlight when “That’s All Right (Mama)” was released as a single.
The Presley Family
Elvis grew up in East Tupelo, Mississippi, to parents Vernon and Gladys Presley. Vernon worked a few odd jobs, but he spent six months in prison for forging a check of $4.
Gladys and Elvis were left on their own during that time, but that didn’t stop her from being overprotective of her son after his twin brother Jesse was stillborn.
Elvis Never Had Black Hair
Even from a young age, Elvis never had his trademark black hair. Presley dyed his famous hair black.
Although Presley’s natural hair color is brown, it makes any Elvis fan wonder what could have been if he never did dye his hair to another color.
Elvis didn’t play the guitar until he was 11 years old. However, the future musician originally wanted a rifle instead, but his mother made sure he wouldn’t lay his hands on one.
Presley received lessons from two of his uncles, and the guitar proved that he had the talent for music.
Soaking Up Influences
Elvis’ interest in music didn’t kick in until his family to move to Memphis in 1948, where Presley fell in love with the city’s music and culture.
As much as he enjoyed rhythm & blues harmony, Presley grew up admiring the Blackwood Brothers, a gospel group from Mississippi.
Elvis Looked For Sam
Sam Phillips, who founded Sun Records and Sun Studios in Memphis, was never looking for Elvis. It was the other way around since Presley was working as a truck driver who’d drive across Phillips’ storefront.
Eventually, Presley recorded, much to the dismay of Phillips. Nevertheless, after some improvements, “That’s All Right” became Presley’s breakthrough.
Colonel Tom Parker
Colonel Tom Parker was the controversial manager of Elvis. Parker had experience as a promoter, so he was able to book Presley appearances on different television programs.
Presley thought of the Colonel as the one who helped his career and the person who could increase it above previous manager Bob Neal’s expectations.
Fear In The Body
The excitement Elvis garnered on tour carried over into his energetic appearance on the Stage Show.
Presley’s passionate moves on the small screen generated controversy for people who saw it as profane. His stage presence will forever be known as “fear in the body.”
That’s All Right
July 19, 1954, would be a day to remember. “That’s All Right” became the first single recorded and released by Elvis.
It can be debatable that Presley’s first single was the first rock-and-roll record, but at the same time, most people thought Elvis was black at the time of the single.
From The Stage To The Studio
While it was easy to see the charismatic, passionate, and energetic performer that was Elvis on the stage, most people don’t know what he was like in the studio.
Presley had his vision of how his music should sound. In a sense, Presley was the man in charge of song selections and arrangements made for his albums.
The Military Stalled Elvis’ Career
1958 was the year Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army. The idea of a big star heading into the military seemed bizarre since the U.S. wasn’t even in a war at the time.
The two-year military stint showed uncertainty for Presley and his career. Most importantly, Presley met Priscilla Beaulieu for the first time.
Hollywood Was A Drag
As soon as Presley returned home from the military, he appeared in numerous movies. When Presley starred in four films, he was training to become a serious actor like Marlon Brando.
The movie business turned out to be a drag since he learned that he would have to sing for most of his movies.
No Performances Outside Of North America
Since many people around the world wanted to see him, Presley wanted to perform to international audiences. Presley did have concerts in Canada in 1957, but he never played outside of North America.
One main reason is due to Colonel Parker being an illegal immigrant who feared he wouldn’t be allowed back in the U.S.
The Comeback Special Almost Never Happened
The Beatles were popular, but Elvis stood alone during his lost years in the sixties. Presley was struggling with what to do next, so that set the stage for the television special Elvis on NBC.
The show came so close to being canned since Presley changed his mind at the last minute, but, he emerged from his triumphant comeback.
Forever A Mama’s Boy
Gladys always looked after Elvis, even when he was young. After Presley achieved success as a musician, he purchased Graceland for his parents.
He bought it more so for Gladys since she was a hard-working mother. Even after she passed away, her clothes and possessions remain at Graceland.
Love Didn’t Last Forever
If Elvis never went to the military, he never would have met Priscilla. Eight years after they met, the pair got married in 1967.
They became distant by 1971 after Elvis had an affair with Joyce Bova. The Presley’s separated in 1972, but they did have a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.
The Beginning Of The End
Presley’s decline traces back to his Las Vegas days in 1969. The performances at the Internation Hotel took a toll on Presley, and from the early seventies, he was doing over 100 shows a year.
He gained weight, grew more reliant on drugs while everything else around him went into disarray.
Last Live Performance
With declining health, Elvis was near the end of his career. His last live public performance came in 1977 in Indianapolis.
He had an audience of close to 18,000 in attendance, and his final song of the tour ended up being “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
Two Tickets To Graceland
Elvis died on August 16, 1977. Graceland had become a burden since bankers wanted to sell the home. However, Priscilla thought that opening the house to tourists would solve all of its financial woes.
Graceland opened up for tourists on June 7, 1982, becoming a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2006.
An Exclusive Member
The King couldn’t be ignored after his passing and for a good reason.
Elvis is a member of three halls of fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and most importantly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
One Of The Greats
As of 2017, Forbes Magazine ranked Elvis as the fourth highest-paid dead celebrity, with Presley racking up $25 million alone.
The King was in the top three years ago, and only Charles Schulz, Arnold Palmer, and Michael Jackson are ahead of Presley for the highest-paid dead celebrities in 2017.
Elvis Had A Strange Favorite Sandwich
Everyone has a favorite type of sandwich if they like sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese and turkey are some popular ones.
Elvis had a very funny favorite he enjoyed. His preference was a peanut butter, bacon, banana, and honey sandwich. That’s a lot going on in between the bread.
Elvis Tricked The System
Sometimes artists get into some odd contract arrangements. It isn’t always their fault, but it is up to them to figure out how to get out of it if they so choose.
In 1974, Elvis was in a weird bind. He ended up releasing an album titled Having Fun With Elvis On Stage. It was only banter from between songs while on stage.
His First TV Appearance Was Followed By Hate
We know who Elvis is and what he’s about. He’s a hip-thrusting, singing, dancing machine. But back when he was new to the scene, no one had a clue.
After his first appearance on TV, Jackie Gleason said, “the kid has no right behaving like a sex maniac on a national show.”
Getting To Heaven
Getting into Heaven might be a rigorous task for those who believe. Elvis was a believer, but he doubled down to ensure he would make it.
He used to wear a cross, the Hebrew letter chai and the star of David around his neck. He said, “I don’t want to miss out on heaven due to a technicality.”
Ed Sullivan had a competitor by the name of Steve Allen. At first, Ed wouldn’t let Elvis on his show because of his obscure and new ways. That changed after his rival allowed him on the show.
Once Allen had Elvis on the show and his rating jumped, Ed couldn’t help but to book him. In fact, he booked him for three performances.
The Ladies Man
Being the great entertainer that he is, it’s expected that he would have a lot of women. Elvis certainly did have a lot fo Hollywood romances.
The list includes Ann-Margret, Cybil Shepherd, Connie Stevens, and Natalie Wood. He didn’t end up marrying any of them but that’s a pretty healthy list.
A Strong Liking For James Dean
Elvis had a strong affinity for James Dean. The two are both heartthrobs so they have that in common.
When Dean passed away, Elvis was highly distraught by it. His emotions were unstable because of this death. Everyone has their idols, and it looks like Dean was Elvis’. Is there anyone celebrity that you would make you cry if they passed?
Elvis Is The Big Ticket
When America landed on the moon, the people were thrilled. It was a big moment for mankind. No one thought it would be possible.
As special as that event was, Elvis’ TV special Aloha from Hawaii was clearly more popular. His special brought in more viewers than the moon landing.
Only One Spot That’s More Popular
Graceland has risen to the top of popularity over the years. People always line up just to see Elvis’ memorabilia. There is only one home in America that gets more visitors.
That home would be the White House. That’s pretty impressive when you can say only the white house has surpassed you.
No Show To The Funeral
Being the star the Elvis was, you would imagine his funeral would be full of other stars as well to pay respects.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Only three stars came to see the legend off. The three were George Hamilton, Ann-Margret, and James Brown. We wonder why not many others showed up.
His Last Public Words
You never know when someone’s last words are going to be. That’s why they tell you to cherish people while you can.
It’s been confirmed what Elvis’ last public words were. He was with his manager and told him, “Billy, son, this gonna be my best tour ever.” That one has to hurt.
His Detrimental Weight Gain
For most of his career, Elvis was a slim looking guy. He needed to be the way he moved around on the stage. By the time of his death, he was 260 pounds.
Let’s put that into contrast. LeBron James is 250 at 6’8″. Elvis was also only 170 when he entered the army.
Elvis played many roles on the screen and almost all of them were profitable except for one. However, he always wanted to play one part in particular.
The role he always wanted was Don Corleone in The Godfather. He wasn’t considered and it went to Marlon Brando. Sorry about it, Elvis.
Eddie Murphy Has Elvis To Thank
Eddie Murphy is one of the funniest men in comedy. He’s paved the way for many other comedians and continues to set the bar high.
As far as him getting into show business, he credits Elvis to that. All you Eddie Murphy fans out there, thank Elvis for the countless laughs.
The Beatles Didn’t Sit Well With Elvis
Contrary to everyone else in the world, Elvis was not a fan of The Beatles. He claimed he didn’t like their bad influence on the youth.
Conversely, The Beatles couldn’t wait to meet Elvis! They looked up to him and counted the days down until they got to meet him in America.
What Was His True Hair Color
Elvis probably had the most spectacular black hair of his era. It was always fresh and styled, plus it was the perfect tone of black. Almost too perfect.
That’s because Elvis’ real hair color was blonde. That’s right, he had to dye his hair for it to get that amazing.
One Endorsement Ever
You would have imagined that based on the sheer popularity of Elvis, brands would have been begging for him to endorse for them. Which is probably true.
However, Elvis must not have liked promoting very much. He only ever endorsed one brand in his life, Texas-based Southern Maid Doughnuts.
Artists usually write songs off of something that inspires them in life. Songs from inspiration usually turn out to be the best songs.
For Elvis, it took reading about a suicide in the local newspaper to get his juices rolling. That’s how the song “Heartbreak Hotel” came up. Not the happiest of things to get inspired from, but it worked.
Signing In Risky Places
Signing autographs are apart of show business. It’s one thing that you can’t get out of, but the fans love. Elvis tried to make it interesting.
When signing autographs, Elvis would sign “Elvis” on one side of a ladies chest and “Presley” on the other. We don’t think these ladies would shower for a few days.
Did The Army Soften Him?
Spending time in the military is a life-changing experience. You start to lose your normal tendencies that might not have aligned with that type of life.
Since Elvis is a musician, he had a natural go with the flow type of demeanor. His commanding officer praised Elvis for his, “cheerfulness and drive and continually outstanding leadership ability,” but still people think it tamed him a bit.