May 23, 2020
Today’s journey begins in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8 1935. From shoe polish as hair dye to a history of rejection, we’re taking a look at the legendary life of Elvis Aaron Presley.
In just 42 years of existence, the icon triggered a music evolution. The King of Rock and Roll had his breakthrough during an era of conformity and conservatory. To do this day, Elvis Presley remains one of the most influential figures in entertainment history.
WHO WAS ELVIS PRESLEY?
One of the world’s biggest stars took his first breath in a humble shack. Yes, that’s correct. A man who would later go on to have millions to his name was born in a shed. Elvis Presley was born to parents Vernon and Gladys, both of them struggling to get ends meet. His twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley was delivered about 30 minutes before him. Jesse was stillborn. Elvis’s family life was rocky during his early years, due to his family’s financial struggles.
Elvis’s musical adventure began at church, where he formed a love for gospel music. Elvis drew inspiration from artists such as Buddy Holly, Dean Martin, Little Richard and Frank Sinatra. Elvis was also largely influenced by the African American artists of his time.
Elvis’s childhood music teachers regarded him as an average student with average abilities. One of his teachers had even told him that he had no aptitude for singing. As Elvis entered his teenage years, he became a loner. He changed his appearance and started sporting greased down hair and sideburns. During his teenage years, Elvis developed a passion for rhythm and blues. He was often bullied by his classmates for the music that he liked, even earning himself the labels hillbilly and mama’s boy. I guess his classmates kicked themselves a little while later when he went on to become rich and famous, but we’ll get there in a second. Elvis had spent his teenage years mastering his guitar skills. By the time Elvis graduated high school, he already had his future pointing towards music.
THE MAKING OF A KING
At the age of eighteen, Elvis recorded a number of demo tracks at Sun Studio. In August of 1953, Elvis had his first recording session. He paid $4 to make his first record as a gift for his mother. He caught the eye of the owner of Sun Studio, Sam Phillips. Phillips signed Elvis, and they later began recording the song “That’s Alright”. He began gaining attention for his forthcoming singles after “That’s Alright” climbed the charts.
There was only one thing that got in his way at that point, and that was his interesting performing style. Back in the conservative times, it was rather taboo to see a young gentleman gyrating his hips to the music. Elvis even earned himself the nickname “Elvis The Pelvis”.
In 1955, Sam Phillips sold Elvis’s contract to ICA Records. Switching over to ICA Records was a career milestone for Elvis, gaining him national and international promotion. Elvis was responsible for ICA’s first million dollar album by a single artist.
To reach a larger audience, Elvis made his move into Hollywood movies. The handsome king’s first picture was Love Me Tender in 1956. Jailhouse Rock is considered to be one of Elvis’s most popular films, mainly because it captured the rebellion of rock n roll in the convervative time of 1950s (or maybe fans were just happy to see Elvis’s whole body being filmed).
Things were looking good for Elvis up until he got a call from Uncle Sam and was drafted into the military. The king grabbed his title as “Private Presley” (as if the media needed more things to make fun of) and set out to share his services. Elvis was meant to report for his induction on 20 January 1958, the very same day that he was scheduled to film King Kreole. Paramount had made a request with the Memphis Draft Board to let Elvis be The King for a little while longer until the filming of the movie was complete. The Draft Board granted Elvis a sixty day deferment. After that, Private Presley reported for duty in the United States army.
During Elvis’s training, his mother grew seriously ill. Gladys passed away from a sudden heart attack at the age of forty-six. Elvis had to soldier on bravely after his training, getting shipped off to Germany. Elvis wasn’t exactly aware of this, but he was just as popular in West Germany as he was in the United States. He didn’t really deal well with the gunshot sounds, and his hearing began to take a hit. He was then permitted to live off base with his family for the duration of his stay in Germany. He rented a humble house, where he lived with his father. Elvis would invite fellow army men over for regular music sessions.
One night, one of Elvis’s army friends invited a young girl by the name of Priscilla Beaulieu. It was love at first sight for Private Presley. Seven years after Elvis met Priscilla, he proposed. Their wedding took place in Las Vegas and took less than ten minutes. Two months later, it was announced that Priscilla was pregnant. After the arrival of their daughter Lisa Marie, their relationship became turbulent. A few years later, they got divorced yet still remained friends.
In the late 60s, Elvis’s career began to experience a bit of a bumpy patch. His movies weren’t what they used to be, so the king returned to his first love: music. He recorded a song called “How Great Thou Art”. This song won him his first Grammy award.
END OF HIS LIFE
In the 70s, Elvis’s weight began to fluctuate back and forth rapidly due to a developing drug addiction as well as his generally unhealthy lifestyle. His health began to take a hit, and on August 16, 1977 in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion his soul left his body.
The news of Elvis’s death shocked the whole world. Newspapers even went as far as to publish images of his dead body, because people had a hard time believing that he was actually dead.
Elvis’s legacy lives on to this very day. He’s one of the richest dead artists of all time. While the king only lived for 42 years, he had a very interesting – and quite fulfilling for the short time he had it – life.
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