ELVIS AARON PRESLEY (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an
American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant
cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the
"King of Rock and Roll " or simply "the King".
Presley was born in
Tupelo, Mississippi , and relocated to Memphis,
Tennessee with his family when he was 13 years old. His music career
began there in 1954, when he recorded a song with producer Sam
Sun Records . Accompanied by guitarist
Scotty Moore and
Bill Black ,
Presley was an early popularizer of rockabilly ,
an uptempo, backbeat -driven fusion of country music and rhythm and
RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel
Tom Parker , who managed the singer for more than two decades.
Presley's first RCA single, "
Heartbreak Hotel ", was released in
January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. He was
regarded as the leading figure of rock and roll after a series of
successful network television appearances and chart-topping records.
His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative
performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences
across color lines that coincided with the dawn of the Civil Rights
Movement , made him enormously popular—and controversial.
In November 1956,
Presley made his film debut in Love Me Tender . In
1958, he was drafted into military service. He resumed his recording
career two years later, producing some of his most commercially
successful work before devoting much of the 1960s to making Hollywood
films and their accompanying soundtrack albums, most of which were
critically derided. In 1968, following a seven-year break from live
performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised
Elvis , which led to an extended Las Vegas concert
residency and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Presley
featured in the first globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha
from Hawaii . On August 16, 1977, he suffered a heart attack in his
Graceland estate, and died as a result. His death came in the wake of
many years of prescription drug abuse.
Presley is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of
the 20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including
pop, blues and gospel , he is one of the best-selling solo artists in
the history of recorded music, with estimated record sales of around
600 million units worldwide. He won three Grammys , also receiving
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted
into multiple music halls of fame .
* 1 Life and career
* 1.1 1935–1953: Early years
* 1.1.1 Childhood in Tupelo
* 1.1.2 Teenage life in Memphis
* 1.2 1953–1955: First recordings
Sam Phillips and
* 1.2.2 Early live performances and signing with RCA
* 1.3 1956–1958: Commercial breakout and controversy
* 1.3.1 First national TV appearances and debut album
* 1.3.2 Milton Berle Show and "Hound Dog"
* 1.3.3 Steve Allen Show and first Sullivan appearance
* 1.3.4 Crazed crowds and film debut
* 1.3.5 Leiber and Stoller collaboration and draft notice
* 1.4 1958–1960: Military service and mother\'s death
* 1.5 1960–1967: Focus on films
Elvis Is Back
* 1.5.2 Lost in Hollywood
* 1.6 1968–1973: Comeback
* 1.6.1 Elvis: the \'68 Comeback
* 1.6.2 From
Elvis In Memphis and the International
* 1.6.3 Back on tour and meeting Nixon
* 1.6.4 Marriage breakdown and Aloha from Hawaii
* 1.7 1973–1977: Health deterioration and death
* 1.7.1 Medical crises and last studio sessions
* 1.7.2 Final year and death
* 1.8 Questions over cause of death
* 1.9 Since 1977
* 2 Artistry
* 2.1 Influences
* 2.2 Musical style and genres
* 2.3 Vocal style and range
* 3 Public image
* 3.1 Racial issues
* 3.2 Sex symbol
* 3.3 Lifestyle
* 4 Associates
* 4.1 Colonel Parker and the Aberbachs
* 5 Legacy
* 6 Discography
* 6.1 Number one albums
* 6.2 Number one singles
* 7 Filmography
* 8 See also
* 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 10.1 Footnotes
* 10.2 Sources
* 11 Further reading
* 12 External links
LIFE AND CAREER
1935–1953: EARLY YEARS
Childhood In Tupelo
Presley\'s birthplace in
Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in
Tupelo, Mississippi , to
Gladys Love (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) and Vernon
– 1979), in the two-room shotgun house built by Vernon's father in
preparation for the child's birth. Jesse Garon Presley, his identical
twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before his own birth.
Jesse was buried in an unmarked grave at Priceville Cemetery in
Presley became famous, he asked people on several
occasions to try and find the whereabouts of Jesse but to no avail
since no papers marked the spot.
Presley became close to both parents
and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family
Assembly of God , where he found his initial musical
inspiration. Although he was in conflict with the
in his later years, he never officially left it. Rev. Rex Humbard
officiated at his funeral, as
Presley had been an admirer of Humbard's
Presley's ancestry was primarily a Western European mix, including
German , Scots-Irish , Scottish , and some French Norman . Gladys
would often tell the family that before the Civil War , her
great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was a 'full-blooded
Cherokee Indian ', although some genealogists doubt the claim.
Elaine Dundy in her book
Elvis and Gladys , claims that Presley's
great-great-grandmother Nancy Burdine Tackett was Jewish, citing a
third cousin of Presley's, Oscar Tackett. However, there is no
evidence that the
Presley family shared this belief and the syndicated
columnist Nate Bloom has challenged the cousin's account, which he
calls a "tall tale". Gladys was regarded by relatives and friends as
the dominant member of the small family. Vernon moved from one odd job
to the next, evincing little ambition. The family often relied on
help from neighbors and government food assistance. The Presleys
survived the F5 tornado in the 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado
outbreak . In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty
of kiting a check written by the landowner, Orville S. Bean, the dairy
farmer and cattle-and-hog broker for whom he then worked. He was
jailed for eight months, and Gladys and
Elvis moved in with relatives.
In September 1941,
Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo
Consolidated, where his instructors regarded him as "average". He was
encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his
schoolteacher with a rendition of
Red Foley 's country song "Old Shep
" during morning prayers. The contest, held at the Mississippi-Alabama
Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public
performance: dressed as a cowboy, the ten-year-old
Presley stood on a
chair to reach the microphone and sang "Old Shep". He recalled placing
fifth. A few months later,
Presley received his first guitar for his
birthday; he had hoped for something else—by different accounts,
either a bicycle or a rifle. Over the following year, he received
basic guitar lessons from two of his uncles and the new pastor at the
Presley recalled, "I took the guitar, and I watched
people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in
public. I was very shy about it."
Entering a new school, Milam, for sixth grade in September 1946,
Presley was regarded as a loner. The following year, he began bringing
his guitar in on a daily basis. He played and sang during lunchtime,
and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music. The
family was by then living in a largely African-American neighborhood.
A devotee of Mississippi Slim 's show on the Tupelo radio station WELO
Presley was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger
brother, a classmate of Presley's, who often took him into the
station. Slim supplemented Presley's guitar tuition by demonstrating
chord techniques. When his protégé was 12 years old, Slim scheduled
him for two on-air performances.
Presley was overcome by stage fright
the first time, but succeeded in performing the following week.
Teenage Life In Memphis
In November 1948, the family moved to
Memphis, Tennessee . After
residing for nearly a year in rooming houses , they were granted a
two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the
Lauderdale Courts. Enrolled at L. C.
Humes High School , Presley
received only a C in music in eighth grade. When his music teacher
told him he had no aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the
next day and sang a recent hit, "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me",
in an effort to prove otherwise. A classmate later recalled that the
teacher "agreed that
Elvis was right when he said that she didn't
appreciate his kind of singing." He was usually too shy to perform
openly, and was occasionally bullied by classmates who viewed him as a
"mama's boy". In 1950, he began practicing guitar regularly under the
tutelage of Jesse Lee Denson, a neighbor two-and-a-half years his
senior. They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly
pioneers, brothers Dorsey and
Johnny Burnette —formed a loose
musical collective that played frequently around the Courts. That
September, he began ushering at Loew's State Theater. Other jobs
followed, including Precision Tool, Loew's again, and MARL Metal
During his junior year,
Presley began to stand out more among his
classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew out his
sideburns and styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline. In his free
time, he would head down to
Beale Street , the heart of Memphis's
thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes
in the windows of
Lansky Brothers . By his senior year, he was wearing
them. Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the
Lauderdale Courts, he competed in Humes's Annual "Minstrel" show in
April 1953. Singing and playing guitar, he opened with "Till I Waltz
Again with You ", a recent hit for
Teresa Brewer .
that the performance did much for his reputation: "I wasn't popular in
school ... I failed music—only thing I ever failed. And then they
entered me in this talent show ... when I came onstage I heard people
kind of rumbling and whispering and so forth, 'cause nobody knew I
even sang. It was amazing how popular I became after that."
Presley, who never received formal music training or learned to read
music, studied and played by ear. He also frequented record stores
with jukeboxes and listening booths. He knew all of
Hank Snow 's
songs, and he loved records by other country singers such as Roy
Ernest Tubb ,
Ted Daffan , Jimmie Rodgers ,
Jimmie Davis , and
Bob Wills . The
Southern gospel singer
Jake Hess , one of his
favorite performers, was a significant influence on his ballad-singing
style. He was a regular audience member at the monthly All-Night
Singings downtown, where many of the white gospel groups that
performed reflected the influence of African-American spiritual music
. He adored the music of black gospel singer
Sister Rosetta Tharpe .
Like some of his peers, he may have attended blues venues—of
necessity, in the segregated South , on only the nights designated for
exclusively white audiences. He certainly listened to the regional
radio stations, such as WDIA-AM, that played "race records":
spirituals, blues, and the modern, backbeat -heavy sound of rhythm and
blues . Many of his future recordings were inspired by local
African-American musicians such as
Arthur Crudup and
Rufus Thomas .
B.B. King recalled that he had known
Presley before he was popular,
when they both used to frequent Beale Street. By the time he
graduated from high school in June 1953,
Presley had already singled
out music as his future.
1953–1955: FIRST RECORDINGS
Sam Phillips And Sun Records
List of songs recorded by Elvis Presley on the Sun label
Presley in a
Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954
In August 1953,
Presley walked into the offices of
Sun Records . He
aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided
acetate disc : "My Happiness " and "That's When Your Heartaches
Begin". He would later claim that he intended the record as a gift for
his mother, or that he was merely interested in what he "sounded
like", although there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making
service at a nearby general store. Biographer
Peter Guralnick argues
that he chose Sun in the hope of being discovered. Asked by
Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Presley
responded, "I sing all kinds." When she pressed him on who he sounded
like, he repeatedly answered, "I don't sound like nobody." After he
recorded, Sun boss
Sam Phillips asked Keisker to note down the young
man's name, which she did along with her own commentary: "Good ballad
In January 1954,
Presley cut a second acetate at Sun Records—"I'll
Never Stand In Your Way" and "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without
You"—but again nothing came of it. Not long after, he failed an
audition for a local vocal quartet, the Songfellows. He explained to
his father, "They told me I couldn't sing." Songfellow Jim Hamill
later claimed that he was turned down because he did not demonstrate
an ear for harmony at the time. In April,
Presley began working for
the Crown Electric company as a truck driver. His friend Ronnie
Smith, after playing a few local gigs with him, suggested he contact
Eddie Bond , leader of Smith's professional band, which had an opening
for a vocalist. Bond rejected him after a tryout, advising
stick to truck driving "because you're never going to make it as a
Phillips, meanwhile, was always on the lookout for someone who could
bring to a broader audience the sound of the black musicians on whom
Sun focused. As Keisker reported, "Over and over I remember Sam
saying, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the
Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.'" In June, he acquired a
demo recording of a ballad, "Without You", that he thought might suit
the teenage singer.
Presley came by the studio, but was unable to do
it justice. Despite this, Phillips asked
Presley to sing as many
numbers as he knew. He was sufficiently affected by what he heard to
invite two local musicians, guitarist Winfield "Scotty" Moore and
upright bass player
Bill Black , to work something up with
a recording session.
"That\'s All Right"
Presley transformed not only the sound but the emotion of the song,
turning what had been written as a "lament for a lost love into a
satisfied declaration of independence."
Problems playing this file? See media help .
The session, held the evening of July 5, 1954, proved entirely
unfruitful until late in the night. As they were about to give up and
Presley took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues
number, Arthur Crudup's "That\'s All Right ". Moore recalled, "All of
Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and
acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started
acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think,
had the door to the control booth open ... he stuck his head out and
said, 'What are you doing?' And we said, 'We don't know.' 'Well, back
up,' he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again.'"
Phillips quickly began taping; this was the sound he had been looking
for. Three days later, popular Memphis DJ
Dewey Phillips played
"That's All Right" on his Red, Hot, and Blue show. Listeners began
phoning in, eager to find out who the singer was. The interest was
such that Phillips played the record repeatedly during the last two
hours of his show. Interviewing
Presley on-air, Phillips asked him
what high school he attended in order to clarify his color for the
many callers who had assumed he was black. During the next few days,
the trio recorded a bluegrass number,
Bill Monroe 's "Blue Moon of
Kentucky ", again in a distinctive style and employing a jury-rigged
echo effect that
Sam Phillips dubbed "slapback". A single was pressed
with "That's All Right" on the A side and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on
Early Live Performances And Signing With RCA
The trio played publicly for the first time on July 17 at the Bon Air
Presley still sporting his child-size guitar. At the end of
the month, they appeared at the Overton Park Shell , with Slim Whitman
headlining. A combination of his strong response to rhythm and
nervousness at playing before a large crowd led
Presley to shake his
legs as he performed: his wide-cut pants emphasized his movements,
causing young women in the audience to start screaming. Moore
recalled, "During the instrumental parts, he would back off from the
mike and be playing and shaking, and the crowd would just go wild".
Black, a natural showman, whooped and rode his bass, hitting double
Presley would later remember as "really a wild sound, like
a jungle drum or something". Soon after, Moore and Black quit their
old band to play with
Presley regularly, and DJ and promoter Bob Neal
became the trio's manager. From August through October, they played
frequently at the Eagle's Nest club and returned to Sun Studio for
more recording sessions, and
Presley quickly grew more confident on
stage. According to Moore, "His movement was a natural thing, but he
was also very conscious of what got a reaction. He'd do something one
time and then he would expand on it real quick."
Presley made what
would be his only appearance on Nashville 's
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry on October
2; after a polite audience response, Opry manager Jim Denny told
Phillips that his singer was "not bad" but did not suit the program.
Two weeks later,
Presley was booked on
Louisiana Hayride , the Opry's
chief, and more adventurous, rival. The Shreveport -based show was
broadcast to 198 radio stations in 28 states.
Presley had another
attack of nerves during the first set, which drew a muted reaction. A
more composed and energetic second set inspired an enthusiastic
response. House drummer
D. J. Fontana brought a new element,
complementing Presley's movements with accented beats that he had
mastered playing in strip clubs. Soon after the show, the Hayride
Presley for a year's worth of Saturday-night appearances.
Trading in his old guitar for $8 (and seeing it promptly dispatched to
the garbage), he purchased a Martin instrument for $175, and his trio
began playing in new locales including
Houston, Texas , and Texarkana,
By early 1955, Presley's regular Hayride appearances, constant
touring, and well-received record releases had made him a regional
star, from Tennessee to West Texas. In January, Neal signed a formal
management contract with
Presley and brought the singer to the
Colonel Tom Parker , whom he considered the best promoter
in the music business. Having successfully managed top country star
Eddy Arnold , Parker was now working with the new number-one country
singer, Hank Snow. Parker booked
Presley on Snow's February tour.
When the tour reached Odessa , Texas, a 19-year-old
Roy Orbison saw
Presley for the first time: "His energy was incredible, his instinct
was just amazing. ... I just didn't know what to make of it. There was
just no reference point in the culture to compare it."
his television debut on March 3 on the
KSLA-TV broadcast of Louisiana
Hayride. Soon after, he failed an audition for Arthur Godfrey\'s
Talent Scouts on the
CBS television network. By August, Sun had
released ten sides credited to "
Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill"; on
the latest recordings, the trio were joined by a drummer. Some of the
songs, like "That's All Right", were in what one Memphis journalist
described as the "R others, like "Blue Moon of Kentucky", were "more
in the country field", "but there was a curious blending of the two
different musics in both". This blend of styles made it difficult for
Presley's music to find radio airplay. According to Neal, many
country-music disc jockeys would not play it because he sounded too
much like a black artist and none of the rhythm-and-blues stations
would touch him because "he sounded too much like a hillbilly." The
blend came to be known as rockabilly . At the time,
variously billed as "The King of Western Bop", "The Hillbilly Cat",
and "The Memphis Flash".
Presley renewed Neal's management contract in August 1955,
simultaneously appointing Parker as his special adviser. The group
maintained an extensive touring schedule throughout the second half of
the year. Neal recalled, "It was almost frightening, the reaction
that came to
Elvis from the teenaged boys. So many of them, through
some sort of jealousy, would practically hate him. There were
occasions in some towns in Texas when we'd have to be sure to have a
police guard because somebody'd always try to take a crack at him.
They'd get a gang and try to waylay him or something." The trio
became a quartet when Hayride drummer Fontana joined as a full member.
In mid-October, they played a few shows in support of
Bill Haley ,
Rock Around the Clock " had been a number-one hit the previous
year. Haley observed that
Presley had a natural feel for rhythm, and
advised him to sing fewer ballads.
At the Country Disc Jockey Convention in early November,
voted the year's most promising male artist. Several record companies
had by now shown interest in signing him. After three major labels
made offers of up to $25,000, Parker and Phillips struck a deal with
RCA Victor on November 21 to acquire Presley's Sun contract for an
unprecedented $40,000. Presley, at 20, was still a minor, so his
father signed the contract. Parker arranged with the owners of Hill
and Range Publishing, Jean and
Julian Aberbach , to create two
Presley Music and Gladys Music, to handle all the new
material recorded by Presley. Songwriters were obliged to forgo one
third of their customary royalties in exchange for having him perform
their compositions. By December, RCA had begun to heavily promote
its new singer, and before month's end had reissued many of his Sun
1956–1958: COMMERCIAL BREAKOUT AND CONTROVERSY
First National TV Appearances And Debut Album
Publicity photo for the
CBS program Stage Show, January 16, 1956
On January 10, 1956,
Presley made his first recordings for RCA in
Nashville. Extending the singer's by now customary backup of Moore,
Black, and Fontana, RCA enlisted pianist
Floyd Cramer , guitarist Chet
Atkins , and three background singers, including first tenor Gordon
Stoker of the popular
Jordanaires quartet, to fill out the sound. The
session produced the moody, unusual "
Heartbreak Hotel ", released as a
single on January 27. Parker finally brought
Presley to national
television, booking him on CBS's Stage Show for six appearances over
two months. The program, produced in New York, was hosted on alternate
weeks by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and
Jimmy Dorsey . After
his first appearance, on January 28, introduced by disc jockey Bill
Presley stayed in town to record at RCA's New York studio.
The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of
Carl Perkins '
rockabilly anthem "
Blue Suede Shoes ". In February, Presley's "I
Forgot to Remember to Forget ", a Sun recording initially released the
previous August, reached the top of the Billboard country chart .
Neal's contract was terminated and, on March 2, Parker became
On March 12, 1956,
Elvis purchased a one-story ranch-style house
with two-car attached garage in a quiet residential neighborhood on
Audubon Street in Memphis. The home was profiled in national
magazines, and soon became a focal point for fans, media and
celebrities to visit.
Elvis lived here with his parents between March
1956 and March 1957. The "iconic cover" of Presley\'s 1956 debut
RCA Victor released Presley's eponymous debut album on March 23.
Joined by five previously unreleased Sun recordings, its seven
recently recorded tracks were of a broad variety. There were two
country songs and a bouncy pop tune. The others would centrally define
the evolving sound of rock and roll : "Blue Suede Shoes"—"an
improvement over Perkins' in almost every way", according to critic
Robert Hilburn —and three R&B numbers that had been part of
Presley's stage repertoire for some time, covers of
Little Richard ,
Ray Charles , and
The Drifters . As described by Hilburn, these "were
the most revealing of all. Unlike many white artists ... who watered
down the gritty edges of the original R"> Elvis's clothes
Elvis's guitar. Both the clothes and guitar are on exhibit in the
Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix
Presley made the first of two appearances on NBC's Milton Berle Show
on April 3. His performance, on the deck of the USS Hancock in San
Diego , prompted cheers and screams from an audience of sailors and
their dates. A few days later, a flight taking
Presley and his band
to Nashville for a recording session left all three badly shaken when
an engine died and the plane almost went down over Arkansas. Twelve
weeks after its original release, "Heartbreak Hotel" became Presley's
first number-one pop hit. In late April,
Presley began a two-week
residency at the
New Frontier Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip
. The shows were poorly received by the conservative, middle-aged
hotel guests —"like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party,"
wrote a critic for
Newsweek . Amid his Vegas tenure, Presley, who had
serious acting ambitions, signed a seven-year contract with Paramount
Pictures . He began a tour of the Midwest in mid-May, taking in 15
cities in as many days. He had attended several shows by Freddie Bell
and the Bellboys in Vegas and was struck by their cover of "Hound Dog
", a hit in 1953 for blues singer
Big Mama Thornton by songwriters
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller . It became the new closing number of
his act. After a show in
La Crosse, Wisconsin , an urgent message on
the letterhead of the local Catholic diocese's newspaper was sent to
J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover . It warned that "
Presley is a definite
danger to the security of the United States. ... actions and motions
were such as to rouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth. ... After
the show, more than 1,000 teenagers tried to gang into Presley's room
at the auditorium. ... Indications of the harm
Presley did just in La
Crosse were the two high school girls ... whose abdomen and thigh had
The second Milton Berle Show appearance came on June 5 at NBC's
Hollywood studio, amid another hectic tour. Berle persuaded the singer
to leave his guitar backstage, advising, "Let 'em see you, son."
During the performance,
Presley abruptly halted an uptempo rendition
of "Hound Dog" with a wave of his arm and launched into a slow,
grinding version accentuated with energetic, exaggerated body
movements. Presley's gyrations created a storm of controversy.
Newspaper critics were outraged:
Jack Gould of The New York Times
Presley has no discernible singing ability. ... His
phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped
variations that go with a beginner's aria in a bathtub. ... His one
specialty is an accented movement of the body ... primarily identified
with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runway."
Ben Gross of the New York Daily News opined that popular music "has
reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis
Presley. ... Elvis, who rotates his pelvis ... gave an exhibition that
was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that
should be confined to dives and bordellos".
Ed Sullivan , whose own
variety show was the nation's most popular, declared him "unfit for
family viewing". To Presley's displeasure, he soon found himself
being referred to as "
Elvis the Pelvis", which he called "one of the
most childish expressions I ever heard, comin' from an adult."
Steve Allen Show And First Sullivan Appearance
Ed Sullivan and
Presley during rehearsals for his second
appearance on the
Ed Sullivan Show, October 26, 1956
The Berle shows drew such high ratings that
Presley was booked for a
July 1 appearance on NBC's Steve Allen Show in New York. Allen, no fan
of rock and roll, introduced a "new Elvis" in a white bow tie and
Presley sang "Hound Dog" for less than a minute to a
basset hound wearing a top hat and bow tie. As described by television
historian Jake Austen, "Allen thought
Presley was talentless and
absurd ... set things up so that
Presley would show his contrition".
Allen, for his part, later wrote that he found Presley's "strange,
gangly, country-boy charisma, his hard-to-define cuteness, and his
charming eccentricity intriguing" and simply worked the singer into
the customary "comedy fabric" of his program. Just before the final
rehearsal for the show,
Presley told a reporter, "I'm holding down on
this show. I don't want to do anything to make people dislike me. I
think TV is important so I'm going to go along, but I won't be able to
give the kind of show I do in a personal appearance."
refer back to the Allen show as the most ridiculous performance of his
career. Later that night, he appeared on
Hy Gardner Calling , a
popular local TV show. Pressed on whether he had learned anything from
the criticism to which he was being subjected,
Presley responded, "No,
I haven't, I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong. ... I don't see
how any type of music would have any bad influence on people when it's
only music. ... I mean, how would rock 'n' roll music make anyone
rebel against their parents?"
Presley with his backup group, the
Jordanaires, March 1957
The next day,
Presley recorded "Hound Dog", along with "Any Way You
Want Me " and "Don\'t Be Cruel ".
The Jordanaires sang harmony, as
they had on The Steve Allen Show; they would work with
the 1960s. A few days later, the singer made an outdoor concert
appearance in Memphis at which he announced, "You know, those people
in New York are not gonna change me none. I'm gonna show you what the
Elvis is like tonight." In August, a judge in Jacksonville,
Florida , ordered
Presley to tame his act. Throughout the following
performance, he largely kept still, except for wiggling his little
finger suggestively in mockery of the order. The single pairing
"Don't Be Cruel" with "Hound Dog" ruled the top of the charts for 11
weeks—a mark that would not be surpassed for 36 years. Recording
sessions for Presley's second album took place in Hollywood during the
first week of September. Leiber and Stoller, the writers of "Hound
Dog," contributed "Love Me ."
Allen's show with
Presley had, for the first time, beaten CBS's Ed
Sullivan Show in the ratings. Sullivan, despite his June
pronouncement, booked the singer for three appearances for an
unprecedented $50,000. The first, on September 9, 1956, was seen by
approximately 60 million viewers—a record 82.6 percent of the
television audience. Actor
Charles Laughton hosted the show, filling
in while Sullivan recuperated from a car accident.
in two segments that night from
CBS Television City in Los Angeles.
Presley was shot from only the waist up.
Watching clips of the Allen and Berle shows with his producer,
Sullivan had opined that
Presley "got some kind of device hanging down
below the crotch of his pants–so when he moves his legs back and
forth you can see the outline of his cock. ... I think it's a Coke
bottle. ... We just can't have this on a Sunday night. This is a
family show!" Sullivan publicly told
TV Guide , "As for his
gyrations, the whole thing can be controlled with camera shots." In
Presley was shown head-to-toe in the first and second shows.
Though the camerawork was relatively discreet during his debut, with
leg-concealing closeups when he danced, the studio audience reacted in
customary style: screaming. Presley's performance of his forthcoming
single, the ballad "Love Me Tender ", prompted a record-shattering
million advance orders. More than any other single event, it was this
first appearance on The
Ed Sullivan Show that made
Presley a national
celebrity of barely precedented proportions.
Accompanying Presley's rise to fame, a cultural shift was taking
place that he both helped inspire and came to symbolize. Igniting the
"biggest pop craze since
Glenn Miller and
Frank Sinatra ... Presley
brought rock'n'roll into the mainstream of popular culture", writes
historian Marty Jezer. "As
Presley set the artistic pace, other
artists followed. ... Presley, more than anyone else, gave the young a
belief in themselves as a distinct and somehow unified
generation—the first in America ever to feel the power of an
integrated youth culture."
Crazed Crowds And Film Debut
Presley performing live at the Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds
in Tupelo, Mississippi, September 26, 1956
"We\'re gonna do a sad song ..." Presley's definition of rock
and roll included a sense of humor—here, during his second Sullivan
appearance, he introduces one of his signature numbers.
Problems playing this file? See media help .
The audience response at Presley's live shows became increasingly
fevered. Moore recalled, "He'd start out, 'You ain't nothin' but a
Hound Dog,' and they'd just go to pieces. They'd always react the same
way. There'd be a riot every time." At the two concerts he performed
in September at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, 50
National Guardsmen were added to the police security to prevent crowd
Elvis , Presley's second album, was released in October and
quickly rose to number one. The album includes "Old Shep", which he
sang at the talent show in 1945, and which now marked the first time
he played piano on an RCA session. According to Guralnick, one can
hear "in the halting chords and the somewhat stumbling rhythm both the
unmistakable emotion and the equally unmistakable valuing of emotion
over technique." Assessing the musical and cultural impact of
Presley's recordings from "That's All Right" through Elvis, rock
Dave Marsh wrote that "these records, more than any others,
contain the seeds of what rock ">'s declaration that he had placed
more songs in the top 100 than any other artist since records were
first charted. In his first full year at RCA, one of the music
industry's largest companies,
Presley had accounted for over 50
percent of the label's singles sales.
Leiber And Stoller Collaboration And Draft Notice
Presley made his third and final
Ed Sullivan Show appearance on
January 6, 1957—on this occasion indeed shot only down to the waist.
Some commentators have claimed that Parker orchestrated an appearance
of censorship to generate publicity. In any event, as critic Greil
Presley "did not tie himself down. Leaving behind
the bland clothes he had worn on the first two shows, he stepped out
in the outlandish costume of a pasha, if not a harem girl. From the
make-up over his eyes, the hair falling in his face, the
overwhelmingly sexual cast of his mouth, he was playing Rudolph
Valentino in The Sheik , with all stops out." To close, displaying
his range and defying Sullivan's wishes,
Presley sang a gentle black
Peace in the Valley ". At the end of the show, Sullivan
Presley "a real decent, fine boy". Two days later, the
Memphis draft board announced that
Presley would be classified 1-A and
would probably be drafted sometime that year. Publicity
photos for Jailhouse Rock
Each of the three
Presley singles released in the first half of 1957
went to number one: "Too Much ", "
All Shook Up
All Shook Up ", and "(Let Me Be
Your) Teddy Bear ". Already an international star, he was attracting
fans even where his music was not officially released. Under the
Presley Records a Craze in Soviet", The New York Times
reported that pressings of his music on discarded X-ray plates were
commanding high prices in Leningrad. Between film shoots and
recording sessions, the singer also found time to purchase an 18-room
mansion eight miles (13 km) south of downtown Memphis for himself and
Graceland . When he reported to the film studio for his
second film, the Technicolor Loving You , released in July, "The
makeup man said that with his eyes he should photograph well with
black hair, so they dyed it." Loving You , the accompanying
soundtrack, was Presley's third straight number one album. The title
track was written by Leiber and Stoller, who were then retained to
write four of the six songs recorded at the sessions for Jailhouse
Rock , Presley's next film. The songwriting team effectively produced
the Jailhouse sessions and developed a close working relationship with
Presley, who came to regard them as his "good-luck charm".
Leiber remembered initially finding
Presley "not quite
authentic—after all, he was a white singer, and my standards were
black." According to Stoller, the duo was "surprised at the kind of
knowledge that he had about black music. We figured that he had these
remarkable pipes and all that, but we didn't realize that he knew so
much about the blues. We were quite surprised to find out that he knew
as much about it as we did. He certainly knew a lot more than we did
about country music and gospel music." Leiber remembered the
recording process with Presley, "He was fast. Any demo you gave him he
knew by heart in ten minutes." As Stoller recalled,
'protected'" by his manager and entourage. "He was removed. … They
kept him separate."
Presley undertook three brief tours during the year, continuing to
generate a crazed audience response. A
Detroit newspaper suggested
that "the trouble with going to see
Presley is that you're
liable to get killed." Villanova students pelted him with eggs in
Philadelphia, and in Vancouver, the crowd rioted after the end of the
show, destroying the stage. Frank Sinatra, who had famously inspired
the swooning of teenaged girls in the 1940s, condemned the new musical
phenomenon. In a magazine article, he decried rock and roll as
"brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious. ... It fosters almost totally
negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phoney
and false. It is sung, played and written, for the most part, by
cretinous goons. ... This rancid-smelling aphrodisiac I deplore."
Asked for a response,
Presley said, "I admire the man. He has a right
to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor,
but I think he shouldn't have said it. ... This is a trend, just the
same as he faced when he started years ago."
Presley and Dolores
Hart in King Creole, 1958
Leiber and Stoller were again in the studio for the recording of
Elvis\' Christmas Album . Toward the end of the session, they wrote a
song on the spot at Presley's request: "
Santa Claus Is Back in Town ",
an innuendo-laden blues. The holiday release stretched Presley's
string of number one albums to four and would eventually become the
best selling Christmas album of all time . After the session, Moore
and Black—drawing only modest weekly salaries, sharing in none of
Presley's massive financial success—resigned. Though they were
brought back on a per diem basis a few weeks later, it was clear that
they had not been part of Presley's inner circle for some time. On
Presley received his draft notice. He was granted a
deferment to finish the forthcoming
King Creole , in which $350,000
had already been invested by Paramount and producer
Hal Wallis . A
couple of weeks into the new year, "Don\'t ", another Leiber and
Stoller tune, became Presley's tenth number one seller. It had been
only 21 months since "Heartbreak Hotel" had brought him to the top for
the first time. Recording sessions for the
King Creole soundtrack were
held in Hollywood mid-January. Leiber and Stoller provided three songs
and were again on hand, but it would be the last time they worked
closely with Presley. A studio session on February 1 marked another
ending: it was the final occasion on which Black was to perform with
Presley. He died in 1965.
1958–1960: MILITARY SERVICE AND MOTHER\'S DEATH
Elvis Presley\'s Army career
Presley being sworn into
the U.S. Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, March 24, 1958
On March 24, 1958,
Presley was conscripted into the U.S. Army as a
Fort Chaffee , near
Fort Smith, Arkansas . His arrival was
a major media event. Hundreds of people descended on
Presley as he
stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the
Presley announced that he was looking forward to his military
stint, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from
anyone else: "The Army can do anything it wants with me."
Presley commenced basic training at
Fort Hood , Texas, he
received a visit from Eddie Fadal, a businessman he had met on tour.
According to Fadal,
Presley had become convinced his career was
finished—"He firmly believed that." But then, during a two-week
leave in early June,
Presley recorded five songs in Nashville. In
early August, his mother was diagnosed with hepatitis and her
condition rapidly worsened. Presley, granted emergency leave to visit
her, arrived in Memphis on August 12. Two days later, she died of
heart failure, aged 46.
Presley was devastated; their relationship
had remained extremely close—even into his adulthood, they would use
baby talk with each other and
Presley would address her with pet
Presley with his parents upon Army induction
Presley joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg
, Germany, on October 1. Introduced to amphetamines by a sergeant
while on maneuvers, he became "practically evangelical about their
benefits"—not only for energy, but for "strength" and weight loss,
as well—and many of his friends in the outfit joined him in
indulging. The Army also introduced
Presley to karate, which he
studied seriously, later including it in his live performances.
Fellow soldiers have attested to Presley's wish to be seen as an able,
ordinary soldier, despite his fame, and to his generosity. He donated
his Army pay to charity, purchased TV sets for the base, and bought an
extra set of fatigues for everyone in his outfit.
While in Friedberg,
Presley met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu . They
would eventually marry after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship. In
her autobiography, Priscilla says that despite his worries that it
would ruin his career, Parker convinced
Presley that to gain popular
respect, he should serve his country as a regular soldier rather than
Special Services, where he would have been able to give some
musical performances and remain in touch with the public. Media
reports echoed Presley's concerns about his career, but RCA producer
Steve Sholes and
Freddy Bienstock of
Hill and Range had carefully
prepared for his two-year hiatus. Armed with a substantial amount of
unreleased material, they kept up a regular stream of successful
releases. Between his induction and discharge,
Presley had ten top 40
hits, including "
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck ", the best-selling
Hard Headed Woman ", and "One Night " in 1958, and "(Now and Then
There\'s) A Fool Such as I " and the number one "A Big Hunk o\' Love "
in 1959. RCA also generated four albums compiling old material during
this period, most successfully Elvis\' Golden Records (1958), which
hit number three on the LP chart.
1960–1967: FOCUS ON FILMS
Elvis Presley on film and television
Elvis Is Back
"It\'s Now or Never"
Presley broke new stylistic ground and
displayed his vocal range with this number one hit. The quasi-operatic
ballad ends with
Presley "soaring up to an incredible top G sharp."
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was
honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant on March 5. The train
that carried him from
New Jersey to Tennessee was mobbed all the way,
Presley was called upon to appear at scheduled stops to please his
fans. On the night of March 20, he entered RCA\'s Nashville studio to
cut tracks for a new album along with a single, "Stuck on You ", which
was rushed into release and swiftly became a number one hit. Another
Nashville session two weeks later yielded a pair of his best-selling
singles, the ballads "It\'s Now or Never " and "Are You Lonesome
Tonight? ", along with the rest of
Elvis Is Back! The album features
several songs described by
Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues
"menace, driven by Presley's own super-miked acoustic guitar,
brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots
Randolph . Elvis's singing wasn't sexy, it was pornographic." As a
whole, the record "conjured up the vision of a performer who could be
all things", in the words of music historian John Robertson: "a
flirtatious teenage idol with a heart of gold; a tempestuous,
dangerous lover; a gutbucket blues singer; a sophisticated nightclub
entertainer; raucous rocker".
Presley returned to television on May 12 as a guest on The Frank
Special —ironic for both stars, given Sinatra's
not-so-distant excoriation of rock and roll. Also known as Welcome
Home Elvis, the show had been taped in late March, the only time all
Presley performed in front of an audience. Parker secured an
unheard-of $125,000 fee for eight minutes of singing. The broadcast
drew an enormous viewership.
Blues , the soundtrack to Presley's first film since his return,
was a number one album in October. His first LP of sacred material,
His Hand in Mine
His Hand in Mine , followed two months later. It reached number 13 on
the U.S. pop chart and number 3 in the UK, remarkable figures for a
gospel album. In February 1961,
Presley performed two shows for a
benefit event in Memphis, on behalf of 24 local charities. During a
luncheon preceding the event, RCA presented him with a plaque
certifying worldwide sales of over 75 million records. A 12-hour
Nashville session in mid-March yielded nearly all of Presley's next
Something for Everybody . As described by John
Robertson, it exemplifies the
Nashville sound , the restrained,
cosmopolitan style that would define country music in the 1960s.
Presaging much of what was to come from
Presley himself over the next
half-decade, the album is largely "a pleasant, unthreatening pastiche
of the music that had once been Elvis's birthright." It would be his
sixth number one LP. Another benefit concert, raising money for a
Pearl Harbor memorial, was staged on March 25, in Hawaii. It was to be
Presley's last public performance for seven years.
Lost In Hollywood
Parker had by now pushed
Presley into a heavy film making schedule,
focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies.
first insisted on pursuing more serious roles, but when two films in a
more dramatic vein—
Flaming Star (1960) and Wild in the Country
(1961)—were less commercially successful, he reverted to the
formula. Among the 27 films he made during the 1960s, there were few
further exceptions. His films were almost universally panned; critic
Andrew Caine dismissed them as a "pantheon of bad taste".
Nonetheless, they were virtually all profitable.
Hal Wallis , who
produced nine of them, declared, "A
Presley picture is the only sure
thing in Hollywood."
Of Presley's films in the 1960s, 15 were accompanied by soundtrack
albums and another 5 by soundtrack EPs. The films' rapid production
and release schedules—he frequently starred in three a
year—affected his music. According to Jerry Leiber, the soundtrack
formula was already evident before
Presley left for the Army: "three
ballads, one medium-tempo , one up-tempo, and one break blues boogie".
As the decade wore on, the quality of the soundtrack songs grew
Julie Parrish , who appeared in Paradise,
Hawaiian Style (1966), says that he hated many of the songs chosen for
his films. The Jordanaires' Gordon Stoker describes how
retreat from the studio microphone: "The material was so bad that he
felt like he couldn't sing it." Most of the film albums featured a
song or two from respected writers such as the team of
Doc Pomus and
Mort Shuman . But by and large, according to biographer Jerry Hopkins
, the numbers seemed to be "written on order by men who never really
Elvis or rock and roll." Regardless of the songs' quality,
it has been argued that
Presley generally sang them well, with
Dave Marsh heard the opposite: "
trying, probably the wisest course in the face of material like 'No
Room to Rumba in a Sports Car' and 'Rock-a-Hula Baby .'"
In the first half of the decade, three of Presley's soundtrack albums
hit number one on the pop charts, and a few of his most popular songs
came from his films, such as "Can\'t
Help Falling in Love " (1961) and
"Return to Sender " (1962). ("
Viva Las Vegas ", the title track to the
1964 film, was a minor hit as a B-side, and became truly popular only
later.) But, as with artistic merit, the commercial returns steadily
diminished. During a five-year span—1964 through 1968—
only one top-ten hit: "
Crying in the Chapel " (1965), a gospel number
recorded back in 1960. As for non-film albums, between the June 1962
release of Pot Luck and the November 1968 release of the soundtrack to
the television special that signaled his comeback, only one LP of new
Presley was issued: the gospel album How Great Thou Art
(1967). It won him his first
Grammy Award , for Best Sacred
Performance. As Marsh described,
Presley was "arguably the greatest
white gospel singer of his time really the last rock "> The
Presleys with newborn Lisa Marie, February 1968
Presley's only child, Lisa Marie , was born on February 1, 1968,
during a period when he had grown deeply unhappy with his career. Of
Presley singles released between January 1967 and May 1968,
only two charted in the top 40, and none higher than number 28. His
forthcoming soundtrack album, Speedway , would die at number 82 on the
Billboard chart. Parker had already shifted his plans to television,
Presley had not appeared since the Sinatra Timex show in 1960.
He maneuvered a deal with NBC that committed the network to both
finance a theatrical feature and broadcast a Christmas special.
The \'68 Comeback
Special produced "one of the most famous images" of
Presley, taken on June 29, 1968.
Recorded in late June in
Burbank, California , the special, called
simply Elvis, aired on December 3, 1968. Later known as the '68
Comeback Special, the show featured lavishly staged studio productions
as well as songs performed with a band in front of a small
audience—Presley's first live performances since 1961. The live
Presley clad in tight black leather, singing and playing
guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock-and-roll
Bill Belew , who designed this outfit, gave it a Napoleonic
standing collar (
Presley customarily wore high collars because he
believed his neck looked too long), a design feature that he would
later make a major trademark of the outfits
Presley wore on stage in
his later years. Director and coproducer
Steve Binder had worked hard
to reassure the nervous singer and to produce a show that was far from
the hour of Christmas songs Parker had originally planned. The show,
NBC's highest rated that season, captured 42 percent of the total
Jon Landau of Eye magazine remarked, "There is
something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his
way back home. He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect
of rock 'n' roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension
and effort that must have made
Jim Morrison green with envy." Dave
Marsh calls the performance one of "emotional grandeur and historical
By January 1969, the single "
If I Can Dream
If I Can Dream ", written for the
special, reached number 12. The soundtrack album broke into the top
ten. According to friend
Jerry Schilling , the special reminded
Presley of what "he had not been able to do for years, being able to
choose the people; being able to choose what songs and not being told
what had to be on the soundtrack. ... He was out of prison, man."
Binder said of Presley's reaction, "I played
Elvis the 60-minute show,
and he told me in the screening room, 'Steve, it's the greatest thing
I've ever done in my life. I give you my word I will never sing a song
I don't believe in.'"
Elvis In Memphis And The International
"Power of My Love" Beginning with his American Sound
recordings, soul music became a central element in Presley's fusion of
styles. Here, he revels in lyrics full of sexual innuendo.
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special,
Presley engaged in
a prolific series of recording sessions at
American Sound Studio ,
which led to the acclaimed
From Elvis in Memphis . Released in June
1969, it was his first secular, non-soundtrack album from a dedicated
period in the studio in eight years. As described by Dave Marsh, it is
"a masterpiece in which
Presley immediately catches up with pop music
trends that had seemed to pass him by during the movie years. He sings
country songs, soul songs and rockers with real conviction, a stunning
Presley was keen to resume regular live performing. Following the
success of the Comeback Special, offers came in from around the world.
London Palladium offered Parker $28,000 for a one-week engagement.
He responded, "That's fine for me, now how much can you get for
Elvis?" In May, the brand new International Hotel in Las Vegas,
boasting the largest showroom in the city, announced that it had
booked Presley, scheduling him to perform 57 shows over four weeks
beginning July 31. Moore, Fontana, and the
Jordanaires declined to
participate, afraid of losing the lucrative session work they had in
Presley assembled new, top-notch accompaniment, led by
James Burton and including two gospel groups, The Imperials
The Sweet Inspirations . Nonetheless, he was nervous: his only
previous Las Vegas engagement, in 1956, had been dismal, and he had
neither forgotten nor forgiven that failure. To revise his approach to
Presley visited Las Vegas hotel showrooms and lounges,
at one of which, that of the Flamingo, he encountered Tom Jones ,
whose aggressive style was similar to his own 1950s approach; the two
became friends. Already studying karate at the time,
Bill Belew to design variants of karatekas's gis for him; these, in
jumpsuit form, would be his "stage uniforms" in his later years.
Parker, who intended to make Presley's return the show business event
of the year, oversaw a major promotional push. For his part, hotel
Kirk Kerkorian arranged to send his own plane to New York to fly
in rock journalists for the debut performance.
Presley took to the stage without introduction. The audience of
2,200, including many celebrities, gave him a standing ovation before
he sang a note and another after his performance. A third followed his
Help Falling in Love" (a song that would be his closing
number for much of the 1970s). At a press conference after the show,
when a journalist referred to him as "The King",
Fats Domino , who was taking in the scene. "No,"
"that's the real king of rock and roll." The next day, Parker's
negotiations with the hotel resulted in a five-year contract for
Presley to play each February and August, at an annual salary of $1
Newsweek commented, "There are several unbelievable things
about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world
where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars." Rolling Stone
Presley "supernatural, his own resurrection." In November,
Presley's final non-concert film,
Change of Habit , opened. The double
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis came out the same
month; the first LP consisted of live performances from the
International, the second of more cuts from the American Sound
sessions. "Suspicious Minds" reached the top of the charts—Presley's
first U.S. pop number one in over seven years, and his last.
Cassandra Peterson , later television's Elvira, met
this period in Las Vegas, where she was working as a showgirl. She
recalls of their encounter, "He was so anti-drug when I met him. I
mentioned to him that I smoked marijuana, and he was just appalled. He
said, 'Don't ever do that again.'"
Presley was not only deeply
opposed to recreational drugs, he also rarely drank. Several of his
family members had been alcoholics, a fate he intended to avoid.
Back On Tour And Meeting Nixon
Presley returned to the International early in 1970 for the first of
the year's two month-long engagements, performing two shows a night.
Recordings from these shows were issued on the album On Stage . In
Presley performed six attendance-record–breaking
shows at the
Houston Astrodome . In April, the single "The Wonder of
You " was issued—a number one hit in the UK, it topped the U.S.
adult contemporary chart, as well. MGM filmed rehearsal and concert
footage at the International during August for the documentary Elvis:
That\'s the Way It Is .
Presley was by now performing in a jumpsuit,
which would become a trademark of his live act. During this
engagement, he was threatened with murder unless $50,000 was paid.
Presley had been the target of many threats since the 1950s, often
without his knowledge. The FBI took the threat seriously and security
was stepped up for the next two shows.
Presley went onstage with a
Derringer in his right boot and a .45 pistol in his waistband, but the
concerts went off without incident.
The album That\'s the Way It Is , produced to accompany the
documentary and featuring both studio and live recordings, marked a
stylistic shift. As music historian John Robertson notes, "The
authority of Presley's singing helped disguise the fact that the album
stepped decisively away from the American-roots inspiration of the
Memphis sessions towards a more middle-of-the-road sound. With country
put on the back burner, and soul and R"> File:Elvis-nixon.jpg
Presley meets U.S. President
Richard Nixon in the White House Oval
Office, December 21, 1970
On December 21, 1970,
Presley engineered a meeting with President
Richard Nixon at the White House, where he expressed his patriotism
and his contempt for the hippies , the growing drug culture , and the
counterculture in general. He asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics
and Dangerous Drugs badge, to add to similar items he had begun
collecting and to signify official sanction of his patriotic efforts.
Nixon, who apparently found the encounter awkward, expressed a belief
Presley could send a positive message to young people and that it
was therefore important he "retain his credibility".
Nixon that the Beatles , whose songs he regularly performed in concert
during the era, exemplified what he saw as a trend of
anti-Americanism and drug abuse in popular culture. On hearing
reports of the meeting,
Paul McCartney later said he "felt a bit
betrayed" and commented: "The great joke was that we were taking
drugs, and look what happened to him", a reference to Presley's death,
hastened by prescription drug abuse.
The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named
Presley one of its annual
Ten Most Outstanding Young Men of the Nation on January 16, 1971. Not
long after, the City of Memphis named the stretch of Highway 51 South
Graceland is located "
Presley Boulevard". The same
Presley became the first rock and roll singer to be awarded the
Lifetime Achievement Award (then known as the Bing Crosby Award) by
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences , the Grammy Award
organization. Three new, non-film
Presley studio albums were released
in 1971, as many as had come out over the previous eight years. Best
received by critics was
Elvis Country , a concept record that focused
on genre standards. The biggest seller was
Elvis Sings the Wonderful
World of Christmas , "the truest statement of all", according to Greil
Marcus. "In the midst of ten painfully genteel Christmas songs, every
one sung with appalling sincerity and humility, one could find Elvis
tom-catting his way through six blazing minutes of 'Merry Christmas
Baby ,' a raunchy old Charles Brown blues." According to Guralnick,
"the one real highlight" of one of the 1971 sessions were the
recording of "I Will Be True," "It's Still Here," and "I'll Take You
Home Again, Kathleen," a trio of songs that
Presley recorded in a rare
solo set, sitting at the piano after everyone else had gone home:
"Yearning, wistfulness, loneliness, need—all were communicated with
a naked lack of adornment that
Elvis was seeming to find increasingly
difficult to display in the formal process of recording."
Marriage Breakdown And Aloha From Hawaii
Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite
Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite
MGM again filmed
Presley in April 1972, this time for
Elvis on Tour ,
which went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film
that year. His gospel album He Touched Me , released that month, would
earn him his second Grammy Award, for Best Inspirational Performance.
A 14-date tour commenced with an unprecedented four consecutive
sold-out shows at New York's
Madison Square Garden . The evening
concert on July 10 was recorded and issued in LP form a week later.
Elvis: As Recorded at
Madison Square Garden became one of Presley's
biggest-selling albums. After the tour, the single "
Burning Love " was
released—Presley's last top ten hit on the U.S. pop chart. "The most
Elvis has made since 'All Shook Up'", wrote rock
Robert Christgau . "Who else could make 'It's coming closer,
the flames are now licking my body' sound like an assignation with
James Brown 's backup band ?"
Presley in Aloha from Hawaii ,
broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973. The singer himself
came up with his famous outfit's eagle motif, as "something that would
say 'America' to the world."
Presley and his wife, meanwhile, had become increasingly distant,
barely cohabiting. In 1971, an affair he had with Joyce Bova
resulted—unbeknownst to him—in her pregnancy and an abortion. He
often raised the possibility of her moving into Graceland, saying that
he was likely to leave Priscilla. The Presleys separated on February
23, 1972, after Priscilla disclosed her relationship with Mike Stone ,
a karate instructor
Presley had recommended to her. Priscilla relates
that when she told him,
Presley "grabbed ... and forcefully made love
to" her, declaring, "This is how a real man makes love to his woman."
Five months later, Presley's new girlfriend, Linda Thompson , a
songwriter and one-time Memphis beauty queen, moved in with him.
Presley and his wife filed for divorce on August 18. According to Joe
Moscheo of the Imperials, the failure of Presley's marriage "was a
blow from which he never recovered."
In January 1973,
Presley performed two benefit concerts for the Kui
Lee Cancer Fund in connection with a groundbreaking TV special, Aloha
from Hawaii . The first show served as a practice run and backup
should technical problems affect the live broadcast two days later.
Aired as scheduled on January 14, Aloha from Hawaii was the first
global concert satellite broadcast, reaching millions of viewers live
and on tape delay. Presley's costume became the most recognized
example of the elaborate concert garb with which his latter-day
persona became closely associated. As described by
Bobbie Ann Mason ,
"At the end of the show, when he spreads out his American Eagle cape,
with the full stretched wings of the eagle studded on the back, he
becomes a god figure." The accompanying double album , released in
February, went to number one and eventually sold over 5 million copies
in the United States. It proved to be Presley's last U.S. number one
pop album during his lifetime.
At a midnight show the same month, four men rushed onto the stage in
an apparent attack. Security men leapt to Presley's defense, and the
singer's karate instinct took over as he ejected one invader from the
stage himself. Following the show, he became obsessed with the idea
that the men had been sent by Mike Stone to kill him. Though they were
shown to have been only overexuberant fans, he raged, "There's too
much pain in me ... Stone die." His outbursts continued with such
intensity that a physician was unable to calm him, despite
administering large doses of medication. After another two full days
Red West , his friend and bodyguard, felt compelled to get
a price for a contract killing and was relieved when
"Aw hell, let's just leave it for now. Maybe it's a bit heavy."
1973–1977: HEALTH DETERIORATION AND DEATH
Medical Crises And Last Studio Sessions
Presley's divorce took effect on October 9, 1973. He was now
becoming increasingly unwell. Twice during the year he overdosed on
barbiturates , spending three days in a coma in his hotel suite after
the first incident. Toward the end of 1973, he was hospitalized,
semicomatose from the effects of pethidine addiction. According to his
primary care physician, Dr.
George C. Nichopoulos ,
Presley "felt that
by getting from a doctor, he wasn't the common everyday junkie
getting something off the street." Since his comeback, he had staged
more live shows with each passing year, and 1973 saw 168 concerts, his
busiest schedule ever. Despite his failing health, in 1974 he
undertook another intensive touring schedule.
Presley's condition declined precipitously in September. Keyboardist
Tony Brown remembers the singer's arrival at a University of Maryland
concert: "He fell out of the limousine, to his knees. People jumped to
help, and he pushed them away like, 'Don't help me.' He walked on
stage and held onto the mike for the first thirty minutes like it was
a post. Everybody's looking at each other like, Is the tour gonna
happen?" Guitarist John Wilkinson recalled, "He was all gut. He was
slurring. He was so fucked up. ... It was obvious he was drugged. It
was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body. It was
so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible. ... I remember
crying. He could barely get through the introductions". Wilkinson
recounted that a few nights later in
Detroit , "I watched him in his
dressing room, just draped over a chair, unable to move. So often I
thought, 'Boss, why don't you just cancel this tour and take a year
off ...?' I mentioned something once in a guarded moment. He patted me
on the back and said, 'It'll be all right. Don't you worry about it.'"
Presley continued to play to sellout crowds.
On July 13, 1976, Vernon Presley—who had become deeply involved in
his son's financial affairs—fired "
Memphis Mafia " bodyguards Red
West (Presley's friend since the 1950s), Sonny West , and David
Hebler, citing the need to "cut back on expenses".
Presley was in
Palm Springs at the time, and some suggest the singer was too
cowardly to face the three himself. Another associate of Presley's,
John O'Grady, argued that the bodyguards were dropped because their
rough treatment of fans had prompted too many lawsuits. However,
Presley's stepbrother David Stanley has claimed that the bodyguards
were fired because they were becoming more outspoken about Presley's
RCA, which had enjoyed a steady stream of product from
over a decade, grew anxious as his interest in spending time in the
studio waned. After a December 1973 session that produced 18 songs,
enough for almost two albums, he did not enter the studio in 1974.
Parker sold RCA on another concert record,
Elvis Recorded Live on
Stage in Memphis . Recorded on March 20, it included a version of
"How Great Thou Art" that would win
Presley his third and final
competitive Grammy Award. (All three of his competitive Grammy
wins—out of 14 total nominations—were for gospel recordings.)
Presley returned to the studio in Hollywood in March 1975, but
Parker's attempts to arrange another session toward the end of the
year were unsuccessful. In 1976, RCA sent a mobile studio to
Graceland that made possible two full-scale recording sessions at
Presley's home. Even in that comfortable context, the recording
process was now a struggle for him.
An R he was unable to get out of his hotel bed, and the rest of the
tour was cancelled. Despite the accelerating deterioration of his
health, he stuck to most touring commitments. In Rapid City, South
Dakota , "he was so nervous on stage that he could hardly talk",
Presley historian Samuel Roy, and unable to "perform any
significant movement." Guralnick relates that fans "were becoming
increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to
go right past Presley, whose world was now confined almost entirely to
his room and his spiritualism books." A cousin, Billy Smith, recalled
Presley would sit in his room and chat for hours, sometimes
Monty Python sketches and his own past escapades,
but more often gripped by paranoid obsessions that reminded Smith of
Howard Hughes . "
Way Down ", Presley's last single issued during his
lifetime, came out on June 6. On the next tour,
CBS filmed two
concerts for a TV Special,
Elvis in Concert, to be aired in October.
On the first of these, captured in Omaha on June 19, Presley's voice,
Guralnick writes, "is almost unrecognizable, a small, childlike
instrument in which he talks more than sings most of the songs, casts
about uncertainly for the melody in others, and is virtually unable to
articulate or project." He did better on the second night, two days
later in Rapid City: "He looked healthier, seemed to have lost a
little weight, and sounded better, too", though his appearance was
still a "face framed in a helmet of blue-black hair from which sweat
sheets down over pale, swollen cheeks." His final concert was held in
Indianapolis, Indiana at
Market Square Arena , on June 26.
Presley's gravestone at
The book Elvis: What Happened? , cowritten by the three bodyguards
fired the previous year, was published on August 1. It was the first
exposé to detail Presley's years of drug misuse. He was devastated by
the book and tried unsuccessfully to halt its release by offering
money to the publishers. By this point, he suffered from multiple
ailments: glaucoma , high blood pressure , liver damage , and an
enlarged colon , each aggravated—and possibly caused—by drug
abuse. Genetic analysis of a hair sample in 2014 found evidence of
genetic variants that could have caused his glaucoma, migraines and
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy . In addition, his drug abuse had led to
falls, head trauma, and overdoses that most likely had damaged his
Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis on the evening of August
16, 1977, to begin another tour. That afternoon, Ginger Alden
discovered him unresponsive on his bathroom floor. According to her
eyewitness account, "
Elvis looked as if his entire body had completely
frozen in a seated position while using the commode and then had
fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it. It
was clear that, from the time whatever hit him to the moment he had
landed on the floor,
Elvis hadn't moved." Joel Williamson writes:
"For some reason — perhaps involving a reaction to the codeine and
attempts to move his bowels — he experienced pain and fright while
sitting on the toilet. Alarmed, he stood up, dropped the book he was
reading, stumbled forward, and fell face down in the fetal position.
He struggled weakly and drooled on the rug. Unable to breathe, he
died." Attempts to revive him failed, and death was officially
pronounced at 3:30 p.m. at Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited
having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture".
Thousands of people gathered outside
Graceland to view the open
casket. One of Presley's cousins, Billy Mann, accepted $18,000 to
secretly photograph the corpse; the picture appeared on the cover of
National Enquirer 's biggest-selling issue ever. Alden struck a
$105,000 deal with the Enquirer for her story, but settled for less
when she broke her exclusivity agreement.
Presley left her nothing in
Presley's funeral was held at
Graceland on Thursday, August 18.
Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two
women and critically injuring a third. Approximately 80,000 people
lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley
was buried next to his mother. Within a few days, "Way Down" topped
the country and UK pop charts.
Following an attempt to steal the singer's body in late August, the
remains of both
Presley and his mother were reburied in Graceland's
Meditation Garden on October 2.
Since his death, there have been numerous alleged sightings of
Presley . A long-standing theory among some fans is that he faked his
death. Fans have noted alleged discrepancies in the death
certificate, reports of a wax dummy in his original coffin and
numerous accounts of
Presley planning a diversion so he could retire
QUESTIONS OVER CAUSE OF DEATH
"Drug use was heavily implicated" in Presley's death, writes
Guralnick. "No one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock
brought on by the codeine pills ... to which he was known to have had
a mild allergy." A pair of lab reports filed two months later each
strongly suggested that polypharmacy was the primary cause of death;
one reported "fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant
quantity." Forensic historian and pathologist Michael Baden views the
situation as complicated: "
Elvis had had an enlarged heart for a long
time. That, together with his drug habit, caused his death. But he was
difficult to diagnose; it was a judgment call."
The competence and ethics of two of the centrally involved medical
professionals were seriously questioned. Before the autopsy was
complete and toxicology results known, medical examiner Dr. Jerry
Francisco declared the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia , a
condition that can be determined only in someone who is still alive.
Allegations of a cover-up were widespread. While Presley's main
physician, Dr. Nichopoulos , was exonerated of criminal liability for
the singer's death, the facts were startling: "In the first eight
months of 1977 alone, he had more than 10,000 doses of sedatives,
amphetamines and narcotics: all in Elvis's name." His license was
suspended for three months. It was permanently revoked in the 1990s
after the Tennessee Medical Board brought new charges of
Amidst mounting pressure in 1994, the
Presley autopsy was reopened.
Coroner Dr. Joseph Davis declared, "There is nothing in any of the
data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a
sudden, violent heart attack." Whether or not combined drug
intoxication was in fact the cause, there is little doubt that
polypharmacy contributed significantly to Presley's premature death.
More recent research has revealed that it was only Dr Francisco who
told the news people that
Elvis apparently died of heart failure. In
fact, the doctors "could say nothing with confidence until they got
the results back from the laboratories, if then. That would be a
matter of weeks." One of the examiners, Dr E. Eric Muirhead "could not
believe his ears. Francisco had not only presumed to speak for the
hospital's team of pathologists, he had announced a conclusion that
they had not reached." "Early on, a meticulous dissection of the body
Elvis was chronically ill with diabetes, glaucoma, and
constipation. As they proceeded, the doctors saw evidence that his
body had been wracked over a span of years by a large and constant
stream of drugs. They had also studied his hospital records, which
included two admissions for drug detoxification and methadone
treatments." Therefore, Frank Coffey is of the opinion that a
plausible cause of Elvis' death is "a phenomenon called the Valsalva
maneuver (essentially straining on the toilet leading to heart
stoppage — plausible because
Elvis suffered constipation, a common
reaction to drug use)..." In similar terms, Dr Dan Warlick, who was
present at the autopsy, "believes Presley's chronic constipation —
the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat,
high-cholesterol gorging — brought on what's known as Valsalva's
maneuver. Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed
the singer's abdominal aorta, shutting down his heart."
Between 1977 and 1981, six posthumously released singles by Presley
were top ten country hits.
Graceland was opened to the public in
1982. Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it is the
second most-visited home in the United States, after the White House.
It was declared a
National Historic Landmark in 2006.
Presley has been inducted into five music halls of fame : the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998),
Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001), the
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
(2007), and the
Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2012). In 1984, he
received the W. C. Handy Award from the
Blues Foundation and the
Academy of Country Music 's first Golden Hat Award. In 1987, he
received the American Music Awards ' Award of Merit.
Junkie XL remix of Presley's "
A Little Less Conversation "
(credited as "
Elvis Vs JXL") was used in a Nike advertising campaign
2002 FIFA World Cup
2002 FIFA World Cup . It topped the charts in over 20
countries, and was included in a compilation of Presley's number one
ELV1S , that was also an international success. In 2003, a remix
of "Rubberneckin\' ", a 1969 recording of Presley's, topped the U.S.
sales chart, as did a 50th-anniversary re-release of "That's All
Right" the following year. The latter was an outright hit in the UK,
reaching number three on the pop chart.
In 2005, another three reissued singles, "Jailhouse Rock", "One
Night"/"I Got Stung", and "It's Now or Never", went to number one in
the United Kingdom. A total of 17
Presley singles were reissued during
the year; all made the British top five. For the fifth straight year,
Presley the top-earning deceased celebrity, with a gross
income of $45 million. He placed second in 2006, returned to the top
spot the next two years, and ranked fourth in 2009. The following
year, he was ranked second, with his highest annual income ever—$60
million—spurred by the celebration of his 75th birthday and the
Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil 's Viva
Elvis show in Las Vegas. In
November 2010, Viva Elvis: The Album was released, setting his voice
to newly recorded instrumental tracks. As of mid-2011, there were an
estimated 15,000 licensed
Presley products. He was again the
second-highest-earning deceased celebrity.
Presley holds the records for most songs charting in Billboard's top
40 and top 100: chart statistician
Joel Whitburn calculates the
respective totals as 104 and 151;
Presley historian Adam Victor gives
114 and 138. Presley's rankings for top-ten and number-one hits vary
depending on how the double-sided "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" and
"Don't/I Beg of You" singles, which precede the inception of
Billboard's unified Hot 100 chart, are analyzed. According to
Presley and Madonna share the record for most top
ten hits with 38; per Billboard's current assessment, he ranks second
with 36. Whitburn and Billboard concur that the Beatles hold the
record for most number-one hits with 20, and that
Mariah Carey is
second with 18. Whitburn has
Presley also with 18, and thus tied for
second; Billboard has him third with 17.
Presley retains the record
for cumulative weeks at number one: alone at 80, according to Whitburn
and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; tied with Carey at 79, according
to Billboard. He holds the records for most British number-one hits
with 21, and top-ten hits with 76. In 2016, the album The Wonder of
You, which sets Presley's vocals against music by the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra, was released and reached No. 1 in the UK in
October. According to Billboard, this created two new records for
Presley: with 13 UK No. 1 albums (The Beatles' total is 15), he is the
solo artist with the most number one albums, and the album set a new
record for "the longest span between No.1 albums in the UK": Presley
first charted at No.1 in 1956 with his self-titled debut album.
In 2008, an 1,800-year-old Roman bust described as bearing a
"striking" resemblance to
Elvis was displayed ahead of an intended
auction. A spokesman for the auctioneers said that fans could "be
forgiven for thinking that their idol may well have lived a previous
life in Rome."
On the anniversary date of his death, every year since 1997,
thousands of people gather at his home in Memphis to celebrate his
memory, during a candlelight ritual.
Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel . His mother
recalled that from the age of two, at the
Assembly of God church in
Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run
into the aisle and scramble up to the platform. There he would stand
looking at the choir and trying to sing with them." In Memphis,
Presley frequently attended all-night gospel singings at the Ellis
Auditorium, where groups such as the Statesmen Quartet led the music
in a style that, Guralnick suggests, sowed the seeds of Presley's
future stage act:
The Statesmen were an electric combination ... featuring some of the
most thrillingly emotive singing and daringly unconventional
showmanship in the entertainment world ... dressed in suits that might
have come out of the window of Lansky's. ... Bass singer Jim
Wetherington, known universally as the Big Chief, maintained a steady
bottom, ceaselessly jiggling first his left leg, then his right, with
the material of the pants leg ballooning out and shimmering. "He went
about as far as you could go in gospel music," said Jake Hess. "The
women would jump up, just like they do for the pop shows." Preachers
frequently objected to the lewd movements ... but audiences reacted
with screams and swoons.
As a teenager, Presley's musical interests were wide-ranging, and he
was deeply informed about African American musical idioms as well as
white ones (see "Teenage life in Memphis "). Though he never had any
formal training, he was blessed with a remarkable memory, and his
musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his
first professional recordings in 1954 at the age of 19. When Jerry
Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished
at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues. At a press conference
the following year, he proudly declared, "I know practically every
religious song that's ever been written."
MUSICAL STYLE AND GENRES
Presley was a central figure in the development of rockabilly ,
according to music historians. Katherine Charlton even calls him
"rockabilly's originator", though
Carl Perkins has explicitly stated
that " Phillips, Elvis, and I didn't create rockabilly." and,
according to Michael Campbell, "
Bill Haley recorded the first big
rockabilly hit." "It had been there for quite a while", says Scotty
Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up
around Jackson, and I know for a fact
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing
that kind of music ever since he was ten years old." However,
Rockabilly crystallized into a recognizable style in 1954 with Elvis
Presley's first release, on the Sun label", writes Craig Morrison.
Paul Friedlander describes the defining elements of rockabilly, which
he similarly characterizes as "essentially ... an
construction": "the raw, emotive, and slurred vocal style and emphasis
on rhythmic feeling the blues with the string band and strummed
rhythm guitar country". In "That's All Right", the
first record, Scotty Moore's guitar solo, "a combination of Merle
Travis –style country finger-picking, double-stop slides from
acoustic boogie, and blues-based bent-note, single-string work, is a
microcosm of this fusion."
At RCA, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly
with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars and
a tougher, more intense manner. While he was known for taking songs
from various sources and giving them a rockabilly/rock and roll
treatment, he also recorded songs in other genres from early in his
career, from the pop standard "Blue Moon " at Sun to the country
ballad "How's the World Treating You?" on his second LP to the blues
of "Santa Claus Is Back In Town". In 1957, his first gospel record was
released, the four-song EP Peace in the Valley. Certified as a million
seller, it became the top-selling gospel EP in recording history.
Presley would record gospel periodically for the rest of his life.
"Run On" From
How Great Thou Art (1967), a traditional song
popular in the black gospel tradition. The arrangement evokes "the
percussive style of the 1930s
Golden Gate Quartet
Golden Gate Quartet ."
Problems playing this file? See media help .
After his return from military service in 1960,
Presley continued to
perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially
toned down. The reason why the music from this period lacks the drama
from his Fifties recordings, critic
Dave Marsh writes, is "because
what we're hearing is not genius discovering itself but the sound of
genius at work." His first post-Army single, the number one hit
"Stuck on You ", is typical of this shift. RCA publicity materials
referred to its "mild rock beat"; discographer Ernst Jorgensen calls
it "upbeat pop". The modern blues/R as he explained, they were "hard
to find". A significant exception was "Burning Love", his last major
hit on the pop charts. Like his work of the 1950s, Presley's
subsequent recordings reworked pop and country songs, but in markedly
different permutations. His stylistic range now began to embrace a
more contemporary rock sound as well as soul and funk . Much of Elvis
In Memphis, as well as "Suspicious Minds", cut at the same sessions,
reflected his new rock and soul fusion. In the mid-1970s, many of his
singles found a home on country radio, the field where he first became
VOCAL STYLE AND RANGE
The general development of Presley's voice is described by critic
Dave Marsh as "high and thrilled in the early days, lower and
perplexed in the final months." Marsh credits
Presley with the
introduction of the "vocal stutter" on 1955's "Baby Let\'s Play House
." When on "Don't Be Cruel"
Presley "slides into a 'mmmmm' that marks
the transition between the first two verses," he shows "how masterful
his relaxed style really is." Marsh describes the singing on "Can\'t
Help Falling in Love " to be of "gentle insistence and delicacy of
phrasing," with the line "'Shall I stay'" pronounced as if the words
are fragile as crystal." On the operatic "It's Now or Never" Presley
"was reaching for something more than he had ever attempted before,"
and, according to discographer Jorgensen, later the same year the
melody to "Surrender ", a number also based on an Italian original,
"Torna A Sorrento", "required an even greater demonstration of vocal
Jorgensen calls the 1966 recording of "
How Great Thou Art " "an
extraordinary fulfillment of his vocal ambitions," as
"crafted for himself an ad-hoc arrangement in which he took every part
of the four-part vocal, from bass intro to the soaring heights of the
song's operatic climax," in the process becoming "a kind of one-man
quartet." Guralnick finds "Stand By Me" from the same sessions "a
beautifully articulated, almost nakedly yearning performance," but, by
contrast, feels that
Presley reaches beyond his powers on "Where No
One Stands Alone" on which "he was reduced to a kind of inelegant
bellowing to push out a sound" that
Jake Hess would have no problem
with. Hess himself thought that while others may have a voice as great
or greater than Presley's, "he had that certain something that
everyone searches for all during their lifetime." Guralnick attempts
to pinpoint that something: "The warmth of his voice, his controlled
use of both vibrato technique and natural falsetto range, the subtlety
and deeply felt conviction of his singing were all qualities
recognizably belonging to his talent but just as recognizably not to
be achieved without sustained dedication and effort."
Presley's singing to his own "necessarily limited, both rhythmically
and melodically," piano accompaniment, such as can be heard on the
1967 recording of "You\'ll Never Walk Alone ", for Guralnick are
always special occasions, because "it was always a measure of his
engagement when he sat down at the keyboard to play." Describing his
piano technique as "staccato style," Jorgensen finds that on "Without
Love " from the 1969 sessions, "his gospel-flavored treatment took it
to a level of spirituality rarely matched in his career." Presley
also played the instrument on the "impassioned version" of the
sessions' next song, "I\'ll Hold You in My Heart ," of which Guralnick
writes that "there is something magical about the moment that only the
most inspired singing can bring about, as
Elvis loses himself in the
music, words no longer lend themselves to literal translation, and
singer and listener both are left emotionally wrung out by the time
the song finally limps to an end."
Marsh praises his 1968 reading of "
U.S. Male ", "bearing down on the
hard guy lyrics, not sending them up or overplaying them but tossing
them around with that astonishingly tough yet gentle assurance that he
brought to his Sun records." The performance on "
In the Ghetto " is,
according to Jorgensen, "devoid of any of his characteristic vocal
tricks or mannerisms," instead relying on "the astonishing clarity and
sensitivity of his voice." Guralnick describes the tenderness in the
singing of the same song of "such unassuming, almost translucent
eloquence, it is so quietly confident in its simplicity" that one is
reminded of the Sun period, "offering equal parts yearning and social
compassion." On "
Suspicious Minds " from the same sessions Guralnick
hears essentially the same "remarkable mixture of tenderness and
poise," but supplemented with "an expressive quality somewhere between
stoicism (at suspected infidelity) and anguish (over impending loss)."
Music critic Henry Pleasants observes that "
Presley has been
described variously as a baritone and a tenor . An extraordinary
compass ... and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do
with this divergence of opinion." He identifies
Presley as a high
baritone, calculating his range as two octaves and a third, "from the
baritone low G to the tenor high B , with an upward extension in
falsetto to at least a D-flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle,
D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down." In
Pleasants' view, his voice was "variable and unpredictable" at the
bottom, "often brilliant" at the top, with the capacity for
"full-voiced high Gs and As that an opera baritone might envy".
Scholar Lindsay Waters, who figures Presley's range as 2¼ octaves,
emphasizes that "his voice had an emotional range from tender whispers
to sighs down to shouts, grunts, grumbles, and sheer gruffness that
could move the listener from calmness and surrender, to fear."
Presley was always "able to duplicate the open, hoarse, ecstatic,
screaming, shouting, wailing, reckless sound of the black
rhythm-and-blues and gospel singers," writes Pleasants, and also
demonstrated a remarkable ability to assimilate many other vocal
Dewey Phillips first aired "That's All Right" on Memphis radio,
many listeners who contacted the station by phone and telegram to ask
for it again assumed that its singer was black. From the beginning of
his national fame,
Presley expressed respect for African American
performers and their music, and disregard for the norms of segregation
and racial prejudice then prevalent in the South. Interviewed in 1956,
he recalled how in his childhood he would listen to blues musician
Arthur Crudup —the originator of "That's All Right"—"bang his box
the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could
feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw."
The Memphis World, an African American newspaper, reported that
Presley, "the rock 'n' roll phenomenon", "cracked Memphis's
segregation laws" by attending the local amusement park on what was
designated as its "colored night". Such statements and actions led
Presley to be generally hailed in the black community during the early
days of his stardom. By contrast, many white adults, according to
Billboard's Arnold Shaw, "did not like him, and condemned him as
depraved. Anti-negro prejudice doubtless figured in adult antagonism.
Regardless of whether parents were aware of the Negro sexual origins
of the phrase 'rock 'n' roll',
Presley impressed them as the visual
and aural embodiment of sex."
Despite the largely positive view of
Presley held by African
Americans, a rumor spread in mid-1957 that he had at some point
announced, "The only thing Negroes can do for me is buy my records and
shine my shoes." A journalist with the national African American
weekly Jet , Louie Robinson, pursued the story. On the set of
Jailhouse Rock ,
Presley granted Robinson an interview, though he was
no longer dealing with the mainstream press. He denied making such a
statement or holding in any way to its racist view: "I never said
anything like that, and people who know me know that I wouldn't have
said it … A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But
rock 'n' roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can
sing that kind of music like colored people. Let's face it: I can't
Fats Domino can. I know that." Also, Red Robinson stated,
"Take a look at the things that are only publicized now, of how he'd
be driving down the street and see a destitute black woman with a
little child. He went and bought her a Cadillac. Now if this guy hated
blacks, he wouldn't even have gone near them". Robinson found no
evidence that the remark had ever been made, and on the contrary
elicited testimony from many individuals indicating that
anything but racist.
Ivory Joe Hunter , who had heard
the rumor before he visited
Graceland one evening, reported of
Presley, "He showed me every courtesy, and I think he's one of the
Dudley Brooks , an African-American composer and studio
musician who worked with
Presley during the 1950s and 1960s, also
disputed allegations that
Presley was a racist. Though the rumored
remark was wholly discredited at the time, it was still being used
Presley decades later. The identification of
racism—either personally or symbolically—was expressed most
famously in the lyrics of the 1989 rap hit "
Fight the Power ", by
Public Enemy : "
Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to
me / Straight-up racist that sucker was / Simple and plain".
The persistence of such attitudes was fueled by resentment over the
fact that Presley, whose musical and visual performance idiom owed
much to African American sources, achieved the cultural
acknowledgement and commercial success largely denied his black peers.
Into the 21st century, the notion that
Presley had "stolen" black
music still found adherents. Notable among African American
entertainers expressly rejecting this view was
Jackie Wilson , who
argued, "A lot of people have accused
Elvis of stealing the black
man's music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied
his stage mannerisms from Elvis." And throughout his career, Presley
plainly acknowledged his debt. Addressing his '68 Comeback Special
audience, he said, "Rock 'n' roll music is basically gospel or rhythm
and blues, or it sprang from that. People have been adding to it,
adding instruments to it, experimenting with it, but it all boils down
to ." Nine years earlier, he had said, "Rock 'n' roll has been around
for many years. It used to be called rhythm and blues."
The title and marketing of
Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) took
advantage of Presley's sex symbol status.
Presley's physical attractiveness and sexual appeal were widely
acknowledged. "He was once beautiful, astonishingly beautiful", in the
words of critic
Mark Feeney . Television director Steve Binder, no
fan of Presley's music before he oversaw the '68 Comeback Special,
reported, "I'm straight as an arrow and I got to tell you, you stop,
whether you're male or female, to look at him. He was that good
looking. And if you never knew he was a superstar, it wouldn't make
any difference; if he'd walked in the room, you'd know somebody
special was in your presence." His performance style, as much as his
physical beauty, was responsible for Presley's eroticized image.
Writing in 1970, critic
George Melly described him as "the master of
the sexual simile, treating his guitar as both phallus and girl." In
Lester Bangs credited him as "the man who
brought overt blatant vulgar sexual frenzy to the popular arts in
America." Ed Sullivan's declaration that he perceived a soda bottle
in Presley's trousers was echoed by rumors involving a similarly
positioned toilet roll tube or lead bar.
Presley was marketed as an icon of heterosexuality, some
cultural critics have argued that his image was ambiguous. In 1959,
Sight and Sound 's Peter John Dyer described his onscreen persona as
"aggressively bisexual in appeal". Brett Farmer places the "orgasmic
gyrations" of the title dance sequence in Jailhouse Rock within a
lineage of cinematic musical numbers that offer a "spectacular
eroticization, if not homoeroticization, of the male image". In the
analysis of Yvonne Tasker, "
Elvis was an ambivalent figure who
articulated a peculiar feminised, objectifying version of white
working-class masculinity as aggressive sexual display."
Reinforcing Presley's image as a sex symbol were the reports of his
dalliances with various Hollywood stars and starlets, from Natalie
Wood in the 1950s to
Connie Stevens and
Ann-Margret in the 1960s to
Candice Bergen and
Cybill Shepherd in the 1970s.
June Juanico of
Memphis, one of Presley's early girlfriends, later blamed Parker for
encouraging him to choose his dating partners with publicity in mind.
Presley never grew comfortable with the Hollywood scene, and most of
these relationships were insubstantial.
The Pink Cadillac on display in 2012
Presley was known for a life of luxury and excess, as exemplified by
his estate at Graceland. He owned a number of expensive cars,
including three pink Cadillacs , immortalized in his version of the
song "Baby, Let\'s Play House ", in which
Presley replaced the line
"you may get religion" with "you may have a Pink Cadillac".
A number of stories, both real and exaggerated, detail Presley's
appetite for rich or heavy food. He was said to enjoy the Southern
cuisine of his upbringing, including chicken-fried steak and biscuits
and gravy .
Presley is commonly associated with rich sandwiches,
including the Fool\'s Gold Loaf and peanut butter, banana and bacon
sandwiches , now commonly called an "
COLONEL PARKER AND THE ABERBACHS
Colonel Tom Parker
Presley and Colonel Tom
Once he became Presley's manager,
Colonel Tom Parker insisted on
exceptionally tight control over his client's career. Songwriter
Robert B. Sherman (of the
Sherman Brothers ) bore witness to the deal
being forged between
Hill and Range co-owner
Jean Aberbach and The
Colonel in 1955. Early on, "The Colonel" and his Hill and Range
allies, the brothers Jean and
Julian Aberbach , perceived the close
relationship that developed between
Presley and songwriters Jerry
Mike Stoller as a serious threat to that control. Parker
effectively ended the relationship, deliberately or not, with the new
contract he sent Leiber in early 1958. Leiber thought there was a
mistake—the sheet of paper was blank except for Parker's signature
and a line on which to enter his. "There's no mistake, boy, just sign
it and return it," Parker directed. "Don't worry, we'll fill it in
later." Leiber declined, and Presley's fruitful collaboration with the
writing team was over. Other respected songwriters lost interest in
or simply avoided writing for
Presley because of the requirement that
they surrender a third of their usual royalties.
By 1967, Parker's contracts with
Presley gave him 50 percent of most
of the singer's earnings from recordings, films, and merchandise.
Beginning in February 1972, he took a third of the profit from live
appearances; a January 1976 agreement entitled him to half of that as
Priscilla Presley noted that, "
Elvis detested the business side
of his career. He would sign a contract without even reading it."
Presley's friend Marty Lacker regarded Parker as a "hustler and a con
artist. He was only interested in 'now money'—get the buck and get
Parker's personality and reputation often caused problems with
business for Presley.
Hal Wallis is reported to have said "I'd rather
try and close a deal with the devil" than do any deal with Parker. Sam
Katzman described Parker as "the biggest con artist in the world".
Presley took a strong dislike to Parker from the first time she
met him, describing him as "That Colonel . . . he's the Devil
Lacker was instrumental in convincing
Presley to record with Memphis
Chips Moman and his handpicked musicians at American Sound
Studio in early 1969. The American Sound sessions represented a
significant departure from the control customarily exerted by Hill and
Range. Moman still had to deal with the publisher's staff on site,
whose song suggestions he regarded as unacceptable. He was on the
verge of quitting, until
Presley ordered the
Hill and Range personnel
out of the studio. Although RCA executive Joan Deary was later full
of praise for the producer's song choices and the quality of the
recordings, Moman, to his fury, received neither credit on the
records nor royalties for his work.
Throughout his entire career,
Presley performed in only three venues
outside the United States—all of them in Canada, during brief tours
there in 1957. Rumors that he would play overseas for the first time
were fueled in 1974 by a million-dollar bid for an Australian tour.
Parker was uncharacteristically reluctant, prompting those close to
Presley to speculate about the manager's past and the reasons for his
apparent unwillingness to apply for a passport. Parker ultimately
squelched any notions
Presley had of working abroad, claiming that
foreign security was poor and the venues unsuitable for a star of his
Parker arguably exercised tightest control over Presley's film
career. In 1957,
Robert Mitchum asked
Presley to costar with him in
Thunder Road , on which Mitchum was writer and producer. According to
George Klein, one of his oldest friends,
Presley was offered starring
roles in West Side Story and
Midnight Cowboy . In 1974, Barbra
Presley to star with her in the remake of A Star
is Born . In each case, any ambitions the singer may have had to play
such parts were thwarted by his manager's negotiating demands or flat
refusals. In Lacker's description, "The only thing that kept Elvis
going after the early years was a new challenge. But Parker kept
running everything into the ground." The prevailing attitude may have
been summed up best by the response Leiber and Stoller received when
they brought a serious film project for
Presley to Parker and the Hill
and Range owners for their consideration. In Leiber's telling, Jean
Aberbach warned them to never again "try to interfere with the
business or artistic workings of the process known as
In the early 1960s, the circle of friends with whom Presley
constantly surrounded himself until his death came to be known as the
"Memphis Mafia". "Surrounded by the parasitic presence", as
journalist John Harris puts it, "it was no wonder that as he slid into
addiction and torpor, no-one raised the alarm: to them,
Elvis was the
bank, and it had to remain open." Tony Brown , who played piano for
Presley regularly in the last two years of the singer's life, observed
his rapidly declining health and the urgent need to address it: "But
we all knew it was hopeless because
Elvis was surrounded by that
little circle of people ... all those so-called friends". In the
Memphis Mafia's defense, Marty Lacker has said, " was his own man. ...
If we hadn't been around, he would have been dead a lot earlier."
Larry Geller became Presley's hairdresser in 1964. Unlike others in
the Memphis Mafia, he was interested in spiritual questions and
recalls how, from their first conversation,
Presley revealed his
secret thoughts and anxieties: "I mean there has to be a purpose ...
there's got to be a reason ... why I was chosen to be
... I swear to God, no one knows how lonely I get. And how empty I
really feel." Thereafter, Geller supplied him with books on religion
and mysticism, which the singer read voraciously.
Presley would be
preoccupied by such matters for much of his life, taking trunkloads of
books with him on tour.
Cultural impact of Elvis Presley , Cultural
Elvis has left the building , and List
of songs about or referencing
Presley "I know he invented
rock and roll, in a manner of speaking, but ... that's not why he's
worshiped as a god today. He's worshiped as a god today because in
addition to inventing rock and roll he was the greatest ballad singer
this side of Frank Sinatra—because the spiritual translucence and
reined-in gut sexuality of his slow weeper and torchy pop blues still
activate the hormones and slavish devotion of millions of female human
beings worldwide." —
December 24, 1985
Presley's rise to national attention in 1956 transformed the field of
popular music and had a huge effect on the broader scope of popular
culture. As the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock
and roll, he was central not only to defining it as a musical genre
but in making it a touchstone of youth culture and rebellious
attitude. With its racially mixed origins—repeatedly affirmed by
Presley—rock and roll's occupation of a central position in
mainstream American culture facilitated a new acceptance and
appreciation of black culture. In this regard,
Little Richard said of
Presley, "He was an integrator.
Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn't
let black music through. He opened the door for black music." Al
Green agreed: "He broke the ice for all of us." President Jimmy
Carter remarked on his legacy in 1977: "His music and his personality,
fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues,
permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His
following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of
the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country." Presley
also heralded the vastly expanded reach of celebrity in the era of
mass communication: at the age of 21, within a year of his first
appearance on American network television, he was one of the most
famous people in the world. Presley's star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame at 6777 Hollywood Blvd
Presley's name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around
the globe. He has inspired a legion of impersonators . In polls and
surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music
artists and influential Americans. "
Presley is the greatest
cultural force in the twentieth century", said composer and conductor
Leonard Bernstein . "He introduced the beat to everything and he
changed everything—music, language, clothes. It's a whole new social
revolution—the sixties came from it."
Bob Dylan described the
sensation of first hearing
Presley as "like busting out of jail".
On the 25th anniversary of Presley's death, The New York Times
observed, "All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet
paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and
distant memory. But before
Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a
genuine cultural force. ... Elvis's breakthroughs are underappreciated
because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry
style have triumphed so completely." Not only Presley's achievements,
but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as
adding to the power of his legacy, as in this description by Greil
Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose
presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real
comparisons. ... The cultural range of his music has expanded to the
point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also
patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. ...
Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor
of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of
potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.
Presley albums discography and
singles discography See also: List of songs recorded by
and List of
Presley hit albums
A vast number of recordings have been issued under Presley's name.
The total number of his original master recordings has been variously
calculated as 665 and 711. His career began and he was most
successful during an era when singles were the primary commercial
medium for pop music. In the case of his albums, the distinction
between "official" studio records and other forms is often blurred.
For most of the 1960s, his recording career focused on soundtrack
albums. In the 1970s, his most heavily promoted and best-selling LP
releases tended to be concert albums. This summary discography lists
only the albums and singles that reached the top of one or more of the
following charts: the main U.S. Billboard pop chart; the Billboard
country chart, the genre chart with which he was most identified
(there was no country album chart before 1964); and the official
British pop chart.
The year given, in the table below, is the year the record first
reached number one, rather than its original year of release. For
instance: Elvis' 40 Greatest, released in 1974, a compilation on the
budget Arcade label, was the fourth highest selling album of the year
in the United Kingdom; at the time, the main British chart did not
rank such compilations, relegating them to a chart for midpriced and
TV-advertised albums, which
Elvis' 40 Greatest topped for 15 weeks.
The policy was altered in 1975, allowing the album to hit number one
on the main chart in 1977, following Presley's death.
Before late 1958, rather than unified pop and country singles charts,
Billboard had as many as four charts for each, separately ranking
records according to sales, jukebox play, jockey spins (i.e.,
airplay), and, in the case of pop, a general "Top 100". Billboard now
regards the sales charts as definitive for the period. Widely cited
Joel Whitburn accords historical releases the
highest ranking they achieved among the separate charts. Presley
discographer Ernst Jorgensen refers only to the Top 100 chart for pop
hits. All of the 1956–58 songs listed here as number one US pop hits
reached the top of both the sales and with three exceptions, the Top
100 charts: "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" (three), "Hound Dog"
(two, behind its flip side, "Don't Be Cruel"), and "Hard Headed Woman"
Presley singles reached number one in the United Kingdom as
double A-sides; in the United States, the respective sides of those
singles were ranked separately by Billboard. In the United States,
Presley also had five or six number-one R in 1964, his "Blue
Christmas " topped the Christmas singles chart during a period when
Billboard did not rank holiday singles in its primary pop chart. He
also had number-one hits in many countries beside the US and UK.
NUMBER ONE ALBUMS
Elvis\' Christmas Album
Elvis Is Back!
Something for Everybody
From Elvis in Memphis
Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite
Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite
Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1
Elvis\' 40 Greatest
Elvis in Concert
ELV1S: 30 No. 1 Hits
Elvis the King
If I Can Dream
If I Can Dream
The Wonder of You
NUMBER ONE SINGLES
I Forgot to Remember to Forget
I Forgot to Remember to Forget " (reissue)
Heartbreak Hotel "
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You "
"Don\'t Be Cruel "
"Hound Dog "
"Love Me Tender "
"Too Much "
All Shook Up
All Shook Up "
(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear "
"Jailhouse Rock "
Hard Headed Woman "
"One Night "/"
I Got Stung "
"A Fool Such as I "/"
I Need Your Love Tonight "
"A Big Hunk o\' Love "
"Stuck on You "
"It\'s Now or Never "
"Are You Lonesome Tonight? "
Wooden Heart "
"(Marie\'s the Name) His Latest Flame "/"Little Sister "
Help Falling in Love "/"
Rock-A-Hula Baby "
Good Luck Charm "
"She\'s Not You "
"Return to Sender "
"(You\'re The) Devil in Disguise "
Crying in the Chapel "
Suspicious Minds "
The Wonder of You "
Moody Blue "
Way Down "
"Guitar Man " (remix)
A Little Less Conversation " (JXL remix)
"Jailhouse Rock" (reissue)
"One Night"/"I Got Stung" (reissue)
"It's Now or Never" (reissue)
Elvis Presley on film and television
* Love Me Tender (1956)
* Loving You (1957)
* Jailhouse Rock (1957)
King Creole (1958)
Flaming Star (1960)
Wild in the Country (1961)
Blue Hawaii (1961)
Follow That Dream (1962)
Kid Galahad (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
* It Happened at the World\'s Fair (1963)
Fun in Acapulco (1963)
* Kissin\' Cousins (1964)
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
* Roustabout (1964)
Girl Happy (1965)
Tickle Me (1965)
* Harum Scarum (1965)
* Frankie and Johnny (1966)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
* Spinout (1966)
* Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)
* Double Trouble (1967)
Stay Away, Joe (1968)
* Speedway (1968)
Live a Little, Love a Little
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
* The Trouble with Girls (1969)
Change of Habit (1969)
* Elvis: That\'s the Way It Is (1970)
Elvis on Tour (1972)
TV CONCERT SPECIALS
* Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite (1973)
Elvis in Concert (1977)
Honorific nicknames in popular music
* List of artists by number of
UK Albums Chart
UK Albums Chart number ones
List of artists by total number of UK number one singles
List of best-selling music artists
List of best-selling music artists
* Personal relationships of
* ^ Although some pronounce his surname (PREZ-lee), Presley
himself used the
Southern American English pronunciation, (PRES-lee),
as did his family and those who worked with him. The correct spelling
of his middle name has long been a matter of debate. The physician who
delivered him wrote "
Elvis Aaron Presley" in his ledger. The
state-issued birth certificate reads "
Elvis Aron Presley". The name
was chosen after the Presleys' friend and fellow congregation member
Aaron Kennedy, though a single-A spelling was probably intended by
Presley's parents in order to parallel the middle name of Presley's
stillborn brother, Jesse Garon. It reads Aron on most official
documents produced during his lifetime, including his high school
diploma, RCA record contract, and marriage license, and this was
generally taken to be the proper spelling. In 1966,
the desire to his father that the more traditional biblical rendering,
Aaron, be used henceforth, "especially on legal documents". Five
years later, the Jaycees citation honoring him as one of the country's
Outstanding Young Men used Aaron. Late in his life, he sought to
officially change the spelling to Aaron and discovered that state
records already listed it that way. Knowing his wishes for his middle
name, Aaron is the spelling his father chose for Presley's tombstone,
and it is the spelling his estate has designated as official.
* ^ Of the $40,000, $5,000 covered back royalties owed by Sun.
* ^ In 1956–57,
Presley was also credited as a cowriter on
several songs where he had no hand in the writing process: "Heartbreak
Hotel "; "Don\'t Be Cruel "; all four songs from his first film,
including the title track, "Love Me Tender "; "Paralyzed "; and "All
Shook Up ". (Parker, however, failed to register
Presley with such
musical licensing firms as
ASCAP and/or its rival BMI , which
Presley annuity from songwriter's royalties.) He
received credit on two other songs to which he did contribute: he
provided the title for "That\'s Someone You Never Forget " (1961),
written by his friend and former Humes schoolmate
Red West ; Presley
and West collaborated with another friend, guitarist Charlie Hodge, on
"You\'ll Be Gone " (1962).
* ^ Whitburn follows actual Billboard history in considering the
four songs on the "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" and "Don't/I Beg of You"
singles as distinct. He tallies each side of the former single as a
number one (Billboard's sales chart had "Don't Be Cruel" at number one
for five weeks, then "Hound Dog" for six) and reckons "I Beg of You"
as a top ten, as it reached number eight on the old Top 100 chart.
Billboard now considers both singles as unified items, ignoring the
historical sales split of the former and its old Top 100 chart
entirely. Whitburn thus analyzes the four songs as yielding three
number ones and a total of four top tens. Billboard now states that
they yielded just two number ones and a total of two top tens, voiding
the separate chart appearances of "Hound Dog" and "I Beg of You".
Presley No. 8 among the "100 Greatest Artists of
Rock at the time, the main British chart did not rank such
compilations, relegating them to a chart for midpriced and
TV-advertised albums, which
Elvis' 40 Greatest topped for 15 weeks.
The policy was altered in 1975, allowing the album to hit number one
on the main chart in 1977, following Presley's death. (2) Before late
1958, rather than unified pop and country singles charts, Billboard
had as many as four charts for each, separately ranking records
according to sales, jukebox play, jockey spins (i.e., airplay), and,
in the case of pop, a general Top 100. Billboard now regards the sales
charts as definitive for the period. Widely cited chart statistician
Joel Whitburn accords historical releases the highest ranking they
achieved among the separate charts.
Presley discographer Ernst
Jorgensen refers only to the Top 100 chart for pop hits. All of the
1956–58 songs listed here as number one U.S. pop hits reached the
top of both the sales and, with three exceptions, the Top 100 charts:
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" (three), "Hound Dog" (two, behind
its flip side, "Don't Be Cruel"), and "Hard Headed Woman" (two). (3)
Presley singles reached number one in the United Kingdom as
double A-sides; in the United States, the respective sides of those
singles were ranked separately by Billboard.
* ^ Whitburn calculates a total of six number one R Billboard's
Keith Caulfield excludes "Don't Be Cruel".
* ^ Elster 2006 , p. 391.
* ^ A B Nash 2005 , p. 11.
* ^ A B Guralnick 1994 , p. 13.
* ^ A B Adelman 2002 , pp. 13–15.
* ^ Kyriazis, Stefan (January 8, 2015). "
Elvis would be 80 today:
Watch ten of his most sensational performances here".
Daily Express .
Retrieved January 28, 2015.
* ^ Guralnick & Jorgensen 1999 , p. 3.
* ^ The Chase .
Challenge TV . June 9, 2014.
* ^ A B Connolly 2017 , p. 1.
* ^ Alexander, Paul (March 30, 2009). "Signs and Wonders: Why
Pentecostalism Is the World\'s Fastest Growing Faith". John Wiley &
Sons – via Google Books.
* ^ Conn, J. Stephen (March 1, 2006). "Growing Up Pentecostal".
Xulon Press – via Google Books.
* ^ Milburn, Dan (January 13, 2015). "Stupid People Are Smarter
Than You Think!". Lulu Press, Inc – via Google Books.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 13–14.
* ^ Burgess & Dregni 2011 , p. 16.
* ^ US TV evangelist
Rex Humbard dies September 22, 2007
* ^ Kamphoefner 2009 , p. 33.
* ^ Dundy 2004 , p. 60.
* ^ Connolly 2017 , p. 3.
* ^ "Southern Genealogy Yields Surprises". VOA.
* ^ Dundy 2004 , pp. 13, 16, 20–22, 26.
* ^ Dundy 2004 , p. 21.
* ^ Bloom 2010 .
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 11–12, 23–24.
* ^ Victor 2008 , p. 419.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 12–14.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 15–16.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 17–18.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 19.
* ^ Dundy 2004 , p. 101.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 23.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 23–26.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 19–21.
* ^ Dundy 2004 , pp. 95–96.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 32–33.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 36.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 35–38.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 40–41.
* ^ Stanley & Coffey 1998 , p. 20.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 43, 44, 49.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 44, 46, 51.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 52–53.
* ^ A B Guralnick 1994 , p. 171.
* ^ A B Matthew-Walker 1979 , p. 3.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 46–48, 358.
* ^ Wadey 2004 .
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 47–48, 77–78.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 51.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 38–40.
* ^ A B C D E Guralnick 2004 .
* ^ Bertrand 2000 , p. 205.
* ^ Szatmary 1996 , p. 35.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 54.
* ^ Jorgensen 1998 , p. 8.
* ^ A B C Gilliland 1969 , show 7, track 2.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 62–64.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 65.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 77.
* ^ Cusic 1988 , p. 10.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 80.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 83.
* ^ Miller 2000 , p. 72.
* ^ Jorgensen 1998 , pp. 10–11.
* ^ Marcus 1982 , p. 174.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 94–97.
* ^ Ponce de Leon 2007 , p. 43.
* ^ A B Guralnick 1994 , pp. 100–01.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 102–04.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 105, 139.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 106, 108–11.
* ^ A B Guralnick 1994 , p. 110.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 117–27, 131.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 119.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 128–30.
* ^ Mason 2007 , pp. 37–38.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 127–28, 135–42.
* ^ Burke & Griffin 2006 , pp. 61, 176.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 152, 156, 182.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 144, 159, 167–68.
* ^ Nash 2003 , pp. 6–12.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , p. 163.
* ^ Bertrand 2000 , p. 104.
* ^ Hopkins 2007 , p. 53.
* ^ Guralnick & Jorgensen 1999 , p. 45.
* ^ Jorgensen 1998 , p. 29.
* ^ Rogers 1982 , p. 41.
* ^ Guralnick 1994 , pp. 217–19.
* ^ Jorgensen 1998 , p. 31.
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