Elvis Presley was the first real rock and roll star. A white southerner who singing blues laced with country. Presley brought together music from both sides of the color line. Presley performed this music with a “natural hip swiveling sexuality” that made him a teen idol and a role model for generations of “cool” rebels. Presley was repeatedly dismissed as vulgar, incompetent and a bad influence. However, the force of his music and image transferred to the mainstream, it was time for a change.
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Born January 8, 1935, in East Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley was the son of Gladys and Vernon Presley, a sewing machine operator and a truck driver. Presley’s twin brother Jesse Garon was stillborn, and he grew up as an only child. At age three, his dad was sent to prison for forgery. It seems that Vernon, Travis Smith, and Luther Gable changed the amount of a check from Version’s boss from $3 to $8 and cashed it at a local bank. The Presley’s attended the First Assembly of God Church whose Pentecostal services always included singing. Entering the fifth grade, Presley is asked by his teacher, Mrs. J.C. Grimes to enter a talent contest on children’s day at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. At the age of ten, dressed in a cowboy suit, and standing on a chair to reach the microphone, Presley for his rendition of Red Foley’s “Old Shep” won second place, a $5 prize and a free ticket to all the rides. On his birthday the following January he received a guitar. Over the next year,Vernon’s brother Vester gave him basic guitar lessons.
In 1948 after losing another job his dad moved the family to Memphis. Glady’s brothers got him a job at the Precision Tool Company and the Presleys moved into a small apartment at 572 Poplar Avenue. On September 13 Elvis enrolls at L.C. Humes High School. The day after graduation he took a job at Parker Machinists Shop. By June was working at the Precision Tool Company and then drove truck for the Crown Electric Co. After a short time in the stock room he is promoted to truck and began to wear his long hair pompadoured, the current truck driver style. That summer he recorded “My Happiness” and “That’s When the Your Heartaches Begin” at Memphis Recording Studios, a sideline Sam Phillips had started at his Sun Records studios where anyone could record a ten inch acetate for four dollars.
In October, Presley appeared on the Louisiana Hayride, a popular radio program that appeared regularly through 1955. In March 1955, he made his television debut on the local television of the Hayride in March 1955. Meanwhile “Good Rockin’ Tonight” & “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine” became hits in the Memphis area. In early 1955, Moore quit managing Presley, but continued playing in his band for several years. Bob Neal, a Memphis disc jockey, became Presley’s new manager. Colonel Thomas Parker first entered Presley’s career when he helped Neal make some tour arrangements. Still considered a country act Presley continued to play locally, and in April went to New York to audition unsuccessfully for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts program. On May 13, his performance in Jacksonville started a riot. “Baby Lets Play House” & “I’m Left, Your Right, She’s Gone” was released and reached #10 on the national Country & Western chart in July.
That September Presley had his first #1 country record “Mystery Train” & “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”. By this time Colonel Parker, despite the agreement with Neal, had became more and more involved with Presley’s career and had negotiated with RCA to purchase Presley’s contract from Sun Records for $35,000. Presley received a $5,000 advance that he used to buy his mother a pink Cadillac Presley became a national star in 1956. Presley went to Nashville to record his first records for RCA which included “Heartbreak Hotel.” On January 28, 1956, he made his television debut on the Dorsey brothers’ Stage Show, followed by six consecutive appearances. In March Parker became Presley’s manager for which he was to receive 25% of his earnings. The contract lasted Presley’s lifetime and beyond.
In August, Presley began filming his first film Love Me Tender. Released three months later the it made back its filming cost of $1 million in three days. His singles that year which included “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Was the One,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Hound Dog,” “My Baby Left Me, “Anyway You Want Me,” “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me,” and “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold” all were certified gold. In early 1957 Presley became the target of criticism by teachers, clergymen, and even other entertainers who his style was to suggestive. He was nicknamed “Elvis the Pelvis” by one writer. On January 6, he made the last of his three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and was shown only from the waist up.
Presley was the first rock star to cross over into films with consistent commercial success. That December he received his draft notice, but was given a 30 day deferment to his movie, King Creole. On March 24, 1958 Presley entered the Army. The next months saw number one hits with “Don’t” and “I Beg You.” A few months later he went on leave to be with his sick mother. Gladys Presley died the day after his arrival in Memphis, on August 14, 1958. Presley called her death the greatest tragedy in his life. He returned to the Army and was shipped to Bremerhaven, West Germany. In January 1960 he was promoted to sergeant and was discharged that March.
Toward the end of his life, he would babble incoherently on stage and rip his pants, having grown pretty fat, and at least once collapsed on stage. Despite his health, Presley maintained a frantic tour schedule.
June 25, 1977 Presley performed live for the last time in Indianapolis. On August 16, 1977, the day before his next scheduled concert, Elvis was found by his girlfriend Ginger Alden dead in his bathroom at Graceland. His death was due to congestive heart failure. A later autopsy revealed hardening of the arteries and an enlarged liver. Later it was determined that drug abuse may have been a contributing factor. In September 1979 Presley’s private doctor , Dr. George Nichopoulos, was charged by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners with indiscriminately prescribing 5,300 vials in the seven months before his death. He was later acquitted. Presley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Elvis Presley was the man. He was a great singer and was an insane performer, putting on the greatest live shows of his day. He would drive the crowd wild, especially the girls, with his dancing. The energy that was given off at his shows was astronomical.
Not only was he the greatest performer and wrote some of the greatest tunes, but he also fought in the war which makes him the King. You don’t get that name for just anything.mAlso, Elvis came from literally nothing, to a multi-millionaire which today would have been a lot more considering his dad’s earlier position when he changed a check from $3 to $8 and getting 3 years where that extra $5 was said to be borrowed to built a house which his boss said to get him a reduced sentence.mElvis inspired all of music today. If there was no Elvis Presley, there would be none of the music we have today. Elvis revolutionized music in its entirety.
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