Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, to 18-year-old Vernon Elvis and 22-year-old Gladys Love Presley. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.
Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager.
After graduating from Humes High School in Memphis, Elvis took odd jobs working as a movie theater usher and a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He began singing locally as "The Hillbilly Cat" then signed with a local recording company, then in 1955 with RCA. He did much to establish early rock and roll music, bringing black blues singing into the white, teenage mainstream. Teenage girls became hysterical over his blatantly sexual gyrations, particularly the one that got him nicknamed "Elvis the Pelvis" (TV cameras were not permitted to film below his waist).
Elvis was cast in a supporting part in Love Me Tender (1956), the first of 33 movies he starred in. Critics blasted most of his films, but they did very well at the box-office earning. Besides making movies and singing, he made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas.
In 1958, Elvis was drafted into the military where he relocated to Bad Nauheim, Germany. There he met and fell in love with 14-year old army damsel Priscilla Ann Wagner. On February 1, 1968, he and Priscilla had a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Sadly, his marriage ended in divorce, and the stress of constantly traveling as well as his increasing weight gain and dependence upon stimulants and depressants took their toll.
Elvis was, of course, extremely popular and successful - at the time of his death, he had sold more than 600-million singles and albums. His novel versions of existing songs, mixing 'black' and 'white' sounds, made him popular - and controversial - as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He recorded songs in the rock and roll genre, with tracks like Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog later embodying the style. Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop. To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into three separate music 'Halls of Fame'. Beside that, among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees.
Elvis Presley died on Tuesday, August 16, 1977 at his mansion in Graceland, near Memphis at age 42. Since his death, his Memphis home Graceland has become a shrine for millions of followers worldwide.
1935 — 1977
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