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Elvis Presley made a name for himself as the King of Rock ‘n Roll with his music career. He grew up in Mississippi and made it big with many number one hits and appeared in over thirty movies throughout his career. From 19 years old until his death, he was in the spotlight. This is the story of Elvis Presley’s incredible life.

Growing Up

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Elvis was born in East Tupelo, Mississippi. His parents were Gladys and Vernon Presley. His father spent six months in jail for forging a $4 check. Gladys was an overbearing mother, especially after Elvis’s twin brother, Jesse, was stillborn.

Hair Dye

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While Elvis is known for his signature black locks, his actual hair color is brown. He used hair dye to get his famous black hair.

Learning Guitar

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It was by chance that Elvis picked up a guitar. Originally, he wanted a rifle but his mother wouldn’t let him have one. So, she gave him a guitar instead. His two uncles taught him how to play at the age of 11.

Memphis

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It wasn’t until he moved to Memphis in 1948 that he started to take an interest in music. He fell in love with the Blackwood Brothers and enjoyed blues harmony and rhythm.

Finding Sam

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Elvis sought out Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Studios and Sun Records. At the time, Elvis was a truck driver and he would drive by Phillips’ store. He eventually agreed to record Elvis.

Colonel Tom Parker

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Elvis’s manager was Colonel Tom Parker. He booked Elvis many spots on television and helped Elvis rise to the top.

Controversial Dance Moves

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Elvis’s stage presence on television invoked “fear in the body.” People were uneasy about his dance moves and saw them as profane and inappropriate.

Elvis’s First Single

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Elvis released his first single “That’s All Right” on July 19, 1954. Some consider the track to be the first ever rock-and-roll song. In fact, when people heard the song they thought that Elvis was black.

Elvis in the Studio

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While many people saw how Elvis acted on stage, not many got to see how he acted in the studio. He had a specific vision for his music and would call all the shots.

Military Service

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Elvis was drafted into the army in 1958, which was strange because the country wasn’t even at war. However, these years served to be crucial as that was when he met his wife Priscilla Beaulieu.

Serious Actor

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After Elvis’s return from the military, he went on to star in four movies. He wanted to be seen as a serious actor. His inspiration was Marlon Brando. However, he soon realized that every role he would have would involve singing.

Restricted to North America

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While people around the world loved and enjoyed his music, Elvis only performed in North America and sometimes Canada. One of the main reasons for this is that his manager Parker was an illegal immigrant. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get back into the States if they left.

Comeback Special

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During the 1960’s Elvis’s career declined. So, he filmed Elvis for NBC. It almost didn’t happen though. It’s a good thing it did or else he may have never found his way back into the spotlight.

Gladys

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Elvis was always a mama’s boy. He even bought his Graceland ranch for his parents. He loved his mother so much that he kept her possessions in the ranch.

Marriage

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Elvis married Priscilla eight years after they met in 1967. They had a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, together. However, after having an affair with Joyce Bova the couple split in 1972.

Start of the Decline

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By the end of the 1960’s and early 1970’s Elvis’s career started to decline. His contract with the International Hotel in Las Vegas took a lot out of him. He performed over 100 shows per year there. This led him to turn to drugs, gain weight, and lose motivation.

Last Performance

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Elvis’s last live performance took place in Indianapolis in 1977. He sang “Can’t Help Falling In Love” in front of 18,000 fans as his closing song.

Touring Graceland

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When Elvis died on August 16, 1977, he left behind some debt. So, Priscilla decided to make Graceland a tourist destination and sell tickets for fans to tour the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s home. It opened in 1982 and become a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2006.

Halls of Fame

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Due to his incredible talent, Elvis was inducted into three halls of fame: the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Still Making Money

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Elvis was named one of the highest-paid dead celebrities by Forbes in 2017. He made $25 million! The three celebrities who made more than him are Michael Jackson, Charles Schulz, and Arnold Palmer.

His Favorite Sandwich

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Elvis’s favorite sandwich may seem a little strange. He loved eating a bacon, banana, peanut butter, and honey sandwich for lunch.

Getting Out of a Contract Agreement

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Some artists have to get creative to get out of certain contract agreements. Elvis tricked the system and created Having Fun With Elvis on Stage to fulfill one of his contracted obligations. The album consisted solely of Elvis talking on stage between performing songs.

First Television Show

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His first television show didn’t receive great reviews. Jackie Gleason commented, “The kid has no right behaving like a sex maniac on a national show.” He was way before his time.

Bound for Heaven

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Presley believed that there was a Heaven and he wanted in. He would wear the Star of David, a cross, and the Hebrew letter chai all the time. “I don’t want to miss out on heaven due to a technicality,” he said.

Increasing Ratings

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Ed Sullivan didn’t want to feature Elvis on his show. He didn’t approve of Elvis’s dance moves. However, when his competitor Steve Allen featured Elvis on his show and his ratings went up, Ed decided to allow Elvis on his show.

Chick Magnet

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Being talented and good looking is a recipe for being a ladies man. He had a few relationships with some notable Hollywood starlets such as Connie Stevens, Natalie Wood, Ann-Margaret, and Cybil Shepherd.

James Dean

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Elvis felt a strong connection with James Dean. When Dean died in a car accident, Elvis was devastated.

More Popular Than the Moon Landing

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When the moon landing was televised, thousands of Americans watched it on television. However, when Elvis’s Aloha from Hawaii aired, it had a larger audience than the moon landing.

The White House

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Elvis’s Graceland Ranch is the second most visited home in the United States. The first is the White House in Washington D.C.

Not a Star Studded Funeral

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There were only three celebrities who came to Elvis’s funeral: James Brown, Ann-Margaret, and George Hamilton.

Last Words

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His last words to the public were, “Billy, son, this gonna be my best tour ever.” He said this to his manager at the time who was planning another tour for the King.

Gaining Weight

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Towards the end of Elvis’s life he put on a large amount of weight. At his death he weighted a total of 260 pounds. This is almost 100 pounds heavier than he weighed while in the army.

The Godfather

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One of Elvis’s dream roles was Don Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Presley wasn’t even considered for the role.

Eddie Murphy

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Eddie Murphy is one of the world’s funniest comedians. He gives credit to Elvis for inspiring him to get into show business.

The Beatles

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While the world was stunned by The Beatles, Elvis didn’t care for them much. However, The Beatles loved Elvis and wanted to meet him in person.

True Hair Color

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As mentioned earlier, Elvis dyed his hair to get his iconic black locks. His natural hair color was a dirty blonde.

Only One Endorsement

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Since Elvis was so popular, many companies asked him to promote and endorse their products. However, he only ever endorsed one product: Southern Maid Doughnuts.

Inspiration for “Heartbreak Hotel”

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Some of the best songs written were inspired by true life events. Elvis’s famous “Heartbreak Hotel” was inspired by a news article about a suicide.

Scandalous Autographs

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Signing autographs comes with the job description. Elvis would sign women’s chests sometimes. He would write “Elvis” on one breast and “Presley” on the other.

Effects from the Military

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Some people believe that the military tamed the wild child of Elvis Presley. His commanding officer spoke of Elvis’s “cheerfulness and drive and continually outstanding leadership ability.” It probably changed his life for the good.