Elvis Presley
Overview
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, with his family at the age of 13. He began his career there in 1954 when Sun Records
Sun Records
Sun Records is a record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, starting operations on March 27, 1952.Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was known for giving notable musicians such as Elvis Presley , Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash...

 owner Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips
Samuel Cornelius Phillips , better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s...

, eager to bring the sound of African American music
African American music
African-American music is an umbrella term given to a range of musics and musical genres emerging from or influenced by the culture of African Americans, who have long constituted a large and significant ethnic minority of the population of the United States...

 to a wider audience, saw in Presley the means to realize his ambition.
Timeline

1954    Elvis Presley records That's All Right, his first single to be released.

1954    Elvis Presley made his radio debut when WHBQ Memphis played his first recording for Sun Records, "That's All Right."

1956    Elvis Presley introduces his new single, "Hound Dog", on ''The Milton Berle Show'', scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements.

1956    Elvis Presley appears on ''The Ed Sullivan Show'' for the first time.

1958    Entertainer Elvis Presley is conscripted into the U.S. Army.

1982    Priscilla Presley opens Graceland to the public; the bathroom where Elvis Presley died five years earlier is kept off-limits.

1986    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Quotations

The first time that I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn't know what all the yelling was about. I didn't realize that my body was moving. It's a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said, 'What'd I do? What'd I do?' And he said, 'Whatever it is, go back and do it again.'

Interview (March/April 1972)

Man, I was tame compared to what they do now. Are you kidding? I didn't do anything but just jiggle.

Press conference (June 1972)

The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image.

Press conference (June 1972)

A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It's my favorite part of the business — live concerts.

Press conference (5 September 1972)

Thank you, Thank you very much.

Quote frequently used by impersonators of Elvis and used with a drawl

Encyclopedia
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, with his family at the age of 13. He began his career there in 1954 when Sun Records
Sun Records
Sun Records is a record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, starting operations on March 27, 1952.Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was known for giving notable musicians such as Elvis Presley , Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash...

 owner Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips
Samuel Cornelius Phillips , better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s...

, eager to bring the sound of African American music
African American music
African-American music is an umbrella term given to a range of musics and musical genres emerging from or influenced by the culture of African Americans, who have long constituted a large and significant ethnic minority of the population of the United States...

 to a wider audience, saw in Presley the means to realize his ambition. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore
Scotty Moore
Winfield Scott "Scotty" Moore III is an American guitarist. He is best known for his backing of Elvis Presley in the first part of his career, between 1954 and the beginning of Elvis' Hollywood years...

 and bassist Bill Black
Bill Black
William Patton "Bill" Black, Jr. was an American musician who is noted as one of the pioneers of rockabilly music. Black was the bassist in Elvis Presley's early trio and the leader of Bill Black's Combo....

, Presley was one of the originators of rockabilly
Rockabilly
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s.The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style's development...

, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

. RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker
Colonel Tom Parker
"Colonel" Thomas Andrew "Tom" Parker born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, was a Dutch-born entertainment impresario known best as the manager of Elvis Presley...

, who would manage the singer for over two decades. Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
"Heartbreak Hotel" is a song recorded by American rock and roll musician Elvis Presley. It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley's first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, "Heartbreak Hotel" topped Billboards Top 100 chart, became his first...

", released in January 1956, was a number one hit. He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs, many from African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 sources, and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular—and controversial. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender (1956 film)
Love Me Tender is a 1956 American black-and-white CinemaScope motion picture directed by Robert D. Webb, and released by 20th Century Fox on November 21, 1956. The film, named after the song, stars Richard Egan, Debra Paget, and Elvis Presley in his film debut. It is in the Western genre with...

.

Conscripted into military service in 1958, Presley relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. He staged few concerts however, and guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

 concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973 Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii
Aloha from Hawaii
Aloha from Hawaii is a music concert that was headlined by Elvis Presley, and was broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973. It is the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history, viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. The concert took place at the...

, seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers. Prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 from cardiac arrest at the age of 42.

Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s, gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

, and blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

 at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame
Hall of Fame
A hall of fame, wall of fame, walk of fame, walk of stars or avenue of stars is a type of attraction established for any field of endeavor to honor individuals of noteworthy achievement in that field...

.

Childhood in Tupelo

Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

, to 18-year-old Vernon Elvis and 22-year-old Gladys Love Presley. In the two-room shotgun house
Shotgun house
The shotgun house is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet wide, with doors at each end. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War , through the 1920s. Alternate names include shotgun shack,...

 built by his father in readiness for the birth, Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered 35 minutes before him, stillborn
Stillbirth
A stillbirth occurs when a fetus has died in the uterus. The Australian definition specifies that fetal death is termed a stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation or the fetus weighs more than . Once the fetus has died the mother still has contractions and remains undelivered. The term is often used in...

. As an only child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an unusually tight bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church where he found his initial musical inspiration.

Presley's ancestry was primarily a Western European mix: On his mother's side, he was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

; one of Gladys's great-great-grandmothers was Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

. His father's forebears were of Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

or German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

origin. Gladys was regarded by relatives and friends as the dominant member of the small family. Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, evidencing little ambition. The family often relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance. In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check written by the landowner. 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
Red Foley
Clyde Julian Foley , better known as Red Foley, was an American singer, musician, and radio and TV personality who made a major contribution to the growth of country music after World War II....

's country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 song "Old Shep
Old Shep
"Old Shep" is a song by Red Foley and Arthur Willis about a dog Foley owned as a child . Foley and Willis wrote the song in 1933...

" during morning prayers. The contest, held at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, saw 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 for his birthday his first guitar. 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 family's church. 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 would play and sing 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
Mississippi Slim (country singer)
Carbel Lee Ausborn , better known by his stage name, Mississippi Slim, was a hillbilly singer who had a radio show on Tupelo's WELO during the later 1940s....

's show on the Tupelo radio station WELO
WELO
WELO is a radio station broadcasting a Adult Standards format. Licensed to Tupelo, Mississippi, USA, the station serves the Tupelo area. The station is currently owned by Jmd, Inc..-History:...

, Presley was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger brother, a classmate of Presley's, who often took him in to 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
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses
Boarding house
A boarding house, is a house in which lodgers rent one or more rooms for one or more nights, and sometimes for extended periods of weeks, months and years. The common parts of the house are maintained, and some services, such as laundry and cleaning, may be supplied. They normally provide "bed...

, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing
Public housing in the United States
Public housing in the United States has been administered by federal, state and local agencies to provide subsidized assistance for low-income and people living in poverty. Now increasingly provided in a variety of settings and formats, originally public housing in the U.S...

 complex known as the Courts. Enrolled at Humes High School
Humes High School
L. C. Humes High School, better known as simply Humes High School, was a high school located in Memphis, Tennessee. It was open from the 1930s through 1967 as a high school and is most remembered as Elvis Presley's high school. Elvis graduated from Humes on June 3, 1953...

, 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 generally 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
Dorsey Burnette
Dorsey Burnette was an early Rockabilly singer. With his younger brother, Johnny Burnette, and a friend named Paul Burlison, he was a founder member of The Rock and Roll Trio.-Background and early career:Dorsey Burnett was born on December 28, 1932 to Willie May and Dorsey Burnett Sr...

 and Johnny Burnette
Johnny Burnette
John Joseph "Johnny" Burnette was an American rockabilly musician. Along with his older brother Dorsey Burnette, and also a friend named Paul Burlison, Burnette was a founding member of The Rock and Roll Trio. He was the father of 1980s rockabilly singer Rocky Burnette.-Early life: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 during his school years: Precision Tool, Loew's again, and MARL Metal Products.

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. On his own time, he would head down to Beale Street
Beale Street
Beale Street is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately . It is a significant location in the city's history, as well as in the history of the blues. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are...

, the heart of Memphis's thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers
Lansky Brothers
Lansky Brothers is a famous men's clothier located in Memphis, Tennessee. It has gained worldwide recognition for being the choice location to buy clothes for music celebrities including Roy Orbison, Isaac Hayes, and Elvis Aron Presley.- History :Samuel Lansky bought a shop for his two sons,...

. By his senior year, he was wearing them. Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the 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
Till I Waltz Again with You
"Till I Waltz Again with You" is a popular song written by Sid Prosen and published in 1952. Rather than a waltz, it is a slow AABA shuffle.The recording by Teresa Brewer was recorded on August 19, 1952 and released by Coral Records as catalog number 60873...

", a recent hit for Teresa Brewer
Teresa Brewer
Teresa Brewer was an American pop singer whose style incorporated elements of country, jazz, R&B, musicals and novelty songs. She was one of the most prolific and popular female singers of the 1950s, recording nearly 600 songs. Born Theresa Breuer in Toledo, Ohio, Brewer died of a neuromuscular...

. Presley recalled 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 frequented record stores with jukebox
Jukebox
A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that will play a patron's selection from self-contained media...

es and listening booths. He knew all of Hank Snow
Hank Snow
Clarence Eugene "Hank" Snow was a Canadian-American country music artist. He charted more than 70 singles on the Billboard country charts from 1950 until 1980...

's songs and he loved records by other country singers such as Roy Acuff
Roy Acuff
Roy Claxton Acuff was an American country music singer, fiddler, and promoter. Known as the King of Country Music, Acuff is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and "hoedown" format to the star singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful.Acuff...

, Ernest Tubb
Ernest Tubb
Ernest Dale Tubb , nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song, "Walking the Floor Over You" , marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music...

, Ted Daffan
Ted Daffan
Theron Eugene "Ted" Daffan was an American country musician noted for composing the seminal Truck Driver's Blues and the much covered Country anthem Born to Lose.-Early years:...

, Jimmie Rodgers
Jimmie Rodgers (country singer)
James Charles Rodgers , known as Jimmie Rodgers, was an American country singer in the early 20th century known most widely for his rhythmic yodeling...

, Jimmie Davis
Jimmie Davis
James Houston Davis , better known as Jimmie Davis, was a noted singer of both sacred and popular songs who served two nonconsecutive terms as the 47th Governor of Louisiana...

, and Bob Wills
Bob Wills
James Robert Wills , better known as Bob Wills, was an American Western Swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader, considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western Swing and universally known as the pioneering King of Western Swing.Bob Wills' name will forever be associated with...

. The Southern Gospel
Southern Gospel
Southern Gospel music—at one time also known as "quartet music"—is music whose lyrics are written to express either personal or a communal faith regarding biblical teachings and Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music...

 singer Jake Hess
Jake Hess
Jake Hess was an American Grammy Award-winning southern gospel singer.-Life:Hess was born Manchild Hess December 24, 1927, in Limestone County, Alabama...

, 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
Spiritual (music)
Spirituals are religious songs which were created by enslaved African people in America.-Terminology and origin:...

. He adored the music of black gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an Amercian pioneering gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment...

. Like some of his peers, he may have attended blues venues—of necessity, in the segregated South
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

, only on nights designated for exclusively white audiences. He certainly listened to the regional radio stations that played "race records": spirituals, blues, and the modern, backbeat-heavy sound of rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

. Many of his future recordings were inspired by local African American musicians such as Arthur Crudup
Arthur Crudup
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup was an American Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known outside blues circles for writing songs such as "That's All Right" , "My Baby Left Me" and "So Glad You're Mine", later covered by Elvis Presley and dozens of other artists.-Career:Arthur Crudup...

 and Rufus Thomas
Rufus Thomas
Rufus Thomas, Jr. was an American rhythm and blues, funk and soul singer and comedian fromMemphis, Tennessee, who recorded on Sun Records in the...

. B.B. King recalled that he knew Presley before he was popular when they both used to frequent Beale Street. By the time he graduated high school in June 1953, Presley had already singled out music as his future.

First recordings (1953–55)

Sam Phillips and Sun Records

In August 1953, Presley walked into the offices of Sun Records
Sun Records
Sun Records is a record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, starting operations on March 27, 1952.Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was known for giving notable musicians such as Elvis Presley , Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash...

. He aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided acetate disc
Acetate disc
An acetate disc, also known as a test acetate, dubplate , lacquer , transcription disc or instantaneous disc...

: "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". He would later claim he intended the record as a gift for his mother, or was merely interested in what he "sounded like", though there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making service at a nearby general store. Biographer Peter Guralnick
Peter Guralnick
Peter Guralnick is an American music critic, writer on music, and historian of US American popular music, who is also active as an author and screenwriter. He has been married for over 45 years to Alexandra...

 argues that he chose Sun in the hope of being discovered. Asked by receptionist Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Presley responded, "I sing all kinds." When she pressed him on whom he sounded like, he repeatedly answered, "I don't sound like nobody." After he recorded, Sun boss Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips
Samuel Cornelius Phillips , better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s...

 asked Keisker to note down the young man's name, which she did along with her own commentary: "Good ballad singer. Hold." Presley cut a second acetate in January 1954—"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 Presley to stick to truck driving "because you're never going to make it as a singer."

Phillips, meanwhile, was always on the lookout for someone who could bring the sound of the black musicians on whom Sun focused to a broader audience. 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 teenaged 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
Scotty Moore
Winfield Scott "Scotty" Moore III is an American guitarist. He is best known for his backing of Elvis Presley in the first part of his career, between 1954 and the beginning of Elvis' Hollywood years...

 and upright bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

 player Bill Black
Bill Black
William Patton "Bill" Black, Jr. was an American musician who is noted as one of the pioneers of rockabilly music. Black was the bassist in Elvis Presley's early trio and the leader of Bill Black's Combo....

, to work something up with Presley for a recording session.

The session, held the evening of July 5, proved entirely unfruitful until late in the night. As they were about to give up and go home, Presley took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right". Moore recalled, "All of a sudden, 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
Dewey Phillips
"Daddy-O" Dewey Phillips was one of rock 'n' roll's pioneering disk jockeys, along the lines of Cleveland's Alan Freed, before Freed came along.-Early life:...

 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
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 number, Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe
William Smith Monroe was an American musician who created the style of music known as bluegrass, which takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys," named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader...

's "Blue Moon of Kentucky
Blue Moon of Kentucky
"Blue Moon of Kentucky" is a waltz written in 1946 by bluegrass musician Bill Monroe and recorded by his band, The Blue Grass Boys. The song has since been recorded by many artists, including Elvis Presley....

", again in a distinctive style and employing a jury-rigged echo effect
Delay (audio effect)
Delay is an audio effect which records an input signal to an audio storage medium, and then plays it back after a period of time. The delayed signal may either be played back multiple times, or played back into the recording again, to create the sound of a repeating, decaying echo.-Early delay...

 that Sam Phillips dubbed "slapback". A single was pressed with "That's All Right" on the A side and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on the reverse.

Early live performances and signing to RCA

The trio played publicly for the first time on July 17 at the Bon Air club—Presley still sporting his child-size guitar. At the end of the month, they appeared at the Overton Park Shell, with Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman
Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr. , known professionally as Slim Whitman, is an American country music singer and songwriter, known for his yodelling abilities. He has sold in excess of 120 million albums in unit sales and has had numerous successful recordings...

 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 licks that 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
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

's Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee, that has presented the biggest stars of that genre since 1925. It is also among the longest-running broadcasts in history since its beginnings as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM-AM...

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
Louisiana Hayride
Louisiana Hayride was a radio and later television country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American music...

, the Oprys chief, and more adventurous, rival. The Shreveport
Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....

-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 engaged 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
C. F. Martin & Company
C.F. Martin & Company is a US guitar manufacturer established in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin. Martin is highly regarded for its steel-string guitars, and is a leading mass manufacturer of flattop acoustics with models that retail for thousands of dollars and vintage instruments that often...

 instrument for $175, and his trio began playing in new locales including Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, and Texarkana, Arkansas
Texarkana, Arkansas
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,448 people, 10,384 households, and 7,040 families residing in the city. The population density was 830.5 people per square mile . There were 11,721 housing units at an average density of 368.1 per square mile...

.

By early 1955, Presley's regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a substantial regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas. In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Presley and brought the singer to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker
Colonel Tom Parker
"Colonel" Thomas Andrew "Tom" Parker born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, was a Dutch-born entertainment impresario known best as the manager of Elvis Presley...

, whom he considered the best promoter in the music business. Parker—Dutch-born, though he claimed to be from West Virginia—had acquired an honorary colonel's commission from country singer turned Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis
Jimmie Davis
James Houston Davis , better known as Jimmie Davis, was a noted singer of both sacred and popular songs who served two nonconsecutive terms as the 47th Governor of Louisiana...

. Having successfully managed top country star Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold
Richard Edward Arnold , known professionally as Eddy Arnold, was an American country music singer who performed for six decades. He was a so-called Nashville sound innovator of the late 1950s, and scored 147 songs on the Billboard country music charts, second only to George Jones. He sold more...

, he 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
Odessa, Texas
Odessa is a city in and the county seat of Ector County, Texas, United States. It is located primarily in Ector County, although a small portion of the city extends into Midland County. Odessa's population was 99,940 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Odessa, Texas Metropolitan...

, Texas, a 19-year-old Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison
Roy Kelton Orbison was an American singer-songwriter, well known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis...

 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." Presley made his television debut on March 3 on the KSLA-TV
KSLA-TV
KSLA, virtual channel 12, is the CBS-affiliated television station for Shreveport, Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex region. Owned by Raycom Media, it broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 17. The sole transmitter is located in Mooringsport, Louisiana...

 broadcast of Louisiana Hayride. Soon after, he failed an audition for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts is an American radio and television variety show which ran on CBS from 1946 until 1958...

on the CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 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&B idiom of negro field jazz"; 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
Rockabilly
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s.The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style's development...

. At the time, Presley was 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
Bill Haley
Bill Haley was one of the first American rock and roll musicians. He is credited by many with first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets and their hit song "Rock Around the Clock".-Early life and career:...

, whose "Rock Around the Clock
Rock Around the Clock
"Rock Around the Clock" is a 12-bar-blues-based song written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1954...

" 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, Presley was 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
RCA Records
RCA Records is one of the flagship labels of Sony Music Entertainment. The RCA initials stand for Radio Corporation of America , which was the parent corporation from 1929 to 1985 and a partner from 1985 to 1986.RCA's Canadian unit is Sony's oldest label...

 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
Jean Aberbach
Joachim "Jean" Aberbach was an Austrian-born American music publisher. With his brother Julian, he was responsible for establishing Hill and Range as one of the leading music publishing houses, responsible for songs recorded by Elvis Presley and many others.-Life and career:Aberbach was born in...

 and Julian Aberbach
Julian Aberbach
Julian J. Aberbach was an Austrian-born music publisher, who lived and worked in both the United States and France...

, to create two entities, Elvis Presley Music and Gladys Music, to handle all of the new material recorded by Presley. Songwriters were obliged to forego 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 recordings.

First national TV appearances and debut album

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
Floyd Cramer
Floyd Cramer was an American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the "Nashville sound." He popularized the "slip note" piano style where an out-of-tune note slides effortlessly into the correct note...

, guitarist Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins
Chester Burton Atkins , known as Chet Atkins, was an American guitarist and record producer who, along with Owen Bradley, created the smoother country music style known as the Nashville sound, which expanded country's appeal to adult pop music fans as well.Atkins's picking style, inspired by Merle...

, and three background singers, including Gordon Stoker of the popular Jordanaires quartet, to fill out the sound. The session produced the moody, unusual "Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
"Heartbreak Hotel" is a song recorded by American rock and roll musician Elvis Presley. It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley's first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, "Heartbreak Hotel" topped Billboards Top 100 chart, became his first...

", 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
Tommy Dorsey
Thomas Francis "Tommy" Dorsey, Jr. was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing", due to his smooth-toned trombone playing. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey...

 and Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
James "Jimmy" Dorsey was a prominent American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, and big band leader. He was known as "JD"...

. After his first appearance, on January 28, Presley stayed in town to record at RCA's New York studio. The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins
Carl Lee Perkins was an American rockabilly musician who recorded most notably at Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, beginning during 1954...

' rockabilly anthem "Blue Suede Shoes
Blue Suede Shoes
"Blue Suede Shoes" is a rock and roll standard written and first recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955 and is considered one of the first rockabilly records and incorporated elements of blues, country and pop music of the time...

". In February, Presley's "I Forgot to Remember to Forget
I Forgot to Remember to Forget
"I Forgot to Remember to Forget" is a country song written by Stan Kesler and Charlie Feathers. It was recorded at Sun Studio on July 11, 1955, by Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Johnny Bernero on drums, and released on August 20, 1955, along with "Mystery Train"...

", a Sun recording initially released the previous August, reached the top of the Billboard country chart
Hot Country Songs
Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.This 60-position chart lists the most popular country music songs, calculated weekly mostly by airplay and occasionally commercial sales...

. Neal's contract was terminated and, on March 2, Parker became Presley's manager.

RCA Victor released Presley's self-titled debut album
Elvis Presley (album)
-1999 Reissue with Bonus Tracks:Catalogue data reflects simultaneous release of all tracks from LPM 1254 as singles in August, 1956; chart positions from Billboard Pop Singles chart.-2006 FTD Reissue:Disc OneDisc Two-Personnel:...

 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
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

: "Blue Suede Shoes"—"an improvement over Perkins' in almost every way", according to critic Robert Hilburn
Robert Hilburn
Robert Hilburn is a pop music critic and author. As critic and music editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1970 to 2005, his reviews, essays and profiles have appeared in hundreds of publications around the world...

—and three R&B numbers that had been part of Presley's stage repertoire for some time, covers of Little Richard
Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman , known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and...

, Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, and The Drifters
The Drifters
The Drifters are a long-lived American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group with a peak in popularity from 1953 to 1963, though several splinter Drifters continue to perform today. They were originally formed to serve as Clyde McPhatter's backing group in 1953...

. 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&B versions of songs in the '50s, Presley reshaped them. He not only injected the tunes with his own vocal character but also made guitar, not piano, the lead instrument in all three cases." It became the first rock and roll album to top the Billboard chart, a position it held for 10 weeks. While Presley was not an innovative instrumentalist like Moore or contemporary African American rockers Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley
Ellas Otha Bates , known by his stage name Bo Diddley, was an American rhythm and blues vocalist, guitarist, songwriter , and inventor...

 and Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" , "Roll Over Beethoven" , "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B...

, cultural historian Gilbert B. Rodman argues that the album's cover image, "of Elvis having the time of his life on stage with a guitar in his hands played a crucial role in positioning the guitar...as the instrument that best captured the style and spirit of this new music."

Milton Berle Show and "Hound Dog"

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
USS Hancock (CV-19)
USS Hancock was one of 24 s built during World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress and first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

 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
New Frontier Hotel and Casino
The New Frontier was a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip that had operated continuously since October 30, 1942. Actually located within the unincorporated suburb of Paradise, Nevada, USA, it was the second resort that opened on the Las Vegas Strip. The Frontier closed its doors for...

 on the Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada; adjacent to, but outside the city limits of Las Vegas proper. The Strip lies within the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester...

. 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
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

. Amid his Vegas tenure, Presley, who had serious acting ambitions, signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

. 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
Freddie Bell and the Bellboys
Freddie Bell and the Bellboys were an American vocal group, influential in the development of rock and roll in the 1950s.-Career:Ferdinando Dominick Bello was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Italian American parents. He became a trombonist, bassist, drummer, and singer, playing in various...

 in Vegas, and was struck by their cover of "Hound Dog
Hound Dog (song)
"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid-1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best-known...

", a hit in 1952 for blues singer Big Mama Thornton
Big Mama Thornton
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record the hit song "Hound Dog" in 1952. The song was #1 on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953. The B-side was "They Call Me Big Mama," and the single sold almost two million...

 by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Jerome "Jerry" Leiber and Mike Stoller were American songwriting and record producing partners. Stoller was the composer and Leiber the lyricist. Their most famous songs include "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock", "Kansas City", "Stand By Me" Jerome "Jerry" Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011)...

. It became the new closing number of his act. After a show in La Crosse, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin
La Crosse is a city in and the county seat of La Crosse County, Wisconsin, United States. The city lies alongside the Mississippi River.The 2011 Census Bureau estimates the city had a population of 52,485...

, an urgent message on the letterhead of the local Catholic diocese's newspaper was sent to FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

. It warned that "Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States. ... [His] 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 Presley's autograph."

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. Television critics were outraged: Jack Gould
Jack Gould
Jack Gould was an American journalist and critic, who wrote influential commentary about television....

 of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

wrote, "Mr. 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
New York Daily News
The Daily News of New York City is the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of 605,677, as of November 1, 2011....

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
Ed Sullivan
Edward Vincent "Ed" Sullivan was an American entertainment writer and television host, best known as the presenter of the TV variety show The Ed Sullivan Show. The show was broadcast from 1948 to 1971 , which made it one of the longest-running variety shows in U.S...

, 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

The Berle shows drew such high ratings that Presley was booked for a July 1 appearance on NBC's Steve Allen Show
The Steve Allen Show
The Steve Allen Show is an American variety show hosted by Steve Allen from June 1956 to June 1960 on NBC, from September 1961 to December 1961 on ABC, and in first-run syndication from 1962 to 1964....

in New York. Allen, no fan of rock and roll, introduced a "new Elvis" in a white bow tie and black tails. Presley sang "Hound Dog" for less than a minute to a basset hound
Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is a short-legged breed of dog of the hound family. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt rabbits and hare by scent. Their sense of smell for tracking is second only to that of the Bloodhound....

 wearing a top hat and bow tie. As described by television historian Jake Austen, "Allen thought Presley was talentless and absurd... [he] 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. Presley would refer back to the Allen show as the most ridiculous performance of his career. Later that night, he appeared on Hy Gardner Calling
Hy Gardner
Hy Gardner was a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, host of The Hy Gardner Show, and a regular panelist on the first incarnation of To Tell The Truth. In 1957 Gardner also appeared on the show made up as a clown along with guest challenger Paul Jung...

, 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?"
The next day, Presley recorded "Hound Dog", along with "Any Way You Want Me" and "Don't Be Cruel
Don't Be Cruel
-Legacy:"Don't Be Cruel" went on to become Presley's biggest selling single recorded in 1956, with sales over six million by 1961. It became a regular feature of his live sets until his death in 1977, and was often coupled with "Jailhouse Rock" or "Teddy Bear" during performances from 1969.Many...

". The Jordanaires
The Jordanaires
The Jordanaires are an American vocal quartet, which formed as a gospel group in 1948. They are best known for providing vocal background for Elvis Presley, in live appearances and recordings from 1956 to 1972...

 sang harmony, as they had on The Steve Allen Show; they would work with Presley through 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 real Elvis is like tonight." In August, a judge in Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

, 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
Love Me (Leiber/Stoller song)
"Love Me" is a sentimental song composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and popularized by Elvis Presley in 1956. Conceived as a parody of a country western music, it was initially interpreted by R&B duo Willy and Ruth in 1954 , then by Georgia Gibbs the same year...

".

Allen's show with Presley had, for the first time, beaten CBS's Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

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
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

 hosted the show, filling in while Sullivan recuperated from a car accident. Presley appeared in two segments that night from CBS Television City
CBS Television City
CBS Television City is a television studio complex located in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles at 7800 Beverly Boulevard, at the corner of North Fairfax Avenue...

 in Hollywood. According to Elvis legend, Presley was shot only from 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
TV Guide
TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

, "As for his gyrations, the whole thing can be controlled with camera shots." In fact, 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
Love Me Tender (song)
"Love Me Tender" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music, adapted from the tune of "Aura Lee" , a sentimental Civil War ballad.- History :...

", 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
Glenn Miller
Alton Glenn Miller was an American jazz musician , arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known "Big Bands"...

 and Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 ... 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 movie debut

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
United States National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...

 were added to the police security to prevent crowd trouble. Elvis
Elvis (1956 album)
Elvis is the second album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono, LPM 1382, in October 1956. Recording sessions took place on September 1, September 2, and September 3 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, with one track leftover from the sessions for Presley's debut album at RCA recording...

, Presley's second album, was released in October and quickly rose to number one. Assessing the musical and cultural impact of Presley's recordings from "That's All Right" through Elvis, rock critic Dave Marsh
Dave Marsh
Dave Marsh is an American music critic, author, editor and radio talk show host. He was a formative editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on...

 wrote that "these records, more than any others, contain the seeds of what rock & roll was, has been and most likely what it may foreseeably become."

Presley returned to the Sullivan show, hosted this time by its namesake, on October 28. After the performance, crowds in Nashville and St. Louis burned him in effigy. His first motion picture, Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender (1956 film)
Love Me Tender is a 1956 American black-and-white CinemaScope motion picture directed by Robert D. Webb, and released by 20th Century Fox on November 21, 1956. The film, named after the song, stars Richard Egan, Debra Paget, and Elvis Presley in his film debut. It is in the Western genre with...

, was released on November 21. Though he was not top billed, the film's original title—The Reno Brothers
Reno Gang
The Reno Brothers Gang, also known as the Reno Gang and The Jackson Thieves, were a group of criminals that operated in the Midwestern United States during and just after the American Civil War. Though short-lived, they carried out the first three peacetime train robberies in U.S. history...

—was changed to capitalize on his latest number one record: "Love Me Tender" had hit the top of the charts earlier that month. To further take advantage of Presley's popularity, four musical numbers were added to what was originally a straight acting role. The movie was panned by the critics but did very well at the box office. Presley would receive top billing on every subsequent film he made.

On December 4, Presley dropped into Sun Records where Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis is an American rock and roll and country music singer-songwriter and pianist. An early pioneer of rock and roll music, Lewis's career faltered after he married his young cousin, and he afterwards made a career extension to country and western music. He is known by the nickname 'The...

 were recording and jammed
Jam session
Jam sessions are often used by musicians to develop new material, find suitable arrangements, or simply as a social gathering and communal practice session. Jam sessions may be based upon existing songs or forms, may be loosely based on an agreed chord progression or chart suggested by one...

 with them. Though Phillips no longer had the right to release any Presley material, he made sure the session was captured on tape. The results became legendary as the "Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet
"Million Dollar Quartet" is the name given to recordings made on Tuesday December 4, 1956 in the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The recordings were of an impromptu jam session among Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. It was arguably the first...

" recordings—Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

 was long thought to have played as well, but he was present only briefly at Phillips' instigation for a photo opportunity. The year ended with a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

reporting that Presley merchandise had brought in $22 million on top of his record sales, and Billboards 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 on 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 Marcus
Greil Marcus
Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism.-Life and career:Marcus was born in San Francisco...

 describes, 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
Rudolph Valentino
Rudolph Valentino was an Italian actor, and early pop icon. A sex symbol of the 1920s, Valentino was known as the "Latin Lover". He starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle and Son of the Sheik...

 in The Sheik
The Sheik (film)
The Sheik is a 1921 silent film produced by Famous Players-Lasky, directed by George Melford and starring Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres, and Adolphe Menjou...

, with all stops out." To close, displaying his range and defying Sullivan's wishes, Presley sang a gentle black spiritual, "Peace in the Valley
Peace in the Valley
"Peace in the Valley" is a 1937 song written by Thomas A. Dorsey, originally for Mahalia Jackson. The song became a hit in 1951 for Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys, reaching No. 7 on the Country & Western Best Seller chart. It was among the first gospel recordings to sell one million copies...

". At the end of the show, Sullivan declared Presley "a real decent, fine boy".
Two days later, the Memphis draft board
Conscription in the United States
Conscription in the United States has been employed several times, usually during war but also during the nominal peace of the Cold War...

 announced that Presley would be classified 1A and would probably be drafted sometime that year.

Each of the three Presley singles released in the first half of 1957 went to number one: "Too Much
Too Much (Elvis Presley song)
"Too Much" is a #1 song recorded in a hit version by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1956. It was written by Bernard Weinman and Lee Rosenberg. It was first recorded in 1954 by Bernard Hardison on Republic Records...

", "All Shook Up
All Shook Up
"All Shook Up" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music and composed by Otis Blackwell. Elvis Presley's single topped the U.S. Pop chart on April 13, 1957, staying there for eight weeks. It also topped the R&B chart for four weeks, becoming Presley's second single to...

", and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear (song)
" Teddy Bear" is a popular song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music. It was written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe and published in 1957 by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company...

". Already an international star, he was attracting fans even where his music was not officially released. Under the headline "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 his parents: Graceland
Graceland
Graceland is a large white-columned mansion and estate that was home to Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee. It is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community about 9 miles from Downtown and less than four miles north of the Mississippi border. It currently serves as...

. Loving You—the soundtrack to his second film
Loving You
Loving You is an American motion picture directed by Hal Kanter, released by Paramount Pictures on July 9, 1957. The film stars Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott and Wendell Corey...

, released in July—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 movie. 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". The title track
Jailhouse Rock (song)
"Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. The song was released as a 45rpm single on September 24, 1957, to coincide with the release of Presley's motion picture, Jailhouse Rock...

 was yet another number one hit, as was the Jailhouse Rock EP
Jailhouse Rock (EP)
Jailhouse Rock was an extended-play, seven-inch 45 RPM record released on RCA Records, catalogue EPA 4114, during November 1957. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on April 30 and May 3, 1957, with an additional session at the MGM Soundstage in Hollywood on May 9 for...

.

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 Elvis Presley is that you're liable to get killed." Villanova
Villanova University
Villanova University is a private university located in Radnor Township, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States...

 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."

Leiber and Stoller were again in the studio for the recording of Elvis' Christmas Album
Elvis' Christmas Album
Elvis' Christmas Album is the fourth album by Elvis Presley on RCA Victor Records, LOC 1035, a deluxe limited edition, released in October 1957, and recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It has been reissued in numerous different formats since its first release...

. 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
Best-selling Christmas/Holiday albums in the United States
This page shows the best-selling Christmas albums in the United States. It includes artists from all over the world, but it only includes sales in the United States of America....

. 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 December 20, Presley received his draft notice. He was granted a deferment to finish the forthcoming King Creole
King Creole
King Creole is a 1958 American film directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Hal B. Wallis. The story was adapted from the Harold Robbins novel A Stone for Danny Fisher and featured Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, and Walter Matthau. The film tells the story of a nineteen-year-old who gets mixed...

, in which $350,000 had already been invested by Paramount and producer Hal Wallis. A couple of weeks into the new year, "Don't
Don't (Elvis Presley song)
"Don't" is a song performed by Elvis Presley, which was released in 1958. It was Presley's eleventh number-one hit in the United States. "Don't" also peaked at number four on the R&B charts ....

", 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.

Military service and mother's death (1958–60)

On March 24, Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army as a private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 at Fort Chaffee
Fort Chaffee
Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center is in the northwest Arkansas region adjacent to the city of Fort Smith, located one mile southeast of Fort Smith Regional Airport. The Arkansas River flows eastward along the northern border of the post. Interstate 40 is five miles to the north on the...

, near Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. With a population of 86,209 in 2010, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents which encompasses the Arkansas...

. Captain Arlie Metheny
Arlie Metheny
Captain Arlie Metheny was a United States Army officer during World War II and the Cold War, who served as public information spokesman at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, at the time Elvis Presley was inducted into the military.Metheny was the eldest of seven children born to a cotton farmer in Silverdale...

, the information officer, was unprepared for the media attention drawn by the singer's arrival. Hundreds of people descended on Presley as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the base. 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." Later, at Fort Hood, Texas, Lieutenant Colonel Marjorie Schulten gave the media carte blanche for one day, after which she declared Presley off-limits to the press.

Soon after Presley had commenced basic training at Fort Hood, he received a visit from Eddie Fadal, a businessman he had met when on tour in Texas. Fadal reported that Presley had become convinced his career was finished—"He firmly believed that." During a two-week leave in early June, Presley cut five sides in Nashville. He returned to training, but in early August his mother was diagnosed with hepatitis
Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The name is from the Greek hepar , the root being hepat- , meaning liver, and suffix -itis, meaning "inflammation"...

 and her condition worsened. Presley was granted emergency leave to visit her, arriving 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 names.

After training at Fort Hood, Presley joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg
Friedberg, Hesse
Friedberg is a town and the capital of the Wetteraukreis district, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 26 kilometers north of Frankfurt am Main.-Division of the town:The town consists of 7 districts:* Bruchenbrücken...

, Germany, on October 1. Introduced to amphetamines by a sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 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
Karate
is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called and Chinese kenpō. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks,...

, 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 while in the service. 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
Priscilla Presley
Priscilla Presley is an American actress and businesswoman. She is the ex-wife of singer Elvis Presley, and the mother of singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley....

. 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 in 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
Stephen H. Sholes
Stephen H. Sholes was a prominent recording executive with RCA Victor.-Career:He was born Stephen Henry Sholes, in Washington, D.C.. His family moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his father worked in the RCA Victor plant. Sholes started work at RCA Victor as a messenger boy in 1929...

 and Freddy Bienstock
Freddy Bienstock
Freddy Bienstock was an American music publisher who built his career in music by being the person responsible for soliciting and selecting songs for Elvis Presley's early albums and films.-Early life:...

 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
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
"Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" is a song performed by Elvis Presley, which was released in 1958. It was particularly notable for breaking a string of ten consecutive number 1 hits for Presley achieved in just two years...

", the best-selling "Hard Headed Woman
Hard Headed Woman
"Hard Headed Woman" is a #1 rock and roll song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company in 1958. It is an American 12-bar blues written by African American songwriter Claude Demetrius...

", and "One Night
One Night (song)
"One Night" is a song popularized by Elvis Presley. It was issued as a double A-side with "I Got Stung". The single reached number one twice on the UK Singles Chart. In the U.S., "One Night", reached number four on the pop singles chart and number ten on the R&B chart...

" in 1958, and "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I
(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I
" A Fool Such as I" is a popular song written by Bill Trader and was published in 1952. Performed by Hank Snow it peaked at number four on the country charts early in 1953....

" and the number one "A Big Hunk o' Love
A Big Hunk o' Love
"A Big Hunk o' Love" is a song co-written by Aaron Schroeder and originally recorded by American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. The song was released as a single on June 23, 1959 by RCA Victor and later topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks....

" in 1959. RCA also managed to generate four albums compiling old material during this period, most successfully Elvis' Golden Records
Elvis' Golden Records
Elvis' Golden Records is the fifth album by Elvis Presley issued on RCA Victor Records, LPM 1707, in March 1958, recorded mostly at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, with one session at RCA Studios in New York on January 30, one at 20th Century Fox Stage One in Hollywood on August 24, and three at in...

(1958), which hit number three on the LP chart.

Elvis Is Back

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
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 to Tennessee was mobbed all the way, and 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
RCA Studio B
RCA Studio B is a noted recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Situated at 30 Music Square W and originally known simply as RCA Studios, it became famous in the 1960s for being a part of what many refer to as the Nashville Sound...

 to cut tracks for a new album along with a single—"Stuck on You" 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
It's Now or Never (song)
"It's Now or Never" is a popular song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company, in 1960. The melody of the song is adapted from the Italian standard, "'O Sole Mio", but the inspiration for it came from the song, "There's No Tomorrow", recorded by...

" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (song)
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?" is a popular song with music by Lou Handman and lyrics by Roy Turk. It was written in 1926, first published in 1927 and most notably revived by Elvis Presley in 1960 ....

", along with the rest of Elvis Is Back!
Elvis Is Back!
Elvis Is Back! is the tenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2231, in April 1960. Recording sessions took place on March 20 and April 3, 1960, at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Presley's first album to be released in true stereo...

The album features several songs described by Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues
Chicago blues
The Chicago blues is a form of blues music that developed in Chicago, Illinois, by taking the basic acoustic guitar and harmonica-based Delta blues, making the harmonica louder with a microphone and an instrument amplifier, and adding electrically amplified guitar, amplified bass guitar, drums,...

 "menace, driven by Presley's own super-miked acoustic guitar, brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots Randolph
Boots Randolph
Homer Louis "Boots" Randolph III was an American musician best known for his 1963 saxophone hit, "Yakety Sax"...

. 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; [a] raucous rocker". Released only days after recording was complete, it reached number two on the album chart.

Presley returned to television on May 12 as a guest on The Frank Sinatra Timex Special
The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis
Welcome Home Elvis was a 1960 television special on ABC starring Frank Sinatra and featuring Elvis Presley in his first televised appearance since coming home from his military service in Germany. The special was officially titled It's Nice to Go Traveling, but is more commonly known as Welcome...

—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 year 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.

G.I. Blues
G.I. Blues (album)
G.I. Blues is the eleventh album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2256, in October 1960. Recording sessions took place on April 27 and 28, and May 6, 1960, at RCA Studio C and Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California. The album topped the Billboard Top...

, 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
His Hand in Mine is the twelfth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2328, in November 1960. It was the first of three gospel music albums that Presley would issue during his lifetime. Recording sessions took place on October 30 and 31, 1960, at RCA...

, followed two months later. It reached number 13 on the U.S. pop chart and number 3 in Great Britain, 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 studio album, Something for Everybody
Something for Everybody
Something For Everybody is the thirteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2370, in June 1961. Recording sessions took place on November 8, 1960, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on March 12, 1961 at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It peaked at #1...

. As described by John Robertson, it exemplifies the Nashville sound
Nashville sound
The Nashville sound originated during the late 1950s as a sub-genre of American country music, replacing the chart dominance of honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s...

, 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
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 memorial, was staged on March 25, in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

. It was to be Presley's last public performance for seven years.

Lost in Hollywood

Parker had by now pushed Presley into a heavy moviemaking schedule, focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies. Presley at first insisted on pursuing more serious roles, but when two films in a more dramatic vein—Flaming Star
Flaming Star
Flaming Star is a 1960 western film starring Elvis Presley, based on the book Flaming Lance by Clair Huffaker. Critics agreed that Presley gave one of his best acting performances as the mixed-blood "Pacer Burton", a dramatic role. The film was directed by Don Siegel, and had a working title of...

(1960) and Wild in the Country
Wild in the Country
Wild in the Country is a 1961 film drama starring Elvis Presley in which he portrays a troubled young man from a dysfunctional family who pursues a literary career. The screenplay was written by playwright Clifford Odets.-Synopsis:...

(1961)—were less commercially successful, he reverted to the formula. Among the 27 movies he made during the 1960s, there were few further exceptions. His films were almost universally panned; one critic 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 movies' 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 [number], one up-tempo, and one break blues boogie". As the decade wore on, the quality of the soundtrack songs grew "progressively worse". Julie Parrish
Julie Parrish
Julie Parrish was an American film, stage and television actress....

, who appeared in Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Paradise, Hawaiian Style is a 1966 musical comedy film starring Elvis Presley. It was the third and final motion picture that Presley filmed in Hawaii. The film reached #40 on the Variety weekly box office chart, earning $2.5 million in theaters....

(1966), says that he hated many of the songs chosen for his films. The Jordanaires' Gordon Stoker describes how Presley would retreat from the studio microphone: "The material was so bad that he felt like he couldn't sing it." Most of the movie albums featured a song or two from respected writers such as the team of Doc Pomus
Doc Pomus
Jerome Solon Felder, better known as Doc Pomus , was a twentieth-century American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lyricist of many rock and roll hits. Pomus was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category of non-performer in 1992. He was also inducted into...

 and Mort Shuman
Mort Shuman
Mort Shuman was an American singer, pianist and songwriter, best known as co-writer of many 1960s rock and roll hits, including "Viva Las Vegas"...

. But by and large, according to biographer Jerry Hopkins, the numbers seemed to be "written on order by men who never really understood Elvis or rock and roll." Regardless of the songs' quality, it has been argued that Presley generally sang them well, with commitment. Critic Dave Marsh heard the opposite: "Presley isn't trying, probably the wisest course in the face of material like 'No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car' and 'Rock-a-Hula Baby
Rock-A-Hula Baby
"Rock-A-Hula Baby" is a song performed by Elvis Presley for the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii. Written by Ben Weisman, Fred Wise, Dolores Fuller, it is a genre mix of Hawaiian folk and rock n' roll. It was Dolores' first published song, and she would eventually co-write a dozen songs for Elvis Presley...

.'"

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
Can't Help Falling in Love
"Can't Help Falling in Love" is a pop song originally recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company. It was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss. The melody was based on "Plaisir d'Amour" but with a different...

" (1961) and "Return to Sender
Return to Sender (song)
"Return to Sender" is a 1962 rock and roll hit single recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music. The song was written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell....

" (1962). ("Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas (song)
"Viva Las Vegas" is a 1964 song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and recorded by Elvis Presley for his Viva Las Vegas film vehicle of that year...

", 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—Presley had only one top ten hit: "Crying in the Chapel
Crying in the Chapel
"Crying in the Chapel" is a song written by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell to sing. Darrell recorded it while still in high school in 1953, along with Artie's band the Rhythm Riders. It became a local hit and publishers got a hold of it and it went nationwide. He released the original version as...

" (1965), a gospel number recorded back in 1960. As for non-movie albums, between the June 1962 release of Pot Luck
Pot Luck (album)
Pot Luck with Elvis is the fifteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2523, in June 1962. Recording sessions took place on March 22, 1961, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on June 25 and October 15, 1961, and March 18 and March 19, 1962, at RCA Studio B...

and the November 1968 release of the soundtrack to the television special that signaled his comeback, only one LP of new material by Presley was issued: the gospel album How Great Thou Art (1967). It won him his first Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

, for Best Sacred Performance. As Marsh described, Presley was "arguably the greatest white gospel singer of his time [and] really the last rock & roll artist to make gospel as vital a component of his musical personality as his secular songs."

Shortly before Christmas 1966, more than seven years since they first met, Presley proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu. They were married on May 1, 1967, in a brief ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The flow of formulaic movies and assembly-line soundtracks rolled on. It was not until October 1967, when the Clambake
Clambake
Clambake is a 1967 musical film starring Elvis Presley, and co-starring Shelley Fabares and Bill Bixby—the last of his four films for United Artists. The movie reached No. 15 on the national weekly box office charts.-Plot:...

soundtrack LP registered record low sales for a new Presley album, that RCA executives recognized a problem. "By then, of course, the damage had been done", as historians Connie Kirchberg and Marc Hendrickx put it. "Elvis was viewed as a joke by serious music lovers and a has-been to all but his most loyal fans."

Elvis: the '68 Comeback Special

Presley's only child, Lisa Marie
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley is an American singer and songwriter, also known as the "Princess of Rock and Roll". She is the only child of Elvis Presley, and daughter of Priscilla Presley.-Early life:...

, was born on February 1, 1968, during a period when he had grown deeply unhappy with his career. Of the eight 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, where 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.

Recorded in late June, 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 segments saw Presley clad in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock and roll days. Director and coproducer Steve Binder
Steve Binder
Steve Binder is an American producer and director. He found success behind the camera on influential TV shows showcasing music, like The T.A.M.I. Show and Hullabaloo...

 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 viewing audience. Jon Landau
Jon Landau
Jon Landau is an American music critic, manager and record producer, most known for his association in all three capacities with Bruce Springsteen.He is currently the head of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame....

 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
Jim Morrison
James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American musician, singer, and poet, best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors...

 green with envy." Dave Marsh calls the performance one of "emotional grandeur and historical resonance."

By January 1969, the single "If I Can Dream
If I Can Dream
"If I Can Dream" is a song made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Walter Earl Brown and notable for its direct quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was recorded by Presley in June 1968, two months after King's assassination...

", written for the special, reached number 12. The soundtrack album broke into the top ten. According to friend Jerry Schilling
Jerry Schilling
Jerry Schilling is a veteran music industry professional, best known for his association with Elvis Presley since 1954 . He briefly managed The Beach Boys and Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie....

, 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.'"

From Elvis In Memphis and the International

Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio
American Sound Studio
American Sound Studio was a recording studio located at 827 Thomas Street in Memphis, Tennessee. More than one hundred hit songs were recorded there between its founding 1967 and its closing in 1972, The music for these hits was played by the house band "The Memphis Boys", also known as the "827...

, which led to the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis
From Elvis in Memphis
From Elvis in Memphis is the thirty-fifth album by American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley, released on RCA Records LSP 4155, in June 1969. Recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis, between January 13–16 and 20–23, and February 17–22, 1969...

. 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 achievement." The album featured the hit single "In the Ghetto
In the Ghetto
"In the Ghetto" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1969. It was written by Mac Davis and made famous by Elvis Presley who had a major comeback hit with the song in 1969. It was released in 1969 as a 45 rpm single with "Any Day Now" as the flip side...

", issued in April, which reached number three on the pop chart—Presley's first non-gospel top ten hit since "Bossa Nova Baby" in 1963. Further hit singles were culled from the American Sound sessions: "Suspicious Minds
Suspicious Minds
"Suspicious Minds" is a song written by American songwriter Mark James that, after the failure of his own recording, was handed to Elvis Presley by producer Chips Moman becoming one of his most notable hits and a number one in 1969, "Suspicious Minds" was widely regarded as the single that returned...

", "Don't Cry Daddy
Don't Cry Daddy
"Don't Cry Daddy" was written by Scott Davis and recorded by Elvis Presley on January 15 and 21 1969 and released as a single. The rhythm track was laid down on 15 January and Elvis' vocal overdub on the 21st. Some speculate that it is a consolation song considering that Elvis's father became a...

", and "Kentucky Rain
Kentucky Rain
"Kentucky Rain" was a 1970 hit song for Elvis Presley. Featuring then-unknown pianist Ronnie Milsap and written by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard, the single peaked at number 16 on the pop charts....

".

Presley was keen to resume regular live performing. Following the success of the Comeback Special, offers came in from around the world. The London Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

 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
Las Vegas Hilton
The Las Vegas Hilton is a hotel, casino, and convention center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a joint venture between Colony Capital, which owns 60 percent, and New York City-based REIT Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds, which owns the remaining 40 percent...

 in Las Vegas, boasting the largest showroom in the city, announced that it had booked Presley. He was scheduled 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 Nashville. Presley assembled new, top-notch accompaniment, led by guitarist James Burton
James Burton
James Burton is an American guitarist. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2001 , Burton has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame...

 and including two gospel groups, The Imperials
The Imperials
The Imperials are an American Christian music group that has been around for over 45 years. Originating as a southern gospel quartet, the innovative group would become pioneers of contemporary Christian music in the 1960s. There have been many changes for the band in membership and musical styles...

 and Sweet Inspirations
Sweet Inspirations
The Sweet Inspirations were founded by Cissy Houston , mother of Whitney Houston, and sister of Lee Warrick...

. Nonetheless, he was nervous: his only previous Las Vegas engagement, in 1956, had been dismal. Parker, who intended to make Presley's return the show business event of the year, oversaw a major promotional push. For his part, hotel owner Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian
Kerkor "Kirk" Kerkorian is an American businessman who is the president/CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private holding company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian is known as one of the important figures in shaping Las Vegas and, with architect Martin Stern, Jr...

 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 encore, "Can't 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", Presley gestured toward Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Creole was his first language....

, who was taking in the scene. "No," Presley said, "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 million. 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
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

called Presley "supernatural, his own resurrection." In November, Presley's final non-concert movie, Change of Habit
Change of Habit
Change of Habit is a 1969 musical drama film starring Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore. It was Presley's 31st and final film acting role; his remaining two film appearances were concert documentaries. It was also Moore's fourth and final film under her brief Universal Pictures contract; she...

, opened. The double album From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis
From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis
From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis is the thirty-sixth album by Elvis Presley, released in October 1969 on RCA Records, catalogue LSP 6020. Recording sessions took place at American Sound Studio in Memphis, on January 13–15 and 21-22, and February 17–18, 1969, and at the International...

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
Cassandra Peterson
Cassandra Peterson is an American actress best known for her on-screen horror hostess character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ wearing a black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation...

, later television's Elvira, met Presley during this period in Las Vegas, where she was working as 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
On Stage (Elvis Presley album)
On Stage is an Elvis Presley live album recorded between February 17 and 19, 1970 at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. It features the world-wide #1 single "The Wonder of You", which topped both the United States AC tracks chart and the British music chart. It was an immediate follow up...

. In late February, Presley performed six attendance-record–breaking shows at the Houston Astrodome. In April, the single "The Wonder of You
The Wonder of You
"The Wonder of You" is a song written by Baker Knight. In 1959, Ray Peterson released it as a single. The song became a Top 40 hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #25. That same year it was recorded by Ronnie Hilton in the United Kingdom, his version reaching #22 on the UK Singles...

" was issued—a number one hit in Great Britain, it topped the U.S. adult contemporary
Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
The Adult Contemporary chart is a weekly chart published in Billboard magazine that lists the most popular songs on adult contemporary and "lite-pop" radio stations in the United States...

 chart, as well. MGM
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs. MGM was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer...

 filmed rehearsal and concert footage at the International during August for the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Elvis: That's the Way it Is
Elvis: That's the Way It Is is a documentary movie directed by Denis Sanders about Elvis Presley that was released on November 11, 1970. The film documents Elvis' Summer Festival in Las Vegas during August 1970...

. 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
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 took the threat seriously and security was stepped up for the next two shows. Presley went onstage with a Derringer
Derringer
The term derringer is a genericized misspelling of the last name of Henry Deringer, a famous 19th-century maker of small pocket pistols. Many copies of the original Philadelphia Deringer pistol were made by other gun makers worldwide, and the name was often misspelled; this misspelling soon became...

 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&B left in Memphis, what was left was very classy, very clean white pop—perfect for the Las Vegas crowd, but a definite retrograde step for Elvis." After the end of his International engagement on September 7, Presley embarked on a week-long concert tour, largely of the South, his first since 1958. Another week-long tour, of the West Coast, followed in November.

On December 21, 1970, Presley engineered a meeting with President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 at the White House, where he expressed his patriotism and his contempt for the hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 drug culture. He asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs
Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs
The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was a predecessor agency of the Drug Enforcement Administration . It was formed as a subsidiary of the United States Department of Justice in 1968, combining the Bureau of Narcotics and Bureau of Drug Abuse Control The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous...

 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 that Presley could send a positive message to young people and that it was therefore important he "retain his credibility". Presley told Nixon that The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

, 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. (Presley and his friends had had a four-hour get-together with The Beatles five years earlier.) On hearing reports of the meeting, Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

 later said that he "felt a bit betrayed. ... The great joke was that we were taking [illegal] 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
United States Junior Chamber
The United States Junior Chamber is a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 41. Areas of emphasis are business development, management skills, individual training, community service, and international connections. The U.S...

 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
U.S. Route 51
U.S. Route 51 is a north–south United States highway that runs for 1,286 miles from the western suburbs of New Orleans, Louisiana to within of the Wisconsin-Michigan border. Much of the highway in Illinois and southern Wisconsin runs parallel to or overlaps Interstate 39...

 on which Graceland is located "Elvis Presley Boulevard". The same year, Presley became the first rock and roll singer to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

 (then known as the Bing Crosby Award) by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc., known variously as The Recording Academy or NARAS, is a U.S. organization of musicians, producers, recording engineers and other recording professionals dedicated to improving the quality of life and cultural condition for music and its...

, the Grammy Award organization. Three new, non-movie 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
Concept album
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical." Commonly, concept albums tend to incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas rather than being improvised or composed in the studio, with all songs contributing...

 that focused on genre standards. The biggest seller was Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas is a 1971 album by Elvis Presley, and Elvis' second Christmas album. The album was released in October 1971, followed by the single from the album "Merry Christmas Baby" / "O Come All Ye Faithful" released in November 1971...

, "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
Charles Brown (musician)
Charles Brown , born in Texas City, Texas was an American blues singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced blues-club style influenced the development of blues performance during the 1940s and 1950s...

 blues. ... If [Presley's] sin was his lifelessness, it was his sinfulness that brought him to life".

Marriage breakdown and Aloha from Hawaii

MGM again filmed Presley in April 1972, this time for Elvis on Tour
Elvis on Tour
Elvis on Tour is a Golden Globe Award-winning American musical documentary motion picture released by MGM in 1972. It was the thirty-third and final motion picture to star Elvis Presley before his death in 1977.-Background:...

, which went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film
The Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film was only awarded between 1972 and 1977. In 1973 Elvis Presley's Elvis on Tour won this award. Prior to the award, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded the film A Queen is Crowned a special award for "Best Documentary Film of Historical...

 that year. His gospel album He Touched Me
He Touched Me
He Touched Me is a 1972 gospel music album by Elvis Presley. It earned Presley his second of three Grammy Awards. It was his third and final studio gospel album, and the most contemporary of the three. The album was certified Gold on 3/27/1992 and Platinum on 7/15/1999 by the RIAA.-Track listing:#...

, 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
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

. The evening concert on July 10 was recorded and issued in LP form a week later. Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden
Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden
Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden is a live musical album recorded by Elvis Presley and released in June 1972 by RCA Records peaking on the charts in July 1972. Recorded at the Madison Square Garden arena in New York City on Saturday June 10, 1972, the concert, and the subsequent album,...

became one of Presley's biggest-selling albums. After the tour, the single "Burning Love
Burning Love
"Burning Love" is a song written by Dennis Linde, first recorded by Arthur Alexander, who included it on his self-titled 1971 album, and made famous by Elvis Presley, who took it to #2 in the United States in 1972...

" was released—Presley's last top ten hit on the U.S. pop chart. "The most exciting single Elvis has made since 'All Shook Up'", wrote rock critic Robert Christgau
Robert Christgau
Robert Christgau is an American essayist, music journalist, and self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics".One of the earliest professional rock critics, Christgau is known for his terse capsule reviews, published since 1969 in his Consumer Guide columns...

. "Who else could make 'It's coming closer, the flames are now licking my body' sound like an assignation with James Brown
James Brown
James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of Funk and is recognized as a major figure in the 20th century popular music for both his vocals and dancing. He has been referred to as "The Godfather of Soul," "Mr...

's backup band
The Famous Flames
The Famous Flames was an R&B vocal group founded by Bobby Byrd that recorded and performed with James Brown during the early years of his career...

?"
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 in to 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.

In January 1973, Presley performed two benefit concerts for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund
Kui Lee
Kuiokalani Lee was a singer-songwriter, and the 1960s golden boy artist of Hawaii. Lee achieved international fame when Don Ho began performing and recording Lee's compositions, with Ho promoting Lee as the songwriter for a new generation of Hawaiian music.-Biography:Lee was born in Shanghai, China...

 in connection with a groundbreaking TV special, Aloha from Hawaii
Aloha from Hawaii
Aloha from Hawaii is a music concert that was headlined by Elvis Presley, and was broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973. It is the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history, viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. The concert took place at the...

. 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 approximately 1.5 billion 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
Bobbie Ann Mason
Bobbie Ann Mason is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and literary critic from Kentucky.With four siblings Mason grew up on her family's dairy farm outside of Mayfield, Kentucky. As a child she loved to read, so her parents, Wilburn and Christina Mason, always made sure she had...

, "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
Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite
Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite is a live concert album by Elvis Presley, released by RCA Records in February 1973 and peaked on the Billboard chart in the Spring of 1973. Despite the satellite innovation, the United States did not air the concert until April 4, 1973. Aloha from Hawaii‎ went to...

, 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 Stone to kill him. Though they were shown to have been only overexuberant fans, he raged, "There's too much pain in me ... Stone [must] 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 of raging, Red West
Red West
Red West is an American actor, film stuntman and songwriter.West was born Robert Gene West in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Lois and Newton Thomas West. He was a close high school friend of rock and roll singer Elvis Presley. An excellent athlete and former U.S...

, his friend and bodyguard, felt compelled to get a price for a contract killing and was relieved when Presley decided, "Aw hell, let's just leave it for now. Maybe it's a bit heavy."

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 barbiturate
Barbiturate
Barbiturates are drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, as hypnotics, and as anticonvulsants...

s, 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 Demerol addiction. According to his main physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos
George C. Nichopoulos
George Constantine Nichopoulos also known as "Dr. Nick" is a former American doctor, of Greek descent. He is best known as Elvis Presley's personal physician, and controversial due to the singer's longstanding and ultimately fatal abuse of prescription drugs.- Career :Born in Pittsburgh,...

, Presley "felt that by getting [drugs] 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
Tony Brown (record producer)
Tony Brown is an American country music record producer.He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina.Brown played piano for Elvis Presley. He toured with the TCB Band for much of Presley's final two years and was a part of the 1976 "Jungle Room" recording sessions at Graceland...

 remembers the singer's arrival at a University of Maryland
University of Maryland
When the term "University of Maryland" is used without any qualification, it generally refers to the University of Maryland, College Park.University of Maryland may refer to the following:...

 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. As cultural critic Marjorie Garber
Marjorie Garber
Marjorie B. Garber is a professor at Harvard University and the author of a wide variety of books, most notably ones about William Shakespeare and aspects of popular culture including sexuality....

 describes, he was now widely seen as a garish pop crooner: "in effect he had become Liberace
Liberace
Wladziu Valentino Liberace , best known simply as Liberace, was a famous American pianist and vocalist.In a career that spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, motion pictures, television and endorsements, Liberace became world-renowned...

. Even his fans were now middle-aged matrons and blue-haired grandmothers."

On July 13, 1976, Vernon Presley—who had become deeply involved in his son's financial affairs—fired "Memphis Mafia
Memphis Mafia
The "Memphis Mafia" was the nickname for a group of friends, associates, employees and "yes-men" whose main function was to be around Elvis Presley from 1954 until he died. Several filled practical roles in the singer's life. For instance, they were employed to work for him as bodyguards or on tour...

" 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
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a desert city in Riverside County, California, within the Coachella Valley. It is located approximately 37 miles east of San Bernardino, 111 miles east of Los Angeles and 136 miles northeast of San Diego...

 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 drug dependency. Presley and Linda Thompson split in November, and he took up with a new girlfriend, Ginger Alden
Ginger Alden
Ginger Alden is an American actress/model who is best known as being the fiancee of Elvis Presley at the time of his death....

. He proposed to Alden and gave her an engagement ring two months later, though several of his friends later claimed that he had no serious intention of marrying again.

RCA, which had enjoyed a steady stream of product from Presley for 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: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis
Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis
Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis is an album of recordings by Elvis Presley released by RCA Records in 1974 and recorded on March 20, 1974, in front of a live audience at the Midsouth Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee, Presley's hometown. Elvis' home, Graceland, is pictured on the cover...

. 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.
For all the concerns of his label and manager, in studio sessions between July 1973 and October 1976, Presley recorded virtually the entire contents of six albums. Though he was no longer a major presence on the pop charts, five of those albums entered the top five of the country chart, and three went to number one: Promised Land
Promised Land (Elvis Presley album)
-Personnel:*David Briggs - piano, organ*James Burton - guitar*Johnny Christopher - guitar*Jeannie Green - backing vocals*Per Erik Hallin - piano, organ*Mary Holladay - backing vocals*Susan Pilkington - backing vocals*Elvis Presley - vocals, guitar...

(1975), From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee is an album by Elvis Presley, released in 1976 on RCA Records. It is often mistaken that this is a concert recording as the album states the songs were "recorded live". While this is true, the songs were recorded live in the recording studio at a...

(1976), and Moody Blue
Moody Blue
Moody Blue is the final studio album by Elvis Presley. The album was a mixture of live and studio work, and included tracks from Presley's final studio recording sessions in 1976, including Moody Blue, a previously published hit song, and Way Down, which became a hit song after Presley's death less...

(1977). The story was similar with his singles—there were no major pop hits, but Presley was a significant force in not just the country market, but on adult contemporary radio as well. Eight studio singles from this period released during his lifetime were top ten hits on one or both charts, four in 1974 alone. "My Boy
My Boy
"My Boy" is the title of a popular song from the early 1970s. The music was composed by Jean Bourtayre and Claude Francois , and the lyrics were translated from the original version "Parce que je t'aime, mon enfant" into English by Phil Coulter and Bill Martin.-Richard Harris version:Actor Richard...

" was a number one AC hit in 1975, and "Moody Blue
Moody Blue (Elvis song)
"Moody Blue" is a song made famous by Elvis Presley.Written by Mark James , the song became Presley's last No. 1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977 . "Moody Blue" also peaked at number thirty-one on the Hot 100...

" topped the country chart and reached the second spot on the AC in 1976. Perhaps his most critically acclaimed recording of the era came that year, with what Greil Marcus described as his "apocalyptic attack" on the soul classic "Hurt". "If he felt the way he sounded", Dave Marsh wrote of Presley's performance, "the wonder isn't that he had only a year left to live but that he managed to survive that long."

Final year and death

Journalist Tony Scherman writes that by early 1977, "Elvis Presley had become a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self. Hugely overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopoeia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts." In Alexandria, Louisiana
Alexandria, Louisiana
Alexandria is a city in and the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes....

, the singer was on stage for less than an hour and "was impossible to understand". Presley failed to appear in Baton Rouge; 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
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota, and the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range. The population was 67,956 as of the 2010 Census. Rapid...

, "he was so nervous on stage that he could hardly talk", according to 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 Elvis, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 books." A cousin, Billy Smith, recalled how Presley would sit in his room and chat for hours, sometimes recounting favorite Monty Python
Monty Python
Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group who created their influential Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series...

 sketches and his own past escapades, but more often gripped by paranoid obsessions that reminded Smith of Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

. "Way Down
Way Down
"Way Down" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley. Recorded in October 1976, it was the last single released before his death on August 16, 1977. The song was written by Layng Martine, Jr. and was later covered by Status Quo and Cliffhanger....

", Presley's last single issued during his lifetime, came out on June 6. His final concert was held in Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

 at the Market Square Arena
Market Square Arena
Market Square Arena was an indoor arena, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Completed in 1974, at a cost of $23 million, it seated 16,530, for basketball and 15,993, for ice hockey.-History:...

, on June 26.
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.

Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis on the evening of August 16, 1977, to begin another tour. That afternoon, Alden discovered him unresponsive on his bathroom floor. Attempts to revive him failed, and death was officially pronounced at 3:30 pm at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 issued a statement that credited Presley with 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 the National Enquirers 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 his will.

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 Elvis Presley and his mother were reburied in Graceland's Meditation Garden on October 2.

Since 1977

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
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 2006.

Presley has been inducted into four music halls of fame
Hall of Fame
A hall of fame, wall of fame, walk of fame, walk of stars or avenue of stars is a type of attraction established for any field of endeavor to honor individuals of noteworthy achievement in that field...

: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum identifies and preserves the evolving history and traditions of country music and educates its audiences...

 (1998), the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.-Inductees:...

 (2001), and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame was established on the internet on March 21, 1997, to present early rock and roll history and information relative to the artists and personalities involved in this pioneering American music genre....

 (2007). In 1984, he received the W. C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation
Blues Foundation
The Blues Foundation is an American nonprofit corporation, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, that is affiliated with more than 175 Blues organizations from various parts of the world....

 and the Academy of Country Music
Academy of Country Music
The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

's first Golden Hat Award. In 1987, he received the American Music Awards' Award of Merit.

A Junkie XL
Junkie XL
Tom Holkenborg , better known as Junkie XL or JXL, is a Dutch musician. He uses the name JXL in cases where the term "Junkie" might cause offense. XL is for "Xpanding Limits"....

 remix of Presley's "A Little Less Conversation
A Little Less Conversation
"A Little Less Conversation" is a song written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange that was originally performed and written for American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley for the 1968 film Live a Little, Love a Little. When the song was released as a single with "Almost in Love" as the b-side, it became...

" (credited as "Elvis Vs JXL") was used in a Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

 advertising campaign during the 2002 FIFA World Cup
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

. It topped the charts in over 20 countries, and was included in a compilation of Presley's number one hits, 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 Great Britain, 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 Great Britain. A total of 17 Presley singles were reissued during the year—all made the British top five. For the fifth straight year, Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

named 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 second with his highest annual income ever, $60 million, spurred by the celebration of his 75th birthday and the launch of Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil , is a Canadian entertainment company, self-described as a "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment." Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy...

's Viva Elvis
Viva Elvis
Viva Elvis is the seventh resident Cirque du Soleil show on the Las Vegas Strip. It resides at the Aria Resort & Casino and premiered on February 19, 2010...

show in Las Vegas. In November 2010, Viva Elvis: The Album
Viva Elvis (album)
Viva Elvis is the soundtrack remix album of the Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis, which focuses on the life and music of Elvis Presley. The album, though initially produced as a soundtrack to the show, does not include all of the songs featured in the show...

was released, setting his voice to newly recorded instrumental tracks. As of mid-2011, there were an estimated 15,000 licensed Presley products.

Presley holds the records for most songs charting in Billboards top 40 and top 100: chart statistician Joel Whitburn
Joel Whitburn
Joel Carver Whitburn is an American author and music historian.Whitburn founded Record Research Inc. in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, in 1970, and put together a team of researchers to examine in detail all of Billboards music and video charts...

 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 Billboards unified Hot 100 chart
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

, are analyzed. According to Whitburn, Presley holds the record for most top ten hits with 38; per Billboards current assessment, he ranks second with 36 behind Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

's 37. Whitburn and Billboard concur that The Beatles hold the record for most number one hits with 20 and that Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. She made her recording debut with the release of her eponymous studio album in 1990, under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, whom she later married in 1993...

 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.

Influences

Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

. 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:

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 Leiber and 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."

Genres

Music scholar Paul Friedlander describes the elements of the rockabilly
Rockabilly
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s.The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style's development...

 style, which he characterizes as "essentially ... an Elvis Presley construction", that the singer and his band mates developed at Sun Records: "the raw, emotive, and slurred vocal style and emphasis on rhythmic feeling [of] the blues with the string band and strummed rhythm guitar [of] country". Moore's guitar solo in "That's All Right", the group's first record, "a combination of Merle Travis
Merle Travis
Merle Robert Travis was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and musician born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His lyrics often discussed the life and exploitation of coal miners. Among his many well-known songs are "Sixteen Tons", "Re-Enlistment Blues" and "Dark as a Dungeon"...

–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
Blue Moon (song)
"Blue Moon"'s first crossover recording to rock and roll came from Elvis Presley in 1956. His cover version of the song was included on his self-titled debut album Elvis Presley....

" 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.

After his return from military service in 1960, Presley continued to perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially toned down. 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&B sound captured so successfully on Elvis Is Back! was essentially abandoned for six years until such 1966–67 recordings as "Down in the Alley" and "Hi-Heel Sneakers
Hi-Heel Sneakers
"Hi-Heel Sneakers" is a 1964 twelve-bar blues song and single by Tommy Tucker. Tommy Tucker's original recording hit number one on the Cash Box R&B Locations chart and number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100....

". The singer's output during most of the 1960s emphasized pop music, often in the form of ballads such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (song)
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?" is a popular song with music by Lou Handman and lyrics by Roy Turk. It was written in 1926, first published in 1927 and most notably revived by Elvis Presley in 1960 ....

", a number one in 1960. While that was a dramatic number, most of what Presley recorded for his movie soundtracks was in a much lighter vein.

While Presley performed several of his classic ballads for the '68 Comeback Special, the sound of the show was dominated by aggressive rock and roll. He would record few new straight-ahead rock and roll songs thereafter; 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
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 sound as well as soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 and funk
Funk
Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground...

. 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 a star.

Vocal style and range

Music critic Henry Pleasants
Henry Pleasants (music critic)
Henry Pleasants was an American music critic and intelligence officer. Born on May 12, 1910, in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Pleasants studied voice, piano and composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, from which he received an honorary doctorate in 1977...

 observes that "Elvis 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 two and a quarter 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. His voice can not be measured in octaves, but in decibels; even that misses the problem of how to measure delicate whispers that are hardly audible at all." 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 styles.

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
Codeine
Codeine or 3-methylmorphine is an opiate used for its analgesic, antitussive, and antidiarrheal properties...

 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
Polypharmacy
Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medications by a patient, especially when too many forms of medication are used by a patient, when more drugs are prescribed than is clinically warranted, or even when all prescribed medications are clinically indicated but there are too many pills to take ....

 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
Cardiomegaly
Cardiomegaly is a medical condition wherein the heart is enlarged. It is generally categorized in the following manner:* Cardiomegaly due to dilation* Cardiomegaly due to ventricular hypertrophy** Left ventricular hypertrophy...

 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
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

 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 [prescribed] 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 over-prescription.

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
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

." Whether or not combined drug intoxication
Combined drug intoxication
Combined drug intoxication , also known as multiple drug intake or lethal polydrug/polypharmacy intoxication, is an unnatural cause of human death...

 was in fact the cause, there is little doubt that polypharmacy contributed significantly to Presley's premature death.

Racial issues

When 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
Arthur Crudup
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup was an American Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known outside blues circles for writing songs such as "That's All Right" , "My Baby Left Me" and "So Glad You're Mine", later covered by Elvis Presley and dozens of other artists.-Career: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 Billboards 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
Jailhouse Rock (1957 film)
Jailhouse Rock is an American musical film directed by Richard Thorpe for MGM. The film stars Elvis Presley in his third film and MGM debut, Judy Tyler, and Mickey Shaughnessy....

, Presley granted him 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. Robinson found no evidence that the remark had ever been made, and on the contrary elicited testimony from many individuals indicating that Presley was anything but racist. Blues singer Ivory Joe Hunter
Ivory Joe Hunter
Ivory Joe Hunter was an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and pianist. After a series of hits on the US R&B chart starting in the mid 1940s, he became more widely known for his hit recording, "Since I Met You Baby" . He was billed as The Baron of the Boogie, and also known as The...

, 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 greatest." Though the rumored remark was wholly discredited at the time, it was still being used against Presley decades later. The identification of Presley with racism—either personally or symbolically—was expressed most famously in the lyrics of the 1989 rap hit "Fight the Power
Fight the Power
"Fight the Power" is a single by American hip hop group Public Enemy. First released on the soundtrack for the film 1989 Do the Right Thing, a different version was released on the group's third studio album, Fear of a Black Planet . The single reached number one on Hot Rap Singles and number 20 on...

", 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 acknowledgment 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
Jackie Wilson
Jack Leroy "Jackie" Wilson, Jr. was an American singer and performer. Known as "Mr. Excitement", Wilson was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was known as a master showman, and as one of the most dynamic singers and performers in R&B and rock history...

, 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 [that]." Nine years earlier, he had said, "Rock 'n' roll has been around for many years. It used to be called rhythm and blues."

Parker and the Aberbachs

Once he became Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker insisted on exceptionally tight control over his client's career. Early on, he and his Hill and Range allies, the brothers Jean
Jean Aberbach
Joachim "Jean" Aberbach was an Austrian-born American music publisher. With his brother Julian, he was responsible for establishing Hill and Range as one of the leading music publishing houses, responsible for songs recorded by Elvis Presley and many others.-Life and career:Aberbach was born in...

 and Julian Aberbach
Julian Aberbach
Julian J. Aberbach was an Austrian-born music publisher, who lived and worked in both the United States and France...

, perceived the close relationship that developed between Presley and songwriters Jerry Leiber and 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 had contracts with Presley that gave him 50 percent of most of the singer's earnings on 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 well. 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 gone."

Lacker was instrumental in convincing Presley to record with Memphis producer Chips Moman
Chips Moman
Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman is an American record producer, guitarist, and songwriter. As a record producer, Moman is known for recording Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, Carla Thomas, and Merrilee Rush, as well as guiding the career of the Box Tops in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1960s...

 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 venues unsuitable for a star of his magnitude.

Parker arguably exercised tightest control over Presley's movie career. In 1957, Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum
Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was an American film actor, author, composer and singer and is #23 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time...

 asked Presley to costar with him in Thunder Road
Thunder Road
Thunder Road is the title of a 1958 drama–crime film about running moonshine in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee in the early 1950s. It was directed by Arthur Ripley and starred Robert Mitchum, who also produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and is rumored to have directed much of the...

, on which Mitchum was both writer and producer. According to George Klein, one of his oldest friends, Presley was offered starring roles in West Side Story
West Side Story (film)
West Side Story is a 1961 musical film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was adapted from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno,...

and Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman and newcomer Jon Voight in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John...

. In 1974, Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

 approached Presley to star with her in the remake of A Star is Born
A Star Is Born (1976 film)
A Star Is Born is a 1976 American rock music musical film telling the story of a young woman, played by Barbra Streisand who enters show business, and meets and falls in love with an established male star, played by Kris Kristofferson, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline...

. 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 operative 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 Elvis Presley".

Memphis Mafia

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[ir] parasitic presence", as journalist John Harris
John Harris (critic)
John Rhys Harris is a British journalist, writer, and critic.-Early life:Harris was raised in Wilmslow in north Cheshire by a university lecturer and a teacher, daughter of a nuclear research chemist...

 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
Tony Brown (record producer)
Tony Brown is an American country music record producer.He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina.Brown played piano for Elvis Presley. He toured with the TCB Band for much of Presley's final two years and was a part of the 1976 "Jungle Room" recording sessions at Graceland...

, 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, "[Presley] 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 Elvis Presley. ... 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.

Sex symbol

Presley's physical attractiveness and sexual appeal were widely acknowledged. "He was once beautiful, astonishingly beautiful", in the words of critic Mark Feeney
Mark Feeney
Mark Feeney is a Pulitzer Prize-winning arts critic for The Boston Globe. Feeney graduated from Harvard in 1979 and has been working for the paper almost ever since, as a researcher, writer, and editor, in various capacities. Feeney is also the author of the book Nixon at the Movies. In addition,...

. Television director Steve Binder
Steve Binder
Steve Binder is an American producer and director. He found success behind the camera on influential TV shows showcasing music, like The T.A.M.I. Show and Hullabaloo...

, 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
George Melly
Alan George Heywood Melly was an English jazz and blues singer, critic, writer and lecturer. From 1965 to 1973 he was a film and television critic for The Observer and lectured on art history, with an emphasis on surrealism.-Early life and career:He was born in Liverpool and was educated at Stowe...

 described him as "the master of the sexual simile, treating his guitar as both phallus and girl." In his Presley obituary, Lester Bangs
Lester Bangs
Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, author and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock 'n' roll criticism....

 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.

While Presley was marketed as an icon of heterosexuality, some cultural critics have argued that his image was ambiguous. In 1959, Sight and Sounds 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
Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood, born Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko was an American film and television actress. After first working in films as a child, Wood became a successful Hollywood star as a young adult, receiving three Academy Award nominations before she was 25 years old.Wood began acting in movies at the...

 in the 1950s to Connie Stevens
Connie Stevens
Connie Stevens is an American actress and singer, best known for her roles in the television series Hawaiian Eye and other TV and film work.-Early life:...

 and Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret Olsson is a Swedish-American actress, singer and dancer whose professional name is Ann-Margret. She became famous for her starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, The Cincinnati Kid, Carnal Knowledge, and Tommy...

 in the 1960s to Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
Candice Patricia Bergen is an American actress and former fashion model.She is known for starring in two TV series, as the title character on the situation comedy Murphy Brown , for which she won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards; and as Shirley Schmidt on the comedy-drama Boston Legal...

 and Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Lynne Shepherd is an American actress, singer and former model. Her best known roles include starring as Jacy in The Last Picture Show, as Betsy in Taxi Driver, as Madeleine Spencer in Psych, as Maddie Hayes on Moonlighting, as Cybill Sheridan on Cybill, and as Phyllis Kroll on The L...

 in the 1970s. June Juanico
June Juanico
June Juanico is a former beauty queen and an Elvis Presley fan from Biloxi, Mississippi, whom the famous rock 'n' roll singer dated in 1955 and 1956, for instance, when he took three weeks of vacation after having recorded his songs "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" in the studio in Memphis,...

 of Memphis, one of Presley's early girlfriends, later blamed Parker for encouraging him to choose his dating partners with publicity in mind. Presley, however, never grew comfortable with the Hollywood scene, and most of these relationships were insubstantial.

Legacy

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
Al Green
Albert Greene , better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer. He reached the peak of his popularity in the 1970s, with hit singles such as "You Oughta Be With Me", "I'm Still In Love With You", "Love and Happiness", and "Let's Stay Together"...

 agreed: "He broke the ice for all of us." 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 name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around the globe. He has inspired a legion of impersonators
Elvis impersonator
An Elvis impersonator is someone who impersonates or copies famed American musician Elvis Presley. Professional Elvis impersonators can work all over the world as entertainers, and such tribute acts are in great demand due to the unique iconic status of Elvis...

. In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans. "Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century", said composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

. "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
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 described the sensation of first hearing Presley as "like busting out of jail".

A New York Times editorial on the 25th anniversary of Presley's death 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 Marcus:

Elvis 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.

Discography

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. In addition, 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. In the United States, Presley also had five or six number one R&B singles and seven number one adult contemporary singles; in 1964, his "Blue Christmas
Blue Christmas
"Blue Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. The heart-broken tale of unrequited love during the holidays had long been considered a Christmas staple of country music, having been recorded first by Doye O'Dell in 1948 and popularised by Ernest Tubb the next year...

" topped the Christmas singles chart during a period when Billboard did not rank holiday singles in its primary pop chart. He had number one hits in many countries beside the United States and United Kingdom, as well.

Number one albums

Year Album Type Chart positions
US
Billboard 200
The Billboard 200 is a ranking of the 200 highest-selling music albums and EPs in the United States, published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists...

US Country UK
UK Albums Chart
The UK Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales in the United Kingdom. It is compiled every week by The Official Charts Company and broadcast on a Sunday on BBC Radio 1 , and published in Music Week magazine and on the OCC website .To qualify for the UK albums chart...

1956 Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (album)
-1999 Reissue with Bonus Tracks:Catalogue data reflects simultaneous release of all tracks from LPM 1254 as singles in August, 1956; chart positions from Billboard Pop Singles chart.-2006 FTD Reissue:Disc OneDisc Two-Personnel:...

studio/comp. 1 n.a. 1
Elvis
Elvis (1956 album)
Elvis is the second album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono, LPM 1382, in October 1956. Recording sessions took place on September 1, September 2, and September 3 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, with one track leftover from the sessions for Presley's debut album at RCA recording...

studio 1 n.a. 3
1957 Loving You sound./studio 1 n.a. 1
Elvis' Christmas Album
Elvis' Christmas Album
Elvis' Christmas Album is the fourth album by Elvis Presley on RCA Victor Records, LOC 1035, a deluxe limited edition, released in October 1957, and recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It has been reissued in numerous different formats since its first release...

studio 1 n.a. 2
1960 Elvis Is Back!
Elvis Is Back!
Elvis Is Back! is the tenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2231, in April 1960. Recording sessions took place on March 20 and April 3, 1960, at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Presley's first album to be released in true stereo...

studio 2 n.a. 1
G.I. Blues
G.I. Blues (album)
G.I. Blues is the eleventh album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2256, in October 1960. Recording sessions took place on April 27 and 28, and May 6, 1960, at RCA Studio C and Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California. The album topped the Billboard Top...

soundtrack 1 n.a. 1
1961 Something for Everybody
Something for Everybody
Something For Everybody is the thirteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2370, in June 1961. Recording sessions took place on November 8, 1960, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on March 12, 1961 at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It peaked at #1...

studio 1 n.a. 2
Blue Hawaii
Blue Hawaii (album)
Blue Hawaii is the fourteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2426, in October 1961 - the exact date of October 1 is disputed. It is a soundtrack for Presley's film of the same name. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on...

soundtrack 1 n.a. 1
1962 Pot Luck
Pot Luck (album)
Pot Luck with Elvis is the fifteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2523, in June 1962. Recording sessions took place on March 22, 1961, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on June 25 and October 15, 1961, and March 18 and March 19, 1962, at RCA Studio B...

studio 4 n.a. 1
1964 Roustabout
Roustabout (album)
Roustabout is the twenty-first album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2999, in October 1964. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California, on March 2 and 3, and April 29, 1964. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums...

soundtrack 1 12
1969 From Elvis in Memphis
From Elvis in Memphis
From Elvis in Memphis is the thirty-fifth album by American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley, released on RCA Records LSP 4155, in June 1969. Recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis, between January 13–16 and 20–23, and February 17–22, 1969...

studio 13 2 1
1973 Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite
Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite
Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite is a live concert album by Elvis Presley, released by RCA Records in February 1973 and peaked on the Billboard chart in the Spring of 1973. Despite the satellite innovation, the United States did not air the concert until April 4, 1973. Aloha from Hawaii‎ went to...

live 1 1 11
1974 Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1
Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1
Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1 is a greatest hits collection from the rock star Elvis Presley issued in 1974 by RCA Records. It features 14 tracks, which includes twelve songs and two interviews with Presley....

compilation 43 1 20
1975 Promised Land
Promised Land (Elvis Presley album)
-Personnel:*David Briggs - piano, organ*James Burton - guitar*Johnny Christopher - guitar*Jeannie Green - backing vocals*Per Erik Hallin - piano, organ*Mary Holladay - backing vocals*Susan Pilkington - backing vocals*Elvis Presley - vocals, guitar...

studio 47 1 21
1976 From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee is an album by Elvis Presley, released in 1976 on RCA Records. It is often mistaken that this is a concert recording as the album states the songs were "recorded live". While this is true, the songs were recorded live in the recording studio at a...

studio 41 1 29
1977 Elvis' 40 Greatest compilation 1
Moody Blue
Moody Blue
Moody Blue is the final studio album by Elvis Presley. The album was a mixture of live and studio work, and included tracks from Presley's final studio recording sessions in 1976, including Moody Blue, a previously published hit song, and Way Down, which became a hit song after Presley's death less...

studio/live 3 1 3
Elvis in Concert live 5 1 13
2002 ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits compilation 1 1 1
2007 Elvis the King
Elvis The King
Elvis The King is a box set comprising 18 singles of the recorded work of Elvis Presley, released in 2007 by RCA Records. The box set is available in both CD and 10" vinyl formats....

compilation 1

Number one singles

Year Single Chart positions
US
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

US Country
Hot Country Songs
Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.This 60-position chart lists the most popular country music songs, calculated weekly mostly by airplay and occasionally commercial sales...

UK
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

1956 "I Forgot to Remember to Forget
I Forgot to Remember to Forget
"I Forgot to Remember to Forget" is a country song written by Stan Kesler and Charlie Feathers. It was recorded at Sun Studio on July 11, 1955, by Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Johnny Bernero on drums, and released on August 20, 1955, along with "Mystery Train"...

"
1
"Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
"Heartbreak Hotel" is a song recorded by American rock and roll musician Elvis Presley. It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley's first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, "Heartbreak Hotel" topped Billboards Top 100 chart, became his first...

"
1 1 2
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" is a popular song written by Maurice Mysels and Ira Kosloff. It is known best for being Elvis Presley's second RCA single album release...

"
1 1 14
"Don't Be Cruel
Don't Be Cruel
-Legacy:"Don't Be Cruel" went on to become Presley's biggest selling single recorded in 1956, with sales over six million by 1961. It became a regular feature of his live sets until his death in 1977, and was often coupled with "Jailhouse Rock" or "Teddy Bear" during performances from 1969.Many...

"
1 1 2
"Hound Dog
Hound Dog (song)
"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid-1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best-known...

"
1 1 2
"Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender (song)
"Love Me Tender" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music, adapted from the tune of "Aura Lee" , a sentimental Civil War ballad.- History :...

"
1 3 11
1957 "Too Much
Too Much (Elvis Presley song)
"Too Much" is a #1 song recorded in a hit version by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1956. It was written by Bernard Weinman and Lee Rosenberg. It was first recorded in 1954 by Bernard Hardison on Republic Records...

"
1 3 6
"All Shook Up
All Shook Up
"All Shook Up" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music and composed by Otis Blackwell. Elvis Presley's single topped the U.S. Pop chart on April 13, 1957, staying there for eight weeks. It also topped the R&B chart for four weeks, becoming Presley's second single to...

"
1 1 1
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear (song)
" Teddy Bear" is a popular song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music. It was written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe and published in 1957 by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company...

"
1 1 3
"Jailhouse Rock
Jailhouse Rock (song)
"Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. The song was released as a 45rpm single on September 24, 1957, to coincide with the release of Presley's motion picture, Jailhouse Rock...

"
1 1 1
1958 "Don't
Don't (Elvis Presley song)
"Don't" is a song performed by Elvis Presley, which was released in 1958. It was Presley's eleventh number-one hit in the United States. "Don't" also peaked at number four on the R&B charts ....

"
1 2 2
"Hard Headed Woman
Hard Headed Woman
"Hard Headed Woman" is a #1 rock and roll song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company in 1958. It is an American 12-bar blues written by African American songwriter Claude Demetrius...

"
1 2 2
1959 "One Night
One Night (song)
"One Night" is a song popularized by Elvis Presley. It was issued as a double A-side with "I Got Stung". The single reached number one twice on the UK Singles Chart. In the U.S., "One Night", reached number four on the pop singles chart and number ten on the R&B chart...

"/"I Got Stung
I Got Stung
"I Got Stung" is a fast-paced, memorable rock & roll song written by Aaron Schroeder and David Hill and performed by Elvis Presley, which was recorded & released in 1958. Featuring one of Elvis' most rapid-fire vocals, the one minute, fifty-second song was the B-side of the U.K. #1 hit "One Night"...

"
4/8 24/— 1
"A Fool Such as I
(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I
" A Fool Such as I" is a popular song written by Bill Trader and was published in 1952. Performed by Hank Snow it peaked at number four on the country charts early in 1953....

"/"I Need Your Love Tonight
I Need Your Love Tonight
"I Need Your Love Tonight" is a song written by Sid Wayne and Bix Reichner and recorded by Elvis Presley on June 10, 1958, in RCA Studio B, in Nashville, Tennessee.The song reached number four on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1959....

"
2/4 1
"A Big Hunk o' Love
A Big Hunk o' Love
"A Big Hunk o' Love" is a song co-written by Aaron Schroeder and originally recorded by American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. The song was released as a single on June 23, 1959 by RCA Victor and later topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks....

"
1 4
1960 "Stuck on You" 1 27 3
"It's Now or Never
It's Now or Never (song)
"It's Now or Never" is a popular song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company, in 1960. The melody of the song is adapted from the Italian standard, "'O Sole Mio", but the inspiration for it came from the song, "There's No Tomorrow", recorded by...

"
1 1
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (song)
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?" is a popular song with music by Lou Handman and lyrics by Roy Turk. It was written in 1926, first published in 1927 and most notably revived by Elvis Presley in 1960 ....

"
1 22 1
1961 "Wooden Heart
Wooden Heart
"Wooden Heart " is a song best known for its use in the 1960 Elvis Presley film G.I. Blues. The song was a hit for Presley in the United Kingdom, making number one for six weeks, but wasn't released as a single in the United States until November 1964 as the B-side to "Blue Christmas"...

"
1
"Surrender
Surrender (Elvis Presley song)
"Surrender" is a #1 song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1961. It is an adaptation by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman of the music of a 1902 Neapolitan ballad by Giambattista and Ernesto de Curtis entitled "Torna a Surriento" . It hit number one in the US and UK in 1961...

"
1 1
"(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame
(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame
" His Latest Flame" is a song recorded in a hit version by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1961. It was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and originally recorded by Del Shannon on the album "Runaway With Del Shannon" which was released in June 1961. The more famous and...

"/"Little Sister
Little Sister (Pomus/Shuman song)
"Little Sister" is a rock and roll song written by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman. It was originally released as a single in 1961 by American singer Elvis Presley, who turned it into a #5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100...

"
4/5 1
1962 "Can't Help Falling in Love
Can't Help Falling in Love
"Can't Help Falling in Love" is a pop song originally recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company. It was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss. The melody was based on "Plaisir d'Amour" but with a different...

"/"Rock-A-Hula Baby
Rock-A-Hula Baby
"Rock-A-Hula Baby" is a song performed by Elvis Presley for the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii. Written by Ben Weisman, Fred Wise, Dolores Fuller, it is a genre mix of Hawaiian folk and rock n' roll. It was Dolores' first published song, and she would eventually co-write a dozen songs for Elvis Presley...

"
2/23 1
"Good Luck Charm
Good Luck Charm
"Good Luck Charm" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company, that reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in the week ending April 21, 1962. It remained at the top of the list for two weeks. The song was written by Aaron Schroeder...

"
1 1
"She's Not You
She's Not You
"She's Not You" is a 1962 song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company. "She's Not You" reached #5 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the R&B charts. In the UK, the single reached #1 where it stayed for three weeks...

"
5 1
"Return to Sender
Return to Sender (song)
"Return to Sender" is a 1962 rock and roll hit single recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music. The song was written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell....

"
2 1
1963 "(You're The) Devil in Disguise
(You're The) Devil in Disguise
" Devil in Disguise" is a UK number one single by Elvis Presley which was written by the songwriting team Giant, Baum and Kaye and published by Elvis Presley Music in 1963. It peaked at number three in the US on the Billboard singles chart and number nine on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues singles...

"
3 1
1965 "Crying in the Chapel
Crying in the Chapel
"Crying in the Chapel" is a song written by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell to sing. Darrell recorded it while still in high school in 1953, along with Artie's band the Rhythm Riders. It became a local hit and publishers got a hold of it and it went nationwide. He released the original version as...

"
3 1
1969 "Suspicious Minds
Suspicious Minds
"Suspicious Minds" is a song written by American songwriter Mark James that, after the failure of his own recording, was handed to Elvis Presley by producer Chips Moman becoming one of his most notable hits and a number one in 1969, "Suspicious Minds" was widely regarded as the single that returned...

"
1 2
1970 "The Wonder of You
The Wonder of You
"The Wonder of You" is a song written by Baker Knight. In 1959, Ray Peterson released it as a single. The song became a Top 40 hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #25. That same year it was recorded by Ronnie Hilton in the United Kingdom, his version reaching #22 on the UK Singles...

"
9 37 1
1977 "Moody Blue
Moody Blue (Elvis song)
"Moody Blue" is a song made famous by Elvis Presley.Written by Mark James , the song became Presley's last No. 1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977 . "Moody Blue" also peaked at number thirty-one on the Hot 100...

"
31 1 6
"Way Down
Way Down
"Way Down" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley. Recorded in October 1976, it was the last single released before his death on August 16, 1977. The song was written by Layng Martine, Jr. and was later covered by Status Quo and Cliffhanger....

"
18 1 1
1981 "Guitar Man
Guitar Man (Jerry Reed song)
"Guitar Man" is a 1967 song written by Jerry Reed, who took his version of it to number 53 on the country music charts in 1967.Soon after Reed's single appeared, Elvis Presley recorded the song, and it became a minor country and pop hit...

" (reissue)
28 1 43
2002 "A Little Less Conversation
A Little Less Conversation
"A Little Less Conversation" is a song written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange that was originally performed and written for American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley for the 1968 film Live a Little, Love a Little. When the song was released as a single with "Almost in Love" as the b-side, it became...

" (JXL
Junkie XL
Tom Holkenborg , better known as Junkie XL or JXL, is a Dutch musician. He uses the name JXL in cases where the term "Junkie" might cause offense. XL is for "Xpanding Limits"....

 remix)
50 1
2005 "Jailhouse Rock" (reissue) 1
"One Night"/"I Got Stung" (reissue) 1
"It's Now or Never" (reissue) 1

See also



Further reading

  • Allen, Lew (2007). Elvis and the Birth of Rock. Genesis. ISBN 1905662009.
  • Ann-Margret and Todd Gold (1994). Ann-Margret: My Story. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0399138919.
  • Cantor, Louis (2005). Dewey and Elvis: The Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Deejay. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 025202981X.
  • Dickerson, James L. (2001). Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley's Eccentric Manager. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0815412673.
  • Finstad, Suzanne (1997). Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley. Harmony Books. ISBN 0517705850.
  • Goldman, Albert
    Albert Goldman
    Albert Harry Goldman was an American professor and author.Born in Dormont, Pennsylvania, Albert Goldman wrote about the culture and personalities of the American music industry both in books and as a contributor to magazines...

     (1981). Elvis. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0070236577.
  • Goldman, Albert (1990). Elvis: The Last 24 Hours. St. Martin's. ISBN 0312925417.
  • Klein, George (2010). Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. Virgin Books. ISBN 9780307452740
  • Marcus, Greil (1999). Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674194225.
  • Marcus, Greil (2000). Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternative. Picador. ISBN 057120676X.
  • Moscheo, Joe (2007). The Gospel Side of Elvis. Center Street. ISBN 1599957299.
  • Nash, Alanna (2010). Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him. It Books. ISBN 0061699845.
  • West, Red, Sonny West, and Dave Hebler (as told to Steve Dunleavy) (1977). Elvis: What Happened? Bantam Books. ISBN 0345272153.


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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