Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI MUSICIANS: Elvis Presley


Elvis PresleyElvis Presley book by  Susan Doll, photo-Kobal collection

Major Works

Songs

  • Blue Suede Shoes
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • All Shook Up
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • Hound Dog
  • Love Me Tender
  • Blue Moon of Kentucky
  • Anyway You Want Me
  • Always on my Mind
  • Your Cheatin' Heart
  • That's When your Heartaches Begin
  • In the Ghetto
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight
  • Big Hunk of Love
  • Don't Be Cruel
  • Don't Ask Me Why
  • How Great Thou Art
  • I Was the One
  • Memories
  • Moody BlueElvis Presley
  • Suspicious Minds
  • Tutti Frutti

Movies

  • Love Me Tender
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • King Creole
  • Blue Hawaii
  • Girls! Girls! Girls!
  • Viva Las Vegas
  • Harem Scarum
  • Frankie and Johnny 

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Elvis Presley: A Biography
By Tracy Young (SHS)

Elvis Presley became one of the greatest musicians of modern time and made Rock-n-Roll popular throughout the world. The "King" was the most talked about star of his time. Since his death in 1977,  his popularity has not fallen. In fact, it has grown tremendously. Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi,Birthplace of Elvis, Tupelo, Mississippion January 8, 1935. Born in his parents' house in East Tupelo at 12:20 p.m., Elvis was born along with a twin brother known as Jesse Garon, who was stillborn.. On that happy, yet sad night, Gladys Presley said, "Elvis will always miss his twin. He'll be like the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle" (Harms 7). Although the spirit of his twin brother lingered, Elvis grew up an only child in a poor family. Elvis eventually had his middle name legally changed to "Aron" instead of "Aaron" probably because of his stillborn twin.(Clark 930).

On his eleventh birthday on January 8, 1946, Elvis received his first guitar from his mother Gladys.  In 1946 the guitar cost only $7.75 at Tupelo Hardware Company.  Two years later, the Presleys packed and moved to Memphis, Tennessee. The next day Elvis enrolled in I.C. Humes High School . After graduating from Humes High School in 1953, the eighteen-year-old Elvis began driving a delivery truck for the Crown Electric Company (La Blanc 175).

Elvis went to the Memphis Recording Service, also the home of Sun Records. Sam Philips thought of the singer as new and interesting. Elvis was teamed up with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. In 1954 the trio worked up their first songs which became popular. . He was stationed in Germany where he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu (rockhall.com/induct). The two were married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. Three years later their daughter Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. After being married only eight years, Elvis and Priscilla were divorced . 

Elvis Presley

Presley hired Colonel Tom Parker as his manager (LaBlanc 176). The new up-and-comer negotiated an agreement with RCA Records that would bring him stardom. Elvis was given such nicknames as "The Father of Rock-n-Roll," "The King," and "Elvis, the Pelvis." In rural areas he was billed as the "Hillbilly Cat." Although Elvis's rise to fame continued, he still faced rejection by the Grand Ole Opry and Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. People seemed to believe the shaking of his hips was an unnecessary gesture. He still persisted (LaBlanc 175). He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show from the waist up and attracted much attention with his music and his gyrations.

Elvis was drafted into the army at the height of his popularity. He arrived in Memphis on March 24, 1958, and began his service. Two years later he was discharged after the death of his mother. Elvis was considered emotionally unstable after this event.

Several of Elvis' rock hits included "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender," "All Shook Up," "Jailhouse Rock," and "In the Ghetto" (rockhall.com/induct). Several country hits were "Kentucky Rain" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Of those hits, none received grammies (Wilson 88). It was said of him that "He sings Negro rhythms with a white voice, which borrows in mood and emphasis from the country style, modified by popular music. It's a blend of them all" (Wilson 85). Billboard Magazine described Presley's concerts as normal - a RIOT!. In 1956, Presley made his first television appearance on The Tommy Dorsey Show (Wilson 88). Although he was a singer, Elvis devoted most of the 1960's to making movies. The movies were entertaining, yet unrecognized (LaBlanc 176). Elvis accomplished many things. He had the most Top Forty Hits, Top Ten Hits, the most consecutive #1 hits, and the most weeks at #1.  Later, "Heartbreak Hotel" became his first Gold Record (LaBlanc 175).

In 1977 the King's body was found in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion (LaBlanc), and Elvis was pronounced dead on August 16, at 2:30 p.m. He was forty two years old.(rockhall.com/induct). Presley died of "cardiac arrhythmia," a hard-to-detect heart disease. This disease may be the cause of sinus medication, appetite suppressants, and sustained emotional or physical stress. Elvis was the same age as his late mother, plus two days (Harms 174) when he died. The "Kings" amphetamine problem had become a problem. He was known to be a junk-food addict. Elvis had gained considerable weight and had a history of mild hypertension. On his death one person was quoted as saying , "an icon of glowing youth...died tallow faced and tubby., the victim of too much Dexedrine, Dilaudid, Demerol, Quaalude, (and) Percodan" (LaBlanc 176). Elvis' and his mother's caskets were later moved after thieves tried to steal the bodies. They were moved to a nearby garden on the property of Graceland (Harms 175).

Six days before his death, his last single was released. It was titled Way Down. It reached the top of the charts posthumously. Elvis was one of the greatest musicians of all times. His death affected many music lovers, and some of them still claim to be affected by his spiritual presence, holding yearly vigils at his grave every August in Memphis. 

Elvis Presley: A Biography
By Terrence Christian and Aimee Cochran (SHS)

Elvis Presley, the king of rock -n- roll, had enormous success in his music career. He is one of the world's greatest rock -n- roll legends. Beginning life with little financial stability, he overcame and rose to the top with his dynamic talent of singing. Although he died a horrid death, Elvis Presley's talent in his early life, which developed into an outstanding career in music, will always be remembered.

Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935, but he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, listening to the "Grand Ole Opry" on the radio. Elvis was introduced to blues and developed a love for it. On his eleventh  birthday, Elvis received his first guitar at the cost of $12.75. Presley also loved gospel music and sang in a Pentecostal church choir. This was where he developed his singing talents, but he never thought it would get him very far.

Elvis' career started in 1953, when he wandered into a popular recording studio in Memphis to record two songs for his mother as a birthday present. Presley returned to the studio in January of 1954, but Sam Phillips, the owner who had heard him before, still wasn't impressed with Elvis' singing. Finally, in July of 1954, Phillips recognized Elvis' potential as he sang "That's All Right, Mama." In 1956, Elvis met Colonel Tom Parker, who became his manager and helped him get his first hit, "Heartbreak Hotel."  Following this major hit were songs like "Hound Dog", "All Shook Up", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Burning Love", which were all  hits in the same year. Elvis then starred in his first motion picture, "Love Me Tender." The U.S. Army sent draft papers to him in  1957. Just one year later Elvis joined the army and served for two years.

When Elvis was discharged from the U.S. Army, he released "Are You Lonesome Tonight", which stayed at the top of the charts for four weeks. Elvis married Priscilla Beaullieu, on May 1, 1965, at the Alldin Hotel, in Las Vegas. This marriage lasted about five years and ended in a divorce. This started the decline of Elvis, which resulted in his death.

Elvis Presley died August 16, 1977. He had been suffering from personal problems, such as a recent weight gain, the use of  drugs, and a loss of $10,000,000 in a airplane/real estate deal with an organization that had links to the Mafia. Thousands of  fans mourned Presley's death. Presley's funeral was held the day after his death. Crazed fans and supermarket tabloids believe that Elvis is still alive. Elvis Presley's life was filled with much success simply because of his dedication and awesome talent. Because of his accomplishments, rock -n- roll music has taken a great leap forward. Although he is dead, his legend will live on. 

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Timeline

January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, around 12:20 p.m. A twin brother was stillborn.

January 8, 1946, At age 11, Elvis received his first guitar which cost $$7.75 his parents for the instrument.

Elvis Presley

September 12, 1943, The Presleys moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and Elvis was enrolled at the L.C. Humes High School on the following day.

Summer, 1953, Elvis went to the Memphis Recording Service, played his guitar and made his first demo record. He sang My Happiness and That's When Your Heartaches Begin.

July 5, 1954, Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black formed a group and recorded That's All Right for Sun Records.

July 19, 1954, Elvis' first single was released on Sun Records, That's All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky.

August 13, 1955, Elvis' concerts were described as "A Riot" becoming the norm by Billboard Magazine.

November 2, 1955, Elvis's Mystery Train reached #1 in the country charts.

January, 1956, First really big hit Heartbreak Hotel.

January 21, 1956, "Record Mirror" printed the first picture of Elvis to be seen in the United Kingdom.

January 28, 1956, Elvis appeared on network TV for the first time.

March, 1956, Elvis' international career took off. Heartbreak Hotel reached #1 and also became his first release in the United Kingdom.

August, 1956, Elvis' first two-sided "A" record hit #1. The hits lasted for 10 weeks! (Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog).

November 16, 1956, His first motion picture Love Me Tender was released in the U.S.

December 20, 1957, Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army.

March 24, 1958, Elvis began his army life as Private US 53310761. He served two years.

March 5, 1960, Elvis was discharged.

January 19, 1961, Are You Lonesome Tonight became a #1 and remained there for four weeks.

May 1, 1967, Elvis married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas to Priscilla Beaulieu.

February 1, 1968, Elvis' first child was born, Lisa Marie.

January 9, 1971, Elvis was presented an award by The American Junior Chamber of Commerce for being one of the "10 Outstanding Young Men of America."

October 9, 1973, Elvis was divorced.

August 10, 1977, Elvis' last single, Way Down, was released and reached #1 posthumously.

August 16, 1977, Elvis died at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.. 

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Related Websites

The New York Times reports that 25 years later Elvis is still a charismatic figure, as widely recognized as a president or a Coca-Cola logo. August 16, 2002.

"Elvis Presley, 1986 Performer" Rock Museum Hall of Fame. This gives a brief overall history of his musical career and includes audio files.

Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, presents info about his home.

A and E  biography of Elvis.  You may have to type in the name of Elvis in the search box.

The Original Unofficial Elvis homepage.

Last Will and Testament of Elvis Presley.

The Elvis Presley Home Page (where The King lives on in cyberspace).

The Official Graceland Elvis Presley Page.

Elvisology Page gives biography, gold records, trivia and info on Elvis on screen.

This site gives lyrics, pictures, links, biography for Elvis.

Biography of Elvis by Cecilia Svensson

Read the full story of Elvis's first guitar here.


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Bibliography

Clark, Donald, ed. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1989. 930-933.

Harms, Valerie. Tryin' to Get to You. New York: McClelland and Stewart, LTD, 1979.

LaBlanc, Michael ed. Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1994. 1:175-177.

Wilson, Christine. All Shook Up: Mississippi Roots in American Popular Music. Jackson, MS: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1995. 84-88.

Elvis Presley 1986, Performer at http://www.rockhall.com/induct/preselvi.html.

Elvis Presley, The Eternal King of Rock 'n Roll! http://www.ccn.cs.d...%7Eah190/elvis. html.

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