Elvis Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as “the King of Rock and Roll”, or simply, “the King”.
Let’s find out some interesting facts about him!
1. Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.
2. He was born as a twinless twin—his brother was stillborn.
3. When he was 13 years old, he and his family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee.
4. His music career began there in 1954, when he recorded a song with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
5. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was an early popularizer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues.
6. RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who managed the singer for more than two decades.
7. Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States.
8. He was regarded as the leading figure of rock and roll after a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records.
9. His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines that coincided with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, made him enormously popular—and controversial.
10. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. In 1958, he was drafted into military service.
11. He resumed his recording career two years later, producing some of his most commercially successful work before devoting much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and their accompanying soundtrack albums, most of which were critically derided.
12. In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours.
13. In 1973, Presley was featured in the first globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii. Several years of prescription drug abuse severely damaged his health, and he died in 1977 at the age of 42.
14. Presley is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century.
15. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop, blues and gospel, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with estimated record sales of around 600 million units worldwide.
16. He won three Grammys, also receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. Television director Steve Binder, 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.”
20. Presley was known for a life of luxury and excess, as exemplified by his estate at Graceland.
21. He owned a number of expensive cars, including three pink Cadillacs, immortalized in his version of the song “Baby, Let’s Play House”, in which Presley replaced the line “you may get religion” with “you may have a Pink Cadillac”.
22. A number of stories, both real and exaggerated, detail Presley’s appetite for rich or heavy food. He was said to enjoy the Southern cuisine of his upbringing, including chicken-fried steak and biscuits and gravy.
23. Presley is commonly associated with rich sandwiches, including the Fool’s Gold Loaf and peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches, now commonly called an “Elvis sandwich”.
24. Elvis was 6 feet tall and wore a size 11 shoe.
25. Recording Hound Dog in the studio, Elvis reportedly demanded 31 takes.
26. Elvis bought his mansion, Graceland, in Memphis, TN in 1957 for $100,000. It was named by its previous owner after his daughter, Grace.
27. Performing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in Las Vegas in 1969, Elvis did one of his frequent lyric changes to amuse himself. Instead of “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?”, he sang “Do you look at your bald head and wish you had hair?”
28. Elvis and Priscilla’s only daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, was born in 1968. Lisa Marie later married Michael Jackson and actor (and Elvis obsessive) Nicholas Cage. Mr. Cage is reportedly the only person outside of Presley’s immediate family to have ever seen Elvis’ Graceland bedroom.
29. Following his divorce from Priscilla in 1972, Elvis was said to have allowed ‘good-looking girls’ who waited outside Graceland to enter afterhours. One night it was 152 women!
30. Elvis’ popularity faded in the 1960’s with the rise of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others. He successfully relaunched his career with a 1968 television special that came about because Elvis had walked down a busy Los Angeles street and had no one recognize or approach him.
31. He was distantly related to former U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter.
32. Elvis recorded more than 600 songs, but did not write any of them.