Elvis Presley

American singer and actor (1935–1977)

“Elvis” and “King of Rock and Roll” redirect here For other uses, see Elvis (disambiguation) and King of Rock and Roll (disambiguation)

Elvis Presley

Presley in a publicity photograph for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock
Elvis Aaron Presley

(1935-01-08)January 8, 1935

Tupelo, Mississippi, US
Died August 16, 1977(1977-08-16) (aged 42)

Memphis, Tennessee, US
Cause of death Heart disease
Resting place Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee, US
35°2′46″N 90°1′23″W / 3504611°N 9002306°W / 3504611; -9002306
Education L C Humes High School
  • Singer
  • actor
  • Albums
  • singles
  • songs recorded (Sun label)
  • film and television
Priscilla Presley

(m 1967; div 1973)

Children Lisa Marie Presley
Relatives Riley Keough (granddaughter)
Awards Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (2018)
Musical career
  • Rock and roll
  • pop
  • rockabilly
  • country
  • gospel
  • R&B
  • blues
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
Years active 1953–1977
  • Sun
  • RCA Victor
  • HMV
  • Allied Artists Music Group
Musical artist
Military service
Branch United States Army
Years of service 1958–1960
Rank Sergeant
Unit Headquarters Company, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor, 3d Armored Division
Awards Good Conduct Medal

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), or simply Elvis, was an American singer and actor Dubbed the “King of Rock and Roll”, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race relations, led him to both great success and initial controversy

Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family when he was 13 years old His music career began there in 1954, recording at Sun Records with producer Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African-American music to a wider audience Presley, on rhythm acoustic guitar, and accompanied by lead guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, was a pioneer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues In 1955, drummer D J Fontana joined to complete the lineup of Presley’s classic quartet and RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who would manage him for more than two decades Presley’s first RCA Victor single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States Within a year, RCA would sell ten million Presley singles With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, Presley became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll, though his performative style and promotion of the then-marginalized sound of African-Americans led to him being widely considered a threat to the moral well-being of the White American youth

In November 1956, Presley made his film debut in Love Me Tender Drafted into military service in 1958, Presley relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work He held few concerts, however, and guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided Some of his most famous films included Jailhouse Rock (1957), Blue Hawaii (1961), and Viva Las Vegas (1964) In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed television comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours In 1973, Presley gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast around the world, Aloha from Hawaii Years of prescription drug abuse and unhealthy eating habits severely compromised his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 at his Graceland estate at the age of 42

Having sold over 500 million records worldwide, Presley is recognized as the best-selling solo music artist of all time by Guinness World Records He was commercially successful in many genres, including pop, country, rhythm & blues, adult contemporary, and gospel Presley won three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame He holds several records, including the most RIAA certified gold and platinum albums, the most albums charted on the Billboard 200, the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the UK Albums Chart, and the most number-one singles by any act on the UK Singles Chart In 2018, Presley was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Life and career

1935–1953: Early years

Childhood in Tupelo

Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Vernon Elvis (April 10, 1916 – June 26, 1979) and Gladys Love (née Smith; April 25, 1912 – August 14, 1958) Presley in a two-room shotgun house that his father built for the occasion Elvis’s identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was delivered 35 minutes before him, stillborn Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration

A photo of Elvis’s parents at the Historic Blue Moon Museum in Verona, Mississippi

Presley’s father, Vernon, was of German, Scottish and English origins He was a descendant of the Harrison family of Virginia through his ancestor Tunis Hood Presley’s mother, Gladys, was Scots-Irish with some French Norman ancestry His mother and the rest of the family believed that her great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was Cherokee This belief was restated by Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough in 2017 Elaine Dundy, in her biography, supports the belief

Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, showing 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 his landowner and sometime-employer He was jailed for eight months, while Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives

In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his teachers regarded him as “average” He was encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his schoolteacher with a rendition of Red Foley’s country song “Old Shep” during morning prayers The contest, held at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance 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 his first guitar for his birthday; 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”

In September 1946, Presley entered a new school, Milam, for sixth grade; he was regarded as a loner The following year, he began bringing his guitar to school on a daily basis He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a “trashy” kid who played hillbilly music By then, the family was living in a largely black neighborhood Presley was a devotee of Mississippi Slim’s show on the Tupelo radio station WELO He was described as “crazy about music” by Slim’s younger brother, who was one of Presley’s classmates and often took him into the station Slim supplemented Presley’s guitar instruction by demonstrating chord techniques When his protégé was twelve 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 After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts Enrolled at L C Humes High School, Presley received only a C in music in eighth grade When his music teacher told him that 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”, 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 usually 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 Lee Denson, a neighbor two and a half years his senior They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts That September, he began working as an usher at Loew’s State Theater Other jobs followed at Precision Tool, Loew’s again, and MARL Metal Products Presley also helped Jewish neighbors, the Fruchters, by being their shabbos goy

During his junior year, Presley began to stand out more among his classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew his sideburns and styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline In his free time, he would head down to Beale Street, the heart of Memphis’s thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers By his senior year, he was wearing those clothes Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the Lauderdale Courts, he competed in Humes’ Annual “Minstrel” show in April 1953 Singing and playing guitar, he opened with “Till I Waltz Again with You”, a recent hit for Teresa Brewer 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 in school after that”

Presley, who received no formal music training and could not read music, studied and played by ear He also frequented record stores that provided jukeboxes and listening booths to customers He knew all of Hank Snow’s songs, and he loved records by other country singers such as Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Ted Daffan, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Wills The Southern gospel singer Jake Hess, 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 He adored the music of black gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Like some of his peers, he may have attended blues venues—of necessity, in the segregated South—only on nights designated for exclusively white audiences He certainly listened to the regional radio stations, such as WDIA-AM, that played “race records”: spirituals, blues, and the modern, backbeat-heavy sound of rhythm and blues Many of his future recordings were inspired by local African-American musicians such as Arthur Crudup and Rufus Thomas BB King recalled that he had known Presley before he was popular when they both used to frequent Beale Street By the time he graduated from high school in June 1953, Presley had already singled out music as his future

1953–1956: First recordings

Sam Phillips and Sun Records

See also: List of songs recorded by Elvis Presley on the Sun label

Presley in a Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954

In August 1953, Presley checked into the offices of Memphis Recording Service, the company run by Sam Phillips before he started Sun Records He aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided acetate disc: “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” He later claimed that he intended the record as a birthday gift for his mother, or that he was merely interested in what he “sounded like”, although there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making service at a nearby general store Biographer Peter Guralnick argued 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 who he sounded like, he repeatedly answered, “I don’t sound like nobody” After he recorded, Sun boss Sam Phillips asked Keisker to note down the young man’s name, which she did along with her own commentary: “Good ballad singer Hold”

In January 1954, Presley cut a second acetate at Sun Records—”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 to a broader audience the sound of the black musicians on whom Sun focused 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 by Jimmy Sweeney of a ballad, “Without You”, that he thought might suit the teenage 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 and upright bass player Bill Black, to work something up with Presley for a recording session

“That’s All Right”
Presley transformed not only the sound but the emotion of the song, turning what had been written as a “lament for a lost love into a satisfied declaration of independence”

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The session held the evening of July 5, proved entirely unfruitful until late in the night As they were about to abort 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 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 remaining two hours of his show Interviewing Presley on-air, Phillips asked him what high school he attended to clarify his color for the many callers who had assumed that he was black During the next few days, the trio recorded a bluegrass song, Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, again in a distinctive style and employing a jury-rigged echo effect 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 RCA Victor contract

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 headlining Here Elvis pioneered ‘Rubber Legs’, his signature style dance movement that he is best known for 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 left their old band, the Starlite Wranglers, to play with Presley regularly, and DJ/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’s Grand Ole Opry stage 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

Louisiana Hayride, radio commercial, and first television performances

In November 1954, Presley performed on Louisiana Hayride—the Opry's chief, and more adventurous, rival The Shreveport-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 instrument for $175 (equivalent to $1,800 in 2021), and his trio began playing in new locales, including Houston, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas

Many fledgling performers, like Minnie Pearl, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash, sang the praises of Louisiana Hayride sponsor, Southern Maid Donuts, including Presley, who developed a lifelong love of donuts Presley made his singular product endorsement commercial for the donut company, which was never released, recording a radio jingle, “in exchange for a box of hot glazed doughnuts”

Presley made his first television appearance on the KSLA-TV television broadcast of Louisiana Hayride Soon after, he failed an audition for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts on the CBS television network By early 1955, Presley’s regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Presley and brought him to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker, whom he considered the best promoter in the music business Parker—who claimed to be from West Virginia (he was actually Dutch)—had acquired an honorary colonel’s commission from country singer turned Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis Having successfully managed top country star Eddy Arnold, Parker was working with the new number-one country singer, Hank Snow Parker booked Presley on Snow’s February tour When the tour reached Odessa, Texas, a 19-year-old Roy Orbison 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” 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 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, whose “Rock Around the Clock” track 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 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 & Range Publishing, Jean and Julian Aberbach, to create two entities, Elvis Presley Music and Gladys Music, to handle all the new material recorded by Presley Songwriters were obliged to forgo one-third of their customary royalties in exchange for having him perform their compositions By December, RCA Victor had begun to heavily promote its new singer, and before month’s end had reissued many of his Sun recordings

1956–1958: Commercial breakout and controversy

First national TV appearances and debut album

The “iconic cover” of Presley’s 1956 debut album, an image crucial in codifying the guitar as the defining instrument of rock and roll

On January 10, 1956, Presley made his first recordings for RCA Victor in Nashville Extending Presley’s by-now customary backup of Moore, Black, Fontana, and Hayride pianist Floyd Cramer—who had been performing at live club dates with Presley—RCA Victor enlisted guitarist Chet Atkins and three background singers, including Gordon Stoker of the popular Jordanaires quartet, to fill in the sound The session produced the moody, unusual “Heartbreak Hotel”, 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 and Jimmy Dorsey After his first appearance, on January 28, Presley stayed in town to record at the RCA Victor New York studio The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins’ rockabilly anthem “Blue Suede Shoes” In February, Presley’s “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”, a Sun recording initially released the previous August, reached the top of the Billboard country chart Neal’s contract was terminated, and, on March 2, Parker became Presley’s manager

RCA Victor released Presley’s self-titled debut album 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: “Blue Suede Shoes”—”an improvement over Perkins’ in almost every way”, according to critic Robert Hilburn—and three R&B numbers that had been part of Presley’s stage repertoire for some time, covers of Little Richard, Ray Charles, and The Drifters 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 guitarist like Moore or contemporary African-American rockers Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, cultural historian Gilbert B Rodman argued 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 signing autographs in Minneapolis in 1956

On April 3, Presley made the first of two appearances on NBC’s Milton Berle Show His performance, on the deck of the USS Hancock in San Diego, California, 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 on the Las Vegas Strip 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 Amid his Vegas tenure, Presley, who had serious acting ambitions, signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures 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 in Vegas and was struck by their cover of “Hound Dog”, a hit in 1953 for blues singer Big Mama Thornton by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller It became the new closing number of his act After a show in La Crosse, Wisconsin, an urgent message on the letterhead of the local Catholic diocese’s newspaper was sent to FBI director J Edgar Hoover It warned that “Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States  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 Presley 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 of The New York Times 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 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, 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

Ed Sullivan and Presley during rehearsals for his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, October 26, 1956

The Berle shows drew such high ratings that Presley was booked for a July 1 appearance on NBC’s Steve Allen Show 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 wearing a top hat and bow tie As described by television historian Jake Austen, “Allen thought Presley was talentless and absurd  set things up so that Presley would show his contrition” Allen 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 him into the customary “comedy fabric” of his program Just before the final rehearsal for the show, Presley told a reporter, “I’m holding down on this show I don’t want to do anything to make people dislike me I think TV is important so I’m going to go along, but I won’t be able to give the kind of show I do in a personal appearance” 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, 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” The Jordanaires sang harmony, as they had on The Steve Allen Show; they would work with Presley through the 1960s A few days later, Presley 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, 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”

Allen’s show with Presley had, for the first time, beaten CBS’s Ed Sullivan Show in the ratings Sullivan, despite his June pronouncement, booked Presley for three appearances for an unprecedented $50,000 The first, on September 9, 1956, was seen by approximately 60 million viewers—a record 826 percent of the television audience Actor Charles Laughton hosted the show, filling in while Sullivan was recovering from a car accident Presley appeared in two segments that night from CBS Television City in Los Angeles 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, “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”, 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 and Frank Sinatra  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 film debut

Presley performing live at the Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds in Tupelo, September 26, 1956

“We’re gonna do a sad song ”
Presley’s definition of rock and roll included a sense of humor—here, during his second Sullivan appearance, he introduces one of his signature numbers

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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 were added to the police security to ensure that the crowd would not cause a ruckus Elvis, Presley’s second RCA Victor album, was released in October and quickly rose to number one on the billboard The album includes “Old Shep”, which he sang at the talent show in 1945, and which now marked the first time he played piano on an RCA Victor session According to Guralnick, one can hear “in the halting chords and the somewhat stumbling rhythm both the unmistakable emotion and the equally unmistakable valuing of emotion over technique” Assessing the musical and cultural impact of Presley’s recordings from “That’s All Right” through Elvis, rock critic Dave Marsh 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 at its main studio in New York, 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, was released on November 21 Though he was not top-billed, the film’s original title—The Reno Brothers—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 film was panned by 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 were recording and had an impromptu jam session along with Johnny Cash Though Phillips no longer had the right to release any Presley material, he made sure that the session was captured on tape The results, none officially released for 25 years, became known as the “Million Dollar Quartet” recordings The year ended with a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal reporting that Presley merchandise had brought in $22 million on top of his record sales, and Billboard's 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 at RCA Victor, then the record industry’s largest company, Presley had accounted for over 50 percent of the label’s singles sales

Leiber and Stoller collaboration and draft notice

Elvis in publicity photos for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock

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 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 in The Sheik, with all stops out” To close, displaying his range and defying Sullivan’s wishes, Presley sang a gentle black spiritual, “Peace in the Valley” At the end of the show, Sullivan declared Presley “a real decent, fine boy” Two days later, the Memphis draft board announced that Presley would be classified 1-A 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”, “All Shook Up”, and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” 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, 22-year old Presley also found time to purchase an 18-room mansion Graceland on March 19, 1957, for the amount of $102,500 The mansion, which was about 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown Memphis, was for himself and his parents Leading up to the purchase, Elvis recorded Loving You—the soundtrack to his second film, which was released in July It 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 film 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” “He was fast,” said Leiber “Any demo you gave him he knew by heart in ten minutes” The title track was yet another number-one hit, as was the Jailhouse Rock EP

Presley and costar Judy Tyler in the trailer for Jailhouse Rock, released October 1957

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 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 inspired both the swooning and screaming of teenage 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 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 become the best-selling Christmas album ever in the United States, with eventual sales of over 20 million worldwide 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, in which $350,000 had already been invested by Paramount and producer Hal Wallis A couple of weeks into the new year, “Don’t”, 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 in mid-January 1958 Leiber and Stoller provided three songs and were again on hand, but it would be the last time Presley and the duo worked closely together As Stoller later recalled, Presley’s manager and entourage sought to wall him off: “He was removed  They kept him separate” A brief soundtrack session on February 11 marked another ending—it was the final occasion on which Black was to perform with Presley He died in 1965

1958–1960: Military service and mother’s death

Main article: Military career of Elvis Presley

Presley being sworn into the Army on March 24, 1958, at Fort Chaffee

On March 24, 1958, Presley was drafted into the United States Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas His arrival was a major media event Hundreds of people descended on Presley as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the installation Presley announced that he was looking forward to his military stint, saying that he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: “The Army can do anything it wants with me”

Between March 28 and September 17, 1958, Presley completed basic and advanced military training at Fort Hood, Texas, where he was temporarily assigned to Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor During the two weeks’ leave between his basic and advanced training in early June, Presley recorded five songs in Nashville In early August, his mother was diagnosed with hepatitis, and her condition rapidly worsened He was granted emergency leave to visit her and arrived in Memphis on August 12 Two days later, she died of heart failure at the age of 46 Presley was devastated and never the same; 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

On October 1, 1958, Presley was assigned to the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor, 3d Armored Division, at Ray Barracks, Germany, where he served as an armor intelligence specialist On November 27, he was promoted to private first class and on June 1, 1959, to specialist fourth class While on maneuvers, Presley was introduced to amphetamines by another soldier 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, which he studied seriously, training with Jürgen Seydel It became a lifelong interest, which he later included 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 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

Presley, wearing the 3d Armored Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, poses atop a tank at Ray Barracks

While in Bad Nauheim, Germany, Presley met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu They would eventually marry after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship In her autobiography, Priscilla said that Presley was concerned that his 24-month spell as a GI would ruin his career In Special Services, he would have been able to give musical performances and remain in touch with the public, but Parker had convinced him that to gain popular respect, he should serve his country as a regular soldier Media reports echoed Presley’s concerns about his career, but RCA Victor producer Steve Sholes and Freddy Bienstock 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”, the bestselling “Hard Headed Woman”, and “One Night” in 1958, and “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” and the number-one “A Big Hunk o’ Love” in 1959 RCA Victor also generated four albums compiling previously issued material during this period, most successfully Elvis’ Golden Records (1958), which hit number three on the LP chart

Presley was promoted to sergeant on February 11, 1960

1960–1968: Focus on films

See also: Elvis Presley on film and television

Elvis Is Back

“It’s Now or Never”
Presley broke new stylistic ground and displayed his vocal range with this number-one hit The quasi-operatic ballad ends with Presley “soaring up to an incredible top G sharp”

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Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged three days later with the rank of sergeant The train that carried him from New Jersey 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 Victor’s Nashville studio to cut tracks for a new album along with a single, “Stuck on You”, which was rushed into release and swiftly became a number-one hit Another Nashville session two weeks later yielded a pair of his bestselling singles, the ballads “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, along with the rest of Elvis Is Back! The album features several songs described by Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues “menace, driven by Presley’s own super-miked acoustic guitar, brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots Randolph Elvis’ singing wasn’t sexy, it was pornographic” As a whole, the record “conjured up the vision of a performer who could be all things”, according to 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; raucous rocker” Released only days after recording was complete, it reached number two on the album chart

Presley with Juliet Prowse in GI Blues

Presley returned to television on May 12 as a guest on The Frank Sinatra Timex Special—ironic for both stars, given Sinatra’s earlier 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

GI Blues, 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, followed two months later It reached number 13 on the US pop chart and number 3 in the UK, 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 Victor 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 As described by John Robertson, it exemplifies the Nashville sound, 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’ birthright” It would be his sixth number-one LP Another benefit concert, raising money for a Pearl Harbor memorial, was staged on March 25, in Hawaii It was to be Presley’s last public performance for seven years

Lost in Hollywood

Parker had by now pushed Presley into a heavy filmmaking schedule, focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies Presley, at first, insisted on pursuing higher roles, but when two films in a more dramatic vein—Flaming Star (1960) and Wild in the Country (1961)—were less commercially successful, he reverted to the formula Among the 27 films he made during the 1960s, there were a few further exceptions His films were almost universally panned; critic Andrew Caine 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 films’ 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 , one up-tempo, and one break blues boogie” As the decade wore on, the quality of the soundtrack songs grew “progressively worse” Julie Parrish, who appeared in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), says that he disliked 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 film albums featured a song or two from respected writers such as the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman 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'”

In the first half of the decade, three of Presley’s soundtrack albums were ranked 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” (1961) and “Return to Sender” (1962) (“Viva Las Vegas”, 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” (1965), a gospel number recorded back in 1960 As for non-film albums, between the June 1962 release of Pot Luck 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, for Best Sacred Performance As Marsh described, Presley was “arguably the greatest white gospel singer of his time 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 films and assembly-line soundtracks rolled on It was not until October 1967, when the Clambake 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”

1968–1973: Comeback

Elvis: the ’68 Comeback Special

Main article: Singer PresentsElvis

The ’68 Comeback Special produced “one of the most famous images” of Presley Taken on June 29, 1968, it was adapted for the cover of Rolling Stone in July 1969

Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie, 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 rank 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 in Burbank, California, the special, simply called 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 dressed in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock and roll days Director and co-producer Steve Binder had worked hard 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 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 green with envy” Dave Marsh calls the performance one of “emotional grandeur and historical resonance”

By January 1969, the single “If I Can Dream”, written for the special, reached number 12 The soundtrack album rose into the top ten According to friend Jerry Schilling, 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

“Power of My Love”
Beginning with his American Sound recordings, soul music became a central element in Presley’s fusion of styles Here, he revels in lyrics full of sexual innuendo

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Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio, which led to the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis 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”, 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”, “Don’t Cry Daddy”, and “Kentucky Rain”

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 offered Parker US$28,000 (equivalent to $207,000 in 2021) 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 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 and including two gospel groups, The Imperials and Sweet Inspirations Costume designer Bill Belew, responsible for the intense leather styling of the Comeback Special, created a new stage look for Presley, inspired by Presley’s passion for karate 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, International Hotel owner Kirk Kerkorian 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 his remaining life) At a press conference after the show, when a journalist referred to him as “The King”, Presley gestured toward Fats Domino, 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 called Presley “supernatural, his own resurrection” In November, Presley’s final non-concert film, Change of Habit, opened The double album From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis 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 US pop number-one in over seven years, and his last

Cassandra Peterson, later television’s Elvira, met Presley during this period in Las Vegas, where she was working as a showgirl She recalled 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 In late February, Presley performed six attendance-record–breaking shows at the Houston Astrodome In April, the single “The Wonder of You” was issued—a number one hit in the UK, it topped the US adult contemporary chart, as well Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filmed rehearsal and concert footage at the International during August for the documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is Presley was performing in a jumpsuit, which would become a trademark of his live act During this engagement, he was threatened with murder unless US$50,000 (equivalent to $349,000 in 2021) was paid Presley had been the target of many threats since the 1950s, oft

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