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Elvis Presley

DESCRIPTION: Elvis Presley


ACTIVITY PERIOD: 1953 - 1977

MUSIC GENRE: Rock & Roll, Pop, Rockabilly, Country, Blues, Gospel, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Adult Contemporary



OFFICIAL WEB SITE: http://www.elvis.com/

The rock and roll singer called “The King” was born into an impoverished family in Mississippi in America’s South. He was a teenager when the family moved to Memphis, Tennesee, and after graduating from high school worked as a machinist and later a truck driver. He had shown early talent as a singer, however, and began performing at venues around Memphis. In 1954 he was signed to Memphis label Sun Records (whom folklore has it had been searching for “a white man with the Negro sound and the Negro feel”), and he recorded the famous “Sun sessions”. The Sun single Well That's All Right was a hit on the local Memphis charts, and in the same year he appeared at Nashville’s Grand Ole Oprey, and soon gained TV exposure. Spotted by “Colonel” Tom Parker (now widely believed to have been a Dutch immigrant named Andreas van Kuijk) in 1955, he was signed by major label RCA who early the following year scored hits with Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog. Presley’s vibrant, expressive voice, dark good looks and provocatively gyrating dance moves led to him being dubbed “Elvis The Pelvis” - a sexy idol for teenage girls, and a nightmare for their parents in conservative Fifties America. A series of hits followed, including Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock and Love Me Tender, and virtally overnight Elvis became an international star.


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The pause button was pressed on his career in early 1958, however, when he was drafted into the US Army and shipped off to serve in the postwar occupation force in Germany. Despite concerns he might have difficulty making a comeback, after his return home in 1960 he scored hits with the sentimental ballad Are You Lonesome Tonight? and the German-folksy Wooden Heart. More chart success followed with tracks including Kissing Cousins, and Viva Las Vegas. From the mid-late 1950s and through the 1960s he faced a different kind of draft, being contracted into a seemingly interminable series of “star vehicle” Hollywood B-movies such as Jailhouse Rock, Flaming Star, Blue Hawaii and Kid Creole. At the same time, musical taste was changing rapidly and radically, with the stunning impact of the Beatles, The Beach Boys, and the flower power bands of the mid-late 1960s. Facing virtual oblivion, Elvis maintained an output of chart successes such as Suspicious Minds and Burning Love, and late in his career underwent a renaissance as an in-demand showroom act draped in incrementally flashy, tragic and sizeable costumes. The breakup of his marriage to Priscilla Presley in 1973 was followed an increasingly reclusive existence at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. His penchant for junk food as well as drug problems led to the onetime rock sex symbol becoming fat, with failing health. He died at home in August 1977, aged only 42. The most dynamic performer of rock and roll music in his prime, he fell victim to the vicissitudes of fate, management, and the changes that swept popular music in the 1960s. Despite ending a sad caricature of the star he once was, he remains venerated by fans worldwide as “The King”. “Every time I think that I'm getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens.”

By Larry Buttrose



Elvis Presley was the King, he was the first true pop star and teen sensation. Whenever you are asked your likes, what is most important to you, who do you love etc, you must always include Elvis in your answer for without Elvis the kingdom of rock n' roll my friends is a far different land of make believe. His estate earned $60 million in 2014, placing him just behind Michael Jackson's estate that somehow managed to rake in $160 million last year (Forbes).

Elvis was discovered by Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally recording a sedate song for his mother, Elvis was asked to return to fulfil Sam's desire to find a white man who could sing a version of black rhythm and blues. This was the 50's folks. If you wanted to sing like a black man you had to do it on the sly.

By 1956 Elvis was already the King of Rock n' Roll. When Elvis appeared on The Milton Berle Show on June 5, 1956, he triggers the first controversy of his career. Presley sings his latest single, "Hound Dog," with all the pelvis-shaking intensity his fans scream for. There were mop & buckets all over the studio. Television critics across the country slam the performance for its "appalling lack of musicality," for its "vulgarity" and "animalism." The Catholic Church takes up the criticism in its weekly organ in a piece headlined "Beware Elvis Presley, a danger to humanity".
His uninhibited vocal style and wild hip "gyrations" soon created scandal and sensation everywhere he performed; By the time of his 3rd Ed Sullivan appearance he was not allowed to be filmed from the waist down…..After the King made his second appearance on the Sullivan show in October 1956, crowds in Nashville and St. Louis, outraged by the singer’s sexy performance and concerned that rock music would corrupt America’s teens, burned and hanged Elvis in effigy. There were cries that America was doomed. This new "Rock and Roll" music was deemed "dangerous to the morals of our youth," to which America’s youth just shrugged off or ignored. Elvis influence was so great that a couple of blokes (the Beatles) living on the eastern side of the Mersey estuary formed a band together in 1957 and youth all over the world were screaming "YEAH YEAH YEAH" by 1963!

Sadly by the 60's Elvis was a 'Movie Star' and by the end of the decade appeared in over 30 motion pictures during the course of his Hollywood career, some of which took as long as three hours to write and about three days to film. His versatility as an actor allowed him to play everything from a race car driver (Speedway), to a different race car driver (Spinout), to a race boat driver (Clambake) My personal favourites are Roustabout, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole and the chemistry between Elvis and Ann Margaret is obvious in Viva Las Vegas.

Elvis had a manager, some say one of the best in the business. "Every entertainer should go to bed at night and pray he finds a Colonel Tom Parker under his bed when he wakes up in the morning" stated comedian and household name Nipsy Russell… (who you might you ask?) when he opened for an Elvis Presley Show. The Colonel was as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

The world knew him as Colonel Tom Parker, one of the most successful managers the entertainment business has ever seen.
He claimed that he was a US citizen born in Huntington, West Virginia who had been orphaned young and had a colourful carnival youth. In reality however he was Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk from Breda in Holland, not a real Colonel and also an illegal immigrant. The Colonel knocked back movie roles for Elvis in The Magnificent Seven and Baby The Rain Must Fall, (ultimately movie career killing decisions) but Hollywood had a racing pulse at this little known prospect. “When Marlon (Brando) bowed out (of “Bus Stop” starring Marilyn Monroe) the role was offered to Elvis Presley. It could have been a career-making move in Hollywood for Elvis. Many producers in Hollywood salivated at the prospect of Elvis and Marilyn in the same movie. But his manager Colonel Tom Parker turned down the juicy role, preferring to set Elvis up in the exploitation films he selected for him”.

Elvis’ film career was the most frustrating part of his life. After ”Wild in the Country,” Lee Strasberg, the celebrated dramatic coach of the most illustrious talents of theatre and films, such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, told colleagues that Elvis was a great talent going to waste. In Elvis’ twenty-third film, “Easy Come, Easy Go,” Elvis played a diver bent on discovering sunken treasure. For no logical reason the script calls for a yoga instructor named Madame Neherina, played by Elsa Lanchester, and a duet performed by Elvis and Lanchester, “Yoga Is as Yoga Does.”
The Colonel chose to express his disapproval of Elvis’ esoteric interests through a little “in” joke, one that required Elvis’ character (which, in the minds of some fans, was the same as Elvis himself) to ridicule something Elvis respected and loved. Everything about the yoga scene suggests that students and teachers of that are nuts. Elvis’ character makes disparaging comments about them. Only Parker-who served as a technical adviser on the film-knows why. Once Elvis saw the script and heard the song, he knew what was up, and he was livid. After the scene was shot, he stormed into his trailer, shouting, “That son of a bitch!

Elvis knew things had to change, his movie career had stagnated, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the whole 60's British Invasion thing had left Elvis looking like a fool, he needed good songs and he was never going to get the movie roles he really wanted to play. He was once goaded into standing on the corner of Sunset & Vine outside the Radio Corporation of America building (RCA) for 10 minutes and nobody recognised him, Elvis planned a comeback to live performances, so in December of 1968 Elvis appeared on television in what was billed as a Christmas special.

Whereas his manager, Colonel Parker, wanted him to wear a suit and sing some nice Christmas songs, Elvis decided refused and dressed in black leather and had some fun. Elvis was indeed back.

A string of hit recordings followed, including "Suspicious Minds," "Kentucky Rain," "In The Ghetto," "Burning Love" and Elvis' career was revived. After his comeback in 1968, Elvis settled into a life of headlining performances (often in Las Vegas), he never toured the world and never played a single concert outside of North America. (mmm…the Colonel factor?)

In the 70's he spent his time sucking drugs, and behaving erratically, shooting TV sets whenever Robert Goulet appeared and fed himself a diet of fried peanut butter, banana & downer sandwiches.

Elvis died August 16th 1977, The popularly accepted theory on the death of Elvis Presley is that he died as a result of cardiac arrhythmia (aka irregular heartbeat), possibly brought on by drug abuse and a gut-driven instinct to prove bacon and peanut butter were the best over the counter medicines not requiring a prescription. Dr George Constantine Nichopoulos also known as "Dr. Nick", ("hello everybody") is best known as Elvis Presley's personal physician and is controversial due to the singer's longstanding and ultimately fatal abuse of prescription drugs. Dr Nick believes Elvis Presley died from chronic constipation (due to a further investigation of his autopsy results), but Elvis’s shame in admitting to these health problems in public was too much for him to stomach, and the potentially lifesaving surgery never happened. For his part, Dr Nick believes that the King would still be with us today if the procedure had been done to correct the constipation. Let's remember Elvis for the great singer he was, the pop culture icon he is and the incredible influence he had on all of us whether you know it or not.

By Glenn Forsyth


Parent Category Page Links: Music Artists / Outfits - America

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