Elvis Presley

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"Elvis" redirects here. For other persons and things named Elvis, see Elvis (disambiguation).

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935August 16, 1977), also known as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" or "The King," was an American singer, song producer and actor.

Rolling Stone magazine said "Elvis Presley is rock 'n' roll" and called his body of work "acres of perfect material." During an active recording career that spanned more than two decades, Presley set and broke many records for both concert attendance and sales. He had more than 100 singles in the US top 40 and 17 went to number one. He has sold more than 1 billion records to date.


An American phenomenon

According to Rolling Stone magazine "it was Elvis who made rock 'n' roll the international language of pop." A PBS documentary once described Presley as "an American music giant of the 20th century who singlehandedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s." [1]. His recordings, dance moves, attitude and clothing came to be seen as embodiments of rock and roll. Presley sang both hard driving rockabilly and rock and roll dance songs and ballads, laying a commercial foundation upon which other rock and roll musicians would build. African-American performers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry came to national prominence after Presley's acceptance among mass audiences of white teenagers. Singers like Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others immediately followed in his wake, leading John Lennon to later observe, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

Elvis Presley at the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair, 1956

Teenagers came to Presley's concerts in unprecedented numbers. When he performed at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair in 1956 a hundred National Guardsmen surrounded the stage to control crowds of excited fans. When municipal politicians began denying permits for Presley appearances teens piled into cars and traveled elsewhere to see him perform. It seemed as if the more adults tried to stop it, the more teenagers across North America insisted on having what they wanted. When adult programmers announced they would not play Presley's music on their radio stations (some because God told them it was sexually suggestive Devil music, others saying it was Southern "nigger" music) the economic power of that generation became evident when they tuned in any radio station playing Elvis records. In an industry already shifting to all-music formats in reaction to television, profit-conscious radio station owners learned hard lessons when sponsors bought advertising time on new rock and roll stations reaching enormous markets at night with clear channel signals from AM broadcasts.

During the 1950s post-WWII economic boom in the United States, many parents were able to give their teenaged children much higher weekly allowances, signalling a shift in the buying power and purchasing habits of teens. During the 1940s bobby soxers had idolized Frank Sinatra but the buyers of his records were mostly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Presley triggered a juggernaut of demand for his records by near-teens and early teens aged ten and up.

Presley's overwhelming appeal was to girls. Many boys adopted his look to attract them. Along with Elvis' ducktail haircut, the demand for black slacks and loose, open-necked shirts resulted in new lines of clothing for teenaged boys. In 1956 America, birthday and Christmas gifts were often music or even Elvis related. A girl might get a pink portable 45 rpm record player for her bedroom. Meanwhile American teenagers began buying newly available portable transistor radios [2] and listened to rock 'n' roll on them (helping to propel that fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units sold in 1955 to 5,000,000 units by the end of 1958). Teens were asserting more independence and Elvis Presley became a national symbol of their parents' consternation.

Presley's impact on the American youth consumer market was noted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 31, 1956 when future Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Louis M. Kohlmeier wrote, "Elvis Presley today is a business," and reported on the singer's record and merchandise sales (this may have been the first time a journalist described an entertainer as a business). Half a century later, historian Ian Brailsford (University of Auckland, New Zealand) commented, "The phenomenal success of Elvis Presley in 1956 convinced many doubters of the financial opportunities existing in the youth market." [3]

Elvis Presley's popularity and role in pop culture to this day can only be compared with the likes of The Beatles and Madonna.

Birth & Childhood

Elvis Aaron Presley was born a twin, but sadly his twin Jessie Garon was stillborn, in a two-room house in East Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith. The surname Presley was Anglicized from the German Pressler during the Civil War. His ancestor Johann Valentin Pressler emigrated to North America in 1710. Pressler first settled in New York, but later moved to the South.

Elvis Presley was raised both in East Tupelo and later in Memphis, Tennessee, where his family moved when he was 13. In 1949 the family moved to Lauderdale Courts public housing development which was near musical and cultural influences like Beale Street, Ellis Auditorium and the Poplar Tunes record store along with the Sun Studio about a mile away.

In her book, Elvis and Gladys author Elaine Dundy wrote that those close to Elvis as a boy say he was a fan of comic book superhero Captain Marvel, Jr. and would later model his trademark hairstyle and some of his Stage clothes/stage costumes on the comic book character.

Elvis took up the guitar and practiced in the basement laundry room at Lauderdale Courts. He played gigs in the malls and courtyards of the Courts with other musicians who lived there. After high school he worked at Precision Tool Company, then drove a truck for the Crown Electric Company.

The Sun recordings

Main article: Elvis Presley's Sun recordings

In the summer of 1953 Presley paid $4 to record the first of two double-sided demo acetates at Sun Studios, "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" which were popular ballads at the time. According to the official Presley website, Elvis reportedly gave it to his mother as a much-belated extra birthday present. Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and assistant Marion Keisker heard the discs and called him in June 1954 to fill in for a missing ballad singer. Although that session was not productive, Sam Phillips put Elvis together with local musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black to see what might develop. During a rehearsal break on July 5, 1954 Elvis began singing a blues song written by Arthur Crudup called "That's All Right". Phillips liked the resulting record and released it as a 78RPM single backed with Elvis' hopped-up version of Bill Monroe's bluegrass song "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." Memphis radio station WHBQ began airing it two days later, the record became a local hit and Elvis began a regular touring schedule which expanded his fame beyond Tennessee.

Country music star Hank Snow arranged to have Presley perform at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and his performance was received well by the audience. Nonetheless, one of the shows executives was far from impressed and hinted that Presley should give up his music. However, since that time many singers (Garth Brooks among them) have commented that one of the greatest thrills of playing the Opry is that they played on the same stage as Presley.

He continued to tour the U.S. South and on October 16, 1954 he made his first appearance on Louisiana Hayride, a radio broadcast of live country music in Shreveport, Louisiana and was a hit with the large audience. Following this Presley was signed to a one-year contract for a weekly performance during which time he was introduced to Colonel Tom Parker. This helped sales of his records as his releases began to reach the top of the country charts.

The management of Colonel Tom Parker

On August 15, 1955 Elvis Presley was signed by "Hank Snow Attractions," a management company jointly owned by singer Hank Snow and Colonel Tom Parker. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Parker took full control and, recognizing the limitations of Sun Studios, negotiated a deal with RCA Records on November 21, 1955, then immediately established two New York City recording companies for Presley's music. Understanding the commercial value for any composer having their song recorded by Presley, Parker was able to demand they share their royalties with the singer. A master promoter who wasted no time in marketing Presley's image, Parker licensed everything from guitars to cookware. After being approached by the Hollywood Studios, Parker eventually negotiated a multi-picture seven-year contract that shifted Presley's focus from music to films. Under the terms of his contract, Presley earned a fee for performing plus a percentage of the profits on the films, most of which were huge moneymakers. (See "Movies" section below.) With money seemingly being at the forefront of all decisions made by the Colonel, his success led to his management contract with Elvis being renegotiated to an even 50/50 split between the two. Over the years, much has been written about Colonel Parker, most of it critical. Marty Lacker, a lifelong friend and a member of the Memphis Mafia, says he thought of Parker as a "hustler and scam artist" who abused Elvis's reliance on him. Nonetheless, along with Lamar Fike, and Presley's first cousin Billy Smith, Lacker acknowledged that Parker was a master promoter as recounted in their 1995 book Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia. In the 2005 television special about her former husband, Priscilla Presley said she didn't know who else there was at the time in 1955 who could have seized the moment and done the job of marketing Elvis. Parker's definitive biography was written by award-winning journalist Alanna Nash and published in 2003.

Military service

On December 20, 1957, Presley received his draft notice for the then compulsory 2-year service with the United States Army. On March 24, 1958, he was inducted into the Army at the Memphis Draft Board. Ginger Alden's (Elvis's future fiancee) father Walter Alden was a sergeant in the Army and in charge of the PR during that time. Elvis received no special treatment and was widely praised for not doing what many wealthy and influential people did to avoid service or to serve part time in easy domestic positions such as the Special Services where he could have sung and continued to maintain a public profile. His military service received massive media coverage with much speculation whether or not two years out of the limelight at the height of his popularity would do irreparable damage to his career. Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General George M. Randall (AP-115), and served in Germany as an ordinary soldier.

He returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged on March 5th.


Many observers (including John Lennon) later claimed that following Presley's return from military service the quality of his recorded output dropped, although others thought he was still capable of creating records equal to his best (and did so on the infrequent occasions where he was presented with "decent" material at his movie recording sessions). Presley himself became deeply dissatisfied with the direction his career would take over the ensuing seven years, notably the film contract with a demanding schedule that eliminated creative recording and giving public concerts. In 1960 the album Elvis is Back was recorded to mixed reviews by critics and fans. With this drop-off, and in the face of the social upheaval of the 1960s and the British Invasion spearheaded by The Beatles, Presley's star faded slightly before a triumphant televised performance later dubbed the Comeback Special. Aired on the NBC network on December 3, 1968, the show saw him return to his rock and roll roots. His 1969 return to live performances, first in Las Vegas and then across the country, was noted for the constant stream of sold-out shows, with many setting attendance records in the venues where he performed throughout the country.

1969 onward

After seven years off the top of the charts, Presley's song "Suspicious Minds" hit No. 1 on the Billboard music charts on November 1, 1969. This was the last time any song by Presley hit #1 on the US pop charts while he was still alive, although "Burning Love" got as high as #2 in September 1972. He still reached #1 on charts around the world. For example, "The Wonder Of You" reached #1 in the UK in 1970. The "Aloha from Hawaii" concert in January 1973 was the first of its kind to be broadcast worldwide via satellite and his biggest audience ever. The soundtrack album was another #1 disc.

Way Down was racing up the American Country Music charts shortly before Presley's death in 1977, and hit #1 on that very chart the week he died (Presley recorded a number of country hits in his final years). It also topped the UK pop charts at the same time. Between 1969 and 1977 he gave over 1,000 sold-out performances in Las Vegas and on tour. He was the first artist to have four shows in a row sold to capacity at New York's Madison Square Garden. During the mid-1970s Presley became increasingly isolated, battling an addiction to prescription drugs and its resulting toll on his appearance, health and performances. Elvis Presley made his last live concert appearance in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Market Square Arena on June 26, 1977.


In late 1955, Presley made his earliest known film appearance in a documentary entitled The Pied Piper of Cleveland, a look at the career of disc jockey Bill Randle. The film, which reportedly included performance footage of Elvis as well as Bill Haley and His Comets and other acts, was shown in its entirety only once (in Cleveland) and was never released commercially. The film is currently considered "misplaced" and some Presley researchers maintain it never existed, although there is ample evidence to suggest it did.

Beginning with Love Me Tender (opened on November 15, 1956), Presley starred in 31 motion pictures, having signed to multiple long-term contracts on the advice of his manager. These were usually musicals based around Presley performances, and marked the beginning of his transition from rebellious rock and roller to all-round family entertainer. Elvis was praised by all his directors, including the highly respected Michael Curtiz, as unfailingly polite and extremely hardworking.

The movies Jailhouse Rock (1957), King Creole (1958), and Flaming Star (1960) are widely regarded as his best among film critics. Among fans, Blue Hawaii (1961) and Viva Las Vegas (1964) are also highly praised.

In addition to his own films, Presley has been the subject of more than seventy films that have his name in the title.

For details on films in which he starred, see the List of Elvis Presley films.

Gospel roots

Ironically, for all the controversy surrounding his early career, Elvis Presley's roots in religious music ran deep. In Tupelo, Mississippi, Vernon and Gladys Presley were what was disparagingly referred to as poor white trash from the "wrong side of the tracks" at the east end of town. Their Depression-era home (where Elvis was born in 1935) was a two-room shack on one of several dirt tracks forming a small community off Old Saltillo Road. They belonged to a local Assembly of God Pentecostal church which played an important role in their lives. For Elvis Presley it provided an environment from which he would instinctively adopt the music, sound and accompanying body movements in his later rock and roll singing performances. The African American form of music that became known as Rhythm & Blues (which also evolved from gospel songs) was also a part of Presley's childhood world and he probably heard it on a regular basis in the black section of Tupelo known as "Shakerag" (which was between Tupelo and East Tupelo, and was demolished in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal project). The church is said to have brought the Presleys, along with the rest of its desperately poor congregation, a message of hope wrapped around "Hell, fire, and brimstone" sermons. For nearly a quarter century the Pentecostal movement was interracial and during the 1930s and 1940s many of these poor churches did not adopt the growing policy of racial segregation.

Although Vernon Presley's family was Pentecostal and his sister Nash Presley became a minister, his wife Gladys was Elvis's devoutly religious parent. Her uncle Gains Mansell was also a Pentecostal preacher in East Tupelo whose interracial church services began with revival meetings held in a tent. Pentecostal church services started, centered and ended with music and everyone was encouraged to "make a joyous noise unto the Lord." According to Presley biographer Peter Guralnick, Gladys Presley said that by the age of two her son was already trying to sing along in the church. A Pentecostal preacher would typically lead the congregation in prayer and both singing and prayer were accompanied by the waving of hands, the swaying of bodies and dancing about in the Holy Spirit. As it almost always did in those settings, "when the Spirit strikes" the body would jerk as though hit by a bolt of lightning and frequently the worshipper would fall to the floor, rolling around and praying aloud (this is why outsiders referred to church members as "Holy Rollers" and their services as a "religious frenzy"). For instrumentation, these church services used a guitar, a tambourine or two and if they could afford one, a well-worn piano and perhaps a used piano accordion. Church services lasting three hours and held several times a week were filled with music as Pentecostals gyrated their hips, shook their legs, clapped and waved their arms while belting out pounding, rhythmic songs such as Down By the Riverside, When The Saints Go Marching In and Standing On The Promises. There were also more serene songs sung with great emotion like Old Rugged Cross and Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is calling).

In 1948 the Presley family left Tupelo, moving 110 miles northwest to Memphis, Tennessee. Here too, thirteen-year-old Elvis lived in the city's poorer section of town and attended a Pentecostal church. At this time, Presley was very much influenced by the Memphis blues.

While Elvis Presley was a teen cataclysm with millions of American girls screaming at the sight of him, his own church viewed Presley's gyrations on stage as an affront, labelling it the Devil's work and a mocking of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Presley records were condemned as wicked and Pentecostal preachers thumped their pulpits with Bibles, warning congregations to keep heathen rock and roll music out of their homes and away from their children's ears (especially the music of "that backslidden Pentecostal pup, Elvis Presley"). People who decades later would be considered part of the religious right spoke out vigorously against Presley including Cardinal Spellman. In its weekly periodical, the Roman Catholic Church added to the criticism in an article titled "Beware Elvis Presley."

In August, 1956 in Jacksonville, Florida a local Juvenile Court judge called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he shook his body while performing at Jacksonville's Florida Theatre, justifying the restrictions by saying his music was undermining the youth of America. Throughout the performance Presley stood still as ordered but poked fun at the judge by wiggling a finger. Similar attempts to stop his "sinful gyrations" continued for more than a year and included his often noted January 6, 1957 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show when he was seen only from the waist up.

His Hand In Mine (1960) was the title of Elvis' first gospel album. During his '68 Comeback Special Elvis said his music came from gospel. As heard in the 2005 televised special, Presley told a reporter that he "knew every gospel song there is." Despite his church's attitude, gospel music was a prominent part of Presley's repertoire throughout his life. From 1971 to his death in 1977 Presley employed the Stamps Quartet, a gospel group, for his backup vocals. He recorded several gospel albums, earning three Grammy Awards for his gospel music. In his later years Presley's live stage performances almost always included a rendition of "How Great Thou Art," the 19th century gospel song made famous by George Beverly Shea. More than forty-five years later (and twenty-four years after his death) the Gospel Music Association finally inducted him into their Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001).


June Juanico & Elvis

No entertainer has ever had their life and intimate relationships examined in as much detail as has Elvis Presley. Even the FBI had a file on him of more than 600 pages. He has been the subject of many books including two by his only wife, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (whom he married on May 1, 1967) and several others by former girlfriends including June Juanico. Since his death many claims to relationships have been made by women who were no more than acquaintances or had short term affairs which were exaggerated for personal gain.

High school and early stardom

According to interviews with teachers and former fellow students at Milam Junior High school in Tupelo, Mississippi, noted Presley biographer Elaine Dundy in her book Elvis and Gladys wrote (p.124) that beginning in his early teens, Elvis embarked upon the "indefatigable pursuit of girls" but was totally rebuffed and that this was something that contributed to his lifelong need for a beautiful woman to validate his feelings of inadequacy. However, between 1954 and 1956 the impoverished son of welfare recipients went from being shunned and even mocked by some of the popular girls at school to dating glamorous young Hollywood starlets such as Natalie Wood and Connie Stevens. Author Elaine Dundy wrote that actress Shelley Winters (usually considered a reliable source for Hollywood goings-on and who portrayed Gladys Presley in the 1979 made-for-TV movie Elvis) claimed the relationship between Presley and Natalie Wood developed into something more serious than what was generally reported in the media.

Anita Wood & Elvis

There were several significant relationships in Presley's life other than his one marriage to Priscilla Beaulieu. They included Dixie Locke, a high school sweetheart who he met at his Assemblies of God Pentecostal church and was part of his life before and during his Sun Records time. Locke was portrayed by actress Jennifer Rae Westley in the 2005 CBS TV miniseries Elvis. Anita Wood, another wholesome Christian girl whom Gladys Presley hoped he would eventually marry, was with Elvis as he rose to superstardom, served in the US military and returned home in 1960. Wood lived at Graceland for a time but moved out after confronting him over Priscilla Beaulieu, the "girl in Germany." Although rarely giving public statements, in 2005 Anita Wood was interviewed by renowned television talk show host Larry King. She told him that following media reports of a girlfriend in Germany, Elvis "had me believing that she (Priscilla Beaulieu) was just a friend and her daddy was in the Army with him, and there was nothing to it whatsoever." Presley used his charm to persuade Anita to move back into Graceland but she remained only a few months before leaving permanently. Elvis immediately began a short-lived affair with Anne Helm, his co-star from the film Follow That Dream. Ms Helm came to Graceland for a short time but her quick exit allowed for the entrance of Priscilla Beaulieu who moved to Memphis in 1962.

Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and some other relationships

In her 1985 book Elvis and Me, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley recounted how Elvis suffered from insomnia and would stay up all night and sleep most of the day. She described him as a very passionate man who was not overtly sexual towards her and condemned pre-martial sex as a sin, which may be interpreted as part of his generation's double standard which cheered men for sexual prowess with women but insisted a girl should remain a virgin until married and if she did not, she would be labeled a "slut." If he wanted to go out, he'd rent out the venue so no fans would bother him. This insistence on being a virgin hallmarked each relationship Presley had with any woman he thought of as a potential wife or someone he was willing to live with.

A totally different account of Priscilla's relationship with Elvis can be found in Suzanne Finstad's book, Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley. The author says that Priscilla had lied, that she and Elvis slept together on their second date and that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night. The book also claims that her marriage was part of a mastermind for fame hatched by Priscilla and her mother and that she never loved Elvis.

While demanding purity and loyalty from them, Presley's ex-wife and several girfriends confirmed he had numerous affairs with other women he had no plans of staying with. In his book Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend author Jim Curtin wrote (p.119) about the many women in Presley's life, saying "his list of one-night stands would fill volumes." However, according to a recent article by Byron Raphael and Alanna Nash, "the so-called dangerous rock-and-roll idol was anything but a despotic ruler in the bedroom" and "really wasn’t all that keen on doing the wild thing. He was far more interested in heavy petting and panting and groaning" and "he would never put himself inside one of these girls. Within minutes he’d be asleep." In her book, Child Bride, Suzanne Finstad also confirms that Elvis hated sex.

Priscilla Beaulieu wrote that his philandering made her "crazed with worry," particularly his highly-publicized relationship with Ann-Margret, which he tried to hide from her. Shortly after he and Priscilla were married and she got pregnant, Elvis became involved with Nancy Sinatra. When questioned by his wife, Elvis denied any affair but then out of the blue, Nancy Sinatra, who barely knew Priscilla, called her and offered to organize her baby shower. Shortly after this, Elvis left his expecting wife in a state of shock by asking for a trial separation.

Later years

Following his separation from Priscilla in late February, 1972 the thirty-seven-year-old Elvis Presley immediately became involved with a twenty-one year beauty queen, Linda Thompson. Before long, she moved into Graceland and lived with him for nearly four and a half years she claims but others close to the family said she did not. Presley dated a host of others besides Linda, notably with his backup singer Kathy Westmoreland and actress Cybill Shepherd who, along with Linda Thompson, was part of a candid 2002 television interview marking the 25th anniversary of Presley's death on CNN's Larry King Live. Cybill Shepherd spoke about her relationship with Presley while he was performing in Las Vegas, saying "years later, I would read and find out that he had like two other women there at the same time." As one of the two women Shepherd was referring to, Linda Thompson told Larry King she knew Presley had been cheating on her but stayed with him anyway until he ended it in late 1976 when the forty-one-year-old Presley began a relationship with 21 year-old Ginger Alden.

Ginger Alden, unlike his previous girlfriend, Linda Thompson and former ex- wife Priscilla, did not move in with Elvis when he asked her and told Ginger that he respected her for not doing so and had great respect for her and her family.Elvis proposed to Ginger Alden by giving her an 11 1/2 carat diamond engagement ring made from his favorite TCB ring on January 26, 1977 (they had plans for a Christmas wedding in 1977).Vernon Presley, Elvis's father stated in an interview that his son Elvis told him that he had "finally" found the love that he had been searching for all his life and that he wanted more children, a son, and wanted Ginger to be the Mother of his future children. Also, stated that Elvis told him that Graceland had come "alive" again after meeting Ginger Alden and that he could see Elvis as that little boy from Tupelo again. However,Elvis died before he could fulfill that life long dream with Ginger. During the early afternoon of August 16, 1977, Ginger Alden, Elvis's fiancee, woke up in Presley's bed and found his lifeless body in the bathroom suite.

Abuse of prescription drugs

In her 1985 book, Elvis and Me, his wife Priscilla wrote that Elvis suffered from severe insomnia and by 1962 when she moved to Graceland he was taking placidyls to get to sleep and began to do so in ever increasing doses. According to author Albert Goldman in his 1990 book Elvis: The Last 24 Hours, the pills were first given to him by Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Priscilla recounted how he would wake up at his normal time around 4:00 in the afternoon but would be groggy and irritable for a few hours from the heavy dose of pills. He started taking Dexedrine to wake up. She stated that over time, she saw "problems in Elvis's life, all magnified by taking prescribed drugs."

Priscilla wrote the two of them tried marijuana but didn't like it because it made them ravenously hungry, with extra weight the unwanted result. Although she said Elvis abhorred street drugs, she tells in her book how they tried LSD. While they both thought it had been an "extraordinary experience" they were afraid of it and experimented that one time only. During the time when he was searching for peace in his life and consulting an Indian guru as Bob Dylan and others were doing at the time, Presley read numerous books including Aldous Huxley's "Doors of Perception" and Timothy Leary's "Psychedelic Experience." In his Elvis biography, Peter Guralnick discussed the singer's rampant prescription drug abuse. Though Elvis abused prescription drugs, Priscilla wrote that he never considered it wrong because it was a medical doctor prescribing them and he in fact publicly denounced the use of hard drugs. At a meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon, Presley asked the President to appoint him "Federal Agent at Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Although his personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, was exonerated in Presley's death, in July 1995 he had his license suspended after the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found that he had improperly dispensed potentially addictive drugs to a variety of his patients.

Priscilla Presley pointed out in her book that even if Elvis would have admitted he needed help, in those days there was no Betty Ford Clinic where someone like him could get treatment. The singer's abuse of prescription drugs increased during the last years of his life, particularly after the breakup of his marriage in 1972.

Death and burial

On August 16, 1977, at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, Presley was found on the floor of his bedroom's ensuite bathroom by Fiancee Ginger Alden who had been asleep in his bed. He was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead at 3.30pm. He was only 42 years old.

Referring to the day of his passing when band members were flying to Portland, Maine to meet for his concert, in her 1987 book "Elvis and Kathy," friend and backup vocalist Kathy Westmoreland wrote "Everyone knew he was sick, that each public appearance brought him to the point of exhaustion."

Elvis Presley funeral procession

At a press conference following his death, one of the medical examiners declared that he had died of a heart attack. Heart disease was very prevalent in his family, especially on his father's side. Elvis' father Vernon also died of heart failure in 1979. Gladys Presley, who was only 46 years old at the time, was diagnosed to have died of a heart attack brought on by hepatitis.

Dr Willis Madrey, who was responsible for examining Elvis' liver two years before his death, said "I had understood he was having some gastrointestinal problems his doctors were trying to evaluate" He was possibly referring to Elvis' obesity and enlarged colon, which progressively got worse over time and may have led to diverticulitis. There is a wide belief that his gastrointestinal problems combined with a weak heart caused his death but the autopsy records will not be in the public domain until 2027. It is a lasting belief, though never confirmed, that he died on the toilet. According to Peter Guralnick's book, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999), "drug use was heavily implicated in this unanticipated death of a middle-aged man with no known history of heart disease ... It was certainly possible that he had been taken while "straining at stool," and no one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist, to which he was known to have had a mild allergy of long standing. ... There was little disagreement in fact between the two principal laboratory reports and analyses filed two months later, with each stating a strong belief that the primary cause of death was polypharmacy, and the BioScience Laboratories report ... indicating the detection of fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant quantity."

On the other hand, some of his closest family members, friends, band members and background singers have long disputed stories concerning the seriousness or accuracy of Elvis' alleged drug abuse and "self-destructive" lifestyle while not denying that he did take prescription medications for bona fide or suspected health problems. For instance, the late Vester Presley, Kathy Westmoreland, Charlie Hodge, and the late J.D. Sumner have pointed out that Elvis also suffered from severe health problems unrelated to drug abuse and that these health problems such as glaucoma, insomnia and cancer may have increased his dependency on prescription medication especially for pain relief.

Presley was originally buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis next to his mother. After an attempted theft of the body, his and his mother's remains were moved to Graceland.

Lasting legacy

By 1957 Elvis Presley was the most famous entertainer in the world. After pioneer band leader Bill Haley spawned interest in rock and roll in western Europe, Presley triggered a wide shift in tastes with effects lasting many decades. Singers in dozens of countries made Presley-influenced records in many languages and his own records were sold around the globe, even behind the former Iron Curtain. By 1958 Cliff Richard was rising to prominence in the UK and in France Johnny Hallyday became a rock and roll idol singing in French, soon to be followed by others like Claude François. Airplay and sales of Presley recordings across Europe were followed by those of other American rockers who began touring there. Teenagers around the world copied his "Ducktail" hair style.

President Nixon and Elvis in a brief meeting in December, 1970 during which a reportedly prescription drug-impaired Presley offered his assistance in a national effort against drug abuse.

Following Presley's untimely death in 1977 US President Jimmy Carter said:

Elvis Presley's death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense and he was a symbol to people the world over, of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country.

Or as James Brown once put it, "He taught white America to get down."

Wink Martindale, who was a close friend of Elvis, aired a nationwide tribute in his memory following the news of his death. Martindale was a up-and-coming radio DJ in Memphis at the time Presley's career began to take off in high gear.

Richard Dawson also paid tribute to Elvis on an episode of Family Feud.

After his death a kitsch industry grew up around his memory, chronicling his dietary and chemical predilections along with the trappings of his wide celebrity. Critics said this tended to obscure the vibrant and vital music he made as a young man, the vocally-influential recordings of his later career and his lasting mark on popular culture.

Among his many accomplishments, Elvis Presley is only one of two singers (Roy Orbison being the other) to ever have two Top 5 albums on the charts simultaneously. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998), and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001). In 1984 Presley was given the W.C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis for "keeping the blues alive in his music - rock and roll." In 1993, Presley's image appeared on a United States postage stamp.

Elvis in the 21st century

File:Elvis 30hits.jpg
Elvis 30 #1 Hits, 2003.

Interest in Presley's recordings returned during the buildup to the 2002 World Cup, when Nike used a Junkie XL remixed version of his "A Little Less Conversation" (credited as Elvis Vs JXL) as the background music to a series of TV commercials featuring international soccer stars. The remix hit Number 1 in over 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (it was also his first top 10 hit in the UK for nearly 22 years, and his first #1 there for nearly 25 years). At about the same time, a compilation of Presley's US Number 1 hits, ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits, was being prepared for release. "A Little Less Conversation" (remix version) was quickly added as the album's 31st track just before its release in October 2002.

Nearly 50 years after Presley made his first hit record and 25 years after his death, ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits reached number 1 on the charts in the US, the UK, Australia and many other countries. A re-release from the album, "Burning Love" (not a remix) also made the Australian top 40 later in the year.

His renewed fame continued with another remix in 2003 (this time by Paul Oakenfold) of "Rubberneckin'", which made the top 3 in Australia and top 5 in the UK. This was followed by another album called 2nd to None, a collection of his hits that just missed out on the number 1 spot, including the "Rubberneckin'" remix.

In mid-2004, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Presley's first professional recording, "That's All Right", the recording in question was re-released, and made the charts around the world, including top 3 in the UK and top 40 in Australia.

In early 2005 in the United Kingdom, RCA began to re-issue his 18 UK #1 singles as CD-singles in the order they were originally released, one of them a week. The first of these re-issues, "All Shook Up", was ineligible due to its being sold together with a collector's box which holds all 18 singles in it (it actually sold enough to be #2). The second, "Jailhouse Rock", was the number one in the first chart of 2005, and "One Night"/"I Got Stung", the third in the series, replaced it on the January 16 chart (and thus becoming the 1000th UK number one entry).

All of these have reached top 5 in the official charts, with three number 1s, eight number 2s, four number 3s, one number 4, and one number 5. These re-releases have made Elvis the only artist so far to spend at least 1000 weeks in the British top 40.

CBS recently aired a TV miniseries, Elvis starring Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Presley.

In July of 2005, Presley was named one of the top 100 "Greatest Americans," following a vote organized by Discovery Channel. In the vote, Presley ranked ahead of all entertainers and in 8th place behind Presidents Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, plus Martin Luther King Jr. and Benjamin Franklin.

In mid October of 2005, Variety named the top 100 entertainment icons of the 20th century, with Presley landing on the top ten, along with The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean and Mickey Mouse.

A week later, Forbes magazine named Elvis Presley, for the fifth straight year, the top-earning dead celebrity, grossing US$45 million for the Elvis Presley Estate during the period from October of 2004, to October 2005. Forbes pointed out that Robert Sillerman's CKX company shelled out $100 million in cash, and stock, for an 85% interest in Presley's income stream in February 2005.

Shortly after taking over the management of all things Elvis from the Elvis Presley Estate (which retained a 15% stake in the new company, while keeping Graceland and the bulk of the possessions found therein), Sillerman promptly shook things up by producing a more personal DVD and CD featuring Presley (and appropriately titled "Elvis by the Presleys"), as well as the accompanying two-hour documentary broadcast on Viacom's CBS Network, which alone generated $5.5 million. And while some of Presley's fans fretted that outside management might mar the appeal of Graceland, revenue is up at the Memphis shrine, too.

On 9 December, 2005, the Book of British Hit Singles & Albums unveiled their annual list of the Top 100 Most Successful Acts Of all time, based on the total number of weeks each recording artist has spent on the official UK Singles and Albums charts. Elvis Presley ranked #1, with Cliff Richard, Queen, The Beatles and Madonna rounding up the top 5.

In the singles charts, Elvis went to # 1 the most times (21, three of them hitting #1 twice), spent the most weeks there (80), as well as had the most top tens and top forty hits. In the album charts, he is second to the Beatles (21), with 16 chart toppers, as well as earning the most top ten, and top forty albums. Still in the album category, his longevity record boasts an almost fifty year gap between his first, and last hit album.

In total, he has spent 2,574 weeks in both the UK singles and album charts, way ahead of his closest competitors, namely Cliff Richard (1,982), Queen (1,755), the Beatles (1,749), and Madonna (1,660).

A channel on the Sirius Satellite Radio subscriber service is devoted to the life and music of Elvis, with all broadcasts originating from Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

Musical milestones

During his lifetime, Elvis Presley:

  • recorded 104 singles that hit the Top 40 of the Billboard pop chart.
  • had 17 number 1 Billboard hits, including four singles in 1956 that occupied the top of the charts for a cumulative total of 25 weeks. The total (17) is surpassed only by The Beatles, who had 20 number 1 hits. This record was recently tied by Mariah Carey, an American pop and R&B singer.
  • has spent a total of 79 Weeks at the number 1 position. His closest competitor is Mariah Carey with 77 weeks.
  • from 1956 to 1972, he had record breaking 36 Top 10 Billboard hits. This achievement is currently shared by Madonna who reached the same total in late November of 2005. The Beatles had 34 Top 10 hits during their career.

Until the record was broken by Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" in November 1992, Elvis Presley's double-side "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" was the undisputed champion of singles in terms of weeks spent at number one. The record spent 11 weeks at the top starting on August 18, 1956. Both records were beat by the current title holder, One Sweet Day, a duet with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which holds 16 weeks.

These are other records set by Presley's recordings:

  • From March 1956 to November 1959, every week there was at least one Elvis song on the singles chart.
  • From 1956 to 1962, Elvis set the record with 24 consecutive top 5 hit singles (singles listed with B-side songs and original U.S.A. release dates), each of which sold in excess of one million copies. Since 1962, the closest anyone has come to matching this was Madonna in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with 19 consecutive top 5 hits.

Also, on the official United Kingdom Top 40 chart, "It's Now Or Never" reached number one in the week of Sunday January 30, 2005, 27 years after Presley's death.



  • In 1960, following his return from military service, the various employees hired by Elvis Presley to handle security and his concert tours were affectionately dubbed the "Memphis Mafia" by the news media. After his death several Memphis Mafia members wrote books on their time working for Presley.
  • His given middle name at birth was Aron ([4]), however Aaron was placed on his gravestone by his father because Elvis preferred that biblical spelling and had legally changed it. Aaron is the official spelling used by his estate.
  • Cryolophosaurus is nicknamed 'Elvisaurus' because of its head crest being alike to Elvis's hairstyle.
  • The estate of Elvis Presley earns over 40 million dollars every year which is a record for a deceased entertainer.
  • Elvis Presley made only one television commercial, an ad for Southern Maid Doughnuts that ran in 1954.
  • His hair was a natural sandy brown but he dyed it jet black after filming "Love Me Tender."
  • Has sold over one billion records worldwide - the first to do so - and is the best selling record artist in history.
  • Has won three Grammy awards, all for his Gospel recordings. These were for the 1967 "How Great Thou Art" LP, for the 1972 LP, "He Touched Me" and, in 1974, for the song "How Great Thou Art" (live)
  • Billboard's Joel Whitburn declared Presley the "#1 act of the Rock era", beating out The Beatles, based upon his dominance of Billboard's list of top 100 singles artists since 1955.
  • According to Steve Brown's book, Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel, Elvis gave a concert and, at its conclusion, a woman came forward with a crown restling on a plush pillow. She lifted the crown to Elvis and shouted, "You're the King!" "No, honey," he said, "I'm not the King. Christ is the King. I'm just a singer".
  • Also, in September of 1974, during one of his two sellout shows at the University of Notre Dame, he stopped singing, as well as motioned for the the band to quit playing, in order to tell those holding a huge banner which read ¨You are the King¨, that he was not going to resume singing until it was taken out from view, adding that "there was only one King, and that was the Lord, Jesus Christ".
  • Elvis Crespo, the King of salsa and merengue, was also named after Presley by his mother, a native of Puerto Rico who was a big Elvis fan.
  • Elvis Dumerville, the University of Louisville All American college football player, currently en route to breaking the all time NCAA sacking record and a candidate to win the 2005 edition of the "Lombardi Award", was also named after Presley by his mother, an African American who was a big Elvis fan.
  • Musician Elvis Costello borrowed Presley's first name, a few months before his death in 1977, in order to help his then fledgling career.
  • In 2005, and for the fifth year straight, Elvis was named the richest deceased celebrity (according to www.Forbes.com). (see also reference above, under Elvis in the 21st Century)
  • He was proud of his role in King Creole because the part was originally offered to his idol James Dean. Although songs were later slipped into the movie, Elvis considered it his best work.
  • He was offered the lead role of Tony in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical West Side Story but Col. Parker forced to maker Presley turn it down as non-commercial despite Elvis' arguments it would legitimize his acting career. The film won 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
  • Elvis's parents made cameos in his film Loving You.
  • The 1960 Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie is a supposed satire about the effects of the compulsory U.S. military draft on a famous singer similar to Presley.
  • In the 1997 tour of Bye Bye Birdie, actor Rikki Lee Travolta was so convincing as the Elvis-based Conrad Birdie that he was named an honorary member of the National Association of Amateur Elvis Impersonators.
  • Elvis's favorite female singer was Anne Murray and he recorded a version of "Snowbird".
  • Elvis is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon

Quotes from Elvis

  • “I wanted a bicycle.”

- Elvis recalls his reaction to being given an acoustic guitar for his eleventh birthday.

  • “The most beautiful thing in the world to me is a baby lookin' as pretty as her mamma.”

- Elvis.

  • “When you let your head get too big it'll break your neck.”

- Elvis.

  • “Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess.”

- Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.

  • “People who read sex into my music have dirty minds.”

- Elvis.

  • “When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend - without a song.' So I keep singing a song. Goodnight. Thank you.”

- From his acceptance speech for the 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Award. Given at a ceremony on January 16, 1971. (Elvis quotes from copyrighted material with lines from the song “Without a Song”.)

  • “We do two shows a night for five weeks. A lotta times we’ll go upstairs and sing until daylight - gospel songs. We grew up with it...It more or less puts your mind at ease. It does mine.”

- Talking about the informal jam sessions he and the band and entourage enjoy each night during the lengthy Vegas engagements. These happen upstairs in Elvis’ suite at the Las Vegas Hilton as they all try to “wind down” from the excitement and energy of the live shows. Quote is from a 1972 taped interview used in MGM’s documentary Elvis on Tour.

  • “...the image is one thing and the human being is another...it’s very hard to live up to an image.”

- From the press conference prior to his record-breaking Madison Square Garden shows in New York City, 1972.

  • "Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”

- Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.

  • “Shock the world."

- Elvis in 1975, closing his greatest tour.

  • “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.”

- Elvis at a press conference prior to his 1973 television special, Elvis -Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite.

  • “‘Til we meet you again, may God bless you. Adios.”

- Said in 1977 at the end of a concert during his last tour.

Quotes about Elvis

Vocal range, extension, color, compass, center of gravity and phraseology

"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. The voice covers 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. Call him a high baritone. In "It's now or never", he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of Rhythm and Blues and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. Elvis' voice is, in a word, an extraordinary voice, or many voices." Henry Pleasants, in his book ´The Great American singers´.

"I suppose you'd had to call him a lyric baritone, although with exceptional high notes and unexpectedly rich low ones. But what is more important about Elvis Presley is not his vocal range, nor how high, or low it extends, but where its center of gravity is. By that measure, Elvis was all at once a tenor, a baritone and a bass, the most unusual voice I've ever heard". Gregory Sandows, Music Professor at Columbia University, published in The Village Voice.

"He rarely over-sang when recording, delivering a vocal to suit the song. So, he can rasp and rage for "Jailhouse Rock", loudly accuse in "Hound Dog", bare his soul and beg on "Any Day Now" and sound quietly, sadly, worldly-wise on "Funny How Time Slips Away". This gift may explain why his music endures so powerfully and why his performances remain so easy to hear". Paul Simpson, in "The rough guide to Elvis".

"I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun studios. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra's. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness." B.B. King

As performer

“Without preamble, the three-piece band cuts loose. In the spotlight, the lanky singer flails furious rhythms on his guitar, every now and then breaking a string. In a pivoting stance, his hips swing sensuously from side to side and his entire body takes on a frantic quiver, as if he had swallowed a jackhammer.” Time Magazine, May 15, 1956

“You have no idea how great he is, really you don’t. You have no comprehension - it’s absolutely impossible. I can’t tell you why he’s so great, but he is. He’s sensational.” Phil Spector

“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.” Jackie Wilson

"He had total love in his eyes when he performed. He was the total androgenous beauty. I would practice Elvis in front of the mirror when I was twelve or thirteen years old." k.d. lang

"The first concert I attended was an Elvis concert when I was eleven. Even at that age he made me realize the tremendous effect a performer could have on an audience." Cher

Negative and positive impact on youth

"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people." Frank Sinatra, 1950's

“It isn’t enough to say that Elvis is kind to his parents, sends money home, and is the same unspoiled kid he was before all the commotion began. That still isn’t a free ticket to behave like a sex maniac in public.” Eddie Condon Cosmopolitan, December 1956

As actor and movie star

“As the lad himself might say, cut my legs off and call me Shorty! Elvis Presley can act...Acting is his assignment in this shrewdly upholstered showcase, and he does it." Howard Thompson Review of King Creole New York Times, 1958

“He was an instinctive actor...He was quite bright...he was very intelligent...He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated.” Walter Matthau, who co-starred with Elvis in King Creole (1958). From a 1987 interview.

“A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood.” Hal Wallis Producer of nine of Elvis' films.

On his return to live performances

“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 from rock ‘n’ roll singers.” John Landau Review of Elvis, (1968 TV Special).

“It was the finest music of his life. If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it.” Greil Marcus From his book, Mystery Train, remembering the 1968 TV Special.

“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.” Newsweek, August 11, 1969 Review of Elvis’ Las Vegas engagement.

“...a style and panache that come close to pure magic. Lithe, raunchy, the sweat pouring down his face, he now moves with the precision of an athlete, the grace of a dancer...flamboyant and flashy, sexy and self-mocking, he works with the instincts of a genius to give poetry to the basic rock performance.” W.A. Harbinson From his 1975 book, The Illustrated Elvis. A passage reflecting upon Elvis' 1969 Vegas engagement.

As producer

“So what it boils down to was Elvis produced his own records. He came to the session, picked the songs, and if something in the arrangement was changed, he was the one to change it. Everything was worked out spontaneously. Nothing was really rehearsed. Many of the important decisions normally made previous to a recording session were made during the session. What it was was a look to the future. Today everybody makes records this way. Back then Elvis was the only one. He was the forerunner of everything that’s record production these days. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone imitated him. People started doing what Elvis did.” Bones Howe Recording Engineer As quoted in Jerry Hopkins’ 1971 book, Elvis, A Biography.

On his death

"I'm just a singer, but Elvis was the embodiment of the whole American Culture. Life just wouldn't have been the same without him.” Frank Sinatra in 1977 preaching a different view of Elvis than he had back in 1956 (see impact on youth quotes above).

"There have been many accolades uttered about Elvis' talent and performances through the years, all of which I agree with wholeheartedly. I shall miss him dearly as a friend. He was a warm, considerate and generous man." Frank Sinatra, 1977.

“Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique, irreplaceable. More than twenty years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense. And he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of this country.” President Jimmy Carter, 1977. His official statement following Elvis' death.

Impact on music, people, other entertainers

“I don't want him on my show, I don't care what anyone says about him - how great a talent he is - he just won't be in my show and that's that.” Ed Sullivan, 1956.

“I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy.” Ed Sullivan during Elvis’ third appearance on his show, January 6, 1957

“Elvis will never contribute a damn thing to music.” Bing Crosby, 1956.

“The things Elvis has done during his career and the things he has contributed and created are really something very important to the music business.” Bing Crosby in 1973 smartly doing a 180 on his quoted 1956 opinion.

“...if any individual of our time can be said to have changed the world, Elvis Presley is the one. In his wake more than music is different. Nothing and no one looks or sounds the same. His music was the most liberating event of our era because it taught us new possibilities of feeling and perception, new modes of action and appearance, and because it reminded us not only of his greatness, but of our own potential.” Greil Marcus From his book, Mystery Train.

“He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn't let black music through. He opened the door for black music.” Little Richard

“Elvis Presley's talent brightened millions of lives. He widened the horizons of my world certainly... Elvis Presley more than made me feel good, he enriched my life and made it better.” Stephen King

“...At Sun Studio in Memphis Elvis Presley called to life what would soon be known as rock and roll with a voice that bore strains of the Grand Ole Opry and Beale Street, of country and the blues. At that moment, he ensured - instinctively, unknowingly - that pop music would never again be as simple as black and white.” David Fricke Rolling Stone, 1986

“Elvis is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything, music, language, clothes, it’s a whole new social revolution - the 60’s comes from it.” Leonard Bernstein, 1960s.

“There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king.” Bruce Springsteen

“...it was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.” Bruce Springsteen

“I doubt very much if the Beatles would have happened if it was not for Elvis. God bless you Elvis.” Paul McCartney

“When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss...Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.” Bob Dylan

“Elvis had an influence on everybody with his musical approach. He broke the ice for all of us.” Al Green

“Ask anyone. If it hadn't been for Elvis, I don't know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it all off, and he was definitely the start of it for me.” Elton John

“A lot has been written and said about why he was so great, but I think the best way to appreciate his greatness is just to go back and play some of the old records...Time has a way of being very unkind to old records, but Elvis' keep getting better and better.” Huey Lewis

“Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps.” Rod Stewart

“He was a unique artist - an original in an area of imitators.” Mick Jagger

“Before Elvis, there was nothing.” John Lennon

“This boy had everything. He had the looks, the moves, the manager, and the talent. And he didn’t look like Mr. Ed like a lot of the rest of us did. In the way he looked, way he talked, way he acted - he really was different.” Carl Perkins

“I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him. Last time I saw him was at Graceland. We sang Old Blind Barnabus together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother. James Brown

“He was the firstest with the mostest.” Roy Orbison

“Elvis Presley was an explorer of vast new landscapes of dream and illusion. He was a man who refused to be told that the best of his dreams would not come true, who refused to be defined by anyone else’s conceptions. This is the goal of democracy, the journey on which every prospective American hero sets out. That Elvis made so much of the journey on his own is reason enough to remember him with the honor and love we reserve for the bravest among us. Such men made the only maps we can trust.” Dave Marsh From his book, Elvis.

“That’s my idol, Elvis Presley. If you went to my house, you’d see pictures all over of Elvis. He’s just the greatest entertainer that ever lived. And I think it’s because he had such presence. When Elvis walked into a room, Elvis Presley was in the f---ing room. I don’t give a f--- who was in the room with him, Bogart, Marilyn Monroe.” Eddie Murphy

“He was ahead of his time because he had such deep feelings. He had the privilege of deep feelings because he was deeply loved by his mother, Gladys. He was able to appreciate profound beauty in sounds. And he started a musical revolution. They say all revolutions start from love.” Imelda Marcos

“It’s rare when an artist’s talent can touch an entire generation of people. It’s even rarer when that same influence affects several generations. Elvis made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer.” Dick Clark

"Elvis was a giant and influenced everyone in the business." Isaac Hayes

"I learned music listening to Elvis' records. His measurable effect on culture and music was even greater in England than in the States." Mick Fleetwood

"I don't think there is a musician today that hasn't been affected by Elvis' music. His definitive years - 1954-57 - can only be described as rock's cornerstone. He was the original cool." Brian Setzer

Elvis and politicians

“You Memphis politicians had better watch out if Elvis Presley ever decides to enter politics.” George Bush.

“It’s always been my dream to come to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis.” Senator Al Gore Accepting the nomination for vice president at the 1992 Democratic Convention & prior to Bill Clinton's (aka "Elvis" by his security staff) acceptance of the presidential nomination.

“You know, Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don’t think Bush would have liked Elvis very much, and that’s just another thing that’s wrong with him.” Bill Clinton During the 1992 presidential campaign.

Public Enemy

"Elvis was a hero to most(3x) But he never meant, shit to me you see Straight up racist that sucker was Simple and plain Mother fuck him and John Wayne" - Fight The Power

The Sex Pistols

"Dreadful old windbag! And I think somebody should point out that his so-called "illustrious career" - he never, not once, wrote a single song." - John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten

See also

Further reading

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:

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