One of the most significant cultural icons, successful in many genres:
Pop, Country, R&B, Adult Contemporary and Gospel
1935 BORN January 8
1977 DIED, overdose of prescription drugs, age 42
1946 – 1977 Actively singing and performing. Did not receive formal musical training, could not read music.
1948 Moved with parents from Tupelo, MS to Memphis, TN, lived in rooming houses.
1950 Formed small band with neighboring brothers, began working as an usher in Loew’s State Theater
1953 Performs: TILL I WALTZ AGAIN WITH YOU – a recent hit for singer Teresa Brewer, in wild, flashy clothes, competing in L.C. Humes’ High School Annual Minstrel show in April
1953 Sang HOUND DOG in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His autograph on the abdomen of one girl and her thigh prompts an urgent message sent from the Catholic diocese’s newspaper to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, warning that Presley was a definite danger to the security of the USA!
1954 Musical career seriously began in Memphis at age 13 with SUN RECORDS, producer Sam Phillips
1954 Cut his second acetate at Sun Records, I’LL NEVER STAND IN YOUR WAY, and another, IT WOULDN’T BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU
1954 Following an unsuccessfully long night of recording on July 5, Sam Phillips of SUN RECORDS suddenly hears the sound and performer he was seeking when Elvis begins riffing the song THAT’S ALL RIGHT by Arthur Cudrup. Next morning, Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips played the song on his RED, HOT AND BLUE SHOW. Listeners begin eagerly calling to know who the singer was. “INSTANT” SUCCESS!
1954 Performs on LOUISIANA HAYRIDE – The Opry’s adventurous rival show broadcast to 198 radio stations in 28 states. He continues to perform for more than a year’s worth on that show. Inspired, Elvis discarded his $8 child sized guitar for the purchase of a Martin guitar for $175. His trio band begins playing.
1954 First television appearance: KSLA-TV. Played music considered ROCKABILLY.
1955 RCA VICTOR acquires Presley’s contract, managed by Colonel Tom Parker for more than two decades.
1956 First single: HEARTBREAK HOTEL, (Blue Suede Shoes) released by RCA Victor in January 27. Claims were made about how Presley urged the young to believe in themselves, unifying the generation.
1956 Camera angles show Elvis only from the waist up (and he was ordered not to gyrate) when appearing on CBS Television City in Los Angeles on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW, hosted that night by actor Charles Laughton.
1956 Performs live at the Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds in Tupelo in September. Fifty National Guardsmen were added to the police security to control the crowd
1956 December 4, Elvis has an impromptu jam session turned into a recording session with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis. Phillips ensures the session is recorded.
1956 60 million viewers preferred to watch the STEVE ALLEN SHOW over the ED SULLIVAN SHOW. A judge in Jacksonville, FL ordered Presley to tame his act.
1956 Film debut: LOVE ME TENDER
1957 Singles released: TOO MUCH, ALL SHOOK UP, LET ME BE YOUR TEDDY BEAR
1957 Third, final appearance on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW, shown from waist up only. Two days later Presley was classified A-1 and drafted into military service.
1957 Purchased an 18-room mansion he names GRACELAND on March 19 for $102,500. Nine miles from downtown Memphis the house was for him and his parents.
1957 October, films: JAILHOUSE ROCK with Judy Tyler
1958 March 24, drafted into military service, Sergeant w 1st Medium Tank Battalion,
32nd Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Division. Received GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL
1958 Mother was diagnosed with hepatitis. She died when he was on leave on Aug 12
1958 Following training at Ft. Hood, TX. Introduced to 14-yr-old Priscilla Beaulieu.
1960-1968 Seven years break from live performances
1960’s FLAMING STAR (1960) AND wild in the country (1961) were less commercial films but Parker pressed on with his heavy film schedule to produce 27 films.
1966 Just prior to Christmas, Elvis proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu.
1967 May 1, Elvis marries Priscilla Beaulieu
1968 Return to the stage in a television comeback: ELVIS
1968 Priscilla has Lisa Marie on Feb 1, Elvis’ first and only child.
1968-1972 Extended concert residency and tours generate from Las Vegas shows
1968 ’68 COMEBACK SPECIAL, recorded on June 29, originally entitled ELVIS
1969 IF I CAN DREAM reached number 12 on the charts. Jerry Shilling claimed Elvis had told him he hadn’t been able to do anything like it for years. After watching the show for 60 minutes, he told Steve it was the greatest thing he had ever done in his life and gave his word that he would never sing a song he didn’t believe in.
1970’s When a journalist referred to him as the KING of ROCK & ROLL, Elvis quickly pointed to Fats Domino who was there, saying “NO, he is the REAL King of Rock and Roll.” Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) reported that he was so anti-drug when she met him, he discouraged her from smoking marijuana, telling her to never do that again. Elvis was deeply opposed to recreational drugs and rarely drank liquor after watching several of his family members become alcoholics.
1970 December 21, met with President Richard Nixon at the White House, explaining that he could be of help in countering the drug culture in young people. He asked Nixon for a BUREAU OF NARCOTICS & DANGEROUS DRUGS badge.
1971 January 16, Presley was named one of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce and one of its annual TEN MOST OUTSTANDING YOUNG MEN OF THE NATION. City of Memphis name Highway 51 South: ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD
1971 Deemed one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Received GRAMMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, age 36
1971 Three studio albums were released: ELVIS COUNTRY, ELVIS SINGS THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHRISTMAS, and MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY (a raunchy old Charles Brown blues tune).
1971 An affair with Joyce Bova produced a pregnancy and abortion, saying he was “likely” to leave Priscilla who was busy having an affair with Mike Stone a karate instructor. Five months later, Elvis moved in with new girlfriend: Linda Thompson, songwriter, and Memphis beauty queen.
1972 July 10, evening sold out concert in Madison Square Garden became one of his biggest-selling albums, releasing the single: BURNING LOVE was Elvis’ last top ten hit on the US pop chart.
1972 MGM films Elvis in April for ELVIS ON TOUR which won him the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD for BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM. Gospel album released that month: HE TOUCHED ME.
1972 Elvis Presley designed an elaborate concert jacket (rhinestone-studded eagle design on leather) which would be recognized as his signature design.
1973 First artist to be broadcast worldwide on January 14: ALOHA FROM HAWAII
1973 In December Elvis recorded 18 songs, a total that would produce two albums, released in 1974.
1973-1976 RCA and Parker concerned enough to request Elvis record the entire contents of six albums. Three of those went to number one: PROMISED LAND (1975), FROM ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD, MEMPHIS, TN (1976), and MOODY BLUE (1977)
1974-1977 Addicted to prescription drugs, yet eight studio top ten singles were produced.
1975 MOODY BLUE topped the county chart, reaching the second spot on the adult contemporary chart in 1976.
1976 Releases the soul classic HURT. On July 13, Vernon Presley, deeply involved in his son’s financial affairs cut back on expenses by firing bodyguards (MEMPHIS MAFIA). Rumors at the time were that the bodyguards had become too loose with stories of Presley’s drug abuse.
1976 Presley returns to recording in Hollywood in March of 1975 but Parker’s attempts to schedule another session were unsuccessful. In 1976 RCA sent a mobile recording unit to GRACELAND where he completed his final recording.
1976 Linda Thompson and Elvis split in November, he advanced to another love: Ginger Alden, proposed and gave her an engagement ring two months later.
1977 March 31, Baton Rouge, Presley unable to get out of bed, four shows cancelled. Reminiscent of Howard Hughes craziness, cousin Billy Smith recalled hours of chatting with Elvis about past escapades, Monty Python routines, his reading of
1977 WAY DOWN is released in June. CBS tape two concerts for a TV special: ELVIS IN CONCERT to be broadcast in November.
1977 Elvis Presley’s final live performance was at MARKET SQUARE ARENA in Indianapolis on June 26.
1977 Elvis Presley died suddenly at Graceland at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, August 16.
1977 Tuesday, August 18, Presley’s funeral was held at Graceland. About 80,000 people lined the processional route to the Forest Hill Cemetery where he was buried next to his mother. WAY DOWN topped the country and UK singles within that week.
2018 Posthumously awarded PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM by DJT
MANY more awards, songs, albums, movies were made by Elvis,
but would require a full length book to enumerate them.