Biography of Famous Rock Star Elvis Presley

About the famous American rock star Elvis Presley, history and biography of the superstar.

Elvis Presley (1935-1977). Long sideburns, "DA" haircut, black slacks, suede shoes, sexual gyrations ... Elvis broke upon the embryonic rock 'n' roll scene like an outlaw, receiving derogatory reviews from adult critics who tagged him "Elvis the Pelvis." Sam Phillips produced Presley's early records on the Sun label in 1954, introducing the ex-truck driver and his combination of country and western with rhythm and blues.

The new rock needed a performer to personify the new sound, and Elvis presented an absolute physical interpretation of his songs. Elvis coordinated the rhythm with twisting legs, quivering hands, and thrusting hips. His facial nuances mirrored lyrics with left lip sneers and lowered eyelids. His vocals were punctuated with breathy embellishments.

Col. Tom Parker, master promoter, signed Elvis to RCA in 1955 and developed the teen-idol image. Elvis was unique: a white man doing black music, and wiggling like the gospel preachers he had watched in Mississippi where he was born on January 18, 1935. A controversy exploded over his sensual movements. Ed Sullivan's TV show censored his appearance, showing him only from the waist up. High schools banned long sideburns, and ministers branded rock 'n' roll as evil. But youth bought the records, a stream of million-selling disks beginning with "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1956, and continuing through to 1961 with "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You." Elvis could not read music, and learned most of his songs from demo records sung by P. J. Proby and written by the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stroller. The Jordanaires did vocal backgrounds and his hottest hit records included: "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" (1956); "Blue Suede Shoes" (1956); "Love Me Tender" (1956); "Jailhouse Rock" (1957); "Hard Headed Woman" (1959); and "It's Now or Never" (1960).

Elvis's voice is a high baritone with a 2-octave range. According to Henry Pleasants in Great American Popular Singers, Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, weak at the bottom, and brilliant at the top.

Elvis made his 1st film in 1956, entered the Army in 1958, and withdrew from public appearances in 1961 to concentrate on 30 movies filled with fighting, dancing, driving, and bikini-clad dollies. Colonel Parker returned Elvis to the public with a 1968 TV Christmas Special to bolster faltering box-office and record sales. His comeback became complete in Las Vegas, where he attained superstar status, while his earlier peers played bar gigs or oldies-but-goodies concerts. He reestablished his recording fame with a Mac Davis song, "In the Ghetto."

Elvis Presley's personal life is kept private. His courteous, lighthearted news conferences contrast with his pugnacious, prankish activities which his payroll buddies called the "Memphis Mafia." He was deeply attached to his mother, who died in 1958. On May 1, 1967, Elvis married Priscilla Beaulieu, and Lisa Marie was born 9 months later. The marriage ended in a 1973 divorce.

Nipsey Russell, the comedian who opened Elvis's 1st show at the Sahara Tahoe, gave his explanation of the essence of the Elvis phenomenon: "Every entertainer should go to bed at night and pray he finds a Col. Tom Parker under his bed when he wakes up in the morning."

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