Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of last century. Presley, born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, a region known for its country music scene. He started his music career at the age of 19 in a band called Rockability which produced a fusion of country and R&B styles.
Presley’s first single “Heartbreak Hotel” released in January 1956 was a major hit, making him a leading name in Rock & Roll. His unconventional performance style and charisma made him enormously popular with the audiences. He had several appearances on CBS’s Stage Show after the release of his first album followed by appearances on NBC’s Milton Berle Show.
Presley made his film debut in November 1956 with “Love Me Tender”. By the end of the year he was an international sensation and his unique style both blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of his era.
His entertainment career was interrupted for almost two years when he was drafted into the US Army. On his return to the industry in 1960 he released his single “Stuck on You” which became a number one hit.
Presley starred in 33 films, most of which were musical comedies. His attempts at challenging acting roles were not commercially successful.
Presley met Priscilla Ann Wagner in 1959 at a party at his home and they married on May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The marriage was short-lived as Priscilla and Presley separated in February 1973. Their only child Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. Lisa was married to singer Michael Jackson for a brief period during 1994-1996.
Elvis struggled with his health issues caused by his several drug addictions in his final years. He overdosed but survived on multiple occasions. By early 1977 his health had severely deteriorated, he became obese and his mind was dulled due to the drug abuse. He was barely able to perform during his short concerts. On August 16, 1977 he was found unconscious in his room by his then girlfriend. He was pronounced dead a few hours later at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.
Several of his singles released after his death were top ten country hits. His Memphis home, Graceland, was opened to the public in 1982, attracting over half a million visitors each year. He was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Presley’s influence on the entertainment industry and pop culture has been acknowledged globally and his name, style and voice are still instantly recognizable.