Elvis Presley the King of Rock & Roll who changed the pop culture in America
Who would have thought that Elvis Aaron Presley born in a two room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on 8 January 1935 will one day conquer the world with his singing and be known as the King of Rock & Roll? Certainly not his parents Vernon and Gladys who had lost Elvis’ twin brother who was stillborn, and most probably not when they moved to Tennessee in 1948 when Elvis was just 13 years old. Elvis had an ear for music from his young days and was greatly influenced by gospel music he used to hear in church and also by the black R&B tunes he was quick to take to when still a teenager. He learnt to play the piano in church and the first guitar Elvis received was on his eleventh birthday from his doting parents. Funnily enough, Elvis was not a popular kid in school although he did all the regular stuff that kids do. The other kids thought Elvis strange because he preferred to dye his hair black and wore it in a very different style.
The Lonely kid who loved Music
Not having many friends and leading a lonely life, Elvis turned to music and spent most of his time listening to the radio. To Elvis, the color of the skin did not matter and at a time when segregation was very strong in Southern America, he could care less as he listened to African American artists and would often visit that area of town in Beale Street to hear them play. By the time Elvis Presley graduated from high school he had a huge repertoire of different styles of singing from gospel to hillbilly. Elvis however was more interested in creating his own style of singing which was a mix of everything he had heard and learnt to play up till then. It was new and original and having heard him play at night clubs around town, Sam Phillips at Sun Records felt that they had an exciting new find with a unique style of his own. Thus came Elvis Presley’s first big break when he was offered a contract in June 1954 and the rest as they say, is history.
Pop Idol of the Teens who couldn’t have enough of him
While he certainly had talent, his charisma and good looks did him no harm and very soon he became the pop idol of high school kids who couldn’t have enough of Elvis’ music or his sensual performances. Elvis had no problem in getting used to this adulation and threw his heart and soul into his performances that made the teens go crazy as they screamed and cried and even tore his clothes as he made suggestive moves on the stage that had most parents cringing. But the kids loved him and that’s what mattered to Elvis as he went from strength to strength spinning one top hit after another as if there was no end to his resources. With his popularity soaring he realized he couldn’t handle everything on his own and hired Tom Parker as his manager. Parker was certainly responsible for steering Elvis into becoming the kind of mega star he eventually did, but that did not stop him from taking more than a generous percentage from Elvis’ proceeds.
Buying a Home for his Beloved Mom
Elvis auditioned for his first movie “Love me Tender” in 1956 with Paramount Movie Studios with an option to do six more. It was around this time “Heartbreak Hotel” sold over one million copies and Elvis received his very first Gold record. With the money flowing in and his popularity sky rocketing Elvis thought it time to buy his mom a house. Well, Graceland can never be called a house but it suited him well enough and with 13 acres at his disposal he went to town designing the mansion according to his tastes. In December 1957 Elvis received his draft notice and even though he could have asked for special dispensation, Elvis wanted to do his duty to his country and joined the US Army as a regular soldier. He came out of it, popular as ever and met and married Priscilla Beaulieu. Their one child; a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968.
Strain and Stress of Fame that leads to a tragic end
The stress and strain of achieving fame is not easy to keep up and as it seems to happen to most celebrities Elvis also found it all too much. The only way he could keep up without rest was by taking prescription drugs and all too soon his behavior changed drastically to one of aggression and mood swings and he started putting on weight. After he divorced Priscilla in 1973, his drug addiction became worse and he had to be hospitalized on many occasions after overdosing himself. His career went downhill from there onwards and on that fateful day on August 16, 1977, Elvis was found dead on the bathroom floor of his mansion. He was only 42 at the time of death and one can only think what a waste it was, because he had so much more to give to the world of music if only he had not succumbed to the evils of drugs.