Elvis Presley at the White House in 1970
Birth | Elvis Aron Presley
Born | ,
Died | , ,,
Occupation?(s) | Singer, Actor,
, (–), ,(–)
Elvis Aron Presley (, – , ) often known simply as Elvis and also called "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" or simply "The King", was an and . He is regarded by many to be the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. (Presley's birth certificate uses the spelling Aron, but his estate has designated Aaron as the official spelling of his middle name.)
Presley started as a singer of , singing many songs from (R&B), gospel and . He was first billed as "The Hilbilly Cat". His combination of country music with bluesy vocals and a strong marked a clear path toward . He was the most commercially successful singer of rock and roll, but he also had success with , country, gospel, blues, pop, folk and even semi-operatic and jazz standards. His voice, which developed into many voices as his career progressed, had always a unique tonality and an extraordinary unusual center of gravity, leading to his being able to tackle a range of songs and melodies which would be nearly impossible for most other popular singers to achieve. In a musical career of over two decades, Presley set many records, such as concert attendance, television ratings, and record sales, and became one of the best-selling artists in music history.
Elvis Presley is an icon of modern American pop culture. During the late 1960's and through a large portion of the 1970's, Presley re-emerged as a live performer of old and new hit songs, both on tour and in , where he was known for his on-stage highly energetic performances both vocally and physically, his sartorial jump-suits and capes adding to the drama. He attracted massive attendance figures. His concert performances were staggering in quantity, considering they numbered over 1,100 in 8 years. He continued to perform before sell-out audiences around the U.S. until his death in 1977. His death was premature at 42, despite alarming concerns about his health. When he died on August 16, 1977, it was a huge shock to his fans. However, it soon became clear that a combination of over-work, obesity, depression, bad diet and severe abuse of prescription drugs, accelerated his premature departure. His popularity as a singer has survived his death.
Parents, childhood and youth
Elvis Aaron Presley was born on , at around 4:13 a.m. in a two-room in , to Vernon Presley, a truck driver, and , a sewing machine operator. Vernon Presley is described as a "taciturn to the point of sullenness," whereas his mother Gladys "was voluble, lively, full of spunk." describes her as "a surreptitious drinker and alcoholic." When she was angry, "she cussed like a sailor". Presley's twin brother, , was , thus leaving him to grow up as an . The surname Presley was Anglicized from the German name "Pressler" during the . His ancestor Johann Valentin Pressler emigrated to in 1710. Presley was mostly of ,, , , and roots.
Presley's parents were very protective of their only surviving child. The little boy "grew up a loved and precious child. He was, everyone agreed, unusually close to his mother." His mother Gladys "worshipped him", said a neighbor, "from the day he was born." Elvis himself said, "My mama never let me out of her sight. I couldn't go down to the creek with the other kids." In his teens he was still a very shy person, a "kid who had spent scarcely a night away from home in his nineteen years." He was teased by his fellow classmates who threw "things at him - rotten fruit and stuff - because he was different, because he was quiet and he stuttered and he was a mama's boy." Gladys was so proud of her son, that, years later, she "would get up early in the morning to run off the fans so Elvis could sleep". She was frightened of Elvis being hurt: "She knew her boy, and she knew he could take care of himself, but what if some crazy man came after him with a gun? she said.