Thursday, August 16, 2007

About Elvis Presley - The King

From Wikipedia & Malaysiana1.

The King of Rock and Roll Elvis Aaron Presley died at the age of 42, three decades ago, as a result of a heart ailment.

Fame and fortune had taken a toll on the gifted gentleman of Native American and British ancestry - he became an addict of unwholesome food and prescription medicine - and ballooned twice his original size.

Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues with a strong back beat.

His mixing of "Black" and "White" sounds made him popular — and controversial — as did his uninhibited stage and television performances.

He recorded songs in the rock and roll genre, with tracks like Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog later embodying the style.

Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop.

To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into four separate music Halls of Fame.

In the sixties, Presley made the majority of his thirty-three movies — mainly poorly reviewed musicals.

Throughout his career, he set records for concert attendance, television ratings and recordings sales.

He is one of the best-selling and most influential artistes in the history of popular music.

Presley's father, Vernon (1916-1979) had several low-paid jobs, including sharecropping and truck driving.

His mother, Gladys Love Smith (1912-1958) was a sewing machine operator.

They met in Tupelo, Mississippi, but went to Pontotoc County and were married on June 17, 1933.

Presley was born in a two-room house, built by his father, in Tupelo, Mississippi.

He was the second of identical twins — his brother was stillborn and given the names Jesse Garon.

He grew up as an only child and was close to his mother.

The family lived just above the poverty line in East Tupelo and attended the Assembly of God church.

In 1938, Presley's father was convicted and jailed for an eight-dollar cheque forgery.

He was released after serving eight months. During her husband's absence, Gladys lost the family home.

At ten, Presley made his first public performance in a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair.

Dressed as a cowboy, he had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone and sang Red Foley's Old Shep. He won second prize.

In 1946, Presley was taken to Tupelo Hardware where he was bought a guitar — a $7.90 birthday present (He had wanted a rifle).

Two years later, the Presleys moved to Memphis.

They lived at Lauderdale Courts — a public housing development — in one of Memphis's poorer sections.

Presley practised guitar playing in the basement laundry room and also played in a five-piece band with other tenants.

He began to grow his sideburns longer and dress in wild, flashy clothes.

Presley stood out, especially in the conservative Deep South of the 1950s and he was mocked and bullied for it.

Christmas, 1952 saw Presley perform Cold Cold Icy Fingers and gave an encore of Till I Waltz Again With You at his school’s concert.

After finishing high school, Presley became a truck driver for Crown Electric Company.

Presley listened a lot to local radio and his first musical hero was Mississippi Slim, a hillbilly singer with a radio show.

Presley performed occasionally on Slim’s Saturday morning show, Singin’ And Pickin’ Hillbilly.

He was also strongly influenced by blues and soul music in Memphis. Many of his recordings were inspired by Black Memphis composers and recording artistes, including Arthur Crudup, Rufus Thomas and B. B. King.

On July 18, 1953, Presley went to the Memphis Recording Service at the Sun Record Company (now commonly known as Sun Studios).

He paid $3.98 to record the first of two double-sided 'demo' acetates — My Happiness and That's When Your Heartaches Begin.

Presley gave the acetate to his mother as a birthday present.

He later recorded a hit single That’s All Right, dedicated to his mother.

In a concert at Overton Park, Presley felt nervous and his legs shook. This inspired him to improvise his legendary leg-shaking dance moves.

On August 15, 1955, Tom Parker, nicknamed Colonel Tom, became his manager.

Presley’s hit single Heartbreak Hotel came on air in January 1956. His first album, self-titled, was released in March that year.

In May that year, Presley performed his famous hit Hound Dog.

Conservative Christians, especially in the south of the United States, often criticised and ridiculed Presley as “Satanic” for his dance moves.

Racist Whites also slammed Presley as a “cultural polluter” who mixed Black and White music.

However, these bigots’ diatribes against Presley only made him increasingly popular with the liberal audience.

Ironically, one of these harsh critics of Presley eventually became one of his closest friends - legendary crooner Frank Sinatra.

On November 16, Presley's first movie Love Me Tender was released. It was panned by the critics, but did well at the box office.

In 1957, the Presleys moved to a mansion called Graceland. It was to be his last home.

Presley's record sales became enormous throughout the late 1950s, with hits like All Shook Up, (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear and I Need Your Love Tonight.

Jailhouse Rock, Loving You (both 1957) and King Creole (1958) were released and are regarded as the best of his early films.

On December 20, 1957, Presley received his army draft notice. He was posted to Friedberg, Germany.

While in the army in Germany, Presley began taking prescription pills, which gradually became a lifelong addiction.

The army also introduced Presley to karate — something he was to study seriously and even incorporate into his live performances.

As Presley's fame grew, his mother — who had always liked alcohol — began to gain weight and drink excessively. She had wanted her son to succeed, “but not so that he would be apart from her”.

She died of hepatitis, shortly after Presley returned from his draft in August 1958.

In 1960, Presley recorded his monster hit It's Now Or Never which was based on Italian song O Sole Mio.

Presley continued to act in the 1960s and appeared in Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas.

His hit songs such as Blue Hawaii, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Viva Las Vegas and Return To Sender were also featured in his films.

In the 1960s, Presley’s films grossed about $130 million and his records made $150 million.

In 1967, Parker negotiated a management contract that give him 50 percent of Presley's earnings.

In the same year, on May 1, Presley married Priscilla Wagner, whom he first met in Germany. Their only child Lisa Marie was born nine months later.

Presley was one of the highest paid actors during the sixties. In the end of the decade he recorded hit songs such as Suspicion, (You're The) Devil In Desguise, It Hurts Me and Guitar Man.

He also released two gospel albums: His Hand In Mine and How Great Thou Art. The latter won Presley his first Grammy Award.

In 1968, Presley recorded the albums From Elvis In Memphis and From Memphis To Vegas, From Vegas To Memphis.

On December 21, 1970, Presley met with President Richard Nixon at the White House.

In 1972, Presley released his hit single Burning Love — his last top ten hit in the US pop charts.

Off stage, Presley and his wife Priscilla had continuing marriage difficulties.

In spite of his own infidelity, Presley was furious when he learned that his wife was having an affair with a mutual acquaintance — Mike Stone, a karate instructor.

The Presleys separated on February 23, 1972, agreeing to share custody of their daughter.

Divorcing in 1973, Presley became increasingly isolated and overweight, with prescription drugs taking their toll on his health, mood and stage acts.

Despite this, Presley was still capable of critically acclaimed performances. His thundering live version of How Great Thou Art won him a Grammy Award in 1974.

He continued to play to sell-out crowds and release hit records.

Presley's final performance was in Indianapolis at the Market Square Arena on June 26, 1977.

On August 17, 1977, Presley was found dead in his bathroom by fiancee Ginger Alden.

He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, next to his mother, after a funeral attended by hundreds of thousands of fans. They included ex-lover Ann-Margret (the Danish actress who starred in Grumpy Old Men), Priscilla and Lisa- Marie.

One of the most glowing tributes to Presley came from John Lennon of The Beatles who said "Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been a Beatles."

Rod Stewart declared: "Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps."

In 1971, the City of Memphis changed the name of the section of Highway 51 South in front of Graceland to Elvis Presley Boulevard, and he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the organisation that presents the Grammy Awards).

In 1993, Presley's image appeared on a United States postage stamp.

In the UK charts, in January 2005, three re-issued singles again went to number one (Jailhouse Rock, One Night and It's Now Or Never). Throughout that year, twenty singles were re-issued — all making the top five.

In the same year, Forbes magazine named Presley, for the fifth straight year, the top-earning deceased celebrity, grossing US$45 million for the Presley estate during the preceding year.

Graceland was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

In March 2007, as part of American Idol's Idol Gives Back event, Celine Dion performed If I Can Dream with a rotoscoped image of Presley, creating the illusion that the two were performing together.

In 1978, Kurt Russell portrayed Presley in a film about The King’s life, titled Elvis.