The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Aron Presley, was born on 8 January, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Presley (who shared Irish roots) and Gladys Presley. His twin brother Jesse, died at the time of birth, and so, his parents brought him up with intensive care. As he was born in an average family, he spent his childhood in poverty.
This great singer's ancestral roots consisted of a mix of the Scots and the Irish. His family was poor, and his father moved from one job to another trying to make both end meet. When he was three years old, his father was arrested on account of committing a minor fraud, after which he and his mother moved in with relatives.
His talent in singing did not come up as a surprise, as he had good voice right from his childhood, and he even performed at the Church, local Assemblies, Camp Meetings, and at the revivals.
When he was ten years old, he participated in a talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama fair and Dairy Show, and won a prize for the song he sang. Pleased and floating in pride after seeing their child's performance at the contest, his parents gifted him an acoustic guitar on his eleventh birthday.
Teenage Years and Breakthrough
When Elvis was 13 years old, the Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948. He completed his graduation from Memphis. To support himself and his father, he took on a job as a truck driver for the Crown Electric Company. He was looking ahead to get a job of an electric repairman.
He had even joined evening classes for that, but destiny had something else in store for him. A disc containing two ballads that he had recorded (at Sun studio for four dollars) to present his mother as a birthday gift, was first heard by the Sun Studio's president, Sam Phillips.
At that time, Sam was in search of a white man who could match the singing style of a black man. After listening to Elvis, he was sure that he had found the man he wanted. Sam made him an offer, and that was the birth of a new singing sensation, and a new superstar was born.
In 1954, his first record was released from Sun Studio. He further toured south as 'The Hillbilly Cat', and produced four more records, which were also very successful. For all this, he took help from Andreas van Kuijk, an illegal Dutch immigrant (and who also called himself Colonel Thomas A. Parker).
In 1955, he signed a $35,000 recording contract with RCA Victor (through Thomas Parker), who promised to help him to project himself as a National Level Star. As promised, he was featured in the newspapers, television, photographs, etc., where he was claimed to be the next superstar of the music world.
At first, all the appearances were intentionally kept waist up by the RCA Victor, which was to make it sure that his impression on his fans should not be affected by his uncommon hip-shaking style.
In year 1956, his first performance with 'Heartbreak Hotel' on The Milton Berle Show successfully put him on the top list of the superstars, and the nationwide 'Elvis Craze' was started. He became the Prince who ruled the hearts of millions of fans.
For the next seven years, from 1956 to 1963, he was the only superstar who ruled the box office and the pop-music charts. He created a history, many of his records where on the top position for about a whole year. All of his albums sold millions of records and were huge hits.
He paved the base of his new musical genre 'Rock-n-Roll', which helped him write his name in the history of music with golden ink. Every youth in the country was crazy after him. In 1956, he was offered a role in a movie, 'Love Me Tender', which was his debut movie.
In the year 1958, he responded to the call from the US Army, and served as a jeep and truck driver in the 3rd Armored Division of US Army in Germany. He served for about two years. During the time of his service, he met Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he married later in 1967.
Career in the Movies
Elvis was popular even when he was not in action for about two years; people were still crazy for him, and were waiting for his new records and movies. When he returned from the service in 1960, he quit performing in concerts and concentrated in making movies. As his first movie 'Love Me Tender' was a big hit, he had no problem in marking his comeback.
After giving several very successful movies, he returned to the world of music after the birth of his daughter, Lisa Marie, in 1968. His daughter is now a successful singer and songwriter. He once again started working with his old band, and gave some more smashing hits to the world. In the year 1972, he released his last top-ten single 'Burning Love'.
Divorce and Drug Abuse
Further, after a couple of years, Elvis and Priscilla got divorced. He had an ongoing plan of building a Memphis estate for his mother at Graceland, for which he made many trips to the place.
His lifestyle had completely changed from what it was previously, as he became a drug addict. He also became a paranoid and had developed a fear that he would be robbed, for which he had started practicing karate.
On August 16, 1977, the 'King of Rock-n-Roll' died at the age of 42 years when he was in a toilet in Graceland. Later, in the autopsy, it was found that his death occurred due to heart failure as a result of drug and alcohol abuse.
It is next to impossible to measure the level of popularity he had reached in his career. Elvis Presley had more than 100 records on the billboard charts, out of which about 18 records were on the number one position. During his lifetime, he worked in about 31 movies; and all of them were huge hits.