Facts and Events
Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer, musician, and actor. One of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and Roll", or simply, "the King".
Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley and his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when he was 13 years old. His music career began there in 1954, when he started to work with Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was an early popularizer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who was to manage the singer for more than two decades. Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel", released in January 1956, was a number-one hit in the US. He became the leading figure of rock and roll after a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines that coincided with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, made him enormously popular—and controversial.
In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. In 1958, he was drafted into military service: He resumed his recording career two years later, producing some of his most commercially successful work before devoting much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and their accompanying soundtrack albums, most of which were critically derided. In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised comeback special, Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Presley was featured in the first globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii. Several years of prescription drug abuse severely deteriorated his health, and he died in 1977 at the age of 42.
Presley is one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop, blues and gospel, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with estimated album sales of around 600 million units worldwide. He was nominated for 14 Grammys and won three, receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.