Elvis Presley is one of the most beloved music and screen legends of modern time. He starred in more movies in his short life than most actors who live to be twice his age. When not acting or in the military, Elvis sold more records than any other artist in history. More than 30 years after his death, Elvis Presley continues to influence the music industry.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. On the same day, his twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn. His parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, had no other children. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when Elvis was 13 years old. In high school, his music teacher told him that he had no aptitude for singing. Elvis never received any formal training in reading music or singing.
At 23, Elvis joined the United States Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Private Presley, already a music star, drew massive amounts of media attention for which the Army was unprepared. Elvis attended basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, and then joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany. During his stint in Germany, he developed a love for amphetamines, karate and a teenage girl named Priscilla Beaulieu. She would later become his wife. During his two years in the Army, Elvis' music still hit the radio waves as his producers had stockpiled material before Elvis left for Fort Hood.
EIvis' estate estimates that sales of his music exceed more than one billion records worldwide, more than anyone else in the history of the record business. Over half of those sales have been in the United States. Additionally, Elvis has received more gold and platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America than any other artist. Elvis was nominated for 14 Grammy awards of which he won three. At the age of 36, Elvis won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1960 with the rank of sergeant, Elvis started making movies. He made 33 films, all of them profitable, especially the musical comedies. The majority of films had soundtrack albums that accompanied them, keeping Elvis working at a ferocious pace.
Elvis died at the age of 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis, Tennessee. For three years leading up to his death, Elvis suffered from high blood pressure, liver damage, an enlarged colon and glaucoma as a result of drug abuse. His fiancee, Ginger Alden, found him dead on the bathroom floor. Despite massive amounts of drugs found in his system, a heart attack was later ruled as the cause of Elvis' death.
- Elvis Presley: Official Site of the King of Rock 'n' Roll
- "The Elvis Encyclopedia"; Adam Victor; 2008
- "Remembering Elvis: 30 Years Later"; Hildegard Anderson; 2007
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images