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Elvis Presley

A singer and actor

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A cultural icon and the preeminent entertainer of his generation.

  • Apr 21, 2009
On a hot and muggy afternoon in the summer of 1953 a young man appeared at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service intent on recording a "personal" record as a special gift for his mother's birthday.  For the neat sum of $3.98 they would record two tunes.  Marion Keisker, the Sun records office manager was merely making small talk when she asked 18 year old Elvis Presley "Who do you sound like?"  Elvis replied:  "I don't sound like nobody."   You see Elvis Presley grew up In Tupelo, MS and Memphis, TN  listening to a wide variety of musical genres including gospel, pop, country & western, the blues and R & B.  His unique musical style was really a synthesis of all of the above.  Sun records owner Sam Phillips quickly realized that he had a monster talent on his hands.  He just had to figure out what to do with him.  Within a matter of months Elvis Aaron Presley would sign his first professional contract with Sun records and virtually overnight a star was born.  

Commencing with the double-sided hit "That's All Right" b/w "Blue Moon of Kentucky"  Elvis Presley began a highly successful run at Sun that would last for a bit more than a year.  During this time he would record five double-sided hit records.  But Sam Phillips could see the writing on the wall.  He simply did not have the wherewithal to sign Elvis when his contract expired.  In late 1955 Sam Phillips sold Elvis' contract and all of those fabulous Sun recordings to RCA Victor for the sum of $40,000.  It would prove to be one of the greatest "steals" in the history of the recording industry. 
When one stops to ponder the numbers it is positively staggering.  It has been estimated that over the past five and a half decades Elvis Presley has sold more than one billion records worldwide!   Perhaps even more impressive is the fact Elvis has amassed an incredible total of 141 different albums and singles that have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.  No other recording artist even comes close.  Moreover, to further illustrate his universal appeal, it has been estimated that 40% of Elvis' total record sales have taken place outside the U.S.!   Here in the U.S. nearly 150 Elvis Presley tunes have appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart.   Forty of these songs made the Top Ten while 18 went all the way to number one!  A truly remarkable feat!   Counted among those dozen and a half #1 tunes are great hits like his RCA debut single "Heartbreak Hotel",  the beautiful ballad "Love Me Tender", "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and his huge 1969 hit "Suspicious Minds".   Elvis Presley records appealed to a great cross-section of audiences and as such have appeared on just about all of the Billboard charts including Pop, R&B, Country, Adult Contemporary and of course the Top Pop Albums chart. 

But there is much more to the phenomenon that was and is Elvis Presley.  The man appeared in a total of 33 motion pictures between 1956 and 1969.  Many of these films were quite successful including "G.I. Blues", "Love Me Tender" and "Loving You".  Elvis Presley movies were never my cup of tea (I thought most of them were kind of dumb) but many of them continue to be shown on television even to this day.   Over the years Elvis starred in three network TV specials.  All of these specials were extraordinary ratings successes that made them among the highest rated programs of their day.  Once it became apparent that Elvis' film career was on the wane his manager Col. Tom Parker embarked on a new strategy for his legendary client.  Elvis returned to the concert stage for the first time in a long time in 1969.  His 4 week--57 show gig at the International Hotel in Las Vegas shattered all existing Las Vegas attendance records.  For most of the rest of his life Elvis Presley would continue to do "live" concerts.  He really enjoyed doing them and the crowds loved him.

Elvis Presley died of apparent heart failure on August 16, 1977.   As I recall I was driving home from a short trip Montreal when I heard the news.  It was a real shocker!   He was only 42 years old.  It would be naive to believe that drugs did not play a role in his demise. Yes, the King was gone and no one would ever fill his shoes.  Some years later my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Graceland, his 13.8 acre estate and mansion located at 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis.  For me the most impressive part of the tour was the huge room that housed all of his gold records and many of his flamboyant costumes.   A few minutes later we stepped outside and visited the grave site.  One could not help but notice that many of the people who were there on this day in 1990 were still visibly upset about his passing.  Elvis Presley was a man who came from humble beginnings and rose to the highest echelons of show business and celebrity.  Yet he never forgot his roots and the people loved him.  Stories about his genorosity are legendary.  Elvis Presley was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it opened back in 1986.  More than a decade later in 1998 Elvis was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.  Both honors were richly deserved!   Meanwhile, all these years later Elvis Presley records continue to sell at a brisk pace and his remarkable legacy lives on.  When all is said and done Elvis ranks right up there with the likes of Sinatra, Crosby and Al Jolson as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.   I think that it is fairly safe to say that he will never be forgotten.   
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September 29, 2009
I LOVE ELVIS. I wish often to be able to transport myself back in time to see him perform...I'd even accept a chance to see know, with the sunglasses and the belly and the questionable substance problems? That's how much I love him. I'm almost embarrassed to ask but have you seen/read "Elvis and Me"? It's a REALLY corny/bad/possibly-made-for-tv? movie but I LOVE IT. It makes me sob like a child. He had such an interesting life and career. [Also, I'm obsessed with Priscilla so that doesn't help my interest in the movie ;) ]
April 21, 2009
Elvis Presley just keeps on ticking.....even after his death. He continues to sell records and the amount of visitors to Graceland each year is staggering. I fell in love with him when I was a little kid watching his movies. I always thought I'd marry him when I grew up because he only liked blue-eyed brunettes. He didn't care for blondes at all. One of my best friends is actress Cynthia Pepper who appeared in Kissin' Cousins with Elvis. She said he was a lot of fun and very polite to everyone. Too bad that he had to go so young. I'll never forget it because he died the day before my birthday on August 16th. I'm only sorry that I never saw his act in person, nor did I ever have the opportunity to interview him. Long live the king!
More Elvis Presley reviews
review by . August 11, 2009
posted in People Power
The King
Elvis Aaron Presley, the king of Rock 'n' Roll or simply The King. Despite dying at an early age, Elvis left the world with many broken hearts and a legacy unrivalled by any other singer. He remains one of the best selling solo artists in the history of music.      What more can one write on Presley other than what the press had written and what the world had known of him? NOTHING! Oh, perhaps there is one, for many people, including my aunts, he was bigger than life …
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Music Matters
He is the king. Just like the Beetles but it was one man instead of four.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
i like him because his a founder of a lot of different genres
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
What is the hype with Elvis???
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on I never could … more
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About this musician


Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.

Biography Elvis' musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.

He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, far more than any other artist. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 ...

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