Elvis Presley: Long Live the King of Rock & Roll
Today we celebrate the birth of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Considered one of the most celebrated and successful musicians of all time, Elvis not only transformed the field of popular music, but was the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll.
On January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith. Elvis was born at home in his family’s two-room shot-gun house built by his father.
Elvis Presley’s birth certificate
Looking at Elvis’s birth certificate, we can see he is listed as a twin. Sadly, his identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before him. According to the record, at the time of his birth, his father was 20 years old and working as a laborer. His mother was 21 years old and working as a factory worker. In actuality, Gladys was four years older than Vernon.
Gladys, Elvis and Vernon Presley, 1937
As an only child, Elvis was quite close to his parents and formed a tight bond with his mother.
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Here is a five year old Elvis Presley with his family in the 1940 U.S. census. At this time, his father was working as a carpenter and his mother was working as a seamstress. The family was living in Lee County, Mississippi.
Elvis catapulted to stardom with the release of his first big hit, “Heartbreak Hotel.” His celebrity status continued to climb as he made a name for himself in music and film, starring in his first feature Love Me Tender in 1956. His performance of “Hound Dog” on The Milton Berle Show would prove to be one of the most controversial appearances on television. Although it may seem subdued by today’s standards, Elvis’s scandalous gyrations during the performance became a defining moment in his career and set him on the path to becoming the King of Rock and Roll.
Elvis in uniform
By 1958, Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a regular soldier for two years. It was during his service in Germany that he met a 14-year-old Priscilla Presley, whom he would eventually marry seven years later. In 1968, the couple welcomed their only child, Lisa Marie.
With numerous number one hits, including “Love Me Tender” and “Jailhouse Rock,” films and sold out concerts, Elvis achieved stardom all around the world. Sadly, after years of abusing drugs and alcohol, Elvis’s health deteriorated in the last years of his life. He passed away in 1977 at the age of 42.
What’s your favorite song? Explore Elvis Presley’s family tree to see how you’re related!