"Before Elvis, there was nothing."
Elvis Aron Presley (1935-1977), known as "the King of Rock and Roll", was one of the most influential singers of the mid-20th century, selling over a billion records worldwide. He began his professional singing career and signed his first contract in 1954 with when Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who teamed him with two other musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. (They were later joined by drummer D.J. Fontana.)
In November 1955, Phillips auctioned off Presley's contract to RCA Records. His first single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in late January 1956, a mere 17 weeks after recording, and sold over a million copies, 300,000 of those in its first three weeks.
Also in January 1956, Presley had his first screen test for Paramount Pictures. His first movie was Love Me Tender. (Presley eventually starred in 31 fictional films, as well as two documentaries.) Over the spring and summer of that year, he made several television appearances.
The naturally blond Presley began dyeing his hair black in January 1957. By his early 20s, his hair was described as naturally a dark chestnut color.
In March 1957, Presley bought Graceland, which would later become his famous estate. He didn't spend his first night there until June 1957.
Presley filmed King Creole in the first quarter of 1958, before being inducted into the U.S. Army. During his 18-month tour in Germany, he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu, and took karate lessons. In 1960, Presley was promoted to sergeant and received his full stripes before being officially discharged from active military duty.
"Blue Hawaii" entered the Billboard charts in October 1961 and stayed there for 1½ years, becoming the best-selling of Presley's singles during his lifetime. His best-selling album was G.I. Blues.
In 1962, Presley saw Beaulieu for the first time since their meeting in Germany. They married in spring 1967 in a private ceremony in Las Vegas. Their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born in February 1968.
In the late summer of 1968, Presley filmed Charro!, the only movie in which he did not sing on camera.
Despite persistent denials that Presley died in 1977, the U.S. Postal Service put his likeness on a first-class postage stamp in 1993.
- Berserk Button: He hated being called The King.
- Big Eater: More like Huge Eater. Elvis (with a pair of Colorado cops) once flew all the way out to Denver at about midnight to eat a couple of Fool's Gold Loaves (a hollowed-out, lightly-toasted Italian loaf) filled with a whole jar of peanut butter, a whole jar of grape jelly, and an entire pound of bacon. That's right, we said a couple: he probably ate at least four of the things that night. Since one of the cops was the friend of the guy who owned the restaurant that made the damned things, they got a tray of them wheeled out to the Denver airport, where they and their pilots ate the sandwiches (washed down with Perrier sparkling and Dom Perignon) and flew back to Memphis. Without even leaving the airport.
- Bishonen: For the first part of his career (to near-Stupid Sexy Flanders levels). Really, if you didn't catch on through the picture above...
- Book Ends: "In The Ghetto" starts and ends with a boy being born in the ghetto.
- But Not Too Black: Think Eminem in the mid-1950s. It's the primary reason why Presley is considered the "King of Rock and Roll". Being considered a pale imitation (don't excuse the pun) of the black singers who originated Rock and Roll would be an understatement.
- He's considered the Mighty Whitey of Rock and Roll to many.
- Elvis himself seemed to believe this. He was once heard to lament that he couldn't sing as well as Fats Domino, but people would only listen to him anyway.
- Corpsing: Elvis throws in a random Mondegreen in this live performance of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" He thought it was funny and could not stop laughing. But after a while, neither could the audience.
- Dream Team: The Million Dollar Quartet. Elvis met up with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins in Sun Studios in 1956 and they recorded a few songs in an impromptu jam session.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Inverted; he hated being called The King, and would tell anyone who called him this that there was only one King--considering he was a Christian, you can probably guess who he meant.
- Even the Guys Want Him: One colleague said, "I'm straight as an arrow and I got to tell you, you stop, whether you're male or female, to look at him. He was that good looking."
- Fan Nickname: The lesser-known "Elvis the Pelvis", among others.
- Might've been used as a detractor nickname, too. Elvis notably disliked the nickname, saying something along the lines of "I can't fathom what sort of adult would come up with that" in an interview (which can be viewed in Graceland, Memphis, if you take a tour of the estate as it is).
- Generation Xerox: The vicious cycle of poverty implied at the end of "In The Ghetto."
- Hell-Bent for Leather: The Elvis 1968 special: The man rocks both the music and his black leather jacket and tight pants.
- Hotblooded Sideburns
- It Will Never Catch On: In 1954, he was auditioning for a musician called Eddie Bond. Bond said to him: "Stick to driving a truck, because you'll never make it as a singer." Elvis recorded his first hit a few months later.
- Momma's Boy: Elvis promised that he would take care of his parents when he made it big, and he kept that promise, even bringing his parents to live at Graceland, where they are buried alongside him.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Elvis Presley met The Beatles once. No one recorded it. Cue agonized groans of despair from fans.
- Real Men Love Jesus
- Rearrange the Song: Elvis Vs JXL's "A Little Less Conversation"
- The Rock Star
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "In The Ghetto"
- Shoot the Television: Elvis is, at least, the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker. He was known for doing this at least once, possibly many times. Several stories and explanations of Elvis doing this exist, some less true than others. He's rumored to have kept a basement full of spare TV's so he would always have a fresh set handy after destroying another one. One television set shot by Elvis is on public display at Graceland.
- Too Hot for TV: When Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the cameras kept trying to censor his waist by aiming up or doing close-ups of his face, due to the effect his gyrations were having on female audience members. (And thus, presumably, any teenage girls tuning in.)
- Comedian Ernie Kovacs spoofed this on his show by presenting "The bottom half of Elvis!" (A pair of pants with a guitar attached dancing around the stage.)
- Trademark Favorite Food: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also, bacon.
- Treacherous Advisor: Colonel Tom Parker.
- Verbal Tic: "Uh-huh!"
Elvis... has left the trope page