He was labeled ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ for the onstage gyrations that drove his teenage fans to distraction. Others called him ‘swivel hips’. In the end, however, Elvis Presley was known simply as The King of Rock ’n’ Roll – a mantle that has stuck to this day.
Now, on the 40th anniversary of his death in 1977 at the age of 42, the Presley family has released Elvis, The Legend, with unique images from the family-owned archives, detailing every aspect of his life.
Not many stars, particularly in the Fifties, were known only by one name. But Elvis was always different. His musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. But he loved all music, and was a perfectionist who never stopped till the sound was perfect – he did 31 takes of Hound Dog before he was convinced he’d got it right.
Elvis loved all music, and was a perfectionist who never stopped till the sound was perfect – he did 31 takes of Hound Dog before he was convinced he’d got it right.
The Presley family has released Elvis, The Legend, with unique images from the family-owned archives, detailing every aspect of his life.
With his pegged trousers, leather jackets and jumpsuits – devised so he could more comfortably display the kung-fu kicks he had mastered after studying the martial art since his time in the army – he also developed his own iconic style including the slicked back hair which made him look like the truck driver he once was in his youth. Indeed he went on to define what it meant to be a rock star: he had his own custom-made jewelry and sunglasses, a lavish Southern mansion, planes, trains and a fleet of luxury cars.
He was devoted to his mother Gladys and was determined to rescue his family from the poverty they had known through most of his youth. At her graveside, he sobbed: ‘Oh God. Everything I have is gone.’
Elvis poses in his army uniform at Graceland in 1959. While serving in Germany he was allowed to live off base with his father and grandmother. He also employed a secretary to answer fan mail and signed autographs every evening for the fans who gathered outside.
Elvis’s talent, good looks, sensuality, and self-deprecating humor endeared him to millions – and that musical legacy lives on today.
Elvis starred in 33 successful films and has sold over one billion records – more than any other artist. His talent, good looks, sensuality, and self-deprecating humor endeared him to millions – and that musical legacy lives on today.
Over the following pages, Event pays tribute to The King, with never-before-seen images, personal details and very private tributes to a man the world remembers simply as Elvis.
On the front lawn of Graceland in 1957, the year he bought it for $102,500. He loved the mansion for its privacy, adding gates with huge musical notes at the front entrance.
Elvis plays touch football in 1956.
A poverty-stricken childhood, his stillborn twin… and a rocky start to the career of the man who would be rock ’n’ roll’s King
The 1930s /40s Born on January 8, 1935, in a two-room shotgun shack in Tupelo, Mississippi, the future King was a twin.
Elvis’s brother, Jesse, was stillborn, and pain over the sibling he never knew would ‘tear up his head’ in later life. He grew up a ‘mama’s boy’, devoted to his mother, Gladys, and close to his father, Vernon, who during Elvis’s early childhood served time in jail for cheque fraud.
Elvis aged two with his mother and father – the photograph was later used on the cover of Elvis Country.
Elvis with parents Gladys and Vernon (his father had a cameo in Live A Little, Love A Little)
A tall, shy child, at the age of ten Presley, gave his first public performance, singing Old Shep in front of several hundred people at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, dressed in a cowboy suit and standing on a chair to reach the microphone.
Soon after, he has gifted his first guitar on his 11th birthday. In 1948 the family moved 100 miles southeast to a small apartment on Poplar Avenue, Memphis.
Rumour had it that Vernon was involved in a moonshine racket and had to leave town fast. ‘We were broke, man,’ Elvis later recalled. ‘We just left overnight. Things had to be better.’
From hillbilly to soldier, husband, father… and rock sensation
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