Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship would have been illegal today
Priscilla Beaulieu was indeed young when Elvis set his sites on her, but they went on to marry, and she was the only woman Elvis ever took vows with. Life was a whirlwind for the teenager as she came of age married to the most coveted man in the world.
“I was kind of lost really in who I was earlier in my life, I really didn’t have teenage years,” she later said. “I learned so much about him and was with him so much that I thought the way he did.” Priscilla was only 14 years old when the two met — Elvis was 24.
He had a twin
Elvis Presley, the undisputed King of rock ‘n roll, was born on January 8, 1935, in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Evidently, there was another king, as Elvis was born a twin, but his brother didn’t make it through the complicated birth that forced his mother to go to the hospital.
As a result, his mother never had another child, and she became very attached to her young, future monarch of music. They were so close that when she died in 1958, it’s reported that funeral guests became uncomfortable with the extreme amount of sorrow shown by Elvis. Others say he was never the same after she died.
Elvis was really shy
There’s an age-old question in America: Rifle or guitar?
Eventually, Elvis would choose both. But at age 11, his mother got the guitar instead of the rifle. She wanted to keep his fingers stringing instruments instead of pulling triggers (though she was only delaying his affinity for guns for the time being).
It may surprise some to learn that the ultimate performer was exceptionally shy when he grew up. He learned to play the guitar as soon as he got it and started singing too. He was so good at singing that when he was 12 years old, a local radio station offered him a chance to sing on one of their shows, but he turned the opportunity down for a reason that’s very un-Elvis: he was too scared.
He was turned down after an audition when he was 19
When Elvis was 19 years old, he auditioned to join a gospel quartet called Songfellows. In a move the judging panel probably later regretted, they turned him down. But that ended up working out for all of us because Elvis had already started recording songs.
The previous year, Elvis recorded his first song. He paid $4 to have the song tracked, and it was a gift for his mother. By now Elvis was in Memphis, Tennessee after his family moved there when he was 13 years old. In 1954, the same year he auditioned for the Songfellows, he was about to make an already budding music scene in Memphis rock and roll.
Elvis used shoe polish to make his hair black
As legend has it, a local DJ played Elvis’ “That’s All Right” 14 times in one day. The Memphis listeners loved it, but the only problem was they didn’t believe Elvis was white. The only thing black about Elvis was his hair, and he used shoe polish to make that happen.
By 1955 Elvis was rising, but nowhere near the household name status he enjoys today. In that same year, he bought a ’55 Fleetwood Series 60 Cadillac (his second Cadillac). He gave it to his mother who didn’t even have a driver’s license, but that didn’t stop him from touring in it with Scotty Moore and Bill Black in 1955 and 1956. You can view the pink Cadillac today at Graceland.
He didn’t write any of his songs
The King’s breakout hit was actually an ominous song about a man who jumped out of a window in a hotel in Kentucky. The single’s name was “Heartbreak Hotel” and it was released in 1956. It became his first million-dollar seller, and just like every other song he released, he didn’t write it.
“Heartbreak Hotel” has simple guitar strings, but it’s catchy, and Elvis’ voice shows its range from high-pitched whaling, down to his own low tone. While the sound certainly caught everyone’s ears, it was really when their eyes saw him move about on TV. His fast-moving, suggestive hips bumped shock-waves around the world.
“Elvis the Pelvis”
We may know Elvis as the King, and as much as it deserves to be a title for him, it’s a nickname. While it’s the one that stuck through time, there were a few other nicknames before he was crowned eternally. His first nickname came after a performance of “Hound Dog” on live TV.
Elvis uncharacteristically didn’t perform with his guitar, and that was at the request of host Milton Berle who said, “Let ‘em see you, son.” Elvis rocked that stage, gyrating his hips as he sashayed around the microphone stand. The performance affected the audience so profoundly that he was immediately dubbed “Elvis the Pelvis.”
Elvis’ first album spent 10 weeks in the #1 spot
Elvis gained another short-lived nickname that stuck around about as long as Jell-O nailed to a wall. We can all be happy that the “Atomic Powered Singer” didn’t stick and understand that a nickname like that came from the United States at the height of its nuclear testing and in the group think of the Cold War.
Speaking of bombs going off, Elvis Presley soared into the stratosphere with his debut album “Elvis Presley.” It was the first rock and roll album to go number one, and it stayed there for an astonishing ten weeks in 1956. Elvis had hit the ground running and was a star right off the bat.
Elvis starred in over 30 movies
Also in 1956 “Elvis the Pelvis,” and the “Atomic Powered Singer” were bulldozed aside as the coronation of the “King” saw Elvis rule the court of rock and roll for all time. He took the throne, the one that he reigns from even now, even today, pretty much from the get-go. His performances had women in screaming frenzies and critics swooning.
In the same year Elvis was called “a savage” by a Florida judge for “undermining the youth.” But what kind of rock star doesn’t stir up a little controversy? Riding Elvis mania, the King ventured into his film career. Elvis was quite the actor. He went on to star in over 30 films in his lifetime.
Elvis bought (and lived in) Graceland within the first year of his career
In 1957 Elvis purchased his famous home (and now the notorious landmark), called Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Rumor has it that the previous owner named it after his daughter Grace. Elvis bought for $100,000. It became an iconic tribute to the singer and remains a popular tourist attraction for Elvis fans.
Elvis was living the good life, but 1958 brought about a lot of change. All kidding aside, Elvis was really fond of his mother, and he took it very hard when she died in August of that year of a heart attack. Elvis apparently received over 100,000 cards from sympathetic fans.