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Elvis Presley Biography

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Birth Name: Elvis Aaron Presley
Born: 1935/01/08
Birth Place: Tupelo, Mississippi, United States
Died: 1977/08/16
Years Active: 1954–1977
Genres: Rock And Roll, Pop, Rockabilly, Country, Blues, Gospel, R&B

Elvis Aaron (or Aron) Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King." Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family at the age of 13. He began his career there in 1954 when Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, eager to bring the sound of African American music to a wider audience, saw in Presley the means to realize his ambition. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was one of the originators of rockabilly, an up tempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country and rhythm and blues. RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who would manage the singer for over two decades.

Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel,” released in January 1956, was a #1 hit. RCA Victor released Presley's self-titled debut album, including a cover of Carl Perkins' rockabilly anthem "Blue Suede Shoes," in March 1956 and became the first rock and roll album to top the Billboard chart, a position it held for ten weeks.

He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs, many from African American sources, and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular and controversial.

In November 1956, he made his film debut in ''Love Me Tender.'' Each of the three Presley singles released in the first half of 1957 went to #1, "Too Much,” "All Shook Up” and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.”

Conscripted into military service in 1958, Presley had ten Top 40 hits between his induction and discharge, including "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” the best-selling "Hard Headed Woman” and "One Night" in 1958, and "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" and the #1 "A Big Hunk o' Love" in 1959. RCA also managed to generate four albums compiling old material during this period, most successfully 1958’s “Elvis' Golden Records,” which hit #3 on the LP chart.

Presley re-launched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. Back in Memphis, he wasted no time in returning to the studio. Sessions in 1960 yielded two of his best-selling singles, the ballads "It's Now or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and the album “Elvis Is Back!” Released only days after recording was complete, it reached #2 on the album chart.

He staged few concerts, however, and, guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In the first half of the decade, three of Presley's soundtrack albums hit #1 on the pop charts, and a few of his most popular songs came from his films, such as 1961’s "Can't Help Falling in Love" and 1962’s "Return to Sender.” “Viva Las Vegas,” the title track to the 1964 film, was a minor hit as a B-side, and became truly popular only later.

During a five-year span of 1964 through 1968 Presley had only one Top 10 hit with 1965’s "Crying in the Chapel,” a gospel number recorded back in 1960. As for non-movie albums, between the June 1962 release of “Pot Luck” and the November 1968 release of the soundtrack to the television special that signaled his comeback, only one LP of new material by Presley was issued, 1967’s gospel album “How Great Thou Art.” It won him his first Grammy Award, for Best Sacred Performance.

In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours.

Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio, which led to the acclaimed “From Elvis in Memphis.” Released in June 1969, “From Elvis in Memphis” was his first secular, non-soundtrack album from a dedicated period in the studio in eight years. The album featured the hit single "In the Ghetto,” which reached #3 on the pop chart, Presley's first non-gospel Top 10 hit since "Bossa Nova Baby" in 1963. Further hit singles were culled from the American Sound sessions, "Suspicious Minds,” "Don't Cry Daddy” and "Kentucky Rain.”

The double album “From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis,” was released in 1969 The first LP consisted of live performances from the International Hotel in Las Vegas, the second of more cuts from the American Sound sessions. "Suspicious Minds" reached the top of the charts and was Presley's first U.S. pop #1 in over seven years, and his last.

Presley, in 1971, became the first rock and roll singer to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award (then known as the Bing Crosby Award) by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Grammy Award organization.

MGM filmed Presley in April 1972 for “Elvis on Tour,” which went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film that year. His gospel album “He Touched Me,” released that month, would earn him his second Grammy Award, for Best Inspirational Performance. A 14-date tour commenced with an unprecedented four consecutive sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. The evening concert on July 10 was recorded and issued in LP form a week later. “Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden” became one of Presley's biggest-selling albums. After the tour, the single "Burning Love" was released and was Presley's last Top 10 hit on the U.S. pop chart.

In January 1973, Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, ''Aloha from Hawaii,'' seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers. The accompanying double album, released in February, went to #1 and eventually sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. It proved to be Presley's last U.S. #1 pop album during his lifetime.

He continued to tour extensively throughout 1973 and 1974 despite suffering from addiction to prescription drugs. Recorded in March 1974, another concert record, “Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis” was released that same year. It featured a version of "How Great Thou Art" that would win Presley his third and final competitive Grammy Award. All three of his competitive Grammy wins, out of 14 total nominations, were for gospel recordings. In studio sessions between July 1973 and October 1976, Presley recorded virtually the entire contents of six albums. Though he was no longer a major presence on the pop charts, five of those albums entered the Top 5 of the Billboard Country Albums chart, and three went to #1, 1975’s “Promised Land,” 1976’s “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and 1977’s “Moody Blue.” The story was similar with his singles, as there were no major pop hits, but Presley was a significant force in not just the country market, but on adult contemporary radio as well. Eight studio singles from this period released during his lifetime were Top 10 hits on one or both charts, four in 1974 alone. "My Boy" was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit in 1975, and "Moody Blue" topped the country chart and reached the second spot on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1976. "Way Down" was Presley's last single issued during his lifetime, and was released in June 1977.

After years of prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, Presley died suddenly on August 6, 1977 at the age of 42. Between 1977 and 1981, six posthumously released singles by Presley were Top 10 country hits.

The RIAA first began tracking sales of Presley in 1958, who didn't receive his first gold album award until 1960. In August 1992, he was awarded with 110 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums and singles, the largest presentation of gold and platinum record awards in history. To date, Elvis has 151 different albums (LPs and EPs) and singles certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA. According to RIAA, he has sold over 129.5 million albums units in the United States alone, making him the best selling solo albums artist of all time in that country, second overall, behind The Beatles. According to RCA estimations, he is the best selling artist of all time, with sales to over 1 billion records worldwide in all formats (600 million in the United States alone).

Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into four music halls of fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2007. In 1984, he received the W. C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation and the Academy of Country Music's first Golden Hat Award. In 1987, he received the American Music Awards' Award of Merit. Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture.