Once a lonesome southern boy now a legendary icon of the Rock ‘n’ Roll age! Elvis Presley is The King, with his cheeky smile, devilish good looks, and gyrating hips, you can hardly take your eyes off him! But what else do you know about Presley? Read on to learn 50 rockin’ facts about The King: Elvis Presley.
Fact 1: His full name was Elvis Aaron Presley.
- Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935.
Fact 2: Elvis might have been The King in the American music industry, but he was also a great actor when he was away from the stage.
- One of his top-selling movies was ‘Jailhouse Rock’ in 1957.
Fact 3: Elvis had romantic inclinations towards young women.
- Elvis was insecure about his self-worth, and was often intimidated by older women, fearing they would judge him for being a ‘Mama’s boy’.
Fact 4: Elvis Presley was often called “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” or in short, “The King”.
- Elvis wasn’t the first to be associated with rocking and rolling, there were several artists before him who laid out the blueprint for this genre. But, it was Elvis who emerged successfully and provided the music and cultural revolution for Rock and Roll and has done ever since.
Fact 5: He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, but his family migrated to Memphis, Tennessee when he was 13.
- He was born into a small family who lived in a 2-room house in Mississippi. Elvis was notably close to his parents, Gladys Love and Vernon Elvis Presley.
Fact 6: The King began his music career in 1954, after a local radio DJ played his version of “That’s All Right”.
- “That’s All Right” was the first single released by Elvis Presley. This song propelled his career when it was played on-air through his producer, Sam Phillips.
Fact 7: Elvis Presley’s black hair was dyed.
- He was born with sandy-coloured hair. He started dying his hair black when he was a teenager and preferred it that way until after his ’68 comeback special.
Fact 8: He got his first guitar when he was just 11 years of age.
- Elvis wanted a rifle or a bicycle for his 12th birthday. But his mother took him to the Tupelo Hardware Store and bought him a $6.95 guitar instead.
Fact 9: When he was 12, he got a proposal to sing live on air by a local radio show.
- But young Elvis was too shy then, so he turned down the opportunity.
Fact 10: At age 18, Elvis recorded his first song for $4.
- Elvis had a very special bond with his mother and decided to record a song as his birthday gift for her. He spent $4 on recording the song, “My Happiness” at Sun Studio in Memphis. Unfortunately, his mother never heard it as the Presleys didn’t own a record player.
Fact 11: He auditioned to be a member of a gospel quartet, “The Songfellows”, in 1954.
- The King was rejected.
Fact 12: Elvis’ song, “Heartbreak Hotel” was considered his breakthrough record, which was released on January 27, 1956.
- The song “Heartbreak Hotel” was inspired by a newspaper article about the suicide of a lonely man who jumped from a hotel window. It topped Billboard’s Top 100 chart for 7 consecutive weeks and became his first million-selling record.
Fact 13: Elvis always had his guitar with him when he was performing, that was until he appeared on TV in 1956, and was advised by host Milton Berle to perform without it.
- This led to those iconic hip movements and gyrations that got the attention of the masses and caused an uproar in the USA and later across the globe. Days after, he earned the pet name, “Elvis the Pelvis”.
Fact 14: “A Savage” — was the name given to Elvis by a Florida judge in 1956.
- The judge believed that Elvis’ music was “undermining the youth”. Hence, he was banned from doing his famous hip movements and body shakings in his performances. Elvis waggled his finger instead as an act of protest.
Fact 15: Before Col. Parker met Elvis, he earned bucks from painting sparrows yellow and selling them as canaries.
- He always said he had eyes for greatness, and it was evident with his talent, Elvis.
Fact 16: Even with his renowned popularity worldwide, Elvis only played 5 concerts outside of the USA.
- Elvis’ international fans barely had the chance to see The King perform live. His longtime manager, Col. Tom Parker, was an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands, so he couldn’t get a U.S. passport, and he was concerned that he would be deported if the authorities knew about his immigration status. Col. Parker’s case was said to be the reason why The King never toured abroad much.
Fact 17: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll stood at 6 feet tall.
- He was an adorable tall man with a shoe size of 11.
Fact 18: “Hound Dog” was a 1956 hit for The King who recorded the song over 31 takes until he was 100% satisfied with the version.
- They recorded the song for several hours before declaring version 28 as “the one”.
Fact 19: The rock star paid $100,000 in 1957 for his mansion ‘Graceland’.
- “Graceland” was named after the previous owner’s daughter. It was Elvis’ home for over 20 years until his untimely death.
Fact 20: Elvis had a habit of changing song lyrics on the spot while performing to amuse himself.
- An example would be his performance for “Are You Lonesome Tonight” in Las Vegas in 1969. The original lyrics were, “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?” but instead he sang along the lines of, “Do you look at your bald head and wish you had hair?”
Fact 21: His first film was “Love Me Tender” in 1956.
- Elvis was the co-star in this film, but it was his first big-screen outing. The movie was a post-Civil War drama about a soldier who found out that his sweetheart was married to his younger brother, after a wrongful report of his death.
Fact 22: The King acted in 31 movies.
- His last film was in 1969, entitled “Change of Habit”.
Fact 23: Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army on December 20, 1957.
- The Rock ‘n’ Roll superstar turned into a role model after spending 2 years in the army. He earned a monthly salary of $78.
Fact 24: “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” were the most successful two-sided hits of Elvis Presley.
- No other artist is able to compete with the cumulative chart performance of this particular record.
Fact 25: Elvis (24 at the time) met his wife, 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, when he was stationed in West Germany in 1959.
- The two tied the knot 8 years later.
Fact 26: His record-breaking single in 1960 “It’s Now or Never” inspired a prisoner who promised himself to pursue a career in music once he got out of jail.
- It was the story of Barry White who served a 4-month punishment in a penal institution for stealing tires.
Fact 27: Elvis had a daughter with Priscilla, Lisa Marie Presley.
- Lisa was the couple’s only child, born on February 1, 1968. She was 9 when her father passed away, but she had a lovely recollection of her father Elvis, “He’d always wake me up to sing in the middle of the night, get on the table and sing.”
Fact 28: Lisa married 2 of Hollywood’s superstars: Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage.
- The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s daughter, Lisa Marie, married the King of Pop, Michael Jackson in 1994. Their marriage lasted for 2 years before she re-married a hardcore Elvis Presley fan, actor Nicolas Cage in 2002.
Fact 29: Lisa’s ex-husband, Nicolas Cage, was the only person outside of the Presley’s immediate family, to have seen Elvis’ bedroom in the Graceland mansion.
- Many celebrities requested private tours on the King’s “throne”, but all were declined.
Fact 30: Elvis Presly and Priscilla separated in 1972, and got divorced a year later.
- Allegedly, Elvis and Priscilla were not very close after she gave birth to Lisa.
Fact 31: Elvis’ fame slowly declined in the ‘60s as other icons came into the spotlight.
- The King’s popularity was overshadowed by the rise of some fresh talents, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and other important figures in the industry. Nevertheless, he got his groove back in a 1968 television special.
Fact 32: Elvis Presley was an alleged distant relative of President Abraham Lincoln.
- Isaiah Harrison, Lincoln’s great-great-grandfather, was an ancestor to the Presleys.
Fact 33: The King was also said to be related to President Jimmy Carter.
- The former president was a 6th cousin once removed to Elvis Presley.
Fact 34: The rock star had recorded over 600 songs.
- However, none were originally written by Elvis Presley.
Fact 35: Elvis had a twin brother.
- He had a twin brother, Jessie Garon, delivered 35 minutes before him, but arrived into the world stillborn. Hence, Elvis grew up as an only child in Tupelo.
Fact 36: He was in chronic grief after the passing of his mother, to which he never fully recovered.
- The two were really close particularly after she lost Elvis’ twin brother.
Fact 37: Elvis owned a ’55 Fleetwood Series 60 Cadillac.
- The Elvis Presley Pink Cadillac is now up for auction.
Fact 38: Elvis Presley loved Cadillacs so much that he bought 200 of them!
- The legendary rock star fancied Cadillacs, and owned a lot of them in his short lifetime, they were later given away to family and friends.
Fact 39: Elvis received 100,000 sympathy cards from fans when the news about his mother broke out.
- His mother, Gladys, died on 14 August 1958 from a heart attack after suffering from liver disease. She was 46 years old.
Fact 40: Priscilla Presley’s father was a US Navy pilot.
- James Wagner was killed in an aeroplane crash when Priscilla was still an infant.
Fact 41: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll helped America beat polio.
- Elvis got a polio vaccination on national TV in 1956. This boosted the immunization levels in the USA from 0.6% to 80% in only 6 months.
Fact 42: Elvis was into karate and was a 7th-degree black belt.
- His interest in martial arts began when he was trained in the Army in 1958. He learned the fighting style of Chito-Ryu, through the help of his instructor Hank Slemansky.
Fact 43: Elvis’ most trusted advisor was Colonel Parker.
- Colonel Tom Parker was Elvis’ longtime manager.
Fact 44: Elvis Presley never played the guitar.
- Although he was often seen walking around with a guitar and strumming it in his performances, he couldn’t actually play. It was only a prop that made him look better and musically competent.
Fact 45: Elvis Presley was quite obsessed with the actor James Dean.
- He even memorized the entirety of James Dean’s opus, ‘Rebel Without A Cause’. And Presley dated Natalie Wood, Dean’s female lead in the film.
Fact 46: Elvis enjoyed the “Fool’s Gold Loaf” so much and had a sandwich named after him, “The Elvis Sandwich”.
- Elvis had always loved food (which became quite clear with his body weight during his later years). The sandwich was a hollowed-out piece of bread that was stuffed with peanut butter, jelly, and bacon.
Fact 47: Elvis was a germaphobe.
- As recalled by his ex-wife Priscilla, Elvis used to sip his glasses from the part above the handle. It’s because he thought that no one would’ve drunk from that part of the glass.
Fact 48: Elvis met President Nixon in 1970 and asked Nixon to grant him a badge as a narcotics agent.
- Although it seemed like an odd and outrageous request, Nixon still granted his wish.
Fact 49: The King liked to play dress up as a police officer.
- He would then pull people (usually women) over to give them his autograph.
Fact 50: Elvis wasn’t always welcome in Las Vegas.
- Elvis first performed in Las Vegas in 1956. He was criticized as the generation wasn’t quite ready for the rock and roll, hip-shaking King. Years later, Elvis became synonymous with Las Vegas with consecutive sold-out performances.