Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Vernon Presley and Gladys Love (née Smith) Presley.
Elvis’ twin Jesse Garon was delivered stillborn. Presley became close to both parents, especially his mother.
The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration. Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, and the family often relied on neighbors and government food assistance.
In 1938 they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check and jailed for eight months.
In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his teachers regarded him as “average”.
His first public performance was a singing contest at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, when he was 10; he sang “Old Shep” and recalled placing fifth.
A few months later, Presley received his first guitar for his birthday; he received guitar lessons from two uncles and a pastor at the family’s church.
Presley recalled, “I took the guitar, and I watched people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in public. I was very shy about it.
In September 1946, Presley entered a new school, Milam, for sixth grade. The following year, he began singing and playing his guitar at school.
He was often teased as a “trashy” kid who played hillbilly music.
Presley was a devotee of Mississippi Slim’s radio show. He was described as “crazy about music” by Slim’s younger brother, one of Presley’s classmates.
Slim showed Presley chord techniques.
When his protégé was 12, Slim scheduled him for two on-air performances.
Presley was overcome by stage fright the first time but performed the following week.
In November 1948, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
Enrolled at L. C. Humes High School, Presley received a C in music in eighth grade.
When his music teacher said he had no aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar and sang a recent hit, “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me”.
He was usually too shy to perform openly and was occasionally bullied by classmates for being a “mama’s boy”.
In 1950, Presley began practicing guitar under the tutelage of Lee Denson, a neighbor.
They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective.
During his junior year, Presley began to stand out among his classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew his sideburns and styled his hair.
He would head down to Beale Street, the heart of Memphis’ thriving blues scene, and admire the wild, flashy clothes at Lansky Brothers. By his senior year, he was wearing those clothes.
He competed in Humes’ Annual “Minstrel” Show in 1953, singing and playing “Till I Waltz Again with You”, a recent hit for Teresa Brewer.
Presley recalled that the performance did much for his reputation:
I wasn’t popular in school … I failed music—only thing I ever failed.
And then they entered me in this talent show … when I came onstage, I heard people kind of rumbling and whispering and so forth, ’cause nobody knew I even sang.
It was amazing how popular I became in school after that.
On the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death, The New York Times asserted:
All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and distant memory.
But before Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a genuine cultural force.
Elvis’ breakthroughs are underappreciated because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry style have triumphed so completely.
Not only Presley’s achievements but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as adding to the power of his legacy, as in this description by Greil Marcus:
Elvis Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons.
The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues.
Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.
Elvis died August 16, 1977 (aged 42) Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Written by: Christmas Songs Radio