A king in any country, culture, or world, is considered a great privilege and a prestigious position. There are more than 25 different monarchies in the world expanding over 40 countries with kings and queens reigning over their own empire. Some of the most famous kings in history are fictional such as King Mufasa from the “Lion King” or the King of Wakanda, Black Panther. Even with all these kings, there seems to be one name in mind when it comes to the “King of Rock n’ Roll.” Elvis Presley seems to be the name that gets brought up a somewhat useless debate of the true King of Rock n’ Roll. Elvis lived a very highlighted life all the way from his birth to his sudden death. Throughout this narrative, it will cover Elvis’ early life, his road to stardom, and the tragic last years of his life.
Elvis was born Elvis Aron Presley on January 8, 1935. Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi to Gladys and Vernon Presley in a small two-bedroom house. Elvis was initially supposed to have a twin brother, Jessie Garon, but he was stillborn. So, Elvis grew up an only child. Elvis was very passionate and respectful towards his parents, more importantly his mother. Elvis and his family had little money as he was growing up, so they found themselves moving around from place to place often. Elvis and his parents packed up their belongings and moved from Tupelo, Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948. Elvis attended Humes High School and later graduated in 1958. Elvis got a lot of his influence for music from the pop and country music industry of the time. He also found himself enjoying black R&B while exploring the streets of Memphis as a teenager.
Elvis and his family found themselves at church where Elvis caught a good vibe from the Gospel music and he often attended all-night gospels which he also was influenced by. Elvis was raised in a home deeply devoted to faith and having a strong relationship with God. Gospel music left a big impact on his early life and helped his drive to find himself in the music industry. On his 11th birthday, Elvis received the one thing that launched his love into music, a guitar given to him by his mother. Elvis won a talent show at his high school and that was his first real taste with music. Presley had a fast track to stardom once he got his feet settled in the dirt and ready to take off. Elvis worked several jobs after graduating in 1953 while chasing his music dream. Elvis produced his first demo with Sun Studio later that year. The record labels owner, Sam Phillips, later decided to take the young musician as his own and guide him through the process of becoming a young star. After falling under Phillip’s wing, Presley later started touring and recording music.
Elvis was just trying to get his moment and capture it while the opportunity presented itself. Elvis released his first solo “That’s All Right” in 1954. Elvis was known for having an interesting and different musical style for the time. In 1955, he soon developed a fan base that were drawn to this kind of music style, groovy hips and good looks. Later that year, Elvis signed with the label company, RCA Records. Thanks to his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis was on a nice little roll of good fortune. Soon after, Elvis scored his first No. 1 song with “Heartbreak Hotel” on his first ever album, Elvis Presley. Things begin to heat up even more for the young Elvis, as he signs a movie contract with Paramount Pictures. All the life changing events transpired in the same year, 1956. This was the year that things seemingly skyrocketed for Elvis Presley and it was the start of a legacy. Although the country was admired by his hypnotizing dance moves, he frequently appeared on several television shows. During his sudden up rise in the industry, Elvis received his draft notice in 1957 and was sworn in as a U.S. soldier the following March.
His induction was a huge public event as hundreds of bystanders watch on. Elvis was chosen to serve two years of active duty and four years of reserves. The Navy and Air Force quickly offered him to join their branches as they knew they stumbled upon a nation-wide star. They both had starry visions of the young star, wanting to start his own company and having him present at recruiting centers. Elvis quickly shut down these offers, as he did not want any special treatment from the other soldiers. Although Elvis was off at basic training, that didn’t stop him from making music during the free time he got throughout the day. Elvis mentioned how he had a lot of doubters in him whenever he was inducted into military services. Elvis reflected on his time away to a television and radio broadcasted interview where he stated, “I was in a funny position. Actually, that’s the only way it could be. People were expecting me to mess up, to goof up in one way or another.
They thought I couldn’t take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise, not only to the people who were wondering, but to myself”. Elvis was overseas in Germany for about a year and a half before his mother passed away. Elvis was granted leave and returned to his home of Memphis for his mother’s funeral. He would later return to active duty in Germany, where his spirits were low until he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. “It has been reported that Elvis privately feared that his stint in the military would negatively affect the momentum he had building in his music and film career, but he needn’t have worried — over fifty years and a multitude of hits later, his legendary status and legacy as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is still secure” (Military.com). Elvis left the Army in 1960. Shortly after returning from his service overseas, he resumed his fast-track career. Elvis found himself at the top of the charts again with his soundtrack from his motion picture Gl Blues.
He continued to make music and star in big films. These movies were often good or bad, both with critics and audiences. Even though these movies were hit or miss, they still brought in good money and the soundtracks usually sold pretty well. By the late 1960’s, the famous star started to find himself moving away from the big screen as his sales were at their lowest in the box office. Elvis felt like he still had to prove himself as the “King.” Elvis recorded his first ever TV special often called “68 Comeback” in 1968. He still had a major impact on audiences with unique skills as both a vocalist and a guitarist and proved that he still was indeed the “King of Rock n’ Roll.” Elvis had a very notorious and successful career, as he gained the status of “King of Rock n’ Roll,” which he is still known around the world as. He almost seemed to start a long, notorious history of Rock n’ Roll that continued for decades after he rose to stardom. “Here are a few Elvis Presley facts: he starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas.
Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards. Among his many achievements were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees”. As many rock stars do, Elvis found himself in a dark spot during his career and had a hard time climbing out of it. During his late 1960’s peak in music, it also seemed as if his personal life had taken off into nothing but good. Elvis and Priscilla got married in 1967 and one year later, they had their first and only daughter, Lisa Marie. This exciting and happy time didn’t seem to last long. In the early 1970’s, the Presley’s marriage was going downhill, and their happiness seemed to be running out. Elvis and Priscilla divorced in 1973, and Priscilla received full custody over Lisa Marie. Along with stress of a failed marriage, Elvis was also dealing with other personal problems.
Presley was battling a growing addiction to prescription drugs and was also fighting a growing weight problem. This self-harming and destructive lifestyle later had him end up in the hospital for drug-related health issues. Aside from all these personal problems, Elvis was still a huge hit on tour and in Las Vegas. He still drew sellout crowds and was still the biggest icon in music at the time. Despite still performing on tour, his drug addiction continued, and he was still in a constant struggle with himself. Elvis later performed his last show in June 1977. Following the show, he returned to his mansion in Memphis, Graceland. He returned to Memphis in the wake of planning another tour. Elvis Presley died August 16, 1977, at age 42 in his Memphis mansion. Presley died of heart failure, which was caused by his prescription drug addiction. Medics from a nearby hospital rushed to the Graceland mansion in an attempt to save him. When they arrived at the scene, Elvis was cold to the touch and his skin was a light grey.
Elvis’s personal doctor requested they go to a hospital much farther away than the closest ones because he knew the staff would be discreet about the situation. The staff of Baptist Memorial Hospital gave their best effort to revive Presley but failed. He was pronounced dead at 3:30pm. His death was sudden and shocked fans worldwide. “During the hearings, evidence was presented that Dr. Nichopoulos had written prescriptions for over 8,000 doses of medication since 1975 and that the pattern had been escalating since then. During the hearings, Dr. Nichophoulos admitted to writing the prescriptions. In his defense, he claimed that Elvis was so addicted to pain killers that he prescribed the medications to keep Elvis away from dangerous and illegal street drugs, trying to control his addiction (Greg Timmons). Elvis was buried on his Graceland property next to his mother, father and grandmother. Elvis Presley’s body was opened to the public on August 17, 1977 and an estimated 100,000 viewers showed up to view “The King’s” lifeless body.
The event later got cut off early due to extreme heat and worrisome of the heat disfiguring his body. “On August 18, 1977 a funeral procession of 17 white Cadillacs and a hearse carrying the body of the “King of Rock and Roll” slowly made its way from Graceland to Forrest Hill Cemetery. Under heavy guard, a simple ceremony was conducted. Present were Elvis’ former wife Priscilla, and his daughter Lisa Marie, his father Vernon, and Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis’ paternal grandmother. Several celebrities, including Chet Atkins, Ann-Margret, Caroline Kennedy, James Brown, Sammy Davis, Jr. and of course Colonel Tom Parker” (Timmons). The King of Rock n’ Roll had passed and there was no one else like him to fit his shoes in the music industry.
Elvis Presley was a pop culture and music icon, and he still is. He left a mark that no one had seen to the date, and not many people have filled even to today’s date. Elvis grew up in a home that was surrounded by love for his family, faith, and music. He was not indulged in money growing up, but he still made the best out of the situation by becoming one of the most iconic musicians of all-time. Elvis shot to stardom and he became a national figure for all ages with his good looks, funky hips, and different style of music. He impacted millions of lives, as people were caught up in the biggest rockstar of their time, and they couldn’t get enough of him. Elvis lived a fast-paced life and overcame many obstacles to get to where he was at which included fighting for his country. Although Elvis dealt with his own personal problems, which later caused his death, it doesn’t alter what he did to this world and the music industry. Elvis lived his life to the fullest and brought joy to millions of people worldwide with his many different talents. His untimely death doesn’t change the fact that he is still one of the biggest icons in music history. Elvis Presley was the King, and will forever be, the King of Rock n’ Roll.