Elvis deveoloped a unique look and sound at a time when racial issues divided all aspects of society. Elvis bought clothes and listened to music on Memphis' Beale Street, an area reserved mostly for black Blues musicians. As Blues began to evolve into Rock n' Roll, Elvis added his own white influences to the genre, combining Country, Gospel and Blues in the music that he performed for his family, church and at school.
Upon graduation from High School in 1953, Elvis began training to be an electrician while taking on a variety of menial jobs to support himself. He also pursued his music, making use of The Memphis Recording Studio. The studio's owner, Sam Phillips, took great interest in Elvis' sound, and decided to record Elvis on his Sun Records label, Phillips brought in two local musicians, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, to the sessions, who became Elvis' first band.
Elvis recorded several singles for Sun Records and went on an extended tour of the South with Scotty and Bill. A pivitol moment occured when events manager Colonel Tom Parker caught the act at the Louisian Hayride, a radio program where Elvis made regular Saturday night performances. In August, 1955, Parker became Elvis' manager, and parlayed a astonishing $40,000 contract with RCA records; an astonishing amount for that time.
Elvis died on August 16, 1977 from heart failure resulting from drug abuse. His legend looms large, and he is as popular today as ever. his Memphis home, Graceland, has become a Mecca for fans, and his films and music remain a lasting legacy enjoyed by millions worldwide. A cottage industry has arisen aroun impersonating Elvis, and, although his death was well documented, there have been many reports of sightings in the years since his passing.
DID YOU KNOW
As a child, Elvis' parents bought him a guitar when they couldn't afford to buy him a bicycle
Elvis' first public appearance was in 1945, when he sang "Old Shep" at a talent contest at the Mississippi/Alabama Fair and Dairy Show