40th anniversary of Elvis’s death: All shook up | Sunday Observer

40th anniversary of Elvis’s death: All shook up

Elvis marries Priscilla Beaulieu on May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel, Las Vegas followed by a lavish reception. He’d first met her in Germany when she was just 14
Elvis marries Priscilla Beaulieu on May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel, Las Vegas followed by a lavish reception. He’d first met her in Germany when she was just 14

He was labelled ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ for the onstage gyrations that drove his teenage fans to distraction. Others called him ‘swivel hips’. In the end, however, Elvis Presley was known simply as The King of Rock ’n’ Roll - a mantle that has stuck to this day.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of his death in 1977, at the age of 42, the Presley family has released Elvis, The Legend, with unique images from the family-owned archives, detailing every aspect of his life.

Not many stars, particularly, in the Fifties, were known only by one name. But, Elvis was always different. His musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. But, he loved all music, and was a perfectionist who never stopped till the sound was perfect - he did 31 takes of Hound Dog before he was convinced he’d got it right.

With his pegged trousers, leather jackets and jumpsuits - devised so he could more comfortably display the kung-fu kicks he had mastered after studying martial art since his time in the army - he also developed his own iconic style, including the slicked black hair which made him look like the truck driver he once was, in his youth. Indeed, he went on to define what it meant to be a rock star: he had his own custom-made jewellery and sunglasses, a lavish Southern mansion, planes, trains and a fleet of luxury cars.

He was devoted to his mother, Gladys, and was determined to rescue his family from the poverty they had known through most of his youth. At her graveside he sobbed: ‘Oh God. Everything I have is gone.’

Elvis starred in 33 successful films and has sold over one billion records - more than any other artist. His talent, good looks, sensuality and self-deprecating humour endeared him to millions - and that musical legacy lives on today. In its pages, Event pays tribute to The King, with never-before-seen images, personal details and very private tributes for a man the world remembers simply as, Elvis.

1930s /40s

Born on January 8, 1935, in a two-room shotgun shack in Tupelo, Mississippi, the future King was a twin.

Elvis’s brother, Jesse, was stillborn, and pain over the sibling he never knew would ‘tear up his head’ in later life. He grew up a ‘mama’s boy’, devoted to his mother, Gladys, and close to his father, Vernon, who during Elvis’s early childhood served time in jail for cheque fraud.

A tall, shy child, at the age of ten, Presley gave his first public performance, singing Old Shep in front of several hundred people at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, dressed in a cowboy suit and standing on a chair to reach the microphone.

Soon after, he was gifted his first guitar on his 11th Birthday. In 1948, the family moved 100 miles southeast to a small apartment in Poplar Avenue, Memphis.

Rumour had it that Vernon was involved in a moonshine racket and had to leave town fast. ‘We were broke, man,’ Elvis later recalled. ‘We just left overnight. Things had to be better.’


Elvis began the decade a poor ‘hillbilly’ and ended it, the most famous face on the planet. Working odd jobs, from cinema usher to truck driver, he began exploring the Memphis music scene on Beale Street, home to the R&B clubs. Slicking back his long hair with Vaseline he cut an eccentric figure, often singled out for ridicule. In 1953, he recorded an acetate of My Happiness at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios in downtown Memphis. ‘Who do you sound like?’ he was asked. ‘I don’t sound like nobody,’ he replied.

A year later, on July 5, 1954, Presley was back to record his version of That’s Alright Mama - and everything changed forever. The song was a sensation. A string of hysteria-fuelled local shows and regional hits followed.

The King was dead. Long live The King.

- dailymail.co.uk