|Subject: ELVIS EARLY YEARS Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:39 pm|| |
He is known as the "King of Rock and Roll", "The King", or more commonly to the world "Elvis"; Whatever name he is known by, Elvis Presley continues to be a world wide phenomena, and cultural Icon.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935 to Vernon and Gladys Presley; Elvis's older twin brother Jesse, who was delivered minutes before him was stillborn. The Presley household lived a "hand to mouth" existence with Vernon Presley's unstable work history.
The Presley's often needed help from family, neighbors. and when possible government assistance.
As the only child, Elvis was close to both his parents, especially his mother. From early on, Elvis Presley's earliest musical influence was the church. In 1938, Vernon Presley was arrested and found guilty of check forgery; as a result of his arrest and time in jail, the Presley's lost their home.
While Vernon was incarcerated Gladys and Elvis Presley went to live with relatives.
In the Fall of 1941, Elvis was enrolled in the first grade; it was during these early years he first begun to attract attention with his singing.
Impressed with young Elvis's singing during morning prayer, his teacher encouraged him to enter a local contest at the county fair. In October 1945, Elvis sang a song called "Old Shep" and although he didn't win, it was his first public performance.
For his birthday in January of 1946, Elvis received his first guitar; he begun to learn chords from his uncles, and later the pastor at his church.
In September 1946, Elvis was in the sixth grade. He was considered to be a loner and shy; this would change soon. In the next year, young Elvis begun to play his guitar and sing during lunch time; he was teased because of his love of hillbilly music, but that didn't stop him from singing; also, it was during this time the Presley's were living in a mostly African American community; so Elvis was exposed to the genre Rhythm and Blues early on.
Elvis loved the music of Mississippi Slim; when Elvis was befriended by the younger brother of Slim, he begun to hang out at the radio station.
Consequently Mississippi Slim took an interest in Elvis, and taught him some Chords. When Slim thought he was ready, he allowed twelve-year-old Elvis to perform. Although Elvis was nervous during his first performance, his second performance was better.
[b]THE MOVE TO MEMPHIS -
The family moved to Memphis in November of 1948; Upon arriving in Memphis, and after waiting for close to a year, the Presley family where given a two room apartment in public housing. Elvis was now in the eight grade at Humes High School. As before, he was picked on my his classmates who saw him as shy and a mama's boy. In 1950 Presley was befriended by Jesse Denson, a neighbor who was a few years older than Elvis; Jesse taught Elvis what he knew about the guitar.
Later, Elvis, Jesse and a few other boys living in public housing formed a group that often played together. In September of 1950 Elvis began to usher at Loew's Theater; this job was one of the few he held while in High School. When Elvis was in his junior year he begun to change his appearance; he grew his sideburns, and styled his hair using Vaseline to get the look he desired.
During his free time he loved to hang out on Beale Street; back in the 50's this was the heart of the blues scene in Memphis, Tennessee. On thing that Elvis admired and wanted to have were the clothes in the window of Lansky Brothers clothing store. By the time Elvis was a Senior in High School, he was able to purchase what he wanted.
In April 1953 Elvis decided to competed in Humes's High School "Annual Minstrel". He sang a song called "Till I Waltz Again With You". When the show was over, Elvis noticed his performance did much for his popularity. Up till that point he was too shy to sing in public.
Elvis continued to study the musical styles of many of his favorite artist; He was a regular at stores with jukeboxes and listening booths. Some of his favorite performers included Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Willis, and The Gospel singer Jake Hess. Elvis adored the music of gospel artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Many of his future recordings were inspired by African American musicians such as Bo Diddley, Rufus Thomas, B.B. King and Big Joe Turner. When Elvis finished high school in June 1953, he decided to be a professional singer.
In August 1953, Presley walked into Sun Studio. When he was asked by the receptionist Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Elvis responded, "I sing all kinds".
When Keisker asked him whom he sounded like, Elvis said, "I don't sound like nobody"; he was right. After the recording session, Sam Phillips the owner of Sun Records asked Keisker to write down Elvis's name. In January 1954 he returned and made additional recording but once again nothing happened. In April 1954, Presley began working for a Memphis based Electric company as a truck driver.
During this time from January to June 1954, Elvis continued trying to find a vocalist opening in a band but no one wanted him. Finally in June 1954 something happen. Hoping to bring Rhythm and Blues to a broader audience, Sam Phillips continued to be on the look out for a white man with an African-American sound and feel. In early July 1954 he had Elvis to stop by his studio for another recording session. Presley tried, but was unable to sing the song "Without You" as Phillips wanted .
Despite this minor setback, Sam Phillips asked Elvis to sing as many songs he could remember. Phillips felt he was close to a break though so he invited two musicians, guitarist Winfield Moore and bass player Bill Black, to work with Elvis during this recording session. As the session went on it wasn't going anywhere.
When all were about to call it quits, Elvis begun singing a song called "That's all Right" ; basically he was just fooling around, but when the bass player Bill joined in the fun, it caught the attention of Phillips. who asked them to start again so he could record the performance.
A few days later, the song was played on local radio in Memphis; When "That's all Right" was played, listens called in wanting to know who was singing that song. Sam Phillips found the sound he was looking for. In the next few days a B side song "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was recorded and a record was made with "That's all Right" on side A and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on B side.
On January 10, 1956, Elvis completed his first recordings for RCA.The session produced the song "Heartbreak Hotel", and it was released as a single late January 1956. Once this was done Col. Parker was able to arrange for Elvis to be on national TV. Elvis Presley's first national appearance was on CBS's Stage Show; When his appearance was done, Presley stayed in New York for a Recording session at RCA's New York location. The session produced a few good songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins song "Blue Suede Shoes". Later in early April, Presley appeared on the Milton Berle Show, and around this time his original release of "Heart Break Hotel" became his first number one hit. Towards the end of April 1956, Elvis began a two-week period of performances at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The shows were not received well by the middle aged hotel guests.
Despite the slight downturn in Vegas, Elvis had ambitions about becoming an actor; he signed a seven-year contract with Paramount pictures, and soon after begun a tour of the Midwest in 15 cities. His second appearance on Milton Berle was on June 5, 1956; During the performance, Elvis stopped an uptempo of Hound Dog and started a slow grinding version with exaggerated movements; this set off a wave of controversy among TV critics. Ed Sullivan said he was unfit for family viewing. Despite the firestorm of controversy Elvis created, there was no denying the high ratings Milton Berle's show received.
On July 1st Elvis was booked to appearance on NBC's Steve Allen Show. Although Allen was no fan of Rock and Roll he thought he could introduce a more acceptable Elvis in white bow tie and tuxedo. Presley sang "Hound Dog" to a basset hound in a top hat and bow tie.
Despite what Allen thought about Elvis, Presley enabled Steve Allen to beat Ed Sullivan show ratings for the first time. In the talk show world ratings are everything, so when Steve Allen beat Ed Sullivan's show ratings, of course Ed Sullivan had to have him on his show. Later in December 1956, Elvis Presley decided to pay a visit to Sun Records while Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash were in house; the visit turned into a music session, and although he no longer had the recording rights to release music by Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips made sure the session was recorded.
The results became known as the "Million Dollar Quartet" recordings.