Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
“Since the beginning, it was just the same. The only difference, the crowds are bigger now.” Elvis Presley
The nation was in the grips of the Great Depression. The unemployment rate soared to an astounding 20.1, but in Tupelo Mississippi a king was born. The king of rock and roll that is. Elvis Aron Presley made his first debut on January 8, 1935. Elvis was accompanied by his twin brother Jesse Garon Presley, but sadly his brother did not live long. The king had to live on as a solo act, living as a twinless twin. Elvis always yearned for his brother, missing the bond he had missed out on. His mother Gladys told Elvis “a surviving twin gets the strength of both children” in an attempt to lessen his pain. Elvis eventually changed his middle name from Aron to Aaron to more closely match his brothers middle name, Garon, in an attempt to at least share a small piece with his lost sibling.
The Presley family struggled through the depression trying to make ends meet. “Elvis’s parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, were not unlike many others in Mississippi at that time”. In a misguided attempt to provide for his family, vernon made the bad decision to join two other men and alter a four-dollar check. The three men were caught and sentenced to serve eight months in Mississippi Penitentiary. Tragically this caused the Presley family to lose their quaint little shotgun house in 1938. Because of that Elvis and his mother were forced to move in with relatives until his father was released. On the weekends, Elvis and his mother would visit Vernon at the penitentiary. Through these hardships Elvis found a solas in attending church, and this is where the king found passion for music and his talents began to blossom.
Elvis was in for a surprise, when a new pastor named Frank Smith transferred to the church the Presleys attended and he offered to give Elvis his first guitar lesson. Elvis excelled at his guitar lessons, more than the lessons taught at his school. One day a teacher was so impressed with his musical talents, he took Elvis to the principal “who entered Elvis, age ten, in a radio talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair. On the appointed date, Elvis surprised his mother by going onstage and climbing up on a chair to reach the microphone to sing “Old Shep” in front of several hundred people. He won fifth prize”. Elvis had the music bug, and this would not be his last performance at a young age.
In hopes of winning the money to buy a bike, Elvis participated again the next year. His mother was so worried that Elvis would get hurt on the bike, she and his father encouraged Elvis to instead buy a 12.95 dollar guitar. He did as his parents requested and spent his prize money on his first guitar instead. Elvis would take it to school with him everyday so he could play for his fellow classmates.
In 1948 the Presley family left Tupelo Mississippi for the big city of Memphis Tennessee, Home os sun records. Elvis was a teenager now and knew the move would help him to become the star he wanted to be. The presley family was on welfare for a short time, and then Elvis go the call he had hoped for. A call back about his audition tape to Sun Records. Elvis Presley “began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In the late 1955…he was an international sensation.
At the beginning of his musical career, Elvis already had a quite exuberant personality, with his bright flashy clothes, and iconic slicked back black hair. It would not be until later in his career that “his full musical personality would emerge. When he and the band began playing with blues singer Arthur.Crudup’s song “That’s All Right Mama” in July 1954.After releasing many early records, he developed quite a large southern following from his records, live appearances in clubs and roadhouses, and his nationally aired performances.
In 1957, Elvis purchased the property that the world would come to know as Graceland. It was a 14 acre section or a 500 acre estate, which the previous owners had named graceland after their daughter. Elvis decided to keep the name and purchased the property for a whopping 102,000 dollars. Graceland would turn out to be Elvis Presley’s home for two decades, and his shrine for many years.
Just after his music career began, in 1957 on January 4th, “Elvis reported to Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for an Army pre-induction physical. Just like many other young men on his twenty-second birthday, Elvis was notified he would be classified 1A, which meant he would be drafted sometime that year. When word spread that he would be joining the service, many branches of the military, such as the Navy and Air Force, offered bids for his services. The Navy offered “to create a specially trained ‘Elvis Presley company’ and the Air Force thought it would be good for him to tour their recruiting centers.Elvis denied any special treatment, while being enlisted in the service. He desired to “serve like a regular G.I The Memphis Draft Board however did granted Elvis a deferment until March 20th, 1958 so he could complete the filming of the movie “King Creole”. Four days after the deferment ended on March 24, 1958 at 6:35 AM, Elvis accompanied with his parents, friends, and family, swore into the United States Army.
Elvis got his wish to be like all the other GI’s. Just like all Soldiers of that time after a brief goodbye to his friends and family, he was thrown on a bus with twelve other guys and shipped off to US army boot camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansa. There he was sworn in, subjected to the infamous Boot camp haircut, which he seemed to take in stride being quoted as saying, “Hair today, gone tomorrow”. One big difference Elvis did have that the other Gi’s did not was the thousands of letters he received from his adoring fans. After bootcamp, Elvis went home on boot leave and along with much needed family time, Elvis squeezed in a recording session in nashville TN, but this would be the last one till he is discharged from the Army in 1960. ” Elvis was assigned to the Second Armored Division’s ‘Hell On Wheels’ unit (formerly led by General George Patton) and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.”(“Elvis Presley In The U.S. Army : The Journey Begins.” Elvis Australia)
While at Fort Hood Texas for advanced tank training, Elvis was able to live with his parents, who moved to Texas to be closer to their beloved son. Unfortunately it was during these months that Gladys became ill and was forced to return to memphis TN to undergo treatment for her condition. It was in vain though, because shortly thereafter, Elvis presley had to take emergency leave to visit his gravely ill mother. On August 14, 1958, Elvis’s mother succumb to her disease. She died at the age of 46.
After the death of his mother, Elvis returned to texas and continued his service. Upon his arrival he was assigned to the third armored ‘spearhead’ division, which was stationed in Friedberg Germany at the time. So on sept 22, 1959 Elvis Presley boarded the USS Randall and headed for Germany. While in Germany Elvis performed as any other GI, often even doing more than was required of him so no one would ever claim that he received special treatment. Elvis could load, drive, and fire a M-48 tank, although his official title at the time of his discharge was recon or scout. He did however move his grandmother and father to germany and live off base with them. His family hosted several parties while in germany, it was at one of these parties that he met Priscilla Beaulieu the 14 year step daughter of a US Air Force Captain. As an E-5, or Sargent, Elvis Presley returned home to the states in March of 1960, having completed his tour in Germany and his time in the US Army. March 5 1960, Elvis Presley was honorably discharged from the U. S. Army.
Once Elvis Presley returned home from Germany, He jumped back into his career, but he could not forget the girl he had left behind. Priscilla Beaulieu and Elvis stayed in touch, but Elvis went on to date people that were more age appropriate and in the US. This went on for a couple years till Elvis could not take the separation any longer and wanted to be with the girl he truly loved. Elvis went to Priscilla’s mother and step dad, requesting that pricilla be allowed to move to Memphis to complete school. He promised that she would not live with him, would be chaperoned, taken care of and she would finish school. Her parents agreed and Pricilla moved to memphis and completed high school. After 8 years together they decided to tie the knot by getting married on May 1st, 1967 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Only one year later their beautiful daughter Lisa Marie Presley was born. Elvis even went as far as naming his private jet after his only daughter, which she spent many birthdays on. Sadly Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage didn’t work and they ended up divorcing each other. Though afterwards they remained friends and agreed to raise Lisa Marie Presley together.
By the time of his last concert Elvis was addicted to prescription drugs. He was said to be addicted to opioids, “antihistamines, tranquilizers such as Valium, barbiturates, Quaaludes, sleeping pills, and hormones”(NME.COM, 2 Jan. 2019.Markel, Dr. Howard. “Elvis’ Addiction). After his death in 1977 it was found that George Nichopoulos, or “Dr. Nick,” was his main healthcare physician and “he began treating “the King” for “saddle pain” in 1967” and this resulted in Elvis becoming an opiate addict. “Dr. Nick admitted at a hearing before the Tennessee Board of Health that he had prescribed thousands of doses of various addictive pills for Elvis but also claimed he often slipped him sugar pills, or placebos, to try to control his addictions.”(NME.COM, 2 Jan. 2019.Markel, Dr. Howard. “Elvis’ Addiction) Even though this is highly frowned upon in the medical community Dr. Nick said his reasoning was to keep Elvis from looking for these drugs on the streets. The addictions played a big part in the passing of the King. Although this is true, Dr. Nick was acquitted because the jury believed “He was acting in the best interest of his patent.”. Dr. Nick continued to over prescribe to patients and years later the Tennessee Medical Board finally, “permanently suspended his medical license”. Elvis’s death was not from an overdose but from years of drug addiction that negatively affected his heart to the point of cardiac arrest
It did not take long after Elvis’s death for people to develop theories about his sudden passing. Many believe Elvis faked his death to escape fame and the intense pressure that came with it. Just days after his passing a man bought a one way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina, “Reportedly the man looked like the pop star, and gave the name ‘Jon Burrows’”9Hannah Mylrea, et al) the name “Jon Burrows is the name elvis would book hotels under to avoid detection. Many hope the King of Rock and Roll is alive and well somewhere, but sadly this is just a theory.
Forty-three years have passed and somehow Elvis has still warmed our hearts with his songs. He showed us how to have a “burning love” and how some people you just “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with. Elvis from a young age lost a lot, and when life finally gave him all he wanted, he found it hard to truly love what he had without pain. Even though Elvis did die young, his songs, his spirit, and finally his dreams won’t die, because he truly believed…”you only pass through life once. You don’t come back for an encore.” Elvis Presley.