25 fun facts about Elvis Aaron Presley
Elvis’ famous black hair was dyed – his natural color was brown.
Elvis purchased his first guitar when he was just 11 years old. He wanted a rifle, but his mama convinced him to get a guitar instead.
In 1947, a local radio show offered a young Elvis (age 12) a chance to sing live on air, but he was too shy to go on.
At 18, Elvis paid $4 to make his first record, a gift for his mama.
In 1954, Elvis auditioned for a gospel quartet named the Songfellows. They said no.
That same year, a local radio DJ played Elvis’ version of That’s All Right. He went on to play it 13 more times that day, but had trouble convincing his audience that Elvis was white.
His nickname for his manhood was reportedly Little Elvis.
His breakthrough hit was Heartbreak Hotel, released in 1956 – a song inspired by a newspaper article about a local suicide.
When performing on TV in 1956, host Milton Berle advised Elvis to perform without his guitar, reportedly saying, “Let ’em see you, son.” Elvis’ gyrating hips caused outrage across the U.S. and within days he was nicknamed Elvis the Pelvis.
A Florida judge called Elvis “a savage” that same year because he said that his music was “undermining the youth.” He was subsequently forbidden from shaking his body at a gig, so he waggled his finger instead in protest.
He played only five concerts outside the U.S., all on a 3-day tour of Canada in 1957. Many believe that the reason why he never toured abroad again was that his longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was an illegal immigrant from Holland who would have been deported had he applied for a U.S. passport.
Col. Parker is said to have always had an eye for talent and for a quick buck – prior to managing Elvis, Parker reportedly painted sparrows yellow to sell them as canaries.
Elvis was 6 feet tall and wore a size 11 shoe.
Recording Hound Dog in the studio, Elvis reportedly demanded 31 takes.
Elvis bought his mansion, Graceland, in Memphis, TN in 1957 for $100,000. It was named by its previous owner after his daughter, Grace.
Performing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in Las Vegas in 1969, Elvis did one of his frequent lyric changes to amuse himself. Instead of “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?”, he sang “Do you look at your bald head and wish you had hair?”
In 1956, he began his film career with a western, Love Me Tender. His second film, Loving You, featured his parents as audience members. Following his mother’s death in 1957, he never watched the film again. He went on to make a total of 31 movies in his career.
In December 1957, Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army, earning a $78 monthly salary. During his brief two-year stint on active duty, he was unable to access his music-generated income of $400,000.
In 1959, while serving overseas in Germany, Elvis (then 24 years old) met his future wife, 14 year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. They were married 8 years later.
Elvis’ 1960 hit “It’s Now or Never” so inspired a prisoner who heard it in jail that he vowed to pursue a career in music upon his release. The artist, Barry White, was then serving a 4-month sentence for stealing tires.
Elvis and Priscilla’s only daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, was born in 1968. Lisa Marie later married Michael Jackson and actor (and Elvis obsessive) Nicholas Cage. Mr. Cage is reportedly the only person outside of Presley’s immediate family to have ever seen Elvis’ Graceland bedroom.
Following his divorce from Priscilla in 1972, Elvis was said to have allowed ‘good-looking girls’ who waited outside Graceland to enter afterhours. One night it was 152 women!
Elvis’ popularity faded in the 1960’s with the rise of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others. He successfully relaunched his career with a 1968 television special that came about because Elvis had walked down a busy Los Angeles street and had no one recognize or approach him.
He was distantly related to former U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter.
Elvis recorded more than 600 songs, but did not write any of them.