Profession: Singer & Cultural Icon
Why Famous: One of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, Elvis helped establish the emerging Rock and Roll sound, incorporating blues and gospel influences. He was also a leader in popularizing both the rockabilly sound and the four-man band line-up which would later dominate the music industry.
His first single, "Heartbreak Hotel" (1956), began a string of number-ones that radically reshaped American music and put Presley at the forefront of rock and roll. In 1958 he was drafted into the army and served in West Germany. Following this he began a much-derided acting career and did not perform live for seven years. In 1968 he returned to the stage with the acclaimed "Elvis" special, and then took up an extended Las Vegas residency which became iconic in its own right.
A series of successful concert tours followed, as did the 1973 live concert special "Aloha from Hawaii", which was a technological first. On August 16, 1977, Presley died of a heart attack at his Graceland estate in Memphis, often considered to be the result of an accidental prescription drug overdose.
Presley is one of the best-selling artists in music history, with sales of over 600 million units.
Elvis Comes Fifth in Talent Show
Jailhouse Rock Premieres
Great Balls of Fire! The 'Bride' is 13
Elvis Presley in the Army
Elvis Meets Nixon
Memories of Elvis
- 1967-05-01 King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley (32) weds actress Priscilla Beaulieu (21) at Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
- 1945-10-03 Elvis Presley's 1st public appearance at the age of 10
- 1953-06-14 Elvis Presley graduates from L. C. Humes High School in Memphis, Tennessee
- 1954-01-04 Elvis Presley records his 1st demo for Sun Records at a recording studio in Memphis, "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You" and "I'll Never Stand In Your Way"
- 1954-07-05 Elvis Presley records his debut single, a cover of Arthur Cruddup's "That's All Right, Mama"
- 1954-07-05 Singer Elvis Presley's 1st professional recording session (with guitarist Scotty Moore & bass player Bill Black) takes place at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee. The trio record four songs including their historic cover of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's song "That's All Right (Mama)".
- 1954-07-30 Elvis Presley joins the Memphis Federation of Musicians, Local 71
- 1955-03-03 Elvis Presley makes his 1st TV appearance on a broadcast of radio show "Louisiana Hayride"
- 1955-11-22 RCA Records make its best investment paying $35,000 to Sun Records for Elvis Presley's contract
- 1956-01-08 Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" single goes #1 and stays #1 for a record 11 weeks (for a single)
- 1956-01-10 Elvis Presley records single "Heartbreak Hotel"
- 1956-01-27 "Heartbreak Hotel" single released by Elvis Presley, his first million-selling single
- 1956-01-28 Elvis Presley's 1st appearance on national TV on the Dorsey Brothers's "Stage Show"
- 1956-01-30 Elvis Presley records his version of "Blue Suede Shoes"
- 1956-03-02 "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" single cover released by Elvis Presley
- 1956-03-03 Elvis Presley's 1st hit in Billboard's top 10: "Heartbreak Hotel"
- 1956-04-21 Elvis Presley's 1st hit record, "Heartbreak Hotel", becomes #1
- 1956-05-11 Elvis Presley's 1st entry on UK charts with "Heartbreak Hotel"
- 1956-07-01 Elvis Presley wearing a tuxedo appears on Steve Allen Show
- 1956-07-02 Elvis Presley records "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel"
- 1956-08-04 Elvis Presley releases "Hound Dog"
- 1956-08-13 Elvis Presley releases music single "Don't Be Cruel"
- 1956-08-18 Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" reach #1 in the charts
- 1956-08-22 Elvis Presley begins filming "Love Me Tender" (The Reno Brothers)
- 1956-09-09 Elvis Presley appears on "The Ed Sullivan Show" for the 1st time
- 1956-09-28 RCA Records reports Elvis Presley sold over 10 million records
- 1956-11-15 "Love Me Tender" (The Reno Brothers) film with Elvis Presley in his debut premieres in the US
- 1957-01-06 Elvis Presley makes his 7th & final appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show"
- 1957-03-22 "All Shook Up" single released by Elvis Presley
- 1957-09-24 "Jailhouse Rock" single released by Elvis Presley (Billboard Song of the Year 1957)
- 1957-10-17 Jailhouse Rock starring Elvis Presley premieres in Memphis, Tennessee
- 1957-12-20 Elvis Presley receives his draft notice to join the US Army for National Service
- 1958-03-24 Elvis Presley joins the U.S. Army (serial number 53310761)
- 1958-07-02 Musical drama Film "King Creole" starring Elvis Presley based on a novel by Harold Robbins premieres
- 1960-01-14 US Army promotes Elvis Presley to Sergeant
- 1960-03-05 Elvis Presley ends 2-year hitch in US Army
- 1960-04-03 Elvis Presley records ‘It's Now Or Never’, ‘Fever’ and ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ at RCA studios in Nashville, Tennessee
- 1960-05-12 Elvis Presley appears on a Frank Sinatra television special; Elvis sings Sinatra's 1957 Cy Coleman hit "Witchcraft", and Frank performs Presley's 1956 classic "Love Me Tender"
- 1961-01-26 "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley hits #1
- 1961-03-25 Elvis Presley performs live on the USS Arizona
- 1961-12-11 Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" album goes #1 & stays #1 for 20 wks
- 1968-02-16 Elvis Presley receives a gold record for "How Great Thou Art"
- 1970-12-21 Elvis Presley meets US President Richard Nixon in the White House - the image of this meeting is the most requested photo from the entire National Archives
- 1972-03-28 Elvis Presley records his final Top Ten hit, a cover of "Burning Love", written by Dennis Linde and first recorded by Arthur Alexander
- 1972-06-10 Elvis Presley records a live album at NYC's Madison Square Garden
- 1973-01-14 "Aloha from Hawaii", an Elvis Presley concert, becomes the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer
- 1977-03-23 Elvis Presley begins his final concert tour
- 1977-06-26 Elvis Presley sings in Indianapolis, the last performance of his career
- 1986-01-23 1st induction of Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame (Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Domino, Everly Bros, Buddy Holly, J L Lewis & Elvis Presley)
- 1990-05-19 "Elvis" TV Drama about early life of Elvis Presley last airs on ABC
- 1993-01-08 Elvis Presley Commemorative Postage Stamp goes on sale