Musician and actor Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. From very humble beginnings, Presley grew up to become one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll. By the mid-1950s, he appeared on the radio, television and the silver screen. On August 16, 1977, at age 42, he died of heart failure, which was related to his drug addiction. Since his death, Presley has remained one of the world’s most popular music icons.
In 1955, Presley began to develop a following with fans being drawn to his unusual musical style, provocative gyrating hips and good looks. That same year, he signed with RCA Records, a deal worked out by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Presley was on a roll, scoring his first No. 1 single with “Heartbreak Hotel,” as well as his first No. 1 album, Elvis Presley, and signing a movie contract with Paramount Pictures—all in 1956. Despite the uproar that his sexy dance moves caused, he also became a popular guest on a number of television variety shows.
Soon, Presley was everywhere on the radio, television and the silver screen working as a musician and actor. His first film, Love Me Tender (1956), was a box office hit. Even a stint in the U.S. military couldn’t put a damper on Presley’s thriving career. He received his draft notice in 1957, and was inducted into the Army the following March. He eventually served in Germany for about a year and a half. Shortly before Presley left for Europe, his beloved mother, Gladys, died. He was granted a leave and returned to Memphis for the funeral. Deeply saddened by her death, Presley returned to duty. While in Germany, his spirits were lifted slightly when he met a young teenager named Priscilla Beaulieu.
After a two-year stint in the Army from 1958 to 1960, Elvis recorded some of his best-selling songs, “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” In 1968, he did his first television special that wowed audiences and really cemented his musical career.
It was in 1967 that Elvis married and the couple had a daughter, Lisa Marie. However, they divorced not long after in 1973. Elvis was also battling a prescription drug problem at the time, one that caused many health problems for him. After giving his last concert in 1977, he returned to his home in Memphis and died on August 16 at the age of 42 due to heart failure.
Elvis Presley has remained an iconic figure in the entertainment industry. He has starred in over 30 successful films, made over 500 live appearances, and sold over one billion records. He has been nominated for 14 Grammy awards, winning three. Even in death, Elvis remains as one of the most influential artists in history.