From “Hound Dog”, to “Jailhouse Rock”, to “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, Elvis Presley sang some of the most iconic music of the twentieth century. He won over hearts across the continental US, and to this day, remains one of America’s most beloved musicians. Here are fascinating facts most people probably didn’t know about the legendary Elvis Presley.
1. Rest in sweet peace.
Elvis Presley had a twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley,who died at birth. Elvis was successfully delivered, approximately 35 minutes later.
2. Apparently, greatness runs in his DNA.
Presley was a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln’s great-great grandfather, Isaiah Harrison.
3. What I would give to have been a fly on that wall…
When The Beatles came to America in 1965 there was only one person they wanted to meet: Elvis. On Friday, August 27, 1965, they got their wish and, according to John Lennon, spent an entirely enjoyable evening at the Presley home in Bel Air, California, talking, singing and laughing with each other.
4. Were they hoping for a postmortem concert, or?…
Elvis’ body was placed in a family crypt in Memphis on Thursday, August 18, 1977. Eleven days later, however, an attempt was made to steal his body but the plan failed and three men were charged with trespassing and released on bond. Because of this incident, Vernon Presley, received approval from the Memphis Adjustment Board to allow re-interment of the bodies of Elvis and his mother, Gladys Presley to the Meditation Garden behind Graceland, which took place, on Sunday, October 2, 1977.
5. Hopefully the King found what he was looking for.
The book he was reading at the time of his death was “The Scientific Search for The Face of Jesus” by Frank O. Adams, (Psychical Aid Foundation, USA, 1972).
6. According to the numbers, his success was undeniable.
Elvis has more multi-platinum album sales than any other performer, with 12 albums selling over two million copies.
7. Grazie, Liberace.
After seeing him in concert, Liberace suggested adding flashy costumes to his act. Elvis took the advice, and became famous for his gold lam jackets and jeweled white jumpsuits. He later reserved a seat for Liberace at a majority of his concerts, as his way of saying thanks.
8. He dominated two musical worlds.
Elvis Presley is one of only a handful of artists inducted into both The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and The Country Music Hall of Fame. Others include Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.
9. He didn’t want to be cruel.
Elvis did not like confrontation. He wanted to fire his manager, Tom Parker, many times. He would tell his friends “Tell Parker, he’s fired.” His friends would go tell him, then Parker would say, “Tell Elvis to tell me personally.” Elvis never did.
10. He took them to the grave.
His personal entourage were known as the “Memphis Mafia”, and were given matching rings by Elvis. The diamond and gold rings sported a thunderbolt and the letters “TCB” (reportedly standing for “Take Care of Business”). Elvis was buried wearing one of the rings.
11. He was a big talent with a big heart.
Was always known to be generous to a fault with family, friends and even total strangers. Anyone who admired any possession of his, from one of his many Cadillacs to any bit of bric-a-brac in his home, often found themselves the new owners of that possession.
12. It’s Now Or Never.
His 1960 single “It’s Now Or Never” is one of the best selling singles of all time, with sales estimated to have been between 25 and 30 million copies.
13. How ironic.
The Beatles were admirers of his work and, although John Lennon said they enjoyed his company very much, Elvis himself, ironically, thought that they were a bad influence on America’s youth.
14. He marched to the beat of his own drum.
During his third and final appearance on Ed Sullivan’s The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) weekly program, on Sunday, January 6, 1957, he angered Sullivan by singing the gospel song “Peace In The Valley” on his show, after Sullivan asked him not to.
15. Apparently, the King didn’t always receive royal treatment.
He was drafted into the US Army in 1958, stationed in West Germany and discharged in 1960, achieving the rank of sergeant. His being in the army was a public relations headache, according to army documents released by the Pentagon on Thursday, June 9, 2005.
“Elvis Presley will not be released in a manner different from any other inductee serving overseas,” the Army’s adjutant general wrote to citizens who complained following reports that the rock icon would get an early “good behavior” discharge.
16. The Greatest.
Once gave a robe to Muhammad Ali. On the back of the robe was stitched “The Peoples Champion”, which was Presley’s nickname for Ali.
17. He stood up for what he believed in.
He was a fervent admirer of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and had hoped to meet him in 1966, but the meeting never occurred. Many observers believed that was because his manager, Tom Parker, didn’t want to alienate Elvis’ fans in the South, many of whom saw King as an “outside agitator” because of his civil rights work among the Southern Black community.
18. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
When he was an infant a tornado struck his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. He and his family survived uninjured, but 233 people in the city were killed and hundreds were injured.
19. Considering that one of his favorite books was the Holy Bible, this makes sense.
His tombstone gives his name as “Elvis Aaron Presley”, whereas he was in fact named “Elvis Aron Presley”. Although this fueled conspiracy theories that he had faked his death, it is generally believed he changed his middle name so it would be the same as the Biblical figure, Aaron, (brother of Moses).
In 1977 alone, his personal physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos (usually referred to as “Dr. Nick”), had prescribed at least 10,000 hits of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives and hormones for Presley. His medical license was later revoked for prescribing such huge amounts of drugs.
21. A beautiful memory to hang onto.
The last song he sang was “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, at home, and playing the piano, to family and friends, Monday evening, August 15th, 1977.
22. Going out in style.
His funeral procession on August 18, 1977, consisted of 49 cars led by 11 white Cadillacs–Cadillac was his favorite car.
23. He earned a pretty cool nickname, though.
It was after his appearance on Texaco Star Theatre: Episode #8.13 (1956) that Presley inadvertently earned the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis.”
While performing his classic “Hound Dog”, Presley switched tempo in the middle of the song and began gyrating his hips suggestively.
The performance caused such a furor that Berle received a reported 30,000 letters decrying his decision to allow such “lewd behavior” on national television.
24. You have to know failure before you succeed.
Prior to marrying Priscilla Presley, Elvis proposed marriage to legendary cult actress Tura Satana, who turned him down.
25. That’s dedication.
Presley was an avid football fan and often had three TVs set up at Graceland to watch all of the games in progress at the same time. His favorite teams were the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
26. His iconic face traveled far and wide across the continental US.
His 29 commemorative postage stamp issued in 1993, sold more copies than any other postage stamp in U.S. Postal Service history.
27. His father brought him to the set.
In Sam Lovullo’s book “Life in the Kornfield”, which recalled his years as producer of 1969’s country music TV series Hee Haw (1969), he remarked that Elvis was a big fan of the show and had always wanted to perform on it.
However, according to Lovullo, Elvis remarked they’d have to tape his spots in the middle of the night, knowing that if manager Tom Parker had found out, he’d never clear his appearance.
Several months after Elvis’ death, his father, Vernon Presley, appeared on “Hee Haw” and spoke about how the world would always love him and remember his music.
28. No tradesies backsies.
In 1973 he met with Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and John Paul Jones in Los Angeles. An idol to the members of Led Zeppelin, Elvis wanted to meet “who was outselling him” at concerts (Zeppelin was in the midst of a record-breaking tour that year).
A meeting was arranged with Plant and Jones. Plant was so awestruck at meeting his idol in person that he could barely speak to him. Jones, nearly as awestruck as Plant, made small talk with the “King,” and mentioned what a beautiful watch Elvis wore.
Elvis, always the generous one, instantly traded his $5,000 gold and diamond watch for Jones’ $10 Mickey Mouse watch. This broke the ice with all of them, and they became fast friends. Throughout the early 1970s members of Led Zeppelin even attended a few of Elvis’ concerts, and were granted the privilege of sitting in the front row by the King himself.
29. We’re glad he stuck to singing.
Elvis temporarily served as a Shelby County (Tennessee) deputy sheriff.
30. He was dedicated to the continent.
He only performed two concerts outside of the United States of America. Both of them were in Canada. Therefore, all of his concerts were in North America.
More people watched Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii (1973) (live via satellite TV broadcast)–the first of its kind–than watched astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they landed and then walked on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Interestingly, the US audience didn’t view this concert event live. It was seen by much of the world on January 14, 1973. The US audience had to wait almost three months, as it was telecast for the first time in the US on April 14, 1973. Several songs recorded by Elvis in a studio while he was in Hawaii were added. The concert was preceded, on NBC, by an Ann-Margret special.
32. Move over, President.
His mansion, Graceland, is the second most-visited home in United States of America. The first is the White House.
33. Don’t get Elvis all shook up.
Once an opera singer attended one of his 1950s concerts and met him backstage. The singer told Elvis that he sang like a hillbilly and needed singing lessons. Elvis replied, “Thanks for the advice, but how many of the thousands of people out there tonight came to hear you sing?”
His song “Heartbreak Hotel” is based on a note left by a man who committed suicide in a Florida hotel suite. When Elvis first performed the song on Stage Show (1954) in 1956, he sang the words “They’re so lonely they pray to die”. This was changed in later performances from “pray to die” to “they could die” so as not to offend the religious establishment with a reference for a prayer for death.
35. And we can’t help falling in love with you, either, Elvis.
The very last song he sang in public was “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, at The Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday, June 26, 1977.