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Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley

Was Elvis more famous for his music or his hips? True, his rock-and-roll style was fresh and daring. But so was the way he swiveled his hips when he sang.

Presley was the first singer to blend the rhythm-and-blues style of black musicians with the country-and-western style of white singers. In doing so, he became a pioneer of the rock style. Most major rock singers claimed that Presley influenced them.


Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935. He grew up listening to gospel music, country and western, and rhythm and blues. At age 10, he won a talent contest singing a ballad called “Old Shep.” In his teens, he taught himself to play the guitar.

After high school, Elvis worked as a truck driver. In 1953, he decided to record some songs for his mom’s birthday. The studio he went to was thrilled to release Elvis’s first two records, “That’s All Right Mama” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Elvis was a star overnight. Five of his records shot to number one in sales: “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender.” His rebellious music was matched by his electric performance onstage. He had a way of moving his body that drove teens into a frenzy (and made parents frown).


Elvis began starring in movies that featured his own music: Love Me Tender (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), and King Creole (1958). He served in the United States Army from 1958 to 1960. After the Army, he went back to musical films. Critics disliked his later movies in which his rebellious image became more wholesome.

His hit songs continued, though, with “It’s Now or Never,” “Return to Sender,” and “In the Ghetto.” Fans worshiped him. They were crushed when he died, in 1977, probably as a result of overusing prescription drugs. You can visit his grave at his mansion, Graceland. It’s a major tourist site in Memphis, Tennessee.

 Source: Microsoft ® Encarta