"Before Elvis, there was nothing."Elvis Aron Presley (January 8, 1935 — August 16, 1977), known as "the King of Rock & Roll", was one of the most influential singers of the mid-20th century, selling over a billion records worldwide. He began his professional singing career and signed his first contract in 1954 with Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who teamed him with two other musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. (They were later joined by drummer D.J. Fontana) Elvis himself often played guitar.During The Fifties, several popular artists had combined Country and Blues influences to make Rock and Roll. But the genre really took off with Presley's breakthrough in 1956 at the age of 21. Presley stood out with his energetic performances, distinctive singing voice, influence from black musicians and his often-controversial use of sex appeal. Moral Guardians were shocked by some of his dance moves, particularly how his tendency to shake his hips. Teenagers, of course, loved him. Many future rock stars were directly inspired by him to take up music, including The Beatles, Roy Orbison and Bruce Springsteen. His career was interrupted from 1958-1960 by military service. He then came back and made some of his best-selling records.Presley had a notorious manager "Colonel" Tom Parker who had played an important role in his early breakthrough. In return, Parker took a great chunk of his earnings and dictated to Presley the direction of his career and image. In the 1960s, Parker steered him away from touring and making records towards acting in films and selling soundtrack albums, which he hoped would prove more lucrative. They were generally poorly received, and as The British Invasion took hold, Presley started to look out of touch with the music scene.He then made a comeback in 1968 with his first live performance in seven years on a massively-watched show called Elvis. On the back of this, he returned to being a rock star, releasing more albums and taking several successful tours in the US. The last great moment of his career was Aloha from Hawaii, the world's first satellite-televised rock concert. Thereafter, his health (and the quality of his concerts) severely declined due to his abuse of prescription drugs. He died in August 1977 in Graceland, his mansion in Memphis.Despite the fact Presley never actually wrote songs himself, he became one of the most successful and influential musicians in the 20th century. The enduring popularity of guitar-driven rock music owes a lot to him.The Elvis timeline:
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