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Music: Elvis Presley
"Thank you. Thankyaverymuch."

"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:
  • In November 1955, Phillips auctioned off Presley's contract to RCA Records. His first single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in late January 1956, a mere 17 weeks after recording, and sold over a million copies, 300,000 of those in its first three weeks.
  • Also in January 1956, Presley had his first screen test for Paramount Pictures. His first movie was Love Me Tender. (Presley eventually starred in 31 fictional films, as well as two Documentaries. Over the spring and summer of that year, he made several television appearances.
  • The naturally blond Presley began dyeing his hair black in January 1957. By his early 20s, his hair was described as naturally a dark chestnut color.
  • In March 1957, Presley bought Graceland, which would later become his famous estate. He didn't spend his first night there until June 1957.
  • Presley filmed King Creole in the first quarter of 1958, before being inducted into the U.S. Army. During his 18-month tour in Germany, he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu, and took karate lessons. In 1960, Presley was promoted to sergeant and received his full stripes before being officially discharged from active military duty.
  • "Blue Hawaii" entered the Billboard charts in October 1961 and stayed there for 1 years, becoming the best-selling of Presley's singles during his lifetime. His best-selling album was G.I. Blues.
  • In 1962, Presley saw Beaulieu for the first time since their meeting in Germany. They married in spring 1967 in a private ceremony in LasVegas. Their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born in February 1968.
  • In the late summer of 1968, Presley filmed Charro!, the only movie in which he did not sing on camera.
Despite persistent denials that Presley died in 1977, the U.S. Postal Service put his likeness on a first-class postage stamp in 1993.

You ain't nothin' but a Trope Namer cryin' all the time...


"Do anything but don't step on my blue suede tropes":

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Blue Suede Shoes":
    "Well you can burn my house
    Steal my car
    Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar"
  • Bacon Addiction: Elvis loved bacon—in large part because his childhood poverty made it a rare treat when he was growing up. Pretty much all of his favorite dishes involved bacon in some way.
  • Berserk Button: He hated being called The King.
    • Lay offa them blue suede shoes.
  • Big Eater: More like Huge Eater. Elvis (with a pair of Colorado cops) once flew all the way out to Denver at about midnight to eat a couple of Fool's Gold Loaves (a hollowed-out, lightly-toasted Italian loaf) filled with a whole jar of peanut butter, a whole jar of grape jelly, and an entire pound of bacon. That's right, we said a couple: he probably ate at least four of the things that night. Since one of the cops was the friend of the guy who owned the restaurant that made the damned things, they got a tray of them wheeled out to the Denver airport, where they and their pilots ate the sandwiches (washed down with Perrier sparkling water and Dom Perignon) and flew back to Memphis. Without even leaving the airport.
    • He had a love of all other forms of Satiating Sandwich, particularly if it could in any way, shape, or form be combined with deep-frying. For this reason, he loved the Monte Cristo: some combination of bacon, turkey, and ham, with Swiss cheese, battered and deep-fried—with a bit of jam and powdered sugar on top.
  • Bookends: "In The Ghetto" starts and ends with a boy being born in the ghetto.
  • But Not Too Black: Think Eminem in the mid-1950s. It's the primary reason why Presley is considered the "King of Rock and Roll". Being considered a pale imitation (don't excuse the pun) of the black singers who originated Rock and Roll would be an understatement.
    • He's considered the Mighty Whitey of Rock and Roll to many.
    • Elvis himself seemed to believe this. He was once heard to lament that he couldn't sing as well as Fats Domino, but people would only listen to him anyway.
  • Corpsing: Elvis throws in a random Mondegreen in this live performance of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" ("Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?") He thought it was funny and could not stop laughing. But after a while, neither could the audience. Legend says it that the laughter was brought on by a combination of seeing a bald man in the audience as he sang the line and got more hysterical from the lone backup singer just carrying on as if nothing happened.
  • Downer Ending: His death from years of drug abuse at age 42.
  • Dream Team: The Million Dollar Quartet. Elvis met up with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins in Sun Studios in 1956 and they recorded a few songs in an impromptu jam session. There was also a time in 1965 when The Beatles went to his mansion to meet him and they had an impromptu jam session (though Ringo was mostly left out since they didn't have drums handy), though no recordings exist of this due to them specifically forbidding it.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Inverted; he hated being called The King, and would tell anyone who called him this that there was only one King—considering he was a Christian, you can probably guess who he meant.
  • Eagleland: Type 1, easy. See "Promised Land."
  • Fan Nickname: The lesser-known "Elvis the Pelvis", among others.
    • Might've been used as a detractor nickname, too. Elvis notably disliked the nickname, saying something along the lines of "I can't fathom what sort of adult would come up with that" in an interview (which can be viewed in Graceland, Memphis, if you take a tour of the estate as it is).
  • First Name Basis: You can go anywhere in the English-speaking world (and even in some places where they don't speak English) and say "Elvis", and they know who you mean.
    • By the start of the 1960s, RCA had pretty much stopped putting the name "Presley" on Elvis' album and singles sleeves.
  • Generation Xerox: The vicious cycle of poverty implied at the end of "In The Ghetto."
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar. Presley pretty much made a career of this, especially early on.
  • Heavy Meta: "Good Rockin' Tonight"
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The Elvis 1968 special: the man rocks both the music and his black leather jacket and tight pants.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In 1954, he was auditioning for a musician called Eddie Bond. Bond said to him: "Stick to driving a truck, because you'll never make it as a singer." Elvis recorded his first hit a few months later.
    • Jackie Gleason once said of Presley "He can't last, I'll tell you flatly, he can't last."
  • Live Album: Six, starting with 1970's On Stage.
  • Living Legend: Some say he still qualifies, despite being dead.
  • Memetic Hair: Without question.
  • Momma's Boy: Elvis promised that he would take care of his parents when he made it big, and he kept that promise, even bringing his parents to live at Graceland, where they are buried alongside him.
  • Music of Note: Sweet Jesus, yes. He took rock & roll from a radical new movement in music to a major international phenomenon and changed youth culture forever. On a sheer musical basis, he is the Trope Codifier of rockabilly and early rock & roll in general, and demonstrated the full range of the music like no one else at the time. In fact, when asked early in his career what kind of music he played, he famously replied "I play all kinds of music." He meant it.
  • Nice Guy: He was known to friends, fans and strangers for his extremely generous and kindhearted personality. This included often giving away objects to people who liked them (Including his cars), being a big and open supporter of Civil Rights and admiring Martin Luther King and getting Muhammad Ali a robe that read "The People's Champion" when most of his market was in the south, purchasing an electric wheelchair for an impoverished East Memphis woman and giving her daughter his car, and being fiercely proud of his Cherokee ancestry at a time when racial tensions with Native Americans were still high.
  • Odd Friendship: Became good friends with Liberace after Liberace advised him to start wearing his famous gold jacket. Elvis reserved him a seat at most of his concerts to say thanks.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Elvis Presley met The Beatles once. No one recorded it. Cue agonised groans of despair from fans.
  • Real Men Love Jesus
  • Rearrange the Song: Elvis Vs JXL's "A Little Less Conversation"
  • The Rock Star
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "In The Ghetto"
  • Shoot The Television: Elvis is, at least, the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker. He was known for doing this at least once, possibly many times. Several stories and explanations of Elvis doing this exist, some less true than others. He's rumored to have kept a basement full of spare TV's so he would always have a fresh set handy after destroying another one. One television set shot by Elvis is on public display at Graceland.
  • Southern Gentleman: He was known as incredibly polite to all he met.
  • Too Hot for TV: When Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the cameras kept trying to censor his waist by aiming up or doing close-ups of his face, due to the effect his gyrations were having on female audience members. (And thus, presumably, any teenage girls tuning in.)
    • Comedian Ernie Kovacs spoofed this on his show by presenting "The bottom half of Elvis!" (A pair of pants with a guitar attached dancing around the stage.)
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also, bacon.
    • Heck, all three at once.
    • Bacon, in general, was something he liked most of all, mainly because it was a luxury his mother couldn't afford when he was a child. As an adult, he was known to keep a large plate of it on his piano to eat while practicing.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Colonel Tom Parker.
  • Uncle Pennybags: As noted under Nice Guy above, Elvis was very generous and prodigal, and he loved showing off his wealth. One tv host commented on his generosity and added that he wished Elvis could get him a new car. He meant it as a joke, of course, but guess what Elvis had brought to his house the next morning...
  • Undignified Death: A common belief about his death is that he died while on the toilet. In truth, he was found unresponsive on the floor of his bathroom, so while this is possible, it is not a certainty.
    • He is also rumored to have died of a heart attack brought on by straining to relieve impossibly constipated bowels (see Big Eater, above). In reality, one of the signs of an impending heart attack is a loosening of the bowels, which makes many victims run to the toilet.
  • Verbal Tic: "Uh-huh!"
  • Weird Al Effect: the highest charting version of "Blue Suede Shoes" was by Carl Perkins, recorded and released before Elvis did his version. Elvis also covered other early rock/rhythm & blues singers songs (especially by African-American artists), though usually his version was charted higher.

Elvis... has left the trope page.
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alternative title(s): Elvis Presley
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