Music / Elvis Presley
"Thank ya. Thankyaverymuch".

"Before Elvis, there was nothing."

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) 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 DJ Fontana) Elvis himself often played guitar. The legendary sessions can be enjoyed on the compilation album The Sun Sessions from 1976.

During The '50s, several popular artists had combined Country and Blues influences to make Rock & Roll, but the genre really took off with Presley's breakthrough in 1956. The 21-year-old Presley stood out with his energetic performances, distinctive singing voice, influence from black musicians, and his often-controversial sex appeal. Moral Guardians were shocked by some of his dance moves, particularly his tendency to shake his hips. Teenagers, of course, loved him. He took a break from making music from 1958 to 1960 to serve in the military, and then returned, more popular than ever. Many future rock stars were directly inspired by him to take up music, including The Beatles, Roy Orbison, and Bruce Springsteen.

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 toward 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 in 1973, 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. There are probably more tribute acts to Elvis Presley than any other music artist. But perhaps his most important legacy is the enduring popularity of guitar-driven rock music.

Despite persistent denials that Presley died in 1977, the U.S. Postal Service put his likeness on a first-class postage stamp in 1993.

Studio Discography:

  • 1956 - Elvis Presley
  • 1956 - Elvis note 
  • 1957 - Loving You
  • 1957 - Elvis' Christmas Album
  • 1958 - King Creole
  • 1959 - For LP Fans Only
  • 1959 - Elvis Sails
  • 1959 - A Date With Elvis
  • 1960 - Elvis Is Back!
  • 1960 - G.I. Blues
  • 1960 - His Hand In Mine
  • 1961 - Something For Everybody
  • 1961 - Blue Hawaii
  • 1962 - Pot Luck
  • 1962 - Girls! Girls! Girls!
  • 1963 - It Happened At The World's Fair
  • 1963 - Fun In Acapulco
  • 1964 - Kissin' Cousins
  • 1964 - Roustabout
  • 1965 - Girl Happy
  • 1965 - Harum Scarum
  • 1966 - Frankie And Johnny
  • 1966 - Paradise, Hawaiian Style
  • 1966 - Spinout
  • 1967 - How Great Thou Art
  • 1967 - Double Trouble
  • 1967 - Clambake
  • 1968 - Speedway
  • 1969 - From Elvis In Memphis
  • 1969 - From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis note 
  • 1970 - That's The Way It Is
  • 1971 - Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old)
  • 1971 - Love Letters From Elvis
  • 1971 - Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas
  • 1972 - Elvis Now
  • 1972 - He Touched Me
  • 1973 - Elvis note 
  • 1973 - Raised On Rock
  • 1974 - Good Times
  • 1975 - Promised Land
  • 1975 - Today
  • 1976 - From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
  • 1976 - The Sun Sessions
  • 1977 - Moody Blue note 
  • 2010 - Viva Elvis

Live Discography:

  • 1968 - Elvis note 
  • 1969 - From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis note 
  • 1970 - On Stage
  • 1972 - Elvis: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden
  • 1973 - Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite
  • 1974 - Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
  • 1974 - Having Fun With Elvis On Stage
  • 1977 - Moody Blue note 
  • 1977 - Elvis In Concert

Films starring Elvis Presley:

Films about Elvis Presley:

  • Bubba Ho Tep (2002): A comedy implying Elvis is still alive.
  • Elvis Found Alive (2012): A mockumentary about Elvis who supposedly faked his death.

People associated with Elvis Presley:

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

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

  • Anachronism Stew: This applies to several of Presley's movies, especially any that are meant to be period pieces, yet Presley sings a rock and roll song or something approaching it. Love Me Tender, set in The American Civil War era, for example, features the semi-rocker "Poor Boy" which Presley performs complete with his trademark hip-swivel (in reality he'd have been arrested on the spot.) One of his last films, The Trouble with Girls, is set in the 1920's, yet features the 1960's soul-style song "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" in which the lyrics reference "armchair quarterbacks" — a term coined only after the advent of television sports broadcasting in the 1950's.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Blue Suede Shoes:"
    Well you can burn my house
    Steal my car
    Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar.
  • Ascended Fanboy: at least when it comes to gospel music. Elvis the teenager was definitely a gospel groupie, following all the singers around and hanging out backstage at gospel events in Memphis. Although he didn't ascend to being a gospel singer, per se, he made three complete gospel albums and an EP, as well as a handful of gospel songs that appeared on regular albums in the 1970s.
  • 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 favourite dishes involved bacon in some way.
  • Berserk Button: He hated being called The King.
    • Lay offa them blue suede shoes.
    • According to Shoot the Television, he apparently had a bias against cathode ray tubes. And Robert Goulet within.
    • He really hated tabloids, and wasn't shy about ranting on-stage about them.
  • 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. When asked by Bob Zmuda in the late '70s whether the King was still alive, Elvis' personal aide replied, "No one can eat that many Monte Cristo sandwiches a day and live."
    • And of course, there was his well-known love of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
  • Big Fancy House: Graceland, naturally, although in his lifetime, critics tended to use less flattering words to describe it. One description compared the place to a brothel, saying that: "nothing in the house is worth a dime," and that the "gaudy," "garish," and "phony" renovations were "of an intensity that makes you gag." Of course, since his death, the place has practically become a shrine.
    • In truth, the house is not particularly big, especially when compared to modern celebrity mansions, and the decor is definitely kitschy, especially the blue-and-gold bar area and the jungle room. That being said, it's still pretty cool.
  • Bookends: "In The Ghetto" from From Elvis In Memphis starts and ends with a boy being born in the ghetto.
    • The first song Elvis ever recorded: "My Happiness," was a country weepie. The last song Elvis ever recorded in a studio, "He'll Have to Go", was a country weepie.
  • Briefer Than They Think: He only started wearing jumpsuits on stage in 1970, and didn't really get fat until about 1975.
  • But Not Too Black: Think Eminem in the mid-1950's. 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. He insisted that Domino was the real King of Rock and Roll.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In G.I. Blues, Elvis' character is singing with a band in a bar and a guy goes to the jukebox saying "I want to hear an original" and plays "Blue Suede Shoes"... by Elvis Presley, of course.
  • Christmas Songs: "Blue Christmas" is still one of the most-played songs whenever December rolls around, but he recorded two full Christmas albums and a one-off single ("If Every Day Was Like Christmas") as well.
  • Cool Plane: He had a Convair 880 converted to his personal use and named it "Lisa Marie" after his daughter.
  • 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.
  • Covered Up: Elvis often covered other early rock/rhythm & blues singers songs (especially by African-American artists), though usually his version was charted higher.
  • Disguised in Drag: A scene in Girl Happy from 1965.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: His death from years of drug abuse at age 42.
    • Some believe he died due to a problem with constipation and if he had gotten a surgery that would have taken care of that, he would have lived considerably longer despite the drug abuse.
    • It was worse than constipation. Poor Elvis (likely) suffered from Hershprung's disease, which caused a distended bowel. Imagine Elvis carting around a colostomy bag.
  • 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 Starr was mostly left out since they didn't have drums handy,) though no recordings exist of this due to them specifically forbidding it.
  • Eagleland: Type 1, easy. Films of his live performances show him shedding Manly Tears when singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Also see "Promised Land."
  • Even the Guys Want Him: A famous quote from TV director Steve Binder (who oversaw the Comeback Special):
    Binder: I'm straight as an arrow and I got to tell you, you stop, whether you're male or female, to look at him. He was that good looking.
  • 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 1960's, RCA Records had pretty much stopped putting the name "Presley" on Elvis' album and singles sleeves.
  • The '50s: For better or for worse, his was possibly the most famous face of the decade.
  • '50s Hair: Elvis doesn't scream '50s without his ducktail pompadour. The long, thick sideburns only came out in The '70s.
  • Generation Xerox: The vicious cycle of poverty implied at the end of "In The Ghetto."
  • Genre Roulette: Elvis detractors are quick to point out that Elvis wasn't any sort of rock & roll innovator like, say, Chuck Berry, but Elvis did have something that many of his contemporaries (besides maybe Buddy Holly) didn't, which was a rich, diverse body of work filled with a multitude of styles: rockabilly, country, show tunes, traditional pop, gospel, bossa nova, and even some Hawaiian flavor, all given the same passion and gusto.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar. Presley pretty much made a career of this, especially early on.
  • Good-Looking Privates: Served a tour in the US Army.
  • 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.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Grew an impressive pair in the late Sixties.
  • 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 was a producer for Stage Show, where Elvis made his debut on national TV in 1956. Allegedly, Gleason said of Presley afterwards: "He can't last, I'll tell you flatly, he can't last."
  • Juke Box Musical: "Viva Elvis", the Cirque du Soleil show that ran in Las Vegas until 2012.
  • Large Ham: Elvis wasn't exactly subtle about his emoting on record. Whether a ballad or a full-blown rock number, Elvis milked that signature vibrato for all it was worth.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits, a Greatest Hits Album released in 2002.
  • Lighter and Softer: The movie years in the 1960s wound up being this for his music, which became more about pop crossovers and novelties than the big rock numbers that made his name. Elvis eventually got fed up and revived his career.
  • Live Album: Nine, starting with 1968's Elvis. The most infamous is Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, which is just a collection of Elvis talking to the audience during concerts, but devoid of any context, or even songs, making listeners at home wonder what the hell is going on.
  • Living Legend: Some say he still qualifies, despite being dead.
  • Location Song: "Viva Las Vegas", a Pep-Talk Song about the place.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog" are possibly the two most famous uses of this trope in music.
  • Memetic Hair: Without question.
  • Miniscule Rocking: His first hit, "That's All Right" doesn't even hit the two-minute mark.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: He never really went harder than a 4, but for the 1950s, his music was pretty intense.
  • 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.
    • The death of Gladys Presley, while Elvis was preparing to ship out with the army, had a profound lifelong impact on him, with some writers suggesting the slow decline leading to his death in August 1977 began with her death. Presley recorded at least two songs in her memory, the ultra-depressing duo of "Don't Cry Daddy" and "Mama Liked the Roses," and reportedly refused to watch Loving You because his mum appears as an audience member.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In his prime he embodied this to the whole world.
  • Music of Note: Sweet Jesus, yes. He took rock and 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 and 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 kind-hearted 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 Jr. 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 (at least, as far as we know). Cue agonised groans of despair from fans.
  • Precision F-Strike: In his famous rant about how tabloids reported that he was strung out, Elvis says, "If I find or hear the individual who has said that about me, I'm gonna break your god-damn neck, you son of a bitch."
  • Real Men Love Jesus: The reason he didn't like anyone calling him "the King" to his face. Also seen in his passionate singing of Gospel songs.
  • Rearrange the Song: Elvis Vs JXL's "A Little Less Conversation"
    • Dozens of Presley's tracks have been given the JXL treatment, dating back as far as 1981 and the successful remix album Guitar Man.
    • Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis" featured remixes of Elvis' song catalogue, much the same way their show "Love" remixed The Beatles.
    • Most recently, we got Elvis songs mixed with the orchestration of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with the album If I Can Dream.
  • Red Baron: "The King". Due to One-Mario Limit, another King is mostly referred to "King of Pop".
  • Rockabilly: Elvis is seen as one of the earliest singers in this genre and popularized it.
  • Rock & Roll: He is often considered to be the "King" of the genre. Elvis insisted the real king of rock and roll was Fats Domino.
  • The Rock Star: The Trope Maker! Elvis was the first superstar of the genre.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "In The Ghetto" from From Elvis In Memphis.
  • 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 rumoured 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.
  • Sigil Spam: His gold lightning bolt with the letters TCB (Taking Care of Business).
  • Southern Gentleman: He was known as incredibly polite to all he met.
  • Springtime for Hitler: According to The Other Wiki, Elvis did not want to re-record Ernest Tubb's hit, "Blue Christmas", and after much arguing, deliberately sabotaged his recording by singing it in the silliest way possible with the worst backing vocals ever; he instructed the singers and backing musicians to just have fun. The single still shot up to #1 and is still a Christmas favourite.
  • 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 Favourite Food: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also, bacon. Sometimes both at once.
    • 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 practising.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Colonel Tom Parker. He made a lot of money for Elvis, but overworked and overexposed him, locked him into bad contracts with film studios and RCA, had almost no regard for Elvis' artistic credibility, banished anyone who questioned his management tactics, and generally seemed like he was secretly trying to sabotage Elvis. Also, he was a Manipulative Bastard who turned out to have a Dark and Troubled Past.
  • 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 it is possible he died and then fell off the commode, it is not a certainty.
    • He is also rumoured to have died of a heart attack brought on by straining to relieve impossibly constipated bowels (see Big Eater, above, though he was also known to have suffered from a twisted colon). 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!" Elvis was aware of this and lampshaded it while videotaping a promo for his 1968 NBC Special (the out-takes are included on the special's DVD release).

Elvis... has left the trope page.