The King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 August 16, 1977) was one of the most influential and iconic singers of the 20th century, selling over a billion records worldwide. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, he began his professional singing career in Memphis, Tennessee, 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 Career Resurrection 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 at the turn of The '70s. 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) deteriorated significantly due to his battle with prescription drug abuse. On August 16, 1977, Presley died in Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. He was reading in his bathroom that night before he could begin another tour in Maine. Presley suffered a heart attack and his body was found several hours later. He was 42 years old.
Despite the fact Presley almost never actually wrote songs himself note , 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.
Presley was a charter member inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and is an honoree of several other such organizations, including those devoted to Blues, Rockabilly, Gospel Music, Honky Tonk, and Country 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.
- 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
- 1968 - Elvis (Often referred to as the "68 Comeback Special")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 note
- 1977 - Moody Blue note
- 1977 - Elvis In Concert note
Films starring Elvis Presley:
- Love Me Tender (1956)
- Loving You (1957)
- Jailhouse Rock (1957)
- King Creole (1958)
- GI Blues (1960)
- Flaming Star (1960)
- Wild In The Country (1961)
- Blue Hawaii (1961)
- Follow That Dream (1962)
- Kid Galahad (1962)
- Girls Girls Girls (1962)
- It Happened At The Worlds Fair (1963)
- Fun In Acapulco (1963)
- Kissin Cousins (1964)
- Viva Las Vegas! (1964)
- Roustabout (1964)
- Girl Happy (1965)
- Tickle Me (1965)
- Harum Scarum (1965)
- Frankie And Johnny 1966 (1966)
- Paradise Hawaiian Style (1966)
- Spinout (1966)
- Easy Come Easy Go (1967)
- Double Trouble (1967)
- Clambake (1967)
- Stay Away Joe (1968)
- Speedway (1968)
- Live A Little Love A Little (1968)
- Charro (1969)
- The Trouble With Girls (1969)
- Change of Habit (1969)
- Elvis Thats The Way It Is (1970) note
- Elvis On Tour (1972) note
Films about Elvis Presley:
- This Is Elvis (1981) Documentary
- Bubba Ho Tep (2002): A comedy implying Elvis is still alive.
- Elvis Found Alive (2012): A mockumentary about Elvis who supposedly faked his death.
- Elvis (2021): A biopic directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker.
People associated with Elvis Presley:
- Colonel Tom Parker
- Sam Phillips
You ain't nothin' but a Trope Namer, just cryin' all the time...
"You can do anything, but lay off-a them blue suede tropes:"
- 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. And he based his '50s look on a style Captain Marvel Jr. was rocking as early as 1941.
- 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.
- Berserk Button:
- "You can burn my house, steal my car, drink my liquor from an old fruit jar. Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh, Honey, lay off of my shoes..."
- He would often Shoot the Television, especially if it showed Robert Goulet, and was rumored to have a basement full of spares to vent on. Apparently according to Elvis' friend, Marty Lacker, the real reason Elvis developed such a hatred of televisions is because while he was in the army, Robert Goulet added a post-script to a letter written by Elvis' girlfriend, Anita Wood, that slyly told Elvis that he was personally "taking care" of Anita. Elvis didn't like that and he never forgot it, so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.
- He really hated tabloids, and wasn't shy about ranting on-stage about them.
- He really didn't like being called "The King" or "The King of Rock and Roll". In life, he was a devout Christian and a genuinely humble man, so the only person who deserved to be called King was Jesus. Another reason for this is because he's a huge fan of Fats Domino, who was in his mind the true "King of Rock and Roll" and a far better musician; he resented how his moniker as "The King" came from him being white while Fats Domino wasn't.
- "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: Elvis himself seemed to believe this trope was in effect for his music. His lighter skin tone "allowed" many people to listen to him as a talented singer, while dark-skinned contemporaries were shunned. He was once heard to lament that he couldn't sing as well as Fats Domino, but people would only listen to him anyway. Elvis insisted that Domino was the real King of Rock and Roll.
- The Can Kicked Him: Possibly the most famous example. Or close enough.
- 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.
- In Girls! Girls! Girls!, Elvis' character is walking with his love interest along a sidewalk and pass by a movie theatre where the posters show that the current film is Elvis' Blue Hawaii.
- Christmas Songs: Elvisnote recorded two full Christmas albums (Elvis' Christmas Album in 1957, Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas (in 1971), with a one-off single ("If Every Day Was Like Christmas" in 1966) in-between. His renditions of "Blue Christmas" and "Here Comes Santa Claus" are still heard frequently each December.
- Cool Car: Owned a whole bunch of them, some still on display at Graceland, including a Mercedes-Benz limousine from his Vegas years and a pink Cadillac convertable.
- 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.
- Dead Artists Are Better: By the time he died he'd fallen into a slump again after his late 60s comeback. He hadn't had a Top 10 hit in America since 1972 and a Top 20 hit since 1974. One immediate effect of the resurgent interest in him after his death was that his current single "Way Down" had been falling down the charts after peaking at #31, but immediately started a second run and wound up getting to #18.
- 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.
- Dramatic Timpani: Featured on "If Every Day Was Like Christmas".
- 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.
- Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: The lyrics for "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" reference this:You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You're the devil in disguise
- 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.
- 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 (especially in the 60s), traditional pop, gospel, bossa nova, and even some Hawaiian flavor, all given the same passion and gusto.
- Gray Rain of Depression: "Kentucky Rain" where the narrator searches down a "lonely Kentucky backroad" on a "cold, dark afternoon" for his lost love.
- 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 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.
- Miniscule Rocking: His first hit, "That's All Right" doesn't even hit the two-minute mark.
- Some of Elvis' movie songs run little more than a minute, including the rockin' "We're Coming in Loaded" from Girls! Girls! Girls!; timed at about one minute, twenty seconds the song actually had to be extended to fill a TV commercial for Nike that featured the song in the 2010s.
- "Nothingville", from the 1968 TV special, only runs around a minute, but it was written specifically as an intro to the big "Guitar Man" medley production number.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Much like his rock & roll predecessors like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, Elvis never really went harder than a 4. Still, for the 1950s, that was pretty intense. "Love Me Tender" shows Presley very capable of the occasional 1.
- 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. It got to a point where he was seen by more conservative people as a danger to America's youth, and had to be censored on live television when he appeared so that he was only depicted from the waist up.
- 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 to the Waiter: He was incredibly generous with his money and loved to give tips and help people out.
- 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.
- Considering the fact some tried to paint a rivalry between Elvis and his competing "King or Rock and Roll", Bill Haley, they were actually good friends and during his tour of duty Elvis attended at least two of Haley's concerts in Germany.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Elvis Presley met The Beatles when they visited California for their 1965 Hollywood Bowl shows. Reports say that after an initial bout of The Knights Who Say "Squee!"-ness by the Fabs (Elvis quipped "Well, if you guys are just going to stare at me, Im going to bed."), things loosened up a bit and they jammed on some songs. 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.
- Real Men Wear Pink: It could be suspected that pink is his favorite color as he tends to wear pink and black during the 50's.
- 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.
- Elvis songs mixed with the orchestration of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with the album If I Can Dream.
- Red Baron: "The King".
- 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: Presley 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.◊ And all this because he held a grudge against - of all people - Robert Goulet. From Elvis' buddy, Marty Lacker:Marty Lacker: Elvis harbored some bad feelings about Goulet from back in the late 50's when he was in the army. Elvis' girlfriend Anita Wood was a singer and she did shows with Goulet and Buddy Hackett. Anita would often write Elvis in Germany and one time Goulet added a post script to one of them telling Elvis in a sly way that he was personally taking care of Anita. Elvis didn't like that and he never forgot so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.
- 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).
- 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).