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Trivia / Elvis Presley

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  • Author Existence Failure: Presley was to go on another tour beginning on August 16, 1977 at Portland, Maine. However, he died that day at the age of 42.
  • Big Name Fan: Of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover in specific. Ironic because at the time Hoover was investigating Presley as a possible subversive. Doubly ironic that they would have that suspicion of Presley, who bled Red, White, and Blue. But that was J. Edgar for you.
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  • Breakthrough Hit: In 1955, he was charting only on the country chart with songs like "Mystery Train" and "That's Alright, Mama", and at the end of the year was climbing the charts with his first No. 1 country hit, "I Forgot to Remember to Forget". All of those titles were for the Sun Records label – legendary performances to be sure from the King of Rock and Roll, but still relatively niche and generally considered regional in nature. But then he signed with RCA in 1956, released a cover of a Mae Axton-penned tune called "Heartbreak Hotel" – and his career broke wide (and it really is WIDE) open.
  • Contractual Obligation Project:
    • Basically every movie he did after Viva Las Vegas counts. Parker worked out a deal with MGM to have a new film in theaters every few months, without much concern for quality. Eventually, they just gave up on doing narrative films and his final two movies were Concert Films.
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    • When he renegotiated his contract with RCA in 1971, they demanded that he record a Christmas album and a Gospel Music album, since his previous efforts in those genres had been big long-term sellers for them. He obliged them with Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas and He Touched Me (the latter ended up winning him a Grammy).
    • With all of his issues later in his life, he wasn't very motivated to go to recording studios (he even recorded his final two albums at Graceland), so to help cover his contracts his producers were forced to release live albums, or pad incomplete studio albums with live recordings. The final album released in his lifetime, Moody Blue, is an example of this, being a mix of live and studio recordings.
  • Creator Backlash: Presley grew to hate the movies he was starring in (several sources such as the documentary This is Elvis suggest he even got physically ill from them at one point), and certainly you can scour Presley's live performances from 1969 to 1977 and except for one or two exceptions that became regular parts of his act (most notably his sign-off, "Can't Help Falling in Love") you'll find very few performances of movie songs from the post-1960 era.
    • A big part of the reason he hated his movies was that he was actually a terrific actor in a way most musicians who make films aren't, and he knew it. Elvis wanted nothing more than to put his chops to the test with real film roles and bar a couple of occasions (King Creole, his favorite role, for example), he never got the chance.
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    • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Presley greatly preferred his gospel recordings to his more popular records (as did the Grammys; during his lifetime the only Grammys he won were for spiritual performances).
  • Fan Nickname: The lesser-known "Elvis the Pelvis", among others.
    • Might've been used as a detractor nickname, too. Presley 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).
    • Despite the official name Elvis or the Elvis NBC TV Special, Presley's 1968 concert is widely known as The Elvis '68 Comeback Special.
  • He Also Did:
    • Among Presley's filmography is the 1969 Western Charro!, the only film Presley appears in where he does not sing (except in the opening credits); has a full beard; and also has a very brief nude scene from behind. It was Presley's attempt to break into serious acting, and was the least successful of his films.note 
    • Presley was a martial artist and actually held the ranking of 8th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate. Had he outlived Ed Parker, he would have been the successor of the art.
    • While his name appeared in some of his early songwriting credits as part of publishing deals, it was well-known that he didn't really write them and he's always had a reputation for not actually writing songs. But in fact he did record two songs at the start of The '60s that he genuinely helped write: "That's Someone You Never Forget" (co-written with old school buddy/bodyguard Red West) and "You'll Be Gone" (co-written with West and longtime Foil Charlie Hodge). After his death, a third song - the only one to credit Elvis as sole songwriter - was found in a studio outtake, the jam session "I Didn't Make it on Playing Guitar" (though the song title is the extent of the tune's lyrics).
  • Old Shame:
    • Elvis wasn't a huge fan of many of his movie soundtracks, either. Except for a couple of standouts such as "Can't Help Falling in Love", and (on rare occasions) "Return to Sender", he generally refused to perform songs from his 1960s movies during his Vegas era. One biography cited an incident during a Las Vegas show where an audience member requested "Viva Las Vegas" and Presley replied that was one song he definitely wasn't going to do. Fortunately for him, the only film he released concurrently with his return to live performances, Change of Habit, included "Rubberneckin'", a track borrowed from his groundbreaking American Studios sessions in Memphis. Technically it wasn't a movie song, so he had no problems performing it early on.
    • Elvis recorded the occasional track that he felt was either too low-quality or too silly to be commercially released, and with a few exceptions was successful in preventing many of these "old shames" from being officially released during his lifetime.
  • Referenced by...: Canadian figure skater Nicolas Nadeau performed to Elvis Presley's music for his long program during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 competitive seasons. The songs are "That's Alright", "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Blue Suede Shoes".
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Presley never toured outside of the US (except briefly in Canada in 1957), mainly because Parker (real name: Andreas van Kuijk) was an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands and couldn't get a passport. Ironically, this seems a case of Critical Research Failure on Parker's part: he had served in the US Army and was married to an American citizen. Parker could have applied for legal citizenship at any time based on either of those two factors (maintaining his Dutch citizenship, however, did prove advantageous to him in avoiding legal trouble.) However, according to Parker's biographer, it's possible that he fled the Netherlands because of a Dark and Troubled Past (specifically, a murder case in Breda of which he was a suspect or person of interest) and was fearful of having his true identity revealed.
    • Barbra Streisand wanted Presley to star with her in her remake of A Star Is Born but Col. Parker nixed it, insisting Elvis get top billing and a huge amount of money. Parker also didn't like the fact that producer Jon Peters was virtually unknown at the time. Kris Kristofferson got the role instead.
    • Perhaps the biggest was Presley getting offered the role of Tony in West Side Story. Granted Elvis wasn't a Broadway singer, but there's a good chance he wouldn't have had to have been dubbed like Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood were. And Elvis literally playing a modern day Romeo? A role like that was made for him.
    • Besides the A Star Is Born example above, let's just say all of Presley's film career is a WCHB. He demonstrated a great sense of humor and comedic timing that could have made him a big comedy star, but Parker killed any potential acting career. It can't have helped that the Western Flaming Star, one of the few movies he made where music was on the backburner, was a box office disappointment (though considered one of his best screen turns).
    • When Sam Phillips decided to sell Presley's contract in 1955, Atlantic Records entered into the bidding for him. Atlantic bid $30,000, but was outbid by RCA Victor who paid $40,000. Atlantic vice president Jerry Wexler loved Presley's singing and bid aggressively, although he later admitted he didn't know how Atlantic could have raised the $30,000 if their offer had been accepted. Atlantic president Ahmet Ertegun later noted, ironically, that David Sarnoff, president of RCA Victor's corporate parent, Radio Corporation of America, had previously been extensively quoted in Variety magazine as damning rock and roll and R&B music as immoral, and only stopped after Presley was signed.
    • According to Meat Loaf, Elvis Presley was being considered to play the role of Eddie in the film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    • Memphis wrestling legend Jerry Lawler wrote in his book It's Good To Be The King... Sometimes about how he almost managed to get Presley involved with Memphis Wrestling in some capacity, and even got to speak with his father, Vernon Presley, on the phone to iron out some details about it. Unfortunately, this was 1977, and we all know what kind of condition Presley was in by then - in fact, a few weeks after that phone call, Memphis was down a King.
    • In October 1958, Bill Haley and the Comets toured Germany. Presley attended at least two of the concerts (one in uniform, the other in civilian clothes) and there was talk of him doing a number or two with Haley, but owing to the riots and other violence already plaguing Haley's performances, it was decided this was too risky.
    • According to the book Elvis: The Illustrated Record, a number of top songwriters of the 1970s, including no less than Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon, were on record as offering to write songs for Presley, but there's no indication of their offers ever being taken up.
    • Also according Elvis: The Illustrated Record, Presley at one point wanted to record albums devoted to the music of Hank Williams and Chuck Berry, but the idea was vetoed. (Coincidentally, one of Elvis' colleagues at Sun Records, Johnny Cash, actually did record an album of Williams covers.)
    • As noted earlier, Elvis Presley was awarded the ranking of 8th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate. Had he outlived Ed Parker, the founder of the style, Elvis would have been the successor. (This was actually a move by Parker to try and bring fame to the art. It may have been better that this didn't come to pass as Elvis was a significantly better singer than a martial artist...)


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