“The King” and I…

… a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley.

The ‘King’ of millions of hearts all over the world and rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Aaron Presley (born: Tupelo, Mississippi, 8 January 1935) defined an era.

Presley in a Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954He was the man of the showbiz industry in his time, with the unearthly ability to deliver hit song after hit song to the obvious delight of his fans. The man who from his humble beginnings from the farmlands of Memphis, Tennessee ended up making the whole world dance to his tunes, whose killer looks made many go weak at the knees, a man who made rock ‘n’ roll what it is today and will always be remembered as a true superstar.

He rose from poverty to fame in the mid 1950s, attracting large audiences – particularly teenage girls – at concerts everywhere he went. Elvis was young and attractive, had a great voice, and his sound and style were totally unique. His musical style was a combination of black rhythm & blues, country, blues, pop music of the time, and gospel. Nicknamed “Elvis the pelvis” for his swivelling dance moves, some parents and church goers considered him vulgar, and a dangerous influence to teenagers.

Acting had been his dream for many years, and in 1956 he realised his ambition with the film “Love me tender”. Between 1956 and 1961 he was recording, giving live concerts, and making films (with the exception of his time in the army) and achieved international fame.

Other films from this early period include “Jailhouse rock” and “King Creole”, and soon after returning from the army in 1961 he abandoned singing to live audiences and turned exclusively to film making.

Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock
In the 1960s Elvis was acting in one film after another (films like “Blue Hawaii” and “Viva Las Vegas”), but he became dissatisfied with his acting career and stopped making films in 1969, returning instead to live concerts.

From 1970 until his death in 1977, Elvis toured in concerts across the USA, an estimated total of over 1,000 performances. He made history with these elaborate shows, his costumes (most often jumpsuits) breaking box office records.

Elvis died unexpectedly in 1977 from a heart attack, prescription drug abuse indicated as a cause. He has sold over 1 billion albums worldwide, has over 100 gold / platinum awards for his singles and albums within the USA, he is by far one of the most popular artists of all time, and his records and films continue to sell well today.

This is just a glimpse of The ‘King’, there is far more to know about this legend and there are many books about him to choose from at Westminster Music Library; from reference guides, discographies, to biographies. You can listen to Elvis on numerous CDs in stock in libraries too.

And the King lives on – the number of Elvis Presley impersonators has reached an all-time record high – there are now at least 85,000 Elvises around the world, compared to only 170 in 1977 when he died. At this rate of growth, experts predict that by 2019 Elvis impersonators will make up a third of the world population! Why not release your “inner Elvis” and borrow one of our Elvis Presley scores?

[Ruth]

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