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Close Share options. It became a lifelong interest, which he later included in his live performances.
He donated his Army pay to charity, purchased TV sets for the base, and bought an extra set of fatigues for everyone in his outfit. While in Friedberg, Presley met year-old Priscilla Beaulieu.
They would eventually marry after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship. In Special Services , he would have been able to give musical performances and remain in touch with the public, but Parker had convinced him that to gain popular respect, he should serve his country as a regular soldier.
Armed with a substantial amount of unreleased material, they kept up a regular stream of successful releases. Presley returned to the United States on March 2, , and was honorably discharged three days later with the rank of sergeant.
The album features several songs described by Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues "menace, driven by Presley's own super-miked acoustic guitar, brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots Randolph.
Elvis' singing wasn't sexy, it was pornographic. Presley returned to television on May 12 as a guest on The Frank Sinatra Timex Special —ironic for both stars, given Sinatra's earlier excoriation of rock and roll.
Also known as Welcome Home Elvis , the show had been taped in late March, the only time all year Presley performed in front of an audience.
The broadcast drew an enormous viewership. Blues , the soundtrack to Presley's first film since his return, was a number-one album in October.
It reached number 13 on the U. In February , Presley performed two shows for a benefit event in Memphis, on behalf of 24 local charities.
During a luncheon preceding the event, RCA presented him with a plaque certifying worldwide sales of over 75 million records.
Presaging much of what was to come from Presley himself over the next half-decade, the album is largely "a pleasant, unthreatening pastiche of the music that had once been Elvis' birthright".
Another benefit concert, raising money for a Pearl Harbor memorial, was staged on March 25, in Hawaii. It was to be Presley's last public performance for seven years.
Parker had by now pushed Presley into a heavy film making schedule, focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies.
Presley, at first, insisted on pursuing higher roles, but when two films in a more dramatic vein— Flaming Star and Wild in the Country —were less commercially successful, he reverted to the formula.
Among the 27 films he made during the s, there were a few further exceptions. Hal Wallis , who produced nine of them, declared, "A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood.
Of Presley's films in the s, 15 were accompanied by soundtrack albums and another 5 by soundtrack EPs. The films' rapid production and release schedules—he frequently starred in three a year—affected his music.
According to Jerry Leiber, the soundtrack formula was already evident before Presley left for the Army: "three ballads, one medium-tempo [number], one up-tempo, and one break blues boogie".
But by and large, according to biographer Jerry Hopkins , the numbers seemed to be "written on order by men who never really understood Elvis or rock and roll".
In the first half of the decade, three of Presley's soundtrack albums were ranked number one on the pop charts, and a few of his most popular songs came from his films, such as " Can't Help Falling in Love " and " Return to Sender " But, as with artistic merit, the commercial returns steadily diminished.
During a five-year span— through —Presley had only one top-ten hit: " Crying in the Chapel " , a gospel number recorded back in As for non-film albums, between the June release of Pot Luck and the November release of the soundtrack to the television special that signaled his comeback, only one LP of new material by Presley was issued: the gospel album How Great Thou Art Shortly before Christmas , more than seven years since they first met, Presley proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu.
They were married on May 1, , in a brief ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. It was not until October , when the Clambake soundtrack LP registered record low sales for a new Presley album, that RCA executives recognized a problem.
Presley's only child, Lisa Marie , was born on February 1, , during a period when he had grown deeply unhappy with his career. Parker had already shifted his plans to television, where Presley had not appeared since the Sinatra Timex show in He maneuvered a deal with NBC that committed the network to both finance a theatrical feature and broadcast a Christmas special.
Recorded in late June in Burbank, California , the special, simply called Elvis , aired on December 3, Later known as the '68 Comeback Special, the show featured lavishly staged studio productions as well as songs performed with a band in front of a small audience—Presley's first live performances since The live segments saw Presley dressed in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock and roll days.
Director and co-producer Steve Binder had worked hard to produce a show that was far from the hour of Christmas songs Parker had originally planned.
He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect of rock 'n' roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension and effort that must have made Jim Morrison green with envy.
The soundtrack album rose into the top ten. According to friend Jerry Schilling , the special reminded Presley of what "he had not been able to do for years, being able to choose the people; being able to choose what songs and not being told what had to be on the soundtrack.
He was out of prison, man. I give you my word I will never sing a song I don't believe in. Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio , which led to the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis.
Released in June , it was his first secular, non-soundtrack album from a dedicated period in the studio in eight years. As described by Dave Marsh, it is "a masterpiece in which Presley immediately catches up with pop music trends that had seemed to pass him by during the movie years.
He sings country songs, soul songs and rockers with real conviction, a stunning achievement. Presley was keen to resume regular live performing.
Following the success of the Comeback Special, offers came in from around the world. He responded, "That's fine for me, now how much can you get for Elvis?
He was scheduled to perform 57 shows over four weeks beginning July Moore, Fontana, and the Jordanaires declined to participate, afraid of losing the lucrative session work they had in Nashville.
Presley assembled new, top-notch accompaniment, led by guitarist James Burton and including two gospel groups, The Imperials and Sweet Inspirations.
Parker, who intended to make Presley's return the show business event of the year, oversaw a major promotional push. For his part, hotel owner Kirk Kerkorian arranged to send his own plane to New York to fly in rock journalists for the debut performance.
Presley took to the stage without introduction. The audience of 2,, including many celebrities, gave him a standing ovation before he sang a note and another after his performance.
A third followed his encore, "Can't Help Falling in Love" a song that would be his closing number for much of the s.
Cassandra Peterson , later television's Elvira, met Presley during this period in Las Vegas, where she was working as a showgirl. She recalled of their encounter, "He was so anti-drug when I met him.
I mentioned to him that I smoked marijuana, and he was just appalled. He said, 'Don't ever do that again. Several of his family members had been alcoholics, a fate he intended to avoid.
Presley returned to the International early in for the first of the year's two-month-long engagements, performing two shows a night. Recordings from these shows were issued on the album On Stage.
Presley was performing in a jumpsuit, which would become a trademark of his live act. Presley had been the target of many threats since the s, often without his knowledge.
Presley went onstage with a Derringer in his right boot and a. The album, That's the Way It Is , produced to accompany the documentary and featuring both studio and live recordings, marked a stylistic shift.
As music historian John Robertson noted, "The authority of Presley's singing helped disguise the fact that the album stepped decisively away from the American-roots inspiration of the Memphis sessions towards a more middle-of-the-road sound.
Another week-long tour, of the West Coast, followed in November. On December 21, , Presley engineered a meeting with President Richard Nixon at the White House , where he expressed his patriotism and explained how he believed he could reach out to the hippies to help combat the drug culture he and the president abhorred.
He asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, to add to similar items he had begun collecting and to signify official sanction of his patriotic efforts.
Nixon, who apparently found the encounter awkward, expressed a belief that Presley could send a positive message to young people and that it was, therefore, important that he "retain his credibility".
On hearing reports of the meeting, Paul McCartney later said that he "felt a bit betrayed. The great joke was that we were taking [illegal] drugs, and look what happened to him", a reference to Presley's early death, linked to prescription drug abuse.
The U. Best received by critics was Elvis Country , a concept record that focused on genre standards. If [Presley's] sin was his lifelessness, it was his sinfulness that brought him to life".
A date tour commenced with an unprecedented four consecutive sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. After the tour, the single " Burning Love " was released—Presley's last top ten hit on the U.
Presley and his wife, meanwhile, had become increasingly distant, barely cohabiting. In , an affair he had with Joyce Bova resulted—unbeknownst to him—in her pregnancy and an abortion.
Priscilla related that when she told him, Presley "grabbed Presley replied, "Well, the image is one thing and the human being another In January , Presley performed two benefit concerts for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in connection with a groundbreaking TV special, Aloha from Hawaii , which would be the first concert by a solo artist to be aired globally.
The first show served as a practice run and backup should technical problems affect the live broadcast two days later.
In Japan, where it capped a nationwide Elvis Presley Week, it smashed viewing records. The next night, it was simulcast to 28 European countries, and in April an extended version finally aired in the U.
As described by Bobbie Ann Mason , "At the end of the show, when he spreads out his American Eagle cape, with the full stretched wings of the eagle studded on the back, he becomes a god figure.
At a midnight show the same month, four men rushed onto the stage in an apparent attack. Security men came to Presley's defense, and he ejected one invader from the stage himself.
Following the show, he became obsessed with the idea that the men had been sent by Mike Stone to kill him. Though they were shown to have been only overexuberant fans, he raged, "There's too much pain in me Stone [must] die.
After another two full days of raging, Red West , his friend and bodyguard, felt compelled to get a price for a contract killing and was relieved when Presley decided, "Aw hell, let's just leave it for now.
Maybe it's a bit heavy. Presley's divorce was finalized on October 9, Twice during the year, he overdosed on barbiturates , spending three days in a coma in his hotel suite after the first incident.
Towards the end of , he was hospitalized, semi-comatose from the effects of a pethidine addiction. According to his primary care physician , Dr.
George C. Nichopoulos , Presley "felt that by getting drugs from a doctor, he wasn't the common everyday junkie getting something off the street".
Presley's condition declined precipitously in September. Keyboardist Tony Brown remembered Presley's arrival at a University of Maryland concert: "He fell out of the limousine, to his knees.
People jumped to help, and he pushed them away like, 'Don't help me. Everybody's looking at each other like, 'Is the tour gonna happen'?
He was slurring. He was so fucked up. It was obvious he was drugged. It was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body.
It was so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible. I remember crying. He could barely get through the introductions.
So often I thought, 'Boss, why don't you just cancel this tour and take a year off? He patted me on the back and said, 'It'll be all right.
Don't you worry about it. Cultural critic Marjorie Garber wrote that he was now widely seen as a garish pop crooner: "In effect, he had become Liberace.
Even his fans were now middle-aged matrons and blue-haired grandmothers. On July 13, , Vernon Presley—who had become deeply involved in his son's financial affairs—fired " Memphis Mafia " bodyguards Red West Presley's friend since the s , Sonny West , and David Hebler, citing the need to "cut back on expenses".
Another associate of Presley's, John O'Grady, argued that the bodyguards were dropped because their rough treatment of fans had prompted too many lawsuits.
RCA, which had enjoyed a steady stream of product from Presley for over a decade, grew anxious as his interest in spending time in the studio waned.
After a December session that produced 18 songs, enough for almost two albums, he did not enter the studio in Despite concerns from his label and manager, between July and October Presley recorded virtually the entire contents of six albums.
Though he was no longer a major presence on the pop charts, five of those albums entered the top five of the country chart, and three went to number one: Promised Land , From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee , and Moody Blue Eight studio singles from this period released during his lifetime were top ten hits on one or both charts, four in alone.
Presley and Linda Thompson split in November , and he took up with a new girlfriend, Ginger Alden. Hugely overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts.
According to Guralnick, fans "were becoming increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to go right past Presley, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his spiritualism books.
In the first, shot in Omaha on June 19, Presley's voice, Guralnick writes, "is almost unrecognizable, a small, childlike instrument in which he talks more than sings most of the songs, casts about uncertainly for the melody in others, and is virtually unable to articulate or project".
The book Elvis: What Happened? He was devastated by the book and tried unsuccessfully to halt its release by offering money to the publishers.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 16, , Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis to begin another tour. That afternoon, Ginger Alden discovered him in an unresponsive state on a bathroom floor.
According to her eyewitness account, "Elvis looked as if his entire body had completely frozen in a seated position while using the commode and then had fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it.
It was clear that, from the time whatever hit him to the moment he had landed on the floor, Elvis hadn't moved.
President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture".
Presley's funeral was held at Graceland on Thursday, August Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third.
While an autopsy, undertaken the same day Presley died, was still in progress, Memphis medical examiner Dr.
Jerry Francisco announced that the immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest. Asked if drugs were involved, he declared that "drugs played no role in Presley's death".
The pathologists conducting the autopsy thought it possible, for instance, that he had suffered "anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist, to which he was known to have had a mild allergy".
A pair of lab reports filed two months later strongly suggested that polypharmacy was the primary cause of death; one reported "fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant quantity".
That, together with his drug habit, caused his death. But he was difficult to diagnose; it was a judgment call.
The competence and ethics of two of the centrally involved medical professionals were seriously questioned. Francisco had offered a cause of death before the autopsy was complete; claimed the underlying ailment was cardiac arrhythmia , a condition that can be determined only in someone who is still alive; and denied drugs played any part in Presley's death before the toxicology results were known.
George Nichopoulos , exonerated him of criminal liability for his death, the facts were startling: "In the first eight months of alone, he had [prescribed] more than 10, doses of sedatives, amphetamines, and narcotics: all in Elvis' name.
It was permanently revoked in the s after the Tennessee Medical Board brought new charges of over-prescription. In , the Presley autopsy report was reopened.
Joseph Davis, who had conducted thousands of autopsies as Miami-Dade County coroner,  declared at its completion, "There is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs.
In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack. Francisco did not speak for the entire pathology team. Other staff "could say nothing with confidence until they got the results back from the laboratories, if then.
That would be a matter of weeks. Eric Muirhead "could not believe his ears. Francisco had not only presumed to speak for the hospital's team of pathologists, he had announced a conclusion that they had not reached.
Early on, a meticulous dissection of the body As they proceeded, the doctors saw evidence that his body had been wracked over a span of years by a large and constant stream of drugs.
They had also studied his hospital records, which included two admissions for drug detoxification and methadone treatments.
Dan Warlick, who was present at the autopsy, "believes Presley's chronic constipation—the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat, high-cholesterol gorging—brought on what's known as Valsalva's maneuver.
Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer's abdominal aorta , shutting down his heart. However, in , Dr.
Forest Tennant , who had testified as a defense witness in Nichopoulos' trial, described his own analysis of Presley's available medical records.
He concluded that Presley's "drug abuse had led to falls, head trauma, and overdoses that damaged his brain", and that his death was due in part to a toxic reaction to codeine—exacerbated by an undetected liver enzyme defect—which can cause sudden cardiac arrhythmia.
Between and , six of Presley's posthumously released singles were top-ten country hits. Graceland was opened to the public in Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it became the second most-visited home in the United States, after the White House.
In , he received the W. It topped the charts in over 20 countries and was included in a compilation of Presley's number-one hits, ELV1S , which was also an international success.
The album returned Presley to the Billboard summit for the first time in almost three decades. In , a remix of " Rubberneckin' ", a recording of Presley's, topped the U.
They were part of a campaign that saw the re-release of all 18 of Presley's previous chart-topping UK singles. The first, "All Shook Up", came with a collectors' box that made it ineligible to chart again; each of the other 17 reissues hit the British top five.
For much of his adult life, Presley, with his rise from poverty to riches and massive fame, had seemed to epitomize the American Dream. Since , there have been numerous alleged sightings of Presley.
A long-standing conspiracy theory among some fans is that he faked his death. It is as if he has been canonized by acclamation. Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel.
His mother recalled that from the age of two, at the Assembly of God church in Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform.
There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them. The Statesmen were an electric combination Bass singer Jim Wetherington, known universally as the Big Chief, maintained a steady bottom, ceaselessly jiggling first his left leg, then his right, with the material of the pants leg ballooning out and shimmering.
As a teenager , Presley's musical interests were wide-ranging, and he was deeply informed about both white and African-American musical idioms.
Though he never had any formal training, he had a remarkable memory, and his musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his first professional recordings aged 19 in When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues,  and, as Stoller put it, "He certainly knew a lot more than we did about country music and gospel music.
Presley received his first guitar when he was 11 years old. He learned to play and sing; he gained no formal musical training but had an innate natural talent and could easily pick up music.
While he couldn't read or write music and had no formal lessons, he was a natural musician and played everything by ear.
Presley played rhythm acoustic guitar on most of his Sun recordings and his s RCA albums. Presley was a central figure in the development of rockabilly , according to music historians.
Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson , and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old.
At RCA, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars  and a tougher, more intense manner.
In , his first gospel record was released, the four-song EP Peace in the Valley. Certified as a million-seller, it became the top-selling gospel EP in recording history.
After his return from military service in , Presley continued to perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially toned down.
His first post-Army single, the number-one hit "Stuck on You", is typical of this shift. RCA publicity materials referred to its "mild rock beat"; discographer Ernst Jorgensen calls it "upbeat pop".
While Presley performed several of his classic ballads for the '68 Comeback Special, the sound of the show was dominated by aggressive rock and roll.
He would record few new straight-ahead rock and roll songs thereafter; as he explained, they were "hard to find".
Like his work of the s, Presley's subsequent recordings reworked pop and country songs, but in markedly different permutations.
His stylistic range now began to embrace a more contemporary rock sound as well as soul and funk. Much of Elvis in Memphis , as well as "Suspicious Minds", cut at the same sessions, reflected his new rock and soul fusion.
In the mids, many of his singles found a home on country radio, the field where he first became a star. The developmental arc of Presley's singing voice, as described by critic Dave Marsh, goes from "high and thrilled in the early days, [to] lower and perplexed in the final months.
Jorgensen calls the recording of "How Great Thou Art" "an extraordinary fulfillment of his vocal ambitions", as Presley "crafted for himself an ad-hoc arrangement in which he took every part of the four-part vocal, from [the] bass intro to the soaring heights of the song's operatic climax", becoming "a kind of one-man quartet".
Hess himself thought that while others might have voices the equal of Presley's, "he had that certain something that everyone searches for all during their lifetime.
Marsh praises his reading of " U. Male ", "bearing down on the hard guy lyrics, not sending them up or overplaying them but tossing them around with that astonishingly tough yet gentle assurance that he brought to his Sun records.
Music critic Henry Pleasants observes that "Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor.
An extraordinary compass Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down.
His voice can not be measured in octaves, but in decibels; even that misses the problem of how to measure delicate whispers that are hardly audible at all.
When Dewey Phillips first aired "That's All Right" on Memphis' WHBQ , many listeners who contacted the station by phone and telegram to ask for it again assumed that its singer was black.
Interviewed in , he recalled how in his childhood he would listen to blues musician Arthur Crudup —the originator of "That's All Right"—"bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw.
Anti-negro prejudice doubtless figured in adult antagonism. Regardless of whether parents were aware of the Negro sexual origins of the phrase 'rock 'n' roll', Presley impressed them as the visual and aural embodiment of sex.
Despite the largely positive view of Presley held by African Americans, a rumor spread in mid that he had at some point announced, "The only thing Negroes can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes.
On the set of Jailhouse Rock , Presley granted Robinson an interview, though he was no longer dealing with the mainstream press. He denied making such a statement: "I never said anything like that, and people who know me know that I wouldn't have said it.
A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But rock 'n' roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people.
Let's face it: I can't sing like Fats Domino can. I know that. The persistence of such attitudes was fueled by resentment over the fact that Presley, whose musical and visual performance idiom owed much to African-American sources, achieved the cultural acknowledgement and commercial success largely denied his black peers.
Addressing his '68 Comeback Special audience, he said, "Rock 'n' roll music is basically gospel or rhythm and blues, or it sprang from that.
People have been adding to it, adding instruments to it, experimenting with it, but it all boils down to [that]. It used to be called rhythm and blues.
Presley's physical attractiveness and sexual appeal were widely acknowledged. He was that good looking. And if you never knew he was a superstar, it wouldn't make any difference; if he'd walked in the room, you'd know somebody special was in your presence.
Writing in , critic George Melly described him as "the master of the sexual simile, treating his guitar as both phallus and girl".
While Presley was marketed as an icon of heterosexuality, some cultural critics have argued that his image was ambiguous. In the s and s, there were rashes of sightings in various places including Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Ottawa, Canada.
While such photos and sightings can be great fodder for someone looking for a conspiracy, they can just as easily be explained away by skeptics.
After all, photos can be manipulated, and there are many, many Elvis impersonators the official term is Elvis Tribute Artist walking the streets, as well as others who merely happen to resemble him.
In , due to the seemingly large number of celebrity deaths Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, and others a Facebook group called " Evidence Elvis Presley Is Alive " was created by an unknown source.
The page focuses on alleged "evidence" that Elvis faked his death, including grainy photos of men in crowds that may look like Elvis or his brother, Jesse, and scanned images of documents such as supposed lab test results, tabloid newspaper clippings, and more.
This site's claims are particularly far-fetched, as they believe that Jesse Presley is alive and that there is another brother, Clayton Presley, who is also alive.
There has been no confirmation that this group, mostly followed by passionate Elvis lovers and conspiracy theorists, has any reliable information.
There are a handful of people who claim to be personal friends with Elvis today. Some have made their claims very public either through books, websites, or other outlets.
Dick Heard, Eddie Rabbitt. Marty Robbins. Armando Manzanero , Sid Wayne. Jimmie Rodgers. Aaron Schroeder , Sidney Wyche.
Joe Darion , Mitch Leigh. Jerry Chesnut , Billy Edd Wheeler. Johnny Christopher , Red West. Sonny Charles , Michael Jarrett.
Kris Kristofferson. Larry Gatlin , Elvis Presley. Al Hoffman , Charles E. King , Dick Manning.