Presley, Elvis (Aaron)

Presley, Elvis (Aaron)

biographical name

(born Jan. 8, 1935, Tupelo, Miss., U.S.—died Aug. 16, 1977, Memphis, Tenn.) U.S. popular singer, the “King of Rock and Roll.” Presley was raised in Memphis, where he sang Pentecostal church music and listened to black bluesmen and Grand Ole Opry broadcasts. In 1954 he began to record for the producer Sam Phillips, who had been searching for a white singer who sounded like a black man. In 1956, under his new manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, he released “Heartbreak Hotel,” the first of numerous million-selling hits that included “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up.” In the same year, he appeared in Love Me Tender, the first of 33 mediocre films, and on several TV shows, notably the Ed Sullivan Show. Presley's intensely charismatic style—including his sexy hip shaking, ducktail haircut, and characteristic sneer—excited young fans, especially females, to wild adulation. After a stint in the army (1958–60) he resumed recording and acting, but his earlier raucous style was moderated. In 1968 he introduced a Las Vegas-based touring act with orchestra and gospel-type choir. Battling public pressures, weight gain, and drug dependence, he underwent a personal decline. His death at age 42, attributed to natural causes, was mourned by hundreds of thousands of fans at Graceland, his Memphis estate, which remains a place of international pilgrimage.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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