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It was here that Elvis was first exposed to the rich, Southern gospel that became a staple of his musical repertoire. According to Assembly of God minister, Brother Frank Smith, Elvis was fascinated with music and the prospect of learning to play the guitar. Brother Frank taught Elvis how to make D, A, and E chords…all he needed to play “Ole Shep”. Elvis never realized his dream of becoming a member of the Statesmen or the Blackwood Brothers gospel quartets, yet throughout the rest of his life, Elvis recorded many of the beloved songs of his youth, the emotional and uplifting music of the church.


Elvis works at Parker Machinists Shop right after graduation. That summer he drops by The Memphis Recording Service, home of the Sun label and makes a demo acetate of “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” for a cost of about $4.00. (The studio came to be known as Sun Studio though never officially named that until the 1980s. For simplicity this text uses the name Sun Studio.) The studio owner isn’t in, so his assistant, Marion Keisker handles the session. Elvis wants to see what his voice sounds like on a record and he has aspirations to become a professional singer. He takes the acetate home, and reportedly gives it to his mother as a much-belated extra birthday present.

January, 1954

Elvis makes another demo acetate at Sun. Sam Phillips, the owner, is in this time and, like Marion Keisker, is intrigued by this unusual looking and sounding young man.

Summer 1954

At Marion Keisker’s suggestion, Sam Phillips calls Elvis into the studio to try singing a song Sam hopes to put out on record. The song is “Without You” and Elvis does not sing it to Sam’s satisfaction. Sam asks Elvis what he can sing, and Elvis runs through a number of popular tunes. Sam is impressed enough to team Elvis up with local musicians Scotty Moore (guitar) and Bill Black (bass) to see if they, together, can come up with something worthwhile. Nothing really clicks until July 5, when after a tedious session, Elvis and the guys break into a sped-up version of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right.” This song, backed with Blue Moon of Kentucky becomes the first of five singles Elvis will release on the Sun label.

Elvis Presley made 31 films as an actor. He also made two documentary feature films, Elvis Thats' The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour.

1956, Love Me Tender, Twentieth Century Fox

1957, Loving You, Paramount

1957, Jailhouse Rock, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1958, King Creole, Paramount

1960, GI Blues, Paramount

1960, Flaming Star, Twentieth Century Fox

1960, Flaming Star, Twentieth Century Fox

1961, Blue Hawaii, Paramount

1962, Follow That Dream, United Artists

1962, Kid Galahad, United Artists

1962, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Paramount

1963, It Happened At The World's Fair

1963, Fun In Acapulco, Paramount

1964, Kissin' Cousins, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1964, Viva Las Vegas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1964, Roustabout, Paramount

1964, Girl Happy, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1965, Tickle Me, Allied Artists

1965, Harum Scarum, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1966, Frankie And Johnny, United Artists

1966, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Paramount

1966, Spinout, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1967, Easy Come, Easy Go, Paramount

1967, Double Trouble, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1967, Clambake, United Artists

1968, Stay Away, Joe, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1968, Speedway, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1968, Live A Little, Love A Little

1969, Charro!, National General

1969, The Trouble With Girls, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1969, Change Of Habit, Universal

In 1957, while spending the Christmas holidays at Graceland, his newly purchased Tennessee mansion, rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley receives his draft notice for the United States Army.

The following year, at the peak of his career, Elvis received his draft notice for a two-year stint in the army. before being sworn in as an army private in Memphis on March 24, 1958.


After six months of basic training–including an emergency leave to see his beloved mother, Gladys, before she died in August 1958–Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General Randall. For the next 18 months, he served in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps in Friedberg, Germany, where he attained the rank of sergeant. For the rest of his service.

NBC Christmas special, which aired December 3rd, 1968.

He was thirty-three, a new dad, and unbeknownst to all, even himself, he was at the peak of his powers.

Two versions of the special were initially aired by NBC. The first included Presley singing "Blue Christmas" – the only seasonal song Binder agreed to use. When the special was rebroadcast the following summer, this was replaced with a performance of "Tiger Man".

A deal was negotiated with Alex Shoofey of the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Presley would be paid $500,000 for four weeks worth of shows at the hotel, which was still under construction.

Before he could play to an audience, though, Presley would need a backing group. He decided to forego familiar faces like Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana and the Jordanaires, settling instead on a new lineup — later dubbed the TCB Band (short for “Taking Care of Business”) — that featured lead guitarist James Burton, rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson, pianist Larry Muhoberac, bassist Jerry Scheff, drummer Ronnie Tutt and a vocal gospel backing outfit named the Sweet Inspirations.

Presley released ‘Suspicious Minds’ as a single later that fall, and it shot up the Billboard Hot 100 chart — becoming Elvis’ last No. 1 hit. He would ultimately play more than 700 sell-out performances through 1976 at the International, by which time it had become the Las Vegas Hilton. In July 2014, the hotel traded hands again and is now known as the Westgate.