Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances,
was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi
on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving
Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis,
Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in
Elvis' musical influences were the pop and country music
of the day, the country gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night
gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed
on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing
career at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording
contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation.
With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences
and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time,
he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.
He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his
television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his
many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las
Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than other
artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum
awards for 111 different albums and singles, far more than any other artist
or group. Among his many awards and accolades were the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award, which he received at age 36, from the National Academy
of Recording Arts and Sciences, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding
Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without
any of the special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded
him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.
His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good
humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness
he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first
name, he is regarded as one of the most important cultural figures of the
twentieth century. Elvis died at his beloved Memphis home, Graceland, on
August 16, 1977.
Following is a basic chronology of dates and events in
Elvis' life and career:
April 25, 1912
Gladys Love Smith is born.
April 10, 1916
Vernon Elvis Presley is born.
Gladys Smith and Vernon Presley are married.
January 8, 1935
In Tupelo, Mississippi, shortly before dawn, in a two-room
house built by her husband and her brother-in-law, Gladys Presley gives
birth to identical twin sons. The first, Jesse Garon, is born dead. The
second, Elvis Aaron, is born alive and healthy. Elvis would be their only
1935 - 1948
Elvis grows up within a close-knit, working class family,
consisting of his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who
all live near each other in Tupelo. There is little money, but Vernon and
Gladys do their best to provide for their son, who is the center of their
lives. They move from one house to another in Tupelo, and even live in
Biloxi, Mississippi for a short while, returning to Tupelo. Elvis attends
the Assembly of God Church with his family, and the music and preaching
register deeply. Other influences are black bluesmen in the neighborhood
and country music radio programs enjoyed by his family.
Ten-year-old Elvis stands on a chair at a microphone
and sings "Old Shep" in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama
Fair and Dairy Show, held in Tupelo. The talent show is broadcast over
WELO Radio. Second prize is $5.00 and free admission to all the rides at
Elvis's parents cannot afford a bicycle that Elvis wants,
so Gladys talks him into accepting a guitar instead. Elvis's first guitar
costs $12.95 and is purchased at the Tupelo Hardware Company. The bicycle
would have to wait until Christmas of 1947.
Elvis plays his guitar and sings "Leaf on a Tree" for
his Milam Junior High class in Tupelo as a farewell. Elvis and his parents
pack their belongings in a trunk strapped to the roof of their 1939 Plymouth
and move to Memphis, Tennessee in search of a better life economically.
Other members of the Presley and Smith clan would follow.
Elvis and his parents live in public housing or low rent
homes in the poor neighborhoods of north Memphis. Life continues to be
hard. Vernon and Gladys go from job to job, and Elvis attends The Christine
School, then Humes High School. Elvis works at various jobs to help support
himself and his parents. The Presley-Smith clan remains close-knit, and
Elvis and his family attend the Assembly of God Church. The teenage Elvis
continues to be known for singing with his guitar. He buys his clothes
on Beale Street and he absorbs the black blues and gospel he hears there.
He's also a regular audience member at the all-night white, and black,
gospel sings that are held downtown. He wears his hair long (compared to
the day's standards) and slick, and lets his sideburns grow. He's really
different from the other kids, a good-natured misfit.
While at Humes High, Elvis nervously sings with his guitar
at a student talent show. Much to his own amazement, he gets more applause
than anyone else and wins, then performs an encore. The acceptance feels
June 3, 1953
Elvis graduates from Humes High School.
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 many years later.
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 would sound like on a record and he has vague aspirations
to be a singer. He takes the acetate home, and reportedly gives it to his
mother as a much-belated extra birthday present. By the fall, he is working
at Precision Tool Company, and soon changes jobs again, going to work for
Crown Electric Company. At Crown, he does various jobs, including driving
a delivery truck. He also goes to night school and studies to be an electrician.
Elvis makes another demo acetate at Sun. This time the
songs are "Casual Love Affair" and "I'll Never Stand in Your Way". Sam
Phillips, the owner, is in this time and, like Marion Keisker, is intrigued
by this unusual looking and sounding young man. (There has recently been
scholarly argument about which songs were recorded this time around. The
two songs listed here are those most typically identified as the ones he
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 could 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, could 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" would be the first of five singles Elvis would
release on the Sun label. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill start performing together,
with Scotty acting as the group's manager. Elvis continues to work at Crown
Electric as the group starts to play small clubs and other smalltime gigs
locally and throughout the South, enjoying moderate success with the records
and personal appearances. Elvis's one appearance on the Grand Ole Opry
doesn't go over particularly well, with one of the Opry officials suggesting
that Elvis go back to driving a truck. The Opry is very important at this
time. This is a painful disappointment in Elvis's early career.
Late 1954 - 1955
Elvis, Scotty, and Bill continue to record and to travel.
October 16, 1954
They appear for the first time on the "Louisiana Hayride",
a live Saturday night country music radio show originating in Shreveport,
Louisiana, broadcast over KWKH Radio. The show is the Grand Ole Opry's
chief competitor, carried by 190 stations in thirteen states. This leads
to regular appearances on the "Hayride" and, in November, Elvis signs a
one-year contract for fifty-two Saturday night appearances. This is a great
break, but as Elvis's popularity grows, his commitment to the "Hayride"
prevents him from traveling much outside the South to further his career
on a larger scale. During Elvis's association with the "Hayride" he meets
"Colonel" Tom Parker, a promoter and manager connected with various acts,
and connected with the "Louisiana Hayride". Parker is also the manager
for country star, Hank Snow. A previous client was country star Eddy Arnold.
Elvis signs a contract with Bob Neal, who becomes his
Elvis, Scotty, and Bill continue touring on their own
and in package shows with various country stars, including package tours
of artists from the "Hayride". Colonel Parker is involved. This includes
touring with Hank Snow. The regular "Hayride" appearances continue. Drummer
D.J. Fontana joins Elvis's band. In the spring, Elvis fails to be accepted
on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts", a network television show. As always,
Elvis's live appearances have special appeal for the teenagers, especially
the females. Elvis's unusual style, sexy moves, and good looks start to
cause excitement wherever he plays. Sometimes the crowds break through
the barricades in near-riot behavior. Elvis gains more and more popularity
and begins to receive national attention. Colonel Parker becomes more involved
in Elvis's career.
August 15, 1955
Elvis signs a management contract with Hank Snow Attractions,
which is owned equally by Snow and Colonel Tom Parker. Bob Neal remains
involved as an advisor. Colonel Parker will be Elvis's manager from this
time on, and Snow is soon no longer connected to Elvis.
November 20, 1955
Elvis signs his first contract with RCA Records, which
would be the label he would record for from then on. Colonel Parker negotiates
the sale of Elvis's Sun contract to RCA, which includes Elvis's five Sun
singles and his unreleased Sun material. The price is an unprecedented
$40,000, with a $5,000 bonus for Elvis. RCA soon re-releases the five Sun
singles on the RCA label. At the same time Elvis signs a contract with
Hill and Range Publishing Company, which is to set up a separate firm called
Elvis Presley Music, Inc. Elvis would share with Hill and Range the publishing
ownership of, and share writers' royalties with writers of, songs bought
by Hill and Range for him to record. Elvis is the hottest new star in the
January 10, 1956
Two days after his twenty-first birthday, Elvis has his
first recording session for RCA, held at their studio in Nashville. Among
the songs laid to tape during this session is "Heartbreak Hotel".
The Jordanaires, a gospel quartet and popular country
back-up group, begin working with Elvis in the studio during the first
few RCA sessions and would soon begin touring with him. They would also
appear with him in several films. They would be his main back-up group
until the late sixties.
January 27, 1956
"Heartbreak Hotel" b/w "I Was the One" is released by
RCA and sells over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks on the market.
It would go to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks
and would also hit number one on the country chart and number five on the
R&B chart. It would become the first Elvis single to sell over one
million copies, thus becoming Elvis's very first gold record.
January 28, 1956
Elvis appears with Scotty, Bill, and D.J. on the Jackie
Gleason-produced "Stage Show", starring Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on CBS.
This is Elvis's first network television appearance. He appears on six
weekly "Stage Shows" in a row and makes minor waves nationally. The last
of these six "Stage Show" appearances is March 24. Traveling and personal
appearances continue during this time, including the "Louisiana Hayride"
appearances for which he is still under contract. Fame and "infamy" build.
As "Heartbreak Hotel" makes its climb up the charts,
"Mystery Train" b/w "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", Elvis's fifth and
last single to be released on the Sun label, hits number one on Billboard's
national country singles chart. His first number one hit on a national
March 13, 1956
RCA releases "Elvis Presley", Elvis's first album. (He
had not released an album on Sun.) The album would go to number on on Billboard's
pop album chart for ten weeks. It would become the first Elvis album to
reach over $1 million in sales, thus becoming Elvis's first gold album.
April 1, 1956
Elvis has a screen test for Paramount Studios in Hollywood.
He lip syncs "Blue Suede Shoes" and he performs a scene from the as yet
unmade film, "The Rainmaker", a film he did not end up being in.
April 3, 1956
Elvis appears on "The Milton Berle Show" on ABC, which,
for this particular broadcast, originates from the deck of the aircraft
carrier, the USS Hancock.
April 6, 1956
Elvis signs a seven-year movie contract with Hal Wallis
and Paramount Pictures.
April 23 - May 9, 1956
Compared to the usual hysteria, Elvis has lukewarm acceptance
for his two-week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. He
is not exactly what the adult audience of Vegas gamblers relates to very
well. During these two weeks, the single "Heartbreak Hotel" and the album
"Elvis Presley" both hit number one on the Billboard pop charts.
Through all of this, the travel and personal appearances
around the country and new record releases continue. The crowds get bigger
and bigger, wilder and wilder. Elvis's fame grows dramatically Some shows
have to end early due to fans' storming the stage. Elvis creates pandemonium
wherever he goes.
June 5, 1956
Elvis appears again on "The Milton Berle Show", this
time in the studio where the show usually originates, this time backed
by the Jordanaires in addition to Scotty, Bill and D.J. Among his selections
is a playfully sensuous, bump and grind performance of "Hound Dog" that
drives the kids in the audience wild, and, the next day, has the press
and some of the adult viewers appalled. It is one of his most controversial
performances. This merely serves to fuel his seemingly unstoppable popularity
Traveling and personal appearances and new record releases
continue. By this time Elvis, with his sexy moves and black-influenced
sound, is being condemned by certain factions of the " morally concerned"
establishment and the religious community. But, the kids love it.
July 1, 1956
Elvis appears on "The Steve Allen Show" on NBC. Among
his performances that night is a much toned down version of "Hound Dog".
Allen has Elvis dressed in white tie and black tux with tails and has him
sing the song to a live Basset hound, a tongue-in-cheek response to all
controversy created by the Berle appearance the month before. Elvis good-naturedly
goes along with it, but is not too happy about it.
Record releases, touring, and recording continue. The
condemnation and controversy continue along with the ever-growing popularity.
Ed Sullivan, who had said that he would never have the likes of Elvis Presley
on his show, changes his tune when he sees the big ratings that Elvis attracts
to the Berle and Allen shows. A three-appearance deal is worked out for
$50,000 and is the highest amount ever paid to a performer, up to that
time, for appearing on a variety show.
Elvis begins shooting his first movie, "Love Me Tender"
on loan-out from Paramount to Twentieth Century Fox. It is originally titled
"The Reno Brothers", but is re-titled before its release to capitalize
on Elvis's sure-to-be-a-hit single from the soundtrack. September 9, 1956
Elvis makes the first of three appearances on Ed Sullivan's
"Toast of the Town Show", the top television program of the era. Elvis
attracts the highest ratings ever for any television variety show.
September 26, 1956
"Elvis Presley Day" is proclaimed in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Elvis's parents join him as he returns to the town of his birth as a big
star. He performs two shows that day at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and
Dairy Show, the same fair at which he had performed at age 10. This time
there are a hundred National Guardsmen surrounding the stage to control
the crowds of excited fans.
By this time, souvenir merchandising using Elvis's name,
image, and likeness has become a big part of the Elvis phenomenon. Licensees
would soon be producing as many as thirty different products including
hats, t-shirts, jeans, kerchiefs, sneakers, shirts, blouses, belts, purses,
billfolds, wallets, charm bracelets, necklaces, magazines, gloves, bookends,
a statue, lipstick, cologne, stuffed hound dogs, stationery, sweaters,
crockery, and more. Elvis and the Colonel blazed new trails in the area
of celebrity merchandising. This would forever be part of the marketing
of Elvis Presley, feeding a never-ending demand.
October 28, 1956
Elvis makes his second of three appearances on the Sullivan
November 16, 1956
Elvis's first movie, "Love Me Tender" premieres at the
Paramount Theater in New York City, opening nationwide in the days following.
It becomes a smash hit, and the critics' reviews aren't bad for his acting
in this melodrama, which is set in 1800's Civil War era southern America.
The film has Elvis performing several songs, of course.
December 31, 1956
The front page of the Wall Street Journal reports that
in the past few months Elvis merchandise has grossed $22 million in sales.
Elvis ends the pivotal year of his career, when regional
popularity gave way to unprecedented national and international fame. The
year of 1956 had seen the beginning of Elvis souvenir merchandising, the
beginning of a successful movie career, history-making record sales (five
number one singles on the pop chart, two number one albums on the pop chart,
and other hits), history-making television appearances, record-breaking
personal appearances and more.
Elvis had become the primary symbol of the new youth culture
in America. He had also become one of society's most controversial figures.
His unique blending of white country and gospel music, black R&B and
gospel music, white pop music, and his particular brand of charisma and
talent, and the resulting success and controversy, had him helping greatly
to begin, without premeditation, a cycle of change in music and pop culture
and the mores of American society. Nothing would ever be the same for Elvis
Presley or for the world.
January 6, 1957
Elvis makes his third and final appearance on Ed Sullivan's
"Toast of the Town Show". It was for this appearance that Elvis is seen
only from the waist up. It's funny that after all of his television appearances
the previous year, such censorship comes at this time. It is particularly
amusing that this guideline remains in place during Elvis's performance
of the gospel standard, "Peace in the Valley", one of five songs he performs
on this Sullivan appearance. Ed Sullivan himself helps diffuse some of
the controversy surrounding Elvis when he comes out on stage to thank Elvis
and tells the studio audience and millions of American television viewers
that "this is a decent, fine boy" and what a delight he had been to work
with when appearing on the show. Ed Sullivan is the most influential person
on television audiences and one of the most powerful people in the television
industry at the time.
Personal appearances, recording sessions, record releases,
controversy, and publicity continue.
Elvis begins production of his second movie, "Loving
February 3, 1957
The New York Times runs a story entitled "Presley Records
a Craze in Soviet Union". Elvis records are not legally available in the
Soviet Union. The article tells of bootleg recordings being cut on discarded
x-ray plates and being sold in Leningrad on the black market for fifty
rubles (about twelve and a half dollars) each, a lot of money back then.
Elvis buys Graceland Mansion for himself, his parents,
and his paternal grandmother to live in.
It will be ready for them to move into in early April.
April , 1957
While touring with his show, Elvis performs outside the
United States for the first time when he appears in Canada:
two shows in Toronto on April 2 and two shows in Ottawa
on April 3.
Elvis begins work on his third motion picture, "Jailhouse
Rock" for MGM.
July 9, 1957
Elvis's second motion picture, "Loving You" premieres
and quickly reaches the top ten at the box office.
Hit records include the title song and the classic smash
Traveling, touring, record releases, and personal appearances
August 31, 1957
Elvis performs in Vancouver. This is the third Canadian
city he has performed in,
and marks the last time he would perform in concert outside
the United States.
September 27, 1957
Elvis returns once more to the town of his birth to perform.
This time it is a benefit for the proposed Elvis Presley Youth Recreation
Center in Tupelo, Mississippi. The grounds include Elvis' birthplace home.
He would donate regularly to the center for the rest of his life. (The
center is still used by the general community today. The birthplace home
is open for tours, and there is a small museum and a memorial chapel.)
October 17, 1957
"Jailhouse Rock", Elvis's third motion picture premieres
in Memphis, opening nationally in November and quickly going to the top
five at the box office. The title song is a smash hit. This film would,
years later, be considered Elvis's best, rivaled only by "King Creole",
which followed in 1958. "Jailhouse Rock" would come to be considered the
ultimate classic of all "rock opera" movies, and the "Jailhouse Rock" production
number in the film would later be recognized as the grandfather of pop/rock
music videos, a music format that would become widely popular by the 1980's.
November 10, 11 1957
Elvis performs shows in Hawaii for the first time.
Elvis and family enjoy their first Christmas at Graceland
and Elvis officially receives his draft notice, a day he had known would
be coming soon.
Late January- Early March, 1958
Elvis films and records for his fourth motion picture,
March 15, 1958
Elvis performs two shows in Memphis. These will be his
last stage performances until after his army release in 1960.
March 24, 1958
Elvis Presley is inducted into the U.S. Army at the Memphis
Draft Board and is assigned serial number 53310761.
March 25, 1958
Elvis gets his famous G.I. haircut at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
March 29, 1958
Private Presley arrives at Fort Hood, Texas for basic
training and is stationed there for six months. His parents soon move to
a temporary home near the base
June 10, 1958
After basic training, while on his first leave, Elvis
has a recording session, his last until 1960.
"King Creole", Elvis's fourth motion picture opens nationally
and the reviews are the best he would ever have for his acting. Its impressive
list of co-stars and supporting cast includes Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau,
Dean Jagger and Vic Morrow. It becomes a top five film at the box office.
This Michael ("Casablanca") Curtiz-directed movie, set in New Orleans and
based upon the Harold Robbins novel, A Stone for Danny Fisher, will come
to be regarded as Elvis's finest film, his greatest acting performance,
and proof positive that he had the talent to have developed as a respected
serious actor, though the realization of this desire would remain forever
out of his grasp.
Gladys Presley becomes ill and returns to Memphis to
be hospitalized with acute hepatitis. Elvis is granted emergency leave
and arrives in Memphis on the afternoon of August 12th. He visits her that
night, and the next day and night. A few hours after Elvis goes home to
Graceland to rest, she dies in the early hours of August 14 at age 46.
Her body lies in state at Graceland that afternoon. Services are at the
Memphis Funeral Home on the 15th, with the Blackwood Brothers singing "Precious
Memories" and "Rock of Ages", two of Gladys Presley's favorite hymns. She
is laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery, a few miles down the road from
Graceland. Elvis suffers the most overwhelming grief and despair of his
life. He would never be the same after this.
August 25, 1958
Elvis reports back to Fort Hood.
September 19, Elvis boards a troop train to New York,
later boards the USS Randall, sails to West Germany, arriving on October
1. He will be stationed in Friedberg for 18 months, maintaining an off-base
residence in Bad Nauheim, shared with his father and grandmother, and some
friends from Memphis. He finds the fans in Europe to be as enthusiastic
as those in America.
January 8, 1959
Elvis is interviewed via transatlantic telephone by Dick
Clark on his "American Bandstand" show on ABC-TV. The show (which Elvis
never appeared on)commemorates the star's twenty-fourth birthday.
On a two-week leave, Elvis visits Munich, then goes clubbing
in Paris, which includes a visit to the Lido.
Colonel Parker has continued to keep Elvis's career alive
with promotions and hit record releases.
Captain Joseph Beaulieu is transferred from Texas to
Weisbaden Air Force Base near Friedberg, accompanied by his wife and children,
including his fourteen-and-a-half- year-old stepdaughter, Priscilla Ann.
(Priscilla is the only child from Ann Beaulieu's marriage to her first
husband, James Wagner, a Navy pilot who was killed in a plane crash when
Priscilla was an infant.) Through a mutual friend, Priscilla is invited
to a party at Elvis's home soon after her arrival in West Germany. They
meet, and the rest is history.
January 20, 1960
Elvis is promoted to Sergeant.
Elvis leaves West Germany on March 1, arriving in New
Jersey the next day for a press conference, and is officially discharged
from active duty on March 5, 1960. He boards a train for Memphis, arriving
on March 7. Press and crowds of fans are everywhere for this historic series
of events. He holds a press conference at Graceland in his father's office
behind the mansion on March 8.
He had served his country just like any other GI, with
no special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him. These
two years away from his career have been a time to mature. He has also
worried constantly that his lengthy absence might have damaged his career
progress. He needn't have worried. He has yet to see his greatest stardom.
Late March, 1960
Elvis has his first post-army recording session. On March
21 he receives his first degree black belt in karate, an interest he developed
while in the army. On March 26 he tapes a special "Welcome Home, Elvis"
version of Frank Sinatra's ABC-TV variety show, for which he is paid a
record sum for a single variety show appearance.
Late April, 1960
Elvis begins filming and recording for his first post-army
movie, his fifth film, "GI Blues" for Paramount, the the first of nine
to be produced (not consecutively) by Hal Wallis. "GI Blues" co-stars dancer/actress
May 8, 1960
ABC airs Frank Sinatra's "Welcome Home, Elvis" edition
of his variety show, which attracts a 41.5% share of the national television
audience. Elvis is sets a new television record by being paid $125,000
for his brief appearances in the show.
July 3, 1960
Vernon Presley marries divorcee and mother of three sons,
Davada "Dee" Stanley, an American whom he had met in West Germany, where
she had been stationed with her husband. They live at Graceland briefly,
then move to a home nearby.
Elvis records and films for his sixth movie, "Flaming
Star", a drama with limited music. Elvis plays a half-breed Native American,
two cultures. His positive portrayal of Native Americans
earns him special recognition. The film co-stars Barbara Eden.
The soundtrack album for "GI Blues" enters the Billboard
album chart and soon goes to number one. It remains number one for ten
weeks and stays on the chart for 111 weeks. It would be the most successful
album of Elvis's entire career on the Billboard charts. (In terms of total
record sales, we do not know which album was the most successful.)
Note: Elvis has three number one singles, one number two
album, one number one album, and other hits in 1960, his first year out
of the army.
Elvis begins recording and filming for his seventh film,
"Wild in the Country", which will be completed in January. "GI Blues" opens
nationally to warm reviews and big box office sales and is among the fifteen
top-grossing films of the year. It is a light comedy melodrama with lots
of singing by Elvis, who seen in uniform for most of the movie.
Late December, 1960
"Flaming Star" opens nationally to warm reviews, but
this dramatic film with little singing does not set the box office on fire
so much as "GI Blues".
February 25, 1961
Elvis appears in Memphis at a luncheon in his honor,
and numerous recent awards Elvis has received are shown to those attending,
including the press. A press conference follows. Then there are afternoon
and evening shows at Ellis Auditorium to benefit around thirty-eight Memphis-area
charities. Other than the Sinatra television show, this is, so far, Elvis's
only live performance since his army discharge. "Elvis Presley Day" is
proclaimed by Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington.
Every year after this, Elvis donates money to a list of
Memphis-area charities, eventually reaching fifty or more, usually around
March 25, 1961
Elvis arrives in Hawaii for a press conference, then
an evening concert at Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor. He is there to perform
a benefit to help fund the building of the USS Arizona Memorial. Hundreds
of fans mob the airport as he arrives. His show raises around $65,000 for
the memorial and, beyond that, also helps bring publicity and public awareness
and support to the project. The fund-raising efforts, for the most part,
had been difficult up to that point. The rest of the needed funds are soon
raised, and the memorial is completed a year later. Elvis receives numerous
official honors in appreciation for this benefit. This turns out to be
Elvis's last live, non-movie performance until his 1968 television special.
Late March/Mid- April, 1961
Elvis remains in Hawaii to do location filming for his
eighth motion picture, "Blue Hawaii". He has already done soundtrack recording.
Later, there is additional filming to be done back in Hollywood for this
film. From this time on, Elvis will have a great affection for Hawaii,
its culture and its people.
"Wild in the Country", co-starring Hope Lange, Millie
Perkins and Tuesday Weld, opens nationally to mixed reviews. Like "Flaming
Star" it is a melodrama with limited singing by Elvis. It, too, does not
set the box office on fire.
Elvis records and films for his ninth motion picture,
"Follow That Dream". Filming includes some location shooting Florida.
Non-movie-related hit records and recording session have
continued through this period.
The soundtrack album for "Blue Hawaii" enters the Billboard
chart for a year-and-a-half run, staying at number one for twenty weeks,
second only to "GI Blues" as the biggest album of Elvis's career on the
Billboard charts. It also yields a number two single destined to become
an Elvis classic, "Can't Help Falling in Love".
Elvis records and films for his tenth motion picture,
"Kid Galahad", completing it in January.
Late November 1961
"Blue Hawaii" opens nationally to warm reviews and gets
to number two on the box office charts. It becomes the top-grossing film
of Elvis's career thus far. Its characteristics of a non-cerebral plot,
lavish scenery, lots of songs by Elvis, and lots of pretty girls become
the basis for the "Presley formula" movies of the sixties, though most
of them will not be nearly so well done.
Non-movie-related recordings and hit records have continued
through this period, with "Good Luck Charm" hitting number one in 1962
(his last number one pop hit until "Suspicious Minds" in 1969).
Late March/Late April, 1962
Elvis records and films in Hollywood, and does location
filming in Hawaii for his eleventh motion picture, "Girls! Girls! Girls!".
"Follow That Dream" opens nationally and gets to number
five on the box office charts. It is warmly reviewed and does pretty well
Late August/September 1962
Elvis records and films for his twelfth motion picture,
"It Happened at the World's Fair". Shooting is both in Hollywood and on
location at the World's Fair in Seattle.
"Kid Galahad" opens nationally does relatively well with
a brief stay in the top ten on the box office chart.
In Mexico, riot behavior in a theater showing "GI Blues"
prompts the Mexican government to ban Elvis movies. Torn seats, broken
windows, and other damage is reported.
"Girls! Girls! Girls!" opens nationally and rivals "Blue
Hawaii" in box office success. This is the second film to use the "formula",
and it works. The soundtrack album goes top five and yields the hit single
"Return to Sender".
Priscilla Beaulieu had flown from West Germany to visit
Elvis in Los Angeles in the summer for their first time to see each other
after his army discharge. In December her parents allow her to spend the
Christmas holidays with him at Graceland in Memphis. She returns to her
family briefly, then moves to Graceland in early 1963, finishing her senior
year of high school in Memphis. She turns 18 on May 24, 1963. It will be
nearly four years before she becomes Mrs. Elvis Presley.
Late January/February 1963
Elvis records and films for his thirteenth film (another
"formula" movie), "Fun in Acapulco".
"It Happened at the World's Fair" opens nationally and
does relatively well at the box office, though its plot is the most frivolous
of any Elvis film so far. And the soundtrack album goes top five.
Non-movie recordings and hits continue through this period.
Elvis records the music, then, on location in Las Vegas
and in a Hollywood studio, he films for his fourteenth motion picture,
"Viva Las Vegas", co-starring Ann-Margret. (It would be his fifteenth movie
to be released as "Kissin' Cousins", which he would shoot next, would actually
be released before "Viva Las Vegas".)
Elvis records and shoots for his fifteenth motion picture,
Late November 1963
"Fun in Acapulco" opens nationally and quickly goes to
number five at the box office. The soundtrack goes to the top five on the
Elvis purchases the "Potomac", former presidential yacht
of Franklin Roosevelt, for $55,000. He intends to donate it to the March
of Dimes for use as a national shrine (FDR suffered from polio, the main
disease fought by the March of Dimes). Costs of maintaining the yacht would
be prohibitive, so the March of Dimes declines to accept the gift. Elvis
attempts to give it to the 7th Coast Guard District Auxilliary in Miami,
which also doesn't work out. Finally, on February 13 he presents the yacht
to Danny Thomas as a gift to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis
for them to use to raise funds as they see fit. The ceremony takes place
in Long Beach, California.
During this saga of trying to donate the yacht, the Beatles
make their first appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and Sullivan reads
on the air a congratulatory telegram from Elvis and the Colonel. American
music and pop culture soon change dramatically with the "British invasion",
much as it had after Elvis hit it big in the fifties
Elvis has become bored and frustrated with his film and
recording career. It will only get worse.
"Kissin' Cousins" opens nationally. One of the poorest
quality films of his career, it still quickly hits number eleven at the
box office (then quickly falls) and the album goes top ten.
Elvis begins filming for his sixteenth motion picture,
"Roustabout", co-starring Hollywood legend Barbara Stanwyck. He had recorded
the music during the previous month.
Elvis records music for his next film, "Girl Happy".
"Viva Las Vegas" opens nationally and goes to number eight
at the box office. It's one of the better Elvis movies of this period,
and the songs are better as well.
Elvis shoots his seventeenth motion picture, "Girl Happy",
which co-stars Shelley Fabares and former "Miss America", Mary Ann Mobley.
This involves some location shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Elvis begins shooting eighteenth motion picture, "Tickle
Me". The soundtrack has no new recordings. Instead, previously released
non-movie recordings are used, apparently to keep production costs to a
"Roustabout" opens nationally and hits number eight at
the box office. The soundtrack, which represents some of the best Elvis
movie music in a while, goes to number one on the Billboard pop album chart.
Elvis records the soundtrack and does the filming for
his nineteenth motion picture, "Harum Scarum", which co-stars Mary Ann
"Girl Happy" opens nationally and does relatively good
business. The soundtrack album goes top ten.
Non-movie record releases have continued during this period.
Some do well.
Elvis records music and does filming for his twentieth
motion picture (to be released out of chronology as his twenty-first),
"Frankie and Johnny", co-starring Donna Douglas.
"Tickle Me" opens nationally.
Elvis donates $50,000 to the Motion Picture Relief Fund,
reportedly the largest single donation the organization had ever received.
Accepting for the organization are Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Sinatra.
Elvis records soundtrack music for his twenty-first motion
picture, "Paradise, Hawaiian Style", (which will be released out of chronology
as his twentieth) then goes to Hawaii for location shooting. During a break
in filming, he visits the USS Arizona Memorial. The visit is covered by
the press and prompts Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye to have the visit
recognized in the Congressional Record. Elvis returns to Hollywood for
more shooting for the film.
August 27, 1965
The Beatles visit with Elvis for several hours at his
home in California and have an informal jam session.
November 24, 1965
"Harum Scarum" opens nationally and hits number eleven
at the box office, then falls, as has been the pattern for most of Elvis's
movies during the past few years. (Hit fast, burn out quickly, but make
a sizable profit and sell some records.) The soundtrack album goes to number
Elvis records the soundtrack music and shoots his twenty-second
motion picture, "Spinout", co-starring Shelley Fabares.
"Frankie and Johnny" opens nationally and doesn't do
particularly well. The soundtrack album goes to number twenty.
"Paradise, Hawaiian Style" is released and doesn't do
well. The soundtrack album peeks at number fifteen.
Soundtrack recording and shooting for Elvis's twenty-third
motion picture (to be the twenty-fourth released), "Double Trouble".
Soundtrack recording and filming for Elvis's twenty-fourth
motion picture (the twenty-third to released), "Easy Come, Easy Go".
"Spinout" opens nationally and doesn't do well. The soundtrack
album goes to number 18.
Elvis formally proposes marriage to Priscilla.
Elvis buys a 163-acre ranch in Mississippi, minutes across
the Tennessee state line from Graceland. He and his entourage and their
wives had become interested in horseback riding after Elvis purchased a
horse for Priscilla as a gift. The hobby had outgrown the pasture at Graceland.
Over the months to come, Elvis and the gang would enjoy spending a lot
of time at the Circle G. It becomes a happy diversion for Elvis as his
frustration and unhappiness over the state of his career reaches its height.
"Easy Come, Easy Go" opens nationally and doesn't do
RCA releases Elvis's second gospel album, "How Great Thou
Art", which was recorded in mid-1966. It is gets very good reviews and
goes on to earn Elvis the Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance, his
Soundtrack recording and filming for "Clambake", Elvis's
twenty-fifth movie. It is the third of three movies to co-star Shelley
"Double Trouble" opens nationally. Better than some of
his recent screen efforts, it doesn't do well at the box office.
On May 1, Elvis and Priscilla are married in a private
ceremony amongst a small group of family and friends at the Aladdin Hotel
in Las Vegas, just after 9:30 AM. A press conference and breakfast reception
follow. The couple honeymoon for a few days in Palm Springs. Elvis wraps
up some over-dubbing on "Clambake". Then they return to Memphis.
May 29, 1967
Elvis and Priscilla dress in their wedding clothes and
have a second wedding reception in the trophy room at Graceland to accommodate
family and friends who were not in Las Vegas for the wedding.
Soundtrack recording and filming for Elvis's twenty-sixth
movie, "Speedway", co-starring Nancy Sinatra. During the production, news
of Priscilla's pregnancy is released.
Soundtrack recording and filming for Elvis's twenty-sixth
movie, "Stay Away, Joe". He plays a half-breed Native American in this
western themed comedy. It's a real departure from the virtually interchangeable
plots and characters in most of the films over the past several grueling
years. He has fun with this one.
"Clambake" is released nationally and goes to number
fifteen at the box office. The soundtrack album goes to number 40.
February 1, 1968
Priscilla gives birth to Lisa Marie Presley nine months
to the day after her marriage to Elvis. It is a time of great happiness.
"Stay Away, Joe" opens to mixed reviews and doesn't do
well at the box office, though like all of Elvis's films, it makes a profit.
Soundtrack recording and filming for Elvis's twenty-eighth
movie, "Live a Little, Love a Little". It is a sexy, more adult kind of
comedy/melodrama. It, like "Stay Away, Joe" is a real departure from the
typical Presley film. It is yet another breath of fresh air.
"Speedway" is released nationally and doesn't do very
well. The soundtrack album goes only as far up the chart as number 82.
Mid-to-Late June, 1968
Elvis rehearses for the taping of his 1968 television
special. A press conference is held on June 25th. Videotaping is done June
27, 28, 29, and 30. This is Elvis's first performance before a live audience
since the U.S.S. Arizona benefit in March 1961. The name of the show is
"Elvis", but it would come to be known as the "'68 Comeback Special".
In the '68 special, Elvis is reunited with two of his
original fifties band members, guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J.
Fontana (Bill Black had died.). They sit together on stage in the round,
along with several other friends and associates of Elvis for an informal
jam session. Parts of this session are woven throughout the special. There
are also sequences of Elvis taking the stage alone and performing many
of his greatest hit rock and roll songs and ballads, such as "Hound Dog",
"Don't Be Cruel", "Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up", "Love Me Tender", and
"Can't Help Falling in Love" Along with singing the old hits, Elvis introduces
a new song that would become another classic, "Memories." One can speculate
that he poured years of frustration into the performance of these songs,
along with the nervous energy of appearing live for the first time in so
long. His natural talent, charisma, and sensuality had not been diminished
by Hollywood or by the passage of time. In fact, he looked, sounded, moved,
and grooved better than he ever had. At 33, he was better than he had ever
been. Better than anybody in the business. For most of the show Elvis wears
a two-piece black leather outfit specially designed for the special, a
look evocative of the era of James Dean, of Marlon Brando type motorcycle
films of the fifties, and of Elvis' early days, the era when he had first
been proclaimed the "king of rock and roll."
In the jam session segment, Elvis speaks of the gospel
origins of rock and roll. This segues into the gospel music portion of
the show, which has Elvis wearing a two-piece burgundy suit, singing "Where
Could I Go But to the Lord" , "Up Above My Head", and "I'm Saved", backed
by the black female group, The Blossoms, and accompanied by a troupe of
dancers - all of this for a rousing gospel production number.
Toward the end of the special Elvis appears in a lengthy
production number that, through song, dance, karate, and various situations,
traces a young man's journey from a struggling guitar player, through all
the challenges, dangers and compromises on the path to his dreams of success
and superstardom. Something is lost along the way. Once the dream is achieved,
the man realizes that he remains unfulfilled, that he has abandoned his
true self. He decides to return to his roots, where he was happiest. The
parallels to Elvis's own life are clear and deliberate, and his doing the
'68 special represents his own return to his true self, to his roots.
At the end of the special, Elvis appears alone, wearing
a simple white two-piece suit, standing in front of the towering backdrop
of red lights that spell Elvis, and sings a brand new song, specially written
for the show, called "If I Can Dream". The writers had created the song
based on conversations with Elvis about his own thoughts about what was
happening in the turbulent sixties, his feelings about life, and his hopes
for mankind. It represents one of the few times Elvis would sing a "message"
song, and it stands as one of the most brilliant moments of his singing
career. It is yet another classic, and the lyrics are as timely today as
they were in 1968.
Elvis records the theme and does filming for his twenty-ninth
movie, "Charro!", a dramatic western, again a very different kind of role.
Elvis grows a beard for this. The theme song will be heard over the opening
credits, but there will be no other Elvis songs used. This will be the
first and only film in which Elvis does not sing on camera.
Elvis records the soundtrack and does filming for his
thirtieth movie,"The Trouble with Girls". He sings in this one, but in
very natural situations for a change. It is quite a bit different from
the typical Elvis films.
"Live a Little, Love a Little" opens in the U.S. in October
and doesn't do very well.
"If I Can Dream", from the soon-to-be aired '68 special
hits number 12 on the pop singles chart in November, making it Elvis's
biggest single since 1965.
December 3, 1968
"Elvis", the 1968 television special first airs on NBC-TV
on December 3, 1968 and is one of this biggest television hits of the year,
receiving rave reviews from the public and the critics alike. The soundtrack
album will go to number eight on the pop chart. Elvis' career is to take
a dramatic and exciting turn.
Elvis wraps shooting on "The Trouble with Girls".
Elvis records in Memphis for the first time since 1955.
He has all-night marathon sessions at American Sound Studio. His work here
will become regarded as some of the finest music of his career, his best
work since the innovative days at Sun and the exciting early days at RCA
before he went into the army. Elvis has excellent material to choose from
and pours his heart and soul into the sessions. He works with a lot of
top-notch Memphis musicians. The sound is fresh and gutsy. On every track
one can sense his creative excitement and energy. This is joyful work after
years of movie boredom. Two albums will result from these sessions. The
sessions will also yield four hit singles to be released over the coming
year: "In the Ghetto", "Suspicious Minds", "Don't Cry, Daddy" and "Kentucky
Rain". ("Suspicious Minds" becomes his first number one single since "Good
Luck Charm" in 1962, and will be his last number one pop single, though
he'll have many big hits.)
Elvis returns to Hollywood to film and record the soundtrack
music for his thirty-first, and what will turn out to be his last, acting
role in a motion picture. It is "Change of Habit", co-starring Mary Tyler
Moore. Elvis plays a hip ghetto doctor in a Northern city, having come
from Tennessee. Mary Tyler Moore and two others play nuns who go "undercover"
into the ghetto to assist with health and societal troubles in the community.
The theme, though serious and timely, is not particularly well carried
out by the script in the opinion of many, and the title is frivolous. But,
Elvis looks magnificent, and gives a natural, easy, understated performance
that is a refreshing pleasure to see after the silliness he endured in
his films through most of the sixties. The few songs in the movie are good
and they're performed in natural, rather than the usual badly contrived,
"Charro!" opens in theaters and doesn't do much at the
July 31 - August 28, 1969
Elvis is booked for a four-week, fifty-seven show engagement
at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, which has just been built and
has the largest showroom in the city. Elvis puts together top-notch rock
and roll musicians, an orchestra, a male gospel back-up group, and a black
female soul/ gospel back-up group for his show. They rehearse for several
weeks and open on July 31, 1969. (Barbra Streisand has just closed her
show the night before, having been the first headliner in the new showroom.)
The show is a delightful mix of fresh arrangements of classic Elvis hits,
exciting new material he has recorded, a few covers of current and past
hits of other artists, and charming on-stage antics and sharing of personal
recollections of his career. A press conference follows the first of his
two opening night shows.
This engagement breaks all existing Las Vegas attendance
records and attracts rave reviews from the public and the critics. It is
a triumph. Elvis's first live album is recorded during this engagement
and is soon released.
For the shows a lean Elvis in top physical form, wears
simple, unique, karate-inspired two-piece outfits in black or white. These
are designed by Bill Belew, who had done the wardrobe for the '68 special.
These are the predecessors to the famous one-piece jumpsuits which will
be simple at first, then become flashier and more elaborate over the years.
"The Trouble with Girls", Elvis's thirtieth movie, opens
in theaters and doesn't do much at the box office.
"Change of Habit" , Elvis's thirty-first movie, opens
in theaters and doesn't do much at the box office.
Some say it was a mistake to go back to Vegas so soon,
especially during the slowest season for the city. Can he fill the seats?
But, Elvis returns to the International Hotel for another month-long engagement.
This time he breaks his own attendance records. Another live album is recorded.
A press conference in Houston on the 27th. Elvis performs
afternoon and evening shows at the Houston Astrodome in connection with
the Texas Livestock Show. Two more shows follow on the 28th. Two more follow
on March 1. A closing press conference and banquet follow, and Elvis is
presented an armload of recent gold record awards. The six shows attract
207,494 people and set records. There is speculation among the press and
the public that Elvis might tour in concert for the first time since the
Elvis has recording sessions in Nashville.
Back to Las Vegas for rehearsals for another month-long
engagement at the International. He opens on August 10 and closes on September
7. MGM is on hand to film a documentary film called "Elvis -That's the
Way It Is" that will show Elvis off stage, in rehearsals, in the recording
studio, and on stage. RCA will also release an album with the same title.
From the 9th through the 14th Elvis takes his show on
a nine-city tour. It is a smashing success, the first tour since 1957,
only these days the show is much more elaborate and requires a big crew.
(MGM films portions of the first show on this tour for use in "Elvis -
That's the Way It Is".)
Elvis has a recording session in Nashville.
"That's the Way It Is" opens in theaters to good reviews
and good box office. Documentaries traditionally do not do well at the
box office, but this one makes a respectable showing. It, like other Elvis
movies will go on to have a life on television and home video in years
Elvis does a successful eight-city concert tour.
Elvis's famous visit with President Richard Nixon at
the White House occurs.
January 16, 1971
Elvis attends a day of functions culminating in an evening
awards banquet. He and nine others accept the honor of being named "One
of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation" by the United States Junior
Chamber of Commerce. He is nervous about his acceptance speech. He is touched,
excited and deeply proud. This national honor has been given each year
since the late 1930's and recognizes young men who have made great achievements
in their field of endeavor, illustrating the opportunities available in
the free enterprise system. It also applauds humanitarianism and community
service. Scientists, inventors, performers, filmmakers, politicians bound
for the Presidency, and men of greatness in all fields, have been selected
for this award over the years. For Elvis, a man who had grown up poor,
and, in his early career had known the sting of ridicule from the Establishment,
who, through the years had known criticism of his work, this is one of
his proudest moments. It is a sign that he has achieved acceptance, recognition,
and respect for his work and for the kind of person he is.
Late January/February 1971
Elvis plays another month-long engagement at the International
Hotel in Las Vegas.
Elvis begins a recording session in Nashville, but cancels
it due to pain and inflammation in an eye. He is treated at a Nashville
hospital where he is diagnosed with secondary glaucoma. This eye condition
will plague him from time to time in varying degrees for the rest of his
Elvis is featured on the cover of Look Magazine, which
carries an installment of the forthcoming biography on Elvis by Jerry Hopkins.
Many books and articles have been written over the years, but this is the
first in-depth, serious biography. The book Elvis : A Biography will be
released in October.
Elvis has recording sessions in Nashville. Much of the
work is for his forthcoming album "Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas".
The two-room house Elvis was born in opens to the public
for tours, having been restored by the East Heights Garden Club in Tupelo.
Elvis has more recording sessions in Nashville, this time mostly for an
upcoming gospel album, "He Touched Me".
A long stretch of Highway 51 South, part of which runs
in front of Graceland, is officially renamed Elvis Presley Boulevard. The
first of the new street signs will go up in January of 1972.
Various albums and singles continue to be released to
various degrees of success during this period.
Elvis plays a two-week engagement at the Sahara Hotel
in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
August 9 - September 6, 1971
Elvis plays an engagement in Las Vegas at the International
Hotel, which has been renamed the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel.
He breaks another attendance record and tops himself once again.
During the engagement an award is presented to Elvis in
his dressing room. It is the Bing Crosby Award from the National Academy
of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy Awards). The award is a special
means of recognition from NARAS and is named for its first recipient. The
award is not given every year as a rule. It will later be re-named the
Lifetime Achievement Award. Elvis is 36 years old.
November 5-16, 1971
Elvis goes on a 12-city concert tour.
Late 1971, Early 1972
Elvis and Priscilla separate. She moves out on her own
with Lisa Marie.
January 26 - February 23, 1972
Elvis plays another successful engagement at the Hilton
In April MGM films Elvis in a Hollywood recording studio,
then films on and off stage during his 15-city concert tour, which is a
big success. MGM will use the footage for another theatrically released
documentary, "Elvis on Tour".
In April the gospel album "He Touched Me" is released
to good reviews. The album will go on to win Elvis his second Grammy Award,
this one for the category of Best Inspirational Performance.
Elvis continues touring in concert, beginning with a
press conference in New York on the 9th. (MGM is on hand to film the conference
for use in "Elvis on Tour".) Elvis makes entertainment history by performing
four sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. John Lennon, George
Harrison, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Art Garfunkel are among the music
stars spotted at the shows.
RCA rush-releases a live album from one of the Madison
Square Garden shows, nine days after it is recorded. Elvis tours to seven
Elvis's Vegas and concert tour career is hot, hot, hot
during the early to mid-seventies. He breaks attendance records in cities
all over America. Record releases also continue.
Elvis and Priscilla's separation is formalized. A divorce
is to come. Elvis has begun seeing Linda Thompson, who will be his main
female companion until late 1976.
August 4 - September 4, 1972
Elvis plays a month-long engagement at the Hilton in
September 5, 1972
Elvis participates in a press conference in Vegas announcing
plans for a television concert to be broadcast via satellite around the
world from Hawaii. It is predicted that the show will reach the largest
audience in television history and that the live album will be a big hit.
Elvis has a number two pop hit with the single "Burning
Love", one of his biggest records in recent years.
"Elvis on Tour" opens to good reviews and good box office
performance in theaters. Later, its producers will receive the Golden Globe
Award for Best Documentary of 1972. Like other Elvis films it will have
a life on television and on home video.
Elvis tours seven cities in concert. The last is Honolulu,
Hawaii, where he does three shows at the Honolulu International Center
Arena, the same venue that will host his satellite special in January.
Elvis appears at a press conference in Hawaii regarding
his upcoming satellite show. It is announced that it will be a benefit
for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.
Elvis makes television and entertainment history with
his "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite" special. Performed at the
Honolulu International Center Arena on January 14, 1973, broadcast live
at 12:30 AM Hawaiian time, beamed via Globecam Satellite to Australia,
South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Phillipines, South Vietnam and other
countries. It is seen on a delayed basis in around 30 European countries.
A tape of the show will be seen in America on April 4th on NBC. The live
broadcast in January attracts 37.8% of the viewers in Japan, 91.8% in the
Phillipines, 70% in Hong Kong, and 70-80% of the viewers in Korea. The
April showing in America attracts 51% of the television viewing audience,
and is seen in more American households than man's first walk on the moon.
In all, it will be seen in about 40 countries by one billion to 1.5 billion
people. Elvis commissions an American Eagle design for his jumpsuit for
this show, his patriotic message to his worldwide audience. Never has one
performer held the world's attention in such a way. This is probably the
pinnacle of his superstardom. It is one of the great moments of his career.
The soundtrack album "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite"
is soon released and goes to number one on the Billboard Pop Album Chart,
and stays on the chart at various positions for 52 weeks. The show will
later have continued life on television through the years and eventually
January 26-February 23, 1973
Elvis plays an engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Elvis and the Colonel sell RCA the singer's royalty rights
on Elvis's entire recording catalog up to that point.
April 4, 1973
The "Aloha" special is seen on American television for
the first time.
Late April 1973
Elvis goes on an eight-city concert tour.
May 4-16, 1973
Elvis plays an engagement at the Sahara Hotel in Lake
The "Aloha from Hawaii" concert album hits number one
on the Billboard pop album chart. It is his first number one album since
"Roustabout" in 1965. It will also be his last number one album on the
June 20 - July 3, 1973
Elvis goes out on concert tour.
Elvis records a few songs at the Stax Recording Studio
in Memphis - his first time to record in Memphis since 1969.
August 6 - September 3, 1973
Back to the Vegas Hilton for another engagement.
October 9, 1973
Elvis and Priscilla make a court appearance together
and their divorce is granted. They will continue to be close friends. Though
Priscilla has custody of Lisa Marie, there will be no formal schedule of
visitation for Elvis, and he and his daughter will spend time together
October 15 - November 1, 1973
Elvis is hospitalized in Memphis for recurring pneumonia
and pleurisy, an enlarged colon, and hepatitis. Elvis has been battling
health problems for some time, including an increasing dependency upon
prescription drugs. It will get worse. He also battles his weight.
Elvis returns to the Stax Recording Studio in Memphis
for a week of sessions.
January 26-February 9, 1974
Elvis plays the Vegas Hilton again.
March - July 1974
Elvis is on tour through much of March. In March he plays
the Houston Astrodome and sets a one-day attendance record with his two
shows. Also in March he plays Memphis for the first time since 1961 and
does four shows in two days to meet the demand for tickets. Another live
album results from the excitement in Memphis, and it includes a performance
of "How Great Thou Art" that will win Elvis his third Grammy. He takes
a break in April. He resumes touring in May and plays the Sahara in Lake
Tahoe May 16 -26. He's back on tour in mid-June and takes a few weeks off,
starting in early July.
August 19-September 2, 1974
Back to the Hilton in Vegas for an engagement. During
this engagement Barbra Streisand and Elvis discuss his playing the male
lead opposite her in her remake of "A Star is Born". Elvis is excited by
the prospect of returning to the screen in a serious film. He still has
aspirations to become a serious actor. He is growing weary of the road,
his health is worsening, his performances are suffering, and he needs a
new challenge. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out for various reasons.
After his death some will speculate that this film role would have changed
the course of his career and his life had he done it.
September 27 - October 14, 1974
Elvis on tour again. Plays the Sahara-Tahoe October 11-14.
Record releases have continued through this period with
varying degrees of success.
January 29-February 14, 1975
Elvis is hospitalized with health and prescription problems
Elvis's live recording of "How Great Thou Art" from the
album recorded at one of his Memphis concerts in 1974 wins the Grammy for
Best Inspirational Performance. This is Elvis's third and final Grammy
win out of fourteen nominations (one nomination posthumously). All three
Grammy wins have been for his gospel music rather than pop or rock.
March 18-April 1, 1975
Engagement at the Hilton.
April - July, 1975
August 18 - September 5, 1975
Elvis opens in Vegas but ends his engagement on the 20th
and is hospitalized in Memphis until September 5.
The renovation of a Convair 880 jet Elvis bought earlier
in the year is complete, and he takes his first flight on the "Lisa Marie"
December 2-15, 1975
Elvis returns to the Hilton in Vegas to make up for the
shows that were canceled during his previous engagement.
December 31, 1975
Elvis performs a special New Year's Eve concert in Pontiac,
Michigan and sets a single performance attendance record of 62,500.
Elvis has a week of recording sessions in the den at
Graceland, with RCA bringing in mobile recording equipment.
March 17-22, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
April 21-27, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
April 30 - May 9, 1976
An engagement at the Sahara Tahoe in Nevada.
May 27- June 6, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
June 25 - July 5, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
July 23 - August 5, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
August 27-September 8, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
October 14-27, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
October 29-30, 1976
Two more nights of recording in the den at Graceland.
Early November, 1976
Elvis and Linda Thompson, his steady girlfriend since
1972, split up.
Late November, 1976
Elvis meets Ginger Alden who will be his steady girlfriend
until his death.
November 24-30, 1976
Elvis tours in concert.
December 2-12, 1976
Elvis plays the Hilton in Vegas for what will turn out
to be the last time.
December 27-31, 1976
Elvis tours in concert, ending with a special New Year's
Eve concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
February 12-21, 1977
Elvis tours in concert.
March 23-30, 1977
Elvis tours in concert.
April 1-5, 1977
Elvis is hospitalized in Memphis and tour shows scheduled
for March 31-April 3 are canceled.
April 21- May 31, 1977
Elvis tours in concert.
June 1-2, 1977
More concert dates.
June 17-26, 1977
Elvis tours in concert. Shows on June 19, 20, and 21
are recorded by RCA and videotaped by CBS-TV for an upcoming live album
and television special. Footage from the show on the 20th is not used in
the show. The special will be called "Elvis in Concert". It will air in
early October after Elvis's death in August. The camera gives a shocking
picture of Elvis's poor health in his final days. Still, some of the song
performances are great. He still had his voice.
June 26, 1977
A concert at Indianapolis, Indiana's Market Square Arena.
This will turn out to be his very last concert performance.
June 27- August 15, 1977
Elvis relaxes in Memphis and prepares for the next leg
of touring for 1977.
August 16, 1977
Shortly after midnight Elvis returns to Graceland from
a late-night visit to the dentist. Through the early morning of the 16th
he takes care of last minute tour details and relaxes with family and staff.
He is to fly to Portland, Maine that night and do a show there on the 17th,
then continue the scheduled tour. He retires to his master suite at Graceland
around 7:00 AM to rest for his evening flight. By late morning, Elvis Presley
is dead. It is announced by mid-afternoon. In a matter of hours the shock
registers around the world.
Special Thanks To http://www.elvis-presley.com