On 8 January 1935, two baby boys were born in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love—Jesse Garon Presley and 35 minutes later Elvis Aaron Presley. Jesse Garon was stillborn, and Elvis would live to become the Man Who Would be King.
Elvis’ first name comes from his father, Vernon Elvis Presley. However, the origins of Vernon’s middle name remain unclear to this day. One theory is that the name was an homage to a sixth-century Irish saint.
Elvis’ first big hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was inspired by a newspaper article about a man who killed himself by jumping from a hotel window in Florida. His suicide note read, “I walk a lonely street.”
On his 11th birthday, Elvis was hoping for a new bike (some say a rifle), but much to his disappointment, was given a guitar instead.
Elvis Presley met Richard Nixon on 21 December 1970—to the shock of just about everyone working at the White House at the time. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll descended upon Washington, D.C. in the hopes of securing a badge from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Nixon obliged, giving him an “honorary” badge that didn’t actually hold any power, and Presley declared his full support of Nixon’s presidency.
From 1956 through 1958, Elvis completely dominated the bestseller charts and ushered in the age of rock and roll, opening doors for both white and black rock artists. His television appearances, especially those on Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night variety show, set records for the size of the audiences. Even his films, a few slight vehicles, were box office smashes.
Elvis held a black belt in karate. His karate name was Mr Tiger.
At 19, Elvis was ready to enter the glitzy world of music but was promptly rejected. He auditioned to join a gospel quartet named ‘Songfellows,’ but they turned him down.
Although Elvis recorded hundreds of songs throughout his career, he was not a songwriter. One author, Ken Sharp, noted that Elvis did co-write a couple of songs, including the tune “That’s Someone You Never Forget.” But according to Sharp, Elvis’ true magic lay not in penning song lyrics but in giving songs “his own distinctive personal interpretation.”
Happy Birthday, King.