Today (January 8th) marks what would have been Elvis Presley's 79th birthday. From his meteoric rise to fame in the 1950's, to his death at the age of 42 in 1977, to the present-day; the world is still fascinated by everything that is Elvis. After working as a movie theater usher and a truck driver for a Memphis electrical company, Elvis began singing locally as "The Hillbilly Cat," and signed to the late Sam Phillips' Sun Records, who then sold his contract for $35,000 to RCA Victor in 1955. Elvis went on to become "The King of Rock N' Roll" -- rock's first true superstar.
Elvis died of a heart attack on August 16th, 1977 at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. He remains among the highest earning dead celebrities.
Globally, Elvis has sold well over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 140 different albums and singles. Elvis starred in 31 films, and made history with his television appearances and specials.
Earlier this year, fans were treated to the new triple-disc Elvis At Stax collection featuring tracks cut during his 1973 sessions at the legendary Memphis studio. Also, all of "The King's" 1950's albums were digitally remastered for iTunes as The Complete 50's Albums Collection and features all nine of the decade's releases: Elvis Presley (1956), Elvis (1956), Loving You (soundtrack, 1957), Elvis' Christmas Album, (1957), Elvis' Golden Records (1958), King Creole (soundtrack, 1958), For LP Fans Only (1959). A Date With Elvis (1959), and 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong: Elvis' Gold Records, Volume 2 (1959).
Elvis Presley was signed to Sun Records in 1954 and recorded pivotal singles for the label, including "That's All Right," "Good Rockin' Tonight," and "Mystery Train." Upon signing with RCA/Victor in 1955, he scored 18 Number One Hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "It's Now Or Never," "Are You Lonesome Tonight," and his final Number One "Suspicious Minds" in 1969. Despite all his success in rock and roll, all three of his Grammys were awarded for his gospel recordings.
In 2008, Elvis fans were up in arms over a recent change in Billboard policy which has demoted "The King's" ranking on the Billboard charts from being Number Three in the list of top acts of the rock era with 17 Number One hits, down to Number 14 -- with only seven chart toppers. In the trade's new series of charts commemorating the past 50 years of Billboard's weekly Hot 100 singles chart, the rock era has been pushed forward to start with the Hot 100's first appearance on August 4th, 1958 -- which excludes Presley's 10 Number One hits that predated the Hot 100's launch.
Daughter Lisa Marie Presley was asked if since becoming a recording artist in her own right, her bond with her father has gotten stronger: "I think so, in that, I mean, I've always had the most, y'know, he's been, like, untouchable in my eyes in terms of idolized for what he did. But I think me going through -- on a much less scale -- what he had to go through, I think I have more, I'm more locked into him on that realm."
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