Elvis Presley, From Birth to "Heartbreak Hotel"Back to Elvis Presley articles...
The Presleys were a family of modest means. They lived near family and Elvis was close to his Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents. While attending the Assembly of God Church, he was exposed to his first taste of music. In 1945 at the age of 10, his first performance was at the Mississippi and Alabama Fair in a talent contest. Within a year Elvis got his very first guitar.
As with many, the Presley family were struggling money-wise and decided to move to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, hoping for a better life. Things were still hard, both Gladys and Vernon worked as much as they could but they still struggled. Things were so hard Elvis also worked, while attending LC Humes High School to help his family.
Elvis began to develop his own style while in high school. He slicked back his hair and grew his famous sideburns. He won the high school talent competition and even played an encore.
In June 1953, Elvis graduated high school and began working at a mechanics shop. During the summer he made his first demo at The Memphis Recording Service. He recorded "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" and "My Happiness". He changed jobs frequently and started to go to night school to be an electrician.
The owners of the recording studio in which Elvis had been making demos, paired him up with some other local artists. While working at Crown Electric Presley had his first recording, contracted with the recording service, released and started to perform at local events and bars. Elvis was even booked on The Grand Ole Opry, although it was dubbed a disaster. He was told not to quit his day job.
Late in 1954 Elvis signed on with KWKH radio for a year. This is when Elvis met 'Colonel' Tom Parker. Tom Parker was known to manage other artists including Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow.
Bob Neal became Presley's manager in January of 1955. This union did not last long. By August Hank Snow Attractions was in control of Elvis' career. Hank Snow Attractions was owned equally by Snow and Tom Parker. Soon after ,Colonel Parker became in complete control of Elvis, Snow and Neal are no longer connected to Presley.
The new management seemed to work as a benefit for Presley. Colonel Parker sold Elvis' Sun contract (The Memphis Recording Service) to RCA. Hill and Range Publishing company also got in on the action of the rising star and helped create Elvis Presley Music Inc. Elvis and the publishing company shared ownership of his songs.
Only one year after his first manager signed him on, Elvis began recording "Heartbreak Hotel" with RCA and teamed up with the Jordanaires, a gospel quartet. Presley and the Jordanaires worked together well into the late 1960s.
"Heartbreak Hotel" was released on January 27, 1956. It went to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks and hit number one on the country chart and number five on the R&B chart.
"Heartbreak Hotel" began Elvis' road to stardom and fame. The next 20 years were filled with music, movies, military marriage and divorce. Elvis Presley died August 16 1977 due to heart failure. He was only 42 years old.
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