Famous for his jump-suits and cape, and his trademark “ducktail” hair, Elvis Presley was known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” as he stormed across America with his amalgamation of African-American blues, Christian gospel and Southern country, which evolved into rock and roll.
On the 16th August 1977, Elvis died of a heart attack. He had been suffering from health problems and addiction to prescription drugs. President Jimmy Carter said of Elvis: “Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. Born on January 8 1935, Elvis Aron Presley had a stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley. As their only surviving child, Presley was said to have been inseparable from his mother, Gladys, and cherished by his father, Vernon.His relationship with his mother was so strong that even as a teenager he wouldn’t part from her side unless completely necessary, resulting in him being a very lonely and isolated boy.
In his youth, Elvis entered numerous competitions – many of which he won – and appeared on television several times. His voice and performance were criticized, and it was suggested he had no true singing career. He was discovered by Sam Phillips and signed by Colonel Tom Parker who became his manager. His approach to music – through his voice, his lyrics and his “gyrating movements” – was different; so much so that he became both an icon for American youth and a symbol of parental anguish. Even when deemed a “danger to American culture” his fame could not be controlled.
At the peak of his career, Elvis was conscripted into the United States Army. He served in Germany. Fans demanded his return. Despite this hiatus and the sometimes fickle nature of fans, sales and popularity did not drop and his return on March 2nd 1960 (honourably discharged March 5th) heralded his resumption as America’s – and the world’s – most famous rock and roll artist. His career path was not always even and Elvis staged at least one “comeback” notably using a television special to promote himself. He became a successful staple performer at the casinos in Las Vegas.
Love, Life & Divorce
Despite Elvis’s reputation as a “mama’s boy” and his inept approach to girls, Elvis had several relationships throughout his life, including Dixie Locke in his mid-teens and June Juanico, a former beauty queen. His most famous interests were undoubtedly Priscilla Presley, his only wife, and Ginger Alden, his last girlfriend. After five years of marriage to Priscilla, whom he had met whilst stationed in Germany during his conscription, they divorced and shared custody of their daughter. Ginger Alden met Elvis in 1976 at the age of 17 and eventually became his final girlfriend. This was publicly announced on TV during Elvis’s final televised appearance.
His divorce from wife Priscilla, his performing career and public persona eventually crippled Elvis. He became overweight, isolated and addicted to prescription drugs, all of which affected his appearance, performance and health. He played his last live concert in Indianapolis and then all but withdrew from public view with Ginger Alden. On 16th August 1977, at his Graceland mansion, Ginger Alden discovered his body on the floor of their bedroom’s en-suite bathroom. At 3:30pm he was pronounced dead. He was 42 years old. Doctors declared the cause of death as a heart attack. Heart troubles ran in the family. His mother had died from heart problems and his father died two years after Elvis from heart failure.
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