Friday, June 27, 2008

10 Things You Didn't Know About 'The King', Elvis Presley

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.

Elvis Presley. From his humble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his lonely, pitiful death in the bathroom of Graceland, his Memphis, Tennessee mansion, Elvis redefined music. In a career spanning about 23 years, he single-handedly transformed himself from a poor sharecropper's son to the icon of rock and roll music.

United States, 1993 (Scott #2721)
Digitally Enhanced

Along the way, Elvis racked up hit after hit. He had 149 singles hit the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and spent 1,149 weeks on the U.K. singles chart. The Recording Industry Association of America lists him with 132 gold, 70 platinum, and 33 multi-platinum certified songs. His accomplishments will probably never be surpassed. In short, he was 'The King of Rock and Roll'.

Many countries have issued postage stamps honoring Elvis -- countries as diverse as Chad, Hungary, Belgium, and Angola have issued stamps with his likeness. Fifteen years ago, the United States issued its one and only stamp honoring their native son, a 29-cent stamp depicting the a young Elvis singing in front of a microphone. Predictably, this stamp was printed and sold in enormous quantities. It is estimated that over 120 million copies were put back and never used.

How well do you know Elvis? Here are 10 facts that only the most-dedicated Elvis fan will know regarding 'The King'.

  • He was an identical twin. Elvis had an identical twin, although the twin was stillborn. The spelling for his stillborn brother's middle name, Garon, is the reason the family chose to spell Elvis' middle name as Aron. Later in life, Elvis wished to officially change his name to the biblical and traditional spelling of Aaron, and was surprised to learn that even though he spelled it Aron, it was recorded on his birth certificate as Aaron.

  • His first guitar came from a hardware store. As a young boy, Elvis wanted a bicycle (some stories claim he wanted a .22 caliber rifle) from the Tupelo Hardware Store in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. The young Elvis ended up with a cheap hardware store guitar that started him on the path to mega-stardom.

  • As a young man, he studied to be an electrician. After graduating from high school, Elvis took a job as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He began taking courses to become an electrician. Fortunately for music fans, his music career took off and he was able to leave his vocational studies behind.

  • He was threatened with arrest for gyrating. After the first of several shows in Jacksonville, Florida, in August of 1956, Juvenile Court Judge Marion Gooding threatened to arrest Elvis if he didn't tone down his show. Judge Gooding had sat through the initial concert to get a first hand account of the singer's performance. Afterwards, he called Elvis in and warned him that he would only permit limited side-to-side movements.

  • He gave only five official concerts outside of the U.S. In 1957, Elvis gave a total of five concerts in three Canadian cities. Two shows each in Toronto and Ottawa in April of 1957, and one in Vancouver in August of 1957 were the only official concerts that was ever conducted outside of the U.S. or its possessions (e.g., Hawaii in 1957). In 1959, he gave an impromptu performance while on leave from the U.S. Army in Paris but it was not an official concert. He never again toured outside of the United States, although he was immensely popular world-wide, especially in Europe.

  • He took a gun to the White House. When Richard Nixon was president, Elvis met with him at the White House. Hoping to be appointed as a special agent, he had taken a World War II vintage handgun with him to give to the president. The gift was accepted by the staff, but was not presented to the president, for obvious security reasons.

  • His first TV concert was the number 1 hit of the year. In 1968, after his career had started to stagnate, he appeared in his debut TV appearance. The show, airing in December, was the highest-rated TV show of the year, and marked the start of his return. It is usually called his "Comeback Concert" as it re-invigorated his career and brought a whole new audience to his music.

  • He was buried twice. No, this fact has nothing to do with the myriad Elvis sightings that occurred after his **ahem** supposed death in August, 1977. It has to do with attempted grave robbery at his original burial site. He was initially buried next to his mother, Gladys, at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Several young men attempted to steal his body, so both Elvis and his mother were re-interred at Graceland, his Memphis, Tennessee home, in October, 1977.

  • There are an estimated 80,000 Elvis impersonators. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Elvis was truly admired. A recent magazine article estimated that there were over 80,000 impersonators, or Elvis Tribute Artists, as many preferred to be called, in the world. That's just slightly up from the 80 or so that were performing when he died in 1977.

  • He can still top the charts. As recently as 2005, 3 different re-issued singles topped the U.K. charts at #1, during the same month, no less. In January of that year, Jailhouse Rock, One Night / I Got Stung, and It's Now or Never topped the U.K. pop charts during the weeks on January 9th, 16th, and the 30th.

Bonus Trivia:

  • The King attracted famous intruders to Graceland. Over 700,000 guests now visit Graceland, Elvis' mansion in Memphis, Tennessee each year, making it the second most visited home in the U.S., behind the White House. But when Elvis was alive, the public was kept outside the gates. One up-and-coming performer jumped the fence in an effort to sneak in and meet 'The King', who, coincidentally, wasn't even at home at the time. He was caught by security and escorted from the property. The intruder's name -- Bruce Springsteen.

    A more notorious visit was made by Jerry Lee Lewis, who in a drunken rage, arrived at Graceland with a gun, demanding to see Elvis. He was handcuffed and taken to jail.

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1 comment:

justicejayant said...

Thanks for sharing these infos about Elvis Presley, I was known about only 1 point out of 10. Really great info.