Eight things you may or may not know about the world’s first major popstar on his eighty-sixth birthday.
- Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi where he was raised by a tight-knit, working-class family. He moved to Memphis as a teenager, where he was discovered by music producer Sam Phillips, when he went to record some tunes at the now legendary Sun Studios.
2. Elvis had a twin brother, Jessie Garon, who died at birth. Elvis would frequently talk about his twin in his adult years.
3. Before his career in music took off, he drove a truck for the Crown electric company, while attending night school to train to be an electrician. He quit this job in 1954 when he started traveling and recording music with local musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black, and would soon electrify the airwaves with his emotive voice.
4. Elvis bought his Memphis mansion Graceland for $102,500 in 1957, when he was 22 years old, for himself, his parents and his paternal grandmother to live in. The house is now designated a National Historical Landmark which welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year, and is one of the most visited homes in America, second only to the White House.
5. Elvis probably was the first major celebrity to make a PSA, as he participated in the national inoculation effort against the polio outbreak of 1940s America. On October 28, 1956, the star received his polio vaccine on the “The Ed Sullivan Show” while millions of viewers watched — a move that helped convince teens and young adults (people who didn’t think they were at risk for the disease) that they needed the vaccine to protect others from the deadly virus.
6. Elvis was drafted into the army for two years, during the height of his fame. Drafted at 23, Elvis was eventually stationed in Germany and served out his tenure, while putting a halt to his recording career.
7. Elvis was a black belt in karate and carried the certificate in his wallet until his death. He idolized James Dean and wanted to be an actor growing up.
8. Elvis has been inducted into five Halls of Fame: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, Gospel, Rockabilly and R&B. He is claimed to have sold over one billion records worldwide, one of a handful of artists in the history of recorded music to have done so.
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