Elvis Presley – The King of Rock n€™ Roll

With having parents who grew up in the 1950s, rock and roll from the 1950s and 1960s was the majority of the music that I was accustomed to listening as a young boy. I listened to some well-known artists such as; The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, The Platters, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Chuck Berry. But there was one artist that I really enjoyed listening to, that artist was Elvis Aaron Presley, aka, The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When instructed to research and write a paper on someone in the humanities area during the twentieth century, I decided my subject would be Elvis Presley.
Early Years (Childhood)
Elvis Aron Presley was born 8 January 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Presley was the younger of twins his mother delivered. His older twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn. Later on in life, Presley changed his middle name to Aaron, the biblical version. With being the only child, the Presley family was close although Elvis was particularly close to his mother, Gladys (Biography.com Editors).
Presley’s ancestors came from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and France. There were reports that his great-great-great grandmother on his mother’s side was Cherokee Native American. Elvis’ upbringing was very difficult as his family was very poor. Vernon, Elvis’ father, was not able to keep a particular job for any length of time. Vernon was constantly looking for work. Gladys was considered the strong and determined one of the family. The three-member family struggled during tough times but were able to survive with help from family members, neighbors and received food from the government. This was evident when Vernon was found guilty of check fraud and sentenced to eight months in jail. With losing their home and while Vernon was in jail, Gladys and Elvis moved in with family members. The Presley family maintained a strong faith in God and attended Assembly of God church which also helped keep the family together. Attending church and listening to gospel is where Elvis began his fascination with music (“Elvis Presley”).
During morning prayers one day, Elvis sang a version of “Old Shep”, a country song by Red Foley. His teacher was very impressed with his singing and was convinced to enter a singing contest. Dressed up in a cowboy outfit, Elvis (ten years old) made his first public performance on 3 October 1945 at the Mississippi — Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. He sang “Old Shep” and placed fifth in the contest (“Elvis Presley”). His award was five dollars in tickets for fair rides (“Elvis Presley Biography; Early Childhood”).
Elvis wanted a bicycle for his eleventh birthday from his parents. With money being scarce, Gladys talked Elvis into a guitar. Gladys and Vernon purchased Elvis; first guitar at Tupelo Hardware Company for twelve dollars and ninety-five cents (“Elvis Presley Biography; Early Childhood”). His two uncles and pastor at his church gave him some basic guitar lessons. During sixth grade at Milam Junior High School, Elvis was classified as a loner. In seventh grade, Elvis decided to bring his guitar to school on a regular basis; thinking his guitar playing and singing at lunchtime would help him make friends. This backfired on him and was labeled as a “trashy” boy playing hillbilly music. Elvis’ style of music at this early age was influenced by living in a mostly African-American neighborhood (“Elvis Presley”). Keep in mind that segregation was highly prevalent in the south during this time.
In 1948, Vernon and Gladys decided that the family needed to move from Tupelo to find a better way of life. They packed up all their belongings into a trunk and drove to Memphis, Tennessee. Life in Memphis was not easier for the family. The family lived in low income and public housing projects in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Both, Vernon and Gladys worked numerous jobs to make ends-meat. While going to L.C. Humes High School, Elvis help support his family by working odd jobs too (“Elvis Presley Biography; Early Childhood”).
During high school, Elvis lets his sideburns grow and also wore his hair long and slicked back. This was completely opposite of the other kids he grew up with. Elvis entered a high school talent show and after his performance, he received the most applause. He ended up winning the talent show and became accepted in school (“Elvis Presley Biography; Early Childhood”).
Elvis did not study music formally. Other than the basic guitar lessons from his uncles and pastor, he was self-taught by listening to jukeboxes, listening booths, and playing by ear. Elvis frequently visited Beale Street and enjoyed listening to black blues and white and black gospel artists. When down on Beale Street, he would stop by Lansky Brothers shop and admired the flashy style of clothing displayed in their window. Elvis saved his money and purchased some during his senior year. B.B. King and Elvis knew each other from Beale Street encounters prior to Elvis’ stardom (“Elvis Presley”).

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