Personality of Elvis Presley
“The people were looking for something different and I came along just in time. I was lucky.”
White jumpsuit with the collar up and chains around his neck; at other times, a plaid jacket with an open-necked patterned shirt, black trousers, and black shoes. Raised eyebrow, distinctive voice, and those characteristic sideburns. We are talking, of course, about arguably the most important artist of Rock and Roll of all time: the King of infinite charm, elegance, style, and generosity. Always having a modest look, he would let the crowd cheer for him, flirt with him, and he would feel with them the ultimate expression of freedom. A freedom that he had never experienced.
This was a man who loved generously in an attempt to fill the hole left by the misfortunes that deprived him of the most important people in his life. Charmed by his youthful enthusiasm and cheerful energy, women wanted him, and men wanted to be him.
Once an innocent child with angelic eyes and a distinct voice, he remains a household name to this day thanks to his successful songs, living on in peoples’ memories as the ultimate male sex symbol, as the person who not only changed music, language, and clothing, but also rebelled against a whole country. This could not be said of anyone other than the unique Elvis Aaron Presley.
Elvis Presley’s childhood
Elvis was born and raised in a remarkable family in East Tupelo, Mississippi, on 8 January. It was a particularly close-knit family, with the then little Elvis being the centre of their interest and attention.
Unfortunately, the family’s economic difficulties made their situation in life very hard, both for the parents and for the little star-to-be. Elvis was forced to grow up faster than other children of his age, deprived of opportunities to play with and have friends; that is, deprived of all the elements that are essential for a child of a young age to be socialized properly.
In the mornings he attended L.C. Humes High School, a school without prospect and without hope. Many of his fellow students also came from impoverished families and were generally considered by the contemporary society to be inferior for this reason.
As a pupil, he was rather shy and quiet, and as a result he was largely unnoticed in the classroom. His performance at school ranged from mediocre to bad and generally he did not show much interest in the lessons.
As an only child, he was the focus of his parents’ devotion even as a teenager, and so he did not seem to care about the indifference that his peers showed towards him. He would act on his own accord rather than following a crowd.
‘University’ was a word that he did not even dare to utter, since there was no chance for him to reach it, due not only to his negative performance, but also to the economic difficulties of his family. University would certainly remain a pipe dream. Once he said: “I’d like to have gone, but I never thought about it. We just didn’t have the money.”
“A little less fight and a little more spark, close your mouth and open your heart.”
Elvis’s life was as special as he was. Since he was a little boy, he would spend his afternoon doing odd jobs to earn some money and help his parents financially. Although different from other children, his life was like that of millions of other children growing up in America in the same era. When he had some spare time, he would watch movies at the outdoor cinema, standing by the railings in the forecourt as he did not have enough money for a ticket. He also enjoyed listening to music on the radio his parents had given him as a birthday present one year. Sometimes the cooler boys in the neighbourhood would allow him to play football (soccer) with them, and his stylish skills would draw the attention of other children. As he grew older, he also developed interests in both girls and cars.
His stylistic preferences as a teen
A shy and dreamy boy with few friends, Elvis may have seemingly had no discernible talent or ambition whatsoever, but his lacy shirts and upturned collars marked him out as having a distinct sense of style. Like all children of his age, he wanted to belong to a peer group, but simultaneously felt a desire to stand out, to be different; wearing fancy clothes was one way to achieve this. As he once stated, “I guess I always knew if you want to stand out in a crowd you gotta be different.” However, the results were not fully positive, as many would mock him for his tastes in fashion, calling him a freak. As he experimented with his style and appearance while growing up, Elvis hated his hair. He liked sideburns and moustaches, wanting to look like his father, truck drivers, and wilder looking men.
Despite his attempts to reflect his personality through his style, Elvis continued to feel strangely different, as though he were a nobody in the endless chaos of a big city. But why was he plagued by this feeling? Certainly, it was not only due to the financial problems that had concerned him since his earliest childhood.
“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time,but it ain’t goin’ away.”
Elvis Presley, the infinite love and the special relationship with his mother
Elvis and his family had a somewhat strange but also very strong relationship. Elvis’s father, Vernon Presley, worked various jobs, spending time as a milkman on a farm, a truck driver, a carpenter, and a painter. In 1938, he was sentenced to three years in prison after forging a $4 cheque on his employer. Although he ultimately only served eight months of his sentence, this was still a length separation from his wife and young son, and resulted in the loss of the family home, with Elvis and his mother forced to move in with relatives. The strain of his apparent inability to provide financially for his family took its toll on Vernon, leaving him with little to no self-confidence.
On the other hand, Elvis’s mother, Gladys Love Presley (née Smith), was a much stronger character. She was often considered to be the dominant force in her relationship with Vernon, as well as in Elvis’s life. She worked as a sewing machine operator in a factory, as did many women in the area at the time. Growing up in poverty left Elvis feeling inferior to the other children of his age. It also added to his sense of isolation: without any money, it was difficult if not impossible to follow the everyday activities of his peers. Nevertheless, the family never gave up, with the impact of their poverty tempered by their prevailing sense of hope.
“Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.”
Both parents gave their all to Elvis and he would reciprocate in whatever way he could. With life giving them a hard time, they ultimately decided to move from Tupelo to Memphis in the hopes of finding better prospects.
Elvis was raised with principles and good manners; his parents considered it very important, because they tried to give the best possible impression as a family.
“Whatever I will become will be what God has chosen for me.”
The second Elvis
The Presley family motto was “We were always happy, when we were together.”; truly, only united could they manage to survive. However, behind the excessive love and devotion of the parents towards their precious son, a huge and sad secret had been kept well-hidden for years. A tragic event that happened during childbirth radically changed the life of not only his mother but also his own, and influenced his subsequent development.
Elvis had been the younger of a set of twins, with his older brother Jesse Garon Presley being born thirty-five minutes earlier at the Presley home in Tupelo. Unfortunately, the first of the twins was stillborn, as his heart had stopped beating some hours before labour. He would soon be laid to rest by the family in a cemetery outside the city of Princeton.
The loss of a child is one of the scariest and most traumatic events that can happen to a family. The death undoubtedly causes great psychological stress through the immense shock, pain, and grief it causes; this in turn has an impact on the psychological and physical wellbeing of those left behind. This is especially true for the parents, often even more so for a mother who has suddenly lost the child that she has carried for so many months. This was certainly the case for Vernon and Gladys, but there was still a hope left for them: their surviving baby. Both parents were devoted to Elvis, but especially Gladys, whose maternal affection was solely focused on him. Her fear of losing him led her to become overprotective, holding him back from developing close friendships with other children and even sleeping in the same bed as him until his teenage years. This almost obsessive level of care meant that Elvis did not have the chance to make any independent decisions, a situation that continued even as he grew older.
“The image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.”
The consequences of excessive love on the child’s mental state
Excess can cause harm; this is true of everything in this world. Elvis, owing to the excessive love and maternal devotion that he received, became a considerably shy and sensitive child. He did not speak much, and he had an introverted and more retiring personality.
However, the bond was equally strong from Elvis’s side, and he perhaps felt an even more intense need for maternal affection than most because she represented a piece of his lost brother. The passionate relationship that these two had affected both of their lives. Elvis considered her to be the perfect woman; indeed, it is said that, because of their closeness, Elvis wanted to marry somebody who resembled his mother both mentally and physically. This is not unusual since people are programmed to look for partners who come from the same ‘kind’. Therefore, as the first close contact of a man with the opposite sex tends to be his mother, she often becomes the model for his next relationships.
The man is looking for a mother substitute in her, scary as it may sound. As concerning as it may sound, the man is looking for something of a mother substitute in his partner; this is the basis for Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex. Although Elvis may not have had erotic inclinations towards his mother, his love for her verged on worship.
The strength of their bond definitely played an important role in his adult life, since, until his death, he wasn’t able to find the same satisfaction and love that he had felt with his own mother in other sources.
It is said that, at some point after his mother’s death, he bought a Cadillac for an elderly lady who reminded him of his mother; he had once promised his mother that he would buy one for her, but never got the chance to fulfill his promise to her personally.
“I would beg and steal just to feel your heart beating close to mine.”
Remorse for the death of his twin brother
Elvis’ life was heavily influenced by his mother, but the loss of his twin brother played a very significant role. In the early years of his life, Elvis grew up carrying a feeling of vast emptiness inside him. Even before he learnt that he had been a twin, he felt incomplete, as though something were missing from his life.
Studies have shown that there is undoubtedly a closer relationship and connection between twins than exists between siblings born separately. A physical and emotional bond usually develops between twins even before they are born as they share the same space during pregnancy; this powerful bond then often accompanies them throughout their lives. Despite internal and external differences, many feel that their twin knows them better than anyone else, for better or worse.
“If you cry when you’re in love, it sure ain’t no disgrace.”
However, this can also include fear: the fear of losing each other is something that twins can feel to a greater extent than other siblings. The deep sense of loss and emptiness that Elvis experienced during the first years of his life are therefore not puzzling: he had lost the being who had existed alongside him inside his mother’s womb for nine whole months, even if he was not consciously aware of this at first.
Once his parents explained about Jesse to him, Elvis felt a sense of guilt. As he had survived, he believed that he had caused the death of his only brother, perhaps by some accident in movement. Of course, these beliefs were unfounded, but he was unable to find another explanation. Seeing his mother suffer from the loss of her firstborn child compounded this sense of guilt, adding to the love and devotion he tried to give to her, feeling that he owed his parents for what had happened.
The guilt and emptiness that he felt left their mark. Over the years, both psychological and physical problems sprouted, with both Elvis and Gladys suffering from sleep disorders, sleepwalking, and chronic anxiety.
“Money honey, if you want to get along with me.”
On the other hand, Elvis became accustomed to these thoughts and feelings over the years, so built a wall around him that he would not let anyone break; instead, he smiled and was charming to those around him. He thought often of his brother and imagined what he would have been like. He pictured him as resembling himself physically, but having a stronger character, able to help and support Elvis whenever he needed it. In his mind, his brother was with him at every step of the way throughout life.
“There’s no job too immense, when you got confidence.”
Elvis loved the idea of his twin brother. This fact of his existence added to Elvis’s sense of being different to the others around him: it was his big secret from humanity.
People close to him, like his best friend, Jerry, and his wife, Priscilla, said that Elvis never mentioned his lost brother, but still felt guilty that he was the lucky one who had survived and went on to become a famous and successful artist.
Even so, he always felt that his brother was with him and sometimes spoke to him secretly. His mother once said, “When one twin died, the one that lived got all the strength of both.”; this gave Elvis the courage and hope to move forward. Occasionally, Elvis even believed that maybe it was for the best that Jesse had passed away before birth, because it meant that he did not have to experience the ugliness of the world, instead living eternally inside Elvis’s heart.
“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”
Elvis Presley and his love for God
All the issues that concerned Elvis since he was a small child made him find shelter in the Church and his belief in God. He would accompany his mother to church every week, where he prayed for his family and his brother, later stating that “God was not a distant figure up in the sky, but someone walking beside me each and every day.”
In his free time, he would even go to the steps of the church to listen to the Gospel Choir. He loved the music and the singers practicing and performing the songs in such harmony. Recalling it later, he would say: “That music became such a part of my life, that it was as natural as dancing. It was a way to escape from problems and my ways of release.”
The church, and particularly his belief in God, gave him the strength and hope to go on. It allowed him to feel closer to what he believed in, to his brother, and to Heaven.
“I forgot to remember to forget.”
Music as a way of expression
People noticed from early on that Elvis had an exceptional voice. At the age of ten he gave his first public performance. That year, he got his first guitar, a birthday gift from his parents. Elvis loved playing the guitar and would take it with him everywhere in order to play it at every chance he got. He never attended singing or guitar lessons; in fact, even at the end of his career, Elvis had never learnt to read musical notes. However, by observing the singers that he admired, he was able to teach himself to distinguish the notes aurally.
Later, after the family had moved to Memphis when Elvis was thirteen, the young star-to-be was exposed to a wide range of music. His dream was to sing in front of an audience and express his innermost thoughts and feelings through his music; he wanted to touch people with his music and break their hearts. When he had some time, he went to Charlie’s record shop to listen to music.
“Never wait for tomorrow, what if tomorrow never comes?”
It was in Memphis that Elvis made his first recording, paying for studio time at Sun Records to record his version of ‘’ on acetate disc; he would later claim that this had been intended as a gift for his mother. Generally, Elvis’ songs refer to people and things that he could not have in his life, like his brother, his mother, his dream for a perfect life, and his lost innocence.
Jerry Leiber later said: “He had an incredible, attractive instrument that worked in many registers. He could falsetto like Little Richard. He could sing. The equipment was outstanding. His ear was uncanny. His sense of timing was second of none.”
Later, in 1955, he teamed up with a band and worked with Scotty Moore (guitar) and Bill Black (bass). Aside from concerts, Elvis started appearing in film and on TV, eventually taking on lead roles in the thirty-one movies that he took part in during his career. Since his early childhood, his idols had been Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, and James Dean.
In 1956, Elvis made his first performance on national television. It marked the start of his varied career as musician, singer, and actor, and eventually led him down a path of public appearances, different hotels, many parties, and little sleep to become the most successful star of his era.
“The child needs a helping hand or he’ll grow up to be an angry young man some day.”
The sudden change in his career
It must be highlighted that Elvis’s band did not get off to a perfect start. Sun Records was not impressed with their sound until Elvis, during a break, grabbed his guitar and started singing the blues song ‘That’s All Right’, which was dedicated to his mother. The other two members of the band followed his lead with amazing results. Although he did not know how to sing perfectly, the incredible emotion he displayed while singing left the audience astonished. Elvis’ career had just begun.
Elvis was sure of his skills and, when he got up on stage, the insecurities of his everyday life seemed to disappear, replaced with confidence in himself. At just nineteen years old, he had come one step closer to achieving his dream; the only thing he lacked now was a girlfriend.
After appearances in local nightclubs, he entered into an agreement with RCA Victor, with his father Vernon having to sign on his behalf as Elvis was still a minor. His now manager, Colonel Tom Parker, remained a major influence on the rest of his life. Some television shows and interviews followed, although Elvis was not interested in this kind of promotion.
“Animals don’t hate and we’re supposed to be better than them.”
As time went on, he realised that his voice was more suited to the rhythm of ‘Rock and Roll’, so he changed direction and devoted himself to songs of this style.
His sudden rise changed not only his life, but also that of his parents. In 1957, still very early in his career, he bought Graceland, a mansion then several miles outside of the city, for himself and his parents to regain some privacy from his fans. It was a far cry from the two-room shotgun house he had been born in. His father once said: “What happened, El? The last thing I remember is that I was working in a little paint factory and you were driving a truck.”
The only one who was not happy was Elvis’s mother, who worried about him greatly. Despite their continual poverty, the family had always been united; now, with Elvis’s burgeoning success, it felt to Gladys as though they were going their separate ways. She feared something bad happening to her only child and feared losing him; her son was becoming more distant and their home was always full of strangers. As someone who preferred the simple things in life, the money was less important to her than the fact that the family seemed to be falling apart. Gladys was losing control over Elvis, which upset her more with each passing day.
“I go for all the belles, except the wedding kind.”
The connection between music and Elvis’ experiences
Elvis developed into one of the greatest and most successful music stars of all time. The secret to his success was his unique way of performing and the unique style of the songs he chose to sing. He came to appeal to everyone, young and old alike.
Through his way of expressing himself, he seemed to represent an optimistic energy that appealed across America. There was a vitality and a rebelliousness to him onstage, a power that touched those who listened to him. He seemed to offer to teenagers a new way of life and he helped them to interpret themselves differently.
“I’m left, you’re right, and she’s gone. You’re right, and I’m left all alone.”
He was always unpredictable onstage, to the point that even the members of his band had little to no idea what would happen in the next minute, and he never gave the exact same show twice. Elvis trusted his instincts and planned little. Singing offered a way to forget his mother’s worries, his father’s helplessness, and his own guilt about his brother.
Marion Keisker, the first person to record Elvis, once said: “He was like a mirror in a way, whatever you were looking for, you were going to find in him. It was not in him to lie or say anything malicious. He had all the intricacy of the very simple.”
Elvis was so addicted to singing that he actually became nervous when he did not sing, finding that he could neither control his feelings nor sleep.
“Now and then, there’s a fool such as I.”
Love is the cure to everything
In getting up on stage, not only was Elvis doing what he had always dreamt, but also, he took from the audience the thing that he was, in fact, searching for deep down: love. Elvis always believed in its power and he had certainly felt it from his mother. However, because of the loss of his brother, there was always something missing that not even his own mother could make up for. Through love – and the possibility for redemption that it offered – Elvis seemed to hope for relief from his guilt, his difficulties, and the negative thoughts he had from time to time.
In this way, his audience played their role to perfection; they cheered for him, hugged him, wrote to him, and waited to catch glimpses of him in public. Whereas Elvis as a boy had been weak, Elvis as a singer felt strong, bolstered by the devoted support of his fans. He reciprocated in turn: he loved his audience dearly, knowing that they had made him a star and that he owed his success to them. The once introverted boy began to open up. Music was his life, his way of communicating, of behaving, of expressing himself, and, ultimately, of not feeling lonely.
“The road to love is full of danger signs.”
Elvis Presley and the women of his life
Elvis and his women remain a major topic to this day. Although he did not pay much attention to the opposite sex as a little boy, his desire for them came to play an increasingly important role in his life as he grew up, much like music. He seemed to have a special charm — helped in no small part by his deep eyes, unique voice, perfect proportions, and thick black hair — that made women fall for him.
Elvis met many women throughout his life and each one of them was seemingly special to him in some way. He mainly preferred young women, full of freshness and innocence, because he enjoyed taking on a protective, guiding role in the relationship. He was very romantic in nature, and he stated that he had loved every girlfriend that he had. In turn, his charm and manners would endear him to women and parents alike as the apparently perfect potential groom. Some of the ladies that had a relationship with Elvis were Connie Stevens, Ann-Margret, Candice Bergen, Cybill Shepherd, Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden.
“We can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds.”
What a future Mrs. Presley had to know
Elvis’ requirements were numerous, and he was generally quite demanding about the woman he wished to have next to him. This was the reason why so many years had passed until he found his other half.
- Elvis was never monogamous. He justified this by saying that he had so much love inside of him that he wanted to share it with many women. He even cheated several times on the only woman that he ever married, Priscilla.
- He had no idea about housekeeping, and he would never agree to help women with household chores.
- Although he himself had many women in his life, Elvis was adamant that he would marry a virgin.
- A woman who wanted to be with him had to ensure that she was always available and had to keep all possible days open for a potential meeting.
- Elvis, on the contrary, was almost never available and he never answered phone calls, which meant that there could never be normal, equal communication as a couple.
Also, Elvis always forgot important celebrations, like Christmas and birthdays.
“You’ve got to follow that dream, wherever that dream may lead.”
Elvis’ strange habits
- Elvis always preferred singing and playing music at night, sitting on the benches of his neighbourhood. He believed that man changes at night: calms, hushes, and is able to listen more carefully. At night, nobody cares about appearance, style, or facial expressions; nobody judges you for what you are. The only thing that matters at night is the melody that is heard.
- Elvis loved sleeping during the day, only getting up after sunset in a manner much like a vampire. Again, he believed that everything calms down at night, and, as such, problems disappear, leaving everything simpler and people showing their true selves.
“Life has taught me one big lesson, always keep the girlies guessing.”
Favorite food of Elvis
Elvis loved food, especially the homemade food that his mother prepared with so much love. Some of his favourites were:
- Simple Southern fare dishes.
- Mama–made fried chicken.
- Mashed potatoes with gravy made from bacon drippings.
- Well-done steak.
- The ‘Fool’s Gold Loaf’: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with an entire hollowed-out loaf of bread and deep-fried before serving.
- Eggs and bacon.
- Home-fried potatoes.
- Pancakes with applesauce.
- Ice-cold bottles of Mountain Valley water.
Apparently, there were some tastes that Elvis did not like, and perhaps even detested:
The explanation was very simple: the smell of fish and egg reminded him of the difficult days he and his family had throughout his childhood.
Elvis was especially keen on one specific recipe for cookies that his mother used to make.
This recipe is reproduced below exactly as it was originally written down by his grandmother, Minnie Mae Hood Presley:
“Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind. Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine.”
- 5 cups self – rising flour
- 1 tsp. Baking soda
- 8 tsp. Sugar
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope yeast
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup Crisco or other shortening
- 2 cups buttermilk
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. In a teacup or small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over lukewarm water, stir to dissolve, and then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 10 minutes. You want to keep the yeast warm. After the yeast has proofed (it will look bubbly), add the yeast mixture, shortening, and buttermilk to the flour mixture. Mix together well with a wooden spoon or use a Kitchen Aid with dough hook (this is far easier although historically inaccurate). Cover loosely with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Knead on a floured surface just a little. Put back in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 F. Take out the amount needed and roll out to about ½ inch thickness on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut with biscuit cutter and place biscuits on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Serve it hot with lots of butter.
Perhaps trying this recipe will bring the same smell to our homes that Elvis had in his; perhaps it will become one of our favourites too, and show that we may have more in common with Elvis than we believe.
“When we’re dancing it almost feels the same, I’ve got to stop myself from whispering your name.”
Elvis and his relationship with his audience
Elvis owed everything to his audience and was completely dedicated to his fans. He would always stop for autographs or photographs, no matter how tired or busy he may have been, because he knew very well that it was his fans who had brought him where he was.
Elvis led a charmed life that many would envy, doing exactly what pleased him and supported in this by his fortune. He enjoyed the seemingly magical ability that his fortune had to induce positive energy in others, and the devotion of his audience was such that went some way to easing any possible feelings of loneliness. His generosity seemed to stem from a desire to gain love in return from his fans, rather than anything material. As he once pointed out: “They see me as someone who was lifted from poverty and dropped into a world of glamour and excitement. My job is to share that glamour and excitement with them. I want each person to feel I’m performing for him or her… I love the idea of overwhelming a total stranger with a gift…” Elvis was very proud of his audience and they in turn looked up to him. He inspired many to be polite, civilised, hard-working, law-abiding, and above all to hope.
“I love only one girl, one in every town.”
The stylistic changes of Elvis Presley during his artistic life
Elvis’s style could be divided into three distinct sections, as he changed rapidly throughout his life in terms of both his appearance and his skills in music and dancing:
- 1950’s ‘The New York Elvis’ (purest Elvis with a slouchy lanky jacket: here we meet Elvis for the first time, a novice singer at the outset of his career).
- 1960’s “Hollywood Elvis” (a more neutral Elvis as a wide-eyed country boy: here Elvis is recognized as a singer with his unique vocal and performing skills).
- 1970’s “The Vegas Elvis” (glamorous Elvis in hand-studded jumpsuits: here Elvis has progressed to the pinnacle of his career as an entertainer, revered by the crowds as the ‘King of Rock and Roll’).
“I’m with a crowd but oh so alone.”
Throughout his career, Elvis created a wholly new and individual style; there was no one else who looked like him. This also extended to his character. Since a very young age, his mother had instilled good manners in him: she taught him that, regardless of the poverty of their family, he should be honest, avoid being involved in fights, show respect to his fellow men — especially to his elders — and not interrupt, and to always answer with a “yes, sir” or “no, ma’am”. His discretion and compassion gave the impression of a true gentleman; coupled with his musical talent, this helped him to win people over. Perhaps even more importantly, he seemed genuine: his own original person, not a creation of journalists.
His overall style throughout the years could be characterised as provocative: his clothes, his hair, the way he sang, the way he moved on the stage, the expression in his look, his jokes. In fact, he was declared by Leonard Bernstein in a 1966 edition of TIME Magazine as the greatest cultural force in the 20th century’. It could be said that he had a bit of everything mixed up in him: Beale Street, the Church, the Army, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and even echoes of the poor everyday kid he had once been.
Elvis quickly realized the importance of style in the society he lived, as he remarked that: “In a tuxedo, I’m a star. In regular clothes, I’m nobody.”
“It’s not how much you have that makes people look up to you.”
Elvis’s songs were special not only because he wrote them himself, complete with his own unique way of expressing himself, but also because he felt his songs body and soul. He absolutely believed in them, stating at one point that “I’m never going to record another song I don’t believe in.”
One of Elvis’s distinctive personality quirks was the phrase that he used to say and take courage from before every concert: “Well, that’s all right mama, that’s all right for you.”
“Make this fire in my soul dear, forever burn”
His military service
In 1957, during the prime of his career, Elvis was called to report to the US Army in order to carry out the duties of his military service for two whole years. It certainly was too crucial a period to stay away from publicity, but he saw it as a break and as an opportunity to give to his country even little of what it had offered to him. He was eventually inducted in late March 1958.
Joining the army, he said: “Every able–bodied American boy should go into the service and so why not?”.
Elvis was offered the opportunity to be drafted into the Special Services to entertain the troops and be considered for priority housing. Similarly, it would have been possible for him to keep his trademark sideburns and pompadour hairstyle. However, perhaps for the first time in his life, Elvis did not want to be different from others. His decision to serve as a regular soldier – and give up his distinctive appearance – earned him the respect of many who had, until now, seen him as a controversial figure disrupting the traditional status quo.
However, tragedy struck just a few months later when his mother, Gladys, passed away on 14 August 1958 at the age of just forty-six. Her death from cirrhosis was brought about by a combination of a bad diet, use of diet pills to lose weight, and an increased alcohol intake in an attempt to cope with her son’s musical and military commitments. The shock of this loss was devastating for the family. Without Gladys, the house felt empty every time that Elvis returned to it, making it a place that was both beautiful and sad at the same time
“One night of sin is what I’m now paying for.”
Elvis felt a strong sense of remorse at the loss of his mother, regretting that he had not seen her more during the previous years, and felt perhaps as though he had not cared for her as much as he could have. Gladys’s funeral was held the day after her death; Elvis, grief-stricken, collapsed more than once throughout the day. He missed his mother intensely and felt that nobody could replace her. When he returned to his military duties, it was with strict instructions that his mother’s room was to be kept exactly as she had left it.
The next month, he was transferred to West Germany; it was here that he was honourably discharged from the US Army in 1960. Throughout his two years of service, Elvis had given his army pay to charity.
“What’s the good of reaching 90, if you waste 89?”
The woman of his life
During his service in Germany, Elvis met the fourteen-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. At that time, he was twenty-four years old. This acquaintance was different. After the death of his mother, Elvis may have been searching for a substitute in another woman who would resemble his mother and would love him like she had.
Elvis and Priscilla fell in love. Nevertheless, their large age gap caused several concerns: she was just a child, whereas he was already a grown man. Elvis combatted these objections with claims that Priscilla was mature for her age, and some have explained that such an age difference within a romantic relationship was perhaps more commonplace in the society that Elvis grew up in. However, he was well-aware of the controversy – and subsequent damage to his reputation – that this could cause and remained wary of being seen with Priscilla in public. For her part, Priscilla was flattered by and overjoyed with the attention of such a star; she always tried to protect Elvis and their relationship, refusing to answer questions from strangers about him.
“You’re so square, baby, I don’t care.”
Priscilla tried everything to maintain her relationship with Elvis. By morning, she was a regular schoolgirl; by night, she was Elvis’s girlfriend. Keeping up with her double life proved very tiring, so Elvis offered her amphetamines (Dexedrine), which he had been introduced to in the army and which he also frequently used to fight his own exhaustion. Priscilla had never taken those pills before and she was worried about Elvis’s use, but eventually, under his encouragement, would start using both these and sleeping pills to keep pace with Elvis’s hectic lifestyle.
In Priscilla, Elvis had finally found what he had always been looking for in a woman, or perhaps the possibility of moulding her into his ideal: a quiet, taciturn, non-confrontational non-smoker. In 1960, following his discharge from the US Army, Elvis had to return to America, leaving Priscilla behind in West Germany and beginning three years of a long-distance relationship. Communication was sparse during this time: she would write to him and he would send her money. They next met in 1962, with visits during the summer and at Christmas. Eventually, in 1963, Elvis decided to bring his girlfriend to Graceland. As Priscilla was still a minor, her parents agreed under strict conditions, including the requirement for her to finish school and for the couple to live separately. It also caught the attention of the media in Memphis, as she was until then completely unknown.
However, life with Elvis was not without its pressures. Perhaps more than ever Priscilla became aware of the stipulations Elvis had for her if she wished to remain at his side; alongside influencing her personality, Elvis also oversaw an overhaul in Priscilla’s physical appearance as well, as expectations were high for anyone seen at his side. Her physical proximity to him in the same country also did nothing to curb his promiscuity, and he continued to be linked to a series of women, including many of his movie co-stars, despite the hurt it caused Priscilla.
Despite all of this, Elvis and Priscilla finally married on 1 May 1967 in a small and very quick ceremony in Las Vegas. She fell pregnant almost immediately, with their daughter Lisa Marie being born exactly nine months later on 1 February 1968. Lisa Marie would be Elvis’s only child.
“Do what’s right for you, as long as I don’t hurt no one.”
Elvis Presley’s last years
During the last years of his career, Elvis continued to star in movies and release record-breaking songs, although perhaps without the same consistency of success that he had enjoyed at first. His ‘Comeback Special’ on NBC on 3 December 1968 was a success, with the soundtrack being certified gold by July the following year. It also briefly reignited Elvis’s passion for touring and recording after a long period of dissatisfaction with his career.
However, in his personal life, Elvis was in decline. 9 October 1973 brought a huge blow to him the finalisation of his divorce from Priscilla. His growing addictions to prescription drugs – which he claimed he needed to keep up with his hectic work schedule – led to more than one overdose as well as a period of hospitalisation.
He suffered from multiple health conditions and steadily gained weight, a stark contrast from the fit, healthy, and energetic figure he had cut in his younger years. Although his professional output remained high, his enthusiasm waned, with live performances sometimes panned by critics and occasionally cut short or even cancelled.
“I have much more money than I could spend, I have thousands of fans out there and many people saying that they are my friends. However, I am the saddest young man you have ever seen…”
Three of Elvis’s long-time bodyguards, who had been fired by his father Vernon in 1976, co-wrote and released a book entitled Elvis: What Happened, which detailed their perspectives on his personal life. It was released in the USA on 1 August 1977.
“I don’t want to be a tiger, tigers play too rough. I don’t want to be a lion, cause lions ain’t the kind you love up.”
Elvis suffered from chronic fatigue, resulting in him taking several pills per day in order to stay awake. Although these drugs gave him an energy boost, they also gradually destroyed his body without him seeming to realise it. His audience became aware of his mental and physical decline because of his poor performance on stage, which was routinely panned by critics. He had lost his dignity, he was not himself, and he was exhausted mentally and physically. His health deteriorated considerably towards the end of his life. Elvis suffered from coronary heart disease, hypertension, liver damage, and an enlarged colon, all exacerbated by his extreme lifestyle, including his bad diet and continued drug misuse. As he once said: “We pay the price for fame with our nerves.”
Eventually, on 16 August 1977, Elvis was found dead in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion. The cause: a heart attack brought about by a drug overdose. He was just forty-two years old. He was buried next to his mother two days later, with both of them being moved to Graceland’s Meditation Garden later that year; his father was buried on the other side of him when he passed away two years later, and a small marker was also placed to commemorate Jesse. Fans lined the route to the cemetery and gathered outside the gates of Graceland to say their goodbyes as well.
Years later, Elvis remains a legend and he is still posthumously successful. What would he have thought if he could have foreseen this? Maybe he would have found the love he was looking for in the honour that he is treated with even now.
“I’ve spent a life time waiting for the right time, now that you’re near, the time is here at last.”
Elvis Presley – a wonderful person
A handsome and special man who loved his mother, had a distinctive image, and an even more distinctive voice. What made Elvis truly unique? Certainly not his perfection, but his humanity and simplicity instead.
Elvis proved that it is possible to create your own world on the foundations of your own style, beliefs, talents, and love. His music inspired others to make their own songs and he remains linked even now to ideas of particular kinds of clothing, lifestyle, and behaviour.
Elvis once said: “When I was a child, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies and I was the hero in every movie.” In fact, he became the hero of his own life over its course, filling hearts around the world with love even when he felt its lack in his own life
“When I first saw you with your smile so tender, my heart was captured, my soul surrendered.”
Facts about Elvis
- Elvis had the famous crooked smile
- His movements with his pelvis gave him the nickname “Elvis, the pelvis”
- He usually wore jumpsuits and white sequined costumes with rhinestones
- He had a deep and powerful voice with southern accent
- The back of his head was often oily
- He was known to his friends and his audience for his exceptionally kind and generous personality
- At some point in his life he weighed 113 kg
- In the last year of his life, doctors gave him about 10,000 pills
- He signed his autographs on peculiar spots of his female fans, like “Elvis” on the left breast and “Presley” on the right one
- He hated fish, and he didn’t even let his daughter, Lisa Marie, eat it
- He enjoyed smoking slim German cigarettes
- He dyed his hair, so that it looked darker on television
- He used to dye his eyelashes too, which caused health problems later
- He spoke with a slight stutter
- His daughter got married later to the well-known to everyone Michael Jackson
- He was a nominee for 14 Grammy awards, winning 3 times.
If you want to see the entire collection of Elvis Presley’s quotes, please click the link below:
You may buy here some of the best books refer Elvis Prsley. Recommended by Motto Cosmos.
Mottos of Elvis Presley
Below, you will be able to be inspired by Elvis Presley’s greatest Mottos:
|Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.|
|The army teaches boys to think like men.|
|It’s human nature to gripe, but I’m going ahead and doing the best I can.|
|Until we meet again, may God bless you as he has blessed me.|
|I’m not trying to be sexy. It’s just my way of expressing myself when I move around.|
|From the time I was a kid, I always knew something was going to happen to me. Didn’t know exactly what.|
|That’s why I hate to get started in these jam sessions. I’m always the last one to leave.|
|Those people in New York are not gonna change me none.|
|I like to sing ballads the way Eddie Fisher does and the way Perry Como does. But the way I’m singing now is what makes the money.|
|I’ve never written a song in my life. It’s all a big hoax.|
|Just because I managed to do a little something, I don’t want anyone back home to think I got the big head.|
|My movements, ma’am, are all leg movements. I don’t do nothing with my body.|
|I think I have something tonight that’s not quite correct for evening wear. Blue suede shoes.|
|The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin’ now, man, for more years than I know. I got it from them.|
|I’m no hillbilly singer.|
|I’m strictly for Stevenson. I don’t dig the intellectual bit, but I’m telling you, man, he knows the most.|
|I was an overnight sensation.|
|When I got outta High School I was driving a truck. I was just a poor boy from Memphis, Memphis.|
|I’ve been getting some bad publicity – but you got to expect that.|
|They put me on television. And the whole thing broke loose. It was wild, I tell ya for sure.|
|I like entertaining people. I really miss it.|
|I was an only child, and Mother was always right with me all my life. I used to get very angry at her when I was growing up-it’s a natural thing.|
|I’ve tried to lead a straight, clean life, not set any kind of a bad example.|
|I’ll never make it, it will never happen, because they’re never going to hear me ’cause they’re screaming all the time.|
|I’ll never feel comfortable taking a strong drink, and I’ll never feel easy smoking a cigarette. I just don’t think those things are right for me.|
|Man that record came out and was real big in Memphis. They started playing it, and it got real big. Don’t know why-the lyrics had no meaning.|
|I’m trying to keep a level head. You have to be careful out in the world. It’s so easy to get turned.|
|I miss my singing career very much.|
|I’ll stay in Memphis.|
|After a hard day of basic training, you could eat a rattlesnake.|
|I learned how important it is to entertain people and give them a reason to come and watch you play.|
|Every time I think that I’m getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens.|
|I’m so nervous. I’ve always been nervous, ever since I was a kid.|
|I don’t think I’m bad for people. If I did think I was bad for people, I would go back to driving a truck, and I really mean this.|
|When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.|
|I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my life story.|
|The closest I ever came to getting married was just before I started singing. In fact, my first record saved my neck.|
|I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.|
|More than anything else, I want the folks back at home to think right of me.|
|A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It’s my favorite part of the business, live concerts.|
|Man, I really like Vegas.|
|The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. I might be herding sheep next year.|
|I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.|
|I have no use for bodyguards, but I have very specific use for two highly trained certified public accountants.|
|Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.’|
|I never expected to be anybody important.|
Filmography of Elvis Presley
- Change of Habit (1969)
- The Trouble with Girls (1969)
- Charro! (1969)
- Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
- Speedway (1968)
- Stay Away, Joe (1968)
- Clambake (1967)
- Double Trouble (1967)
- Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)
- Spinout (1966)
- Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
- Frankie and Johnny (1966)
- Harum Scarum (1965)
- Tickle Me (1965)
- Girl Happy (1965)
- Roustabout (1964)
- Viva Las Vegas (1964)
- Kissin’ Cousins (1964)
- Fun in Acapulco (1963)
- It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)
- Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
- Kid Galahad (1962)
- Follow That Dream (1962)
- Blue Hawaii (1961)
- Wild in the Country (1961)
- Flaming Star (1960)
- I. Blues (1960)
- King Creole (1958)
- Jailhouse Rock (1957)
- Loving You (1957)
- Love Me Tender (1956)