The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


back to profile

Elvis Presley

1935

Elvis Aron Presley is born to Gladys and Vernon Presley in a two-room cabin on North Saltillo Road in East Tupelo, Mississippi.

1953

Elvis Presley, then earning his keep as a truck driver, drops by the Memphis Recording Service, home of Sun Records. He privately records two songs ("My Happiness"/"That’s When Your Heartaches Begin") for the sum of $4, leaving with a ten-inch acetate. Office manager Marion Keisker jots a note for owner Sam Phillips

1954

A young Elvis Presley visits the Memphis Recording Service to record “Casual Love Affair” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way” and meets Sun Records owner Sam Phillips.

1954

After several fruitless recording sessions, Sam Phillips pairs Elvis Presley with guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black. He hopes the singer might find his voice by rehearsing with other musicians cut from the same country, pop, gospel and R&B cloth.

1954

Rock and roll history is made when Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black spontaneously perform bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Cruddup’s “That’s All Right” in romping, uptempo style. The next day, bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” is given a similarly playful treatment.

1954

Sun releases “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Elvis Presley, backed by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black.

1954

Elvis Presley makes his first public appearance, performing on a flatbed truck in Memphis. This inaugurates a period of wildly performed and riotously received concerts that will be interrupted only by Presley’s induction into the U.S. Army.

1955

Elvis Presley signs a management contract with “Colonel” Tom Parker, whose other clients included country-music stars Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow. The relationship with Parker will continue till Presley’s death.

1955

Elvis Presley’s contract with Sun Records, including all previously released and recorded material, is sold to the New York-based RCA label for $35,000.

1956

Elvis Presley’s debut single for RCA, “Heartbreak Hotel,” is released. The first of Presley’s 17 Number One hits, it holds down the top spot for eight weeks. “Heartbreak Hotel” establishes Elvis Presley and rock and roll itself as national phenomena.

1956

Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on network TV as a guest on Stage Show, hosted by jazz bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Throughout 1956, Presley’s biggest year, he will also appear on The Milton Berle Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

1956

Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1956

I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1956

What many consider to be one of rock’s greatest double-sided singles, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog,” is released. Both sides will share the top spot for 11 weeks.

1956

Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1956

Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1956

The film ‘Love Me Tender,’ which features Elvis Presley in the first of 31 Hollywood movie roles, premieres at the New York Paramount. Two months earlier, on September 9th, he performed the title song on the Ed Sullivan Show to a record viewing audience estimated at 54 million.

1956

The “Million Dollar Quartet"—Presley, Perkins, Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis—records old gospel, country and pop songs at an impromptu session. The recordings aren’t officially released until the mid-Eighties.

1957

Leiber & Stoller are summoned to New York by Elvis’s Brill Building music publisher to write songs for the movie ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ The title song soon reaches #1.

1957

Elvis Presley sings five songs in his final performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

1957

Elvis Presley passes the pre-induction exam for the Army.

1957

Too Much (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1957

All Shook Up (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1957

(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1957

Jimi Hendrix goes to see Elvis Presley perform at Sicks Stadium.

1957

Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1957

Elvis Presley is served with his draft notice while home at Graceland for the Christmas holidays. He is sworn in as a private in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958, and later sent to basic training in Fort Hood, Texas. Shipped to Germany, he will serve in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps, from October 1, 1958, to March 1, 1960.

1958

Don’t (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1958

Hard Headed Woman (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1959

A Big Hunk O’ Love (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1960

Stuck On You (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1960

Elvis guest-stars on a Frank Sinatra-hosted TV special, Welcome Home Elvis, and cuts his first post-Army recordings in Nashville. They yield the hit album Elvis Is Back and such million-selling singles as “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”

1960

It’s Now Or Never (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1960

Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1961

Surrender (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1961

The soundtrack to Blue Hawaii reaches #1 on the album charts, where it will remain for 20 weeks. With sales of 2 million, it is Elvis Presley’s best-selling album to date.

1962

Good Luck Charm (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1965

Elvis Presley’s version of the Orioles’ “Crying in the Chapel” peaks at #3 on the pop chart.

1965

The Beatles spend the evening talking and playing music with Elvis Presley at his Bel air home.

1967

Elvis Presley marries Priscilla Beaulieu, who he met eight and a half years earlier during his tour of duty in Germany, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, is born exactly nine months later, on February 1, 1968.

1968

NBC airs “Elvis,” a television special that revitalizes Elvis’ career as a rock and roll performer.

1968

The hour-long special Elvis, sponsored by Singer Sewing Machines, airs on NBC-TV. Clad in black leather, Elvis successfully pulls off the greatest comeback in rock and roll history. After his decade-long stint as a movie star, he re-establishes himself as a musical performer and cultural totem on this electrifying, widely viewed special.

1969

Presley enters American Sound Studio in Memphis, where he will cut some of the finest recordings of his career, including the hits “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.” It is the first time he’s recorded in his hometown since 1956.

1969

Elvis Presley performs his first live concert since March 25, 1961, opening a four-week engagement at the 1,500-capacity Showroom at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The remaining eight years of Presley’s life will largely be devoted to live performances, either on the road or at the International Hotel.

1969

Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley) was a hit.

1969

Elvis Presley returns to the road. His guitarist and bandleader is James Burton, who will remain with Presley until his death in 1977.

1971

Elvis Presley is named one of 10 Outstanding Young Men of the Year by the U.S. Jaycees.

1973

Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce in Santa Monica, California.

1977

Elvis Presley delivers his last live performance, at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.

1977

The last of 105 singles by Elvis Presley to reach the Top Forty in his lifetime, “Way Down,” enters Billboard’s Top Pop Singles chart, peaking at #18.

1977

An unconscious Elvis Presley is rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital around 3 p.m. Despite efforts to revive him, Presley is subsequently pronounced dead. At a press conference that evening, medical examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco indicates that the cause of death appeared to be “cardiac arrhythmia,” noting that, “There was severe cardiovascular disease present.”

1986

Elvis Presley is inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner. Julian and Sean Lennon are his presenters.

1992

The Elvis Presley postage stamp is released.