Elvis Presley was born on 8 January 1935. On his 11th birthday, his mother took him to the local hardware store to buy the .22 rifle that he wanted but, at the last moment, decided that it was too dangerous. When young Elvis threw a tantrum, the shop assistant suggested a guitar. Elvis' mother offered Elvis the guitar or nothing - and so Elvis' musical career began.
In 1954, Elvis visited the Sun Studios in Memphis to cut an acetate recording as a gift for his mother. Sun's Sam Phillips recognised Elvis' potential and produced a recording of That's Alright Mama which became a local hit. After four more local hit recordings for Sun, Elvis' recording contract was sold to RCA for $36,000.
Elvis' first RCA recording, Heartbreak Hotel, became number one in the US and number two in Britain. A series of hit records, television appearances and unprecedented merchandising rapidly made Elvis the world's top rock performer. In 1956, he signed a contract to make three movies for the then enormous sum of $450,000.
In 1958, Elvis was drafted into the army for two years. He had a sufficient stockpile of recordings to continue having hit records. After completing his army service, Elvis produced increasingly middle-of-the-road music with recordings such as It's Now or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight? and formula movies.
Following his marriage to Priscilla Baeulieu in 1967, Elvis revived has career with his first TV show since 1960 and more powerful recordings such as If I Can Dream and In the Ghetto. His stage costumes became more and more like his boyhood comic hero, Captain Marvel Jr (a lock of hair hanging down, oversized turned up collars and lightning bolt symbols).
Elvis' production of recordings and his live performances declined through the seventies as he gained weight and became increasingly dependant on prescription drugs. Many believe these drugs were a major factor in his death from "natural causes" on 16 August 1977.