Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977; middle name sometimes written Aron) was an American singer, actor and musician. A cultural icon, he is commonly known simply as "Elvis", and is also sometimes referred to as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" or "The King".
In 1954, Presley began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues with a strong back beat. His novel versions of existing songs, mixing "black" and "white" sounds, made him popular—and controversial—as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He recorded songs in the rock and roll genre, with tracks like "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" later embodying the style. Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop. To date, he has been inducted into four music halls of fame.
In the 1960s, Presley made the majority of his thirty-one movies—mainly poorly reviewed, but financially successful, musicals.
In 1968, he returned to live music in a television special, and performed across the U.S., notably in Las Vegas. Throughout his career, he set records for concert attendance, television ratings and recordings sales. He is one of the best-selling and most influential artists in the history of popular music. Health problems, drug dependency and other factors led to his death at age 42.
In January 1970, Presley returned to the International Hotel for a month-long engagement, performing two shows a night. RCA recorded some shows and the best material appeared on the album On Stage - February 1970.
In late February, Presley performed six more attendance-breaking shows at the Houston Astrodome in Texas. In August at the International Hotel, MGM filmed rehearsal and concert footage for a documentary: Elvis - That's The Way It Is. He wore a jumpsuit—a garment that would become a trademark of Presley's live performances in the 1970s. Although he had new hit singles in many countries, some were critical of his song choices and accused him of being distant from trends within contemporary music.
Around this time Presley was threatened with kidnapping at the International Hotel. Phone calls were received, one demanding $50,000; if unpaid, Presley would be killed by a "crazy man".
The FBI took the threat seriously and security was stepped up for the next two shows. Presley went on stage with a Derringer in his right boot and a .45 in his waistband, but nothing untoward transpired. (The singer had had many threats of varying degrees since the fifties, many of them made without the singer's knowledge).
After closing his Las Vegas engagement on September 7, Presley embarked on his first concert tour since 1958. Feeling exhausted, Presley spent a month relaxing and recording before touring again in October and November. He would tour extensively in the U.S.
On December 21, 1970, Presley met with President Richard Nixon at the White House (Presley arrived with a gift—a handgun. It was accepted but not presented for security reasons). Presley had engineered the encounter to express his patriotism, his contempt for the hippie drug culture and his wish to be appointed a "Federal Agent at Large". He also wished to obtain a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge to add to similar items he had begun collecting. He offered to "infiltrate hippie groups" and claimed that The Beatles had "made their money, then gone back to England where they fomented anti-American feeling." Nixon was uncertain and bemused by their encounter, and twice expressed his concern to Presley that the singer needed to "retain his credibility". Ringo Starr later said he found it very sad to think Presley held such views. "This is Mr. Hips, the man, and he felt we were a danger. I think that the danger was mainly to him and his career." Paul McCartney said also that he "felt a bit betrayed ... The great joke was that we were taking drugs, and look what happened to Elvis. ... It was sad, but I still love him. ..."
up to his death; many of the 1,145 concerts setting attendance records.
On January 16, 1971 Presley was named 'One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation' by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce (The Jaycees). That summer, the City of Memphis named part of Highway 51 South "Elvis Presley Boulevard", and he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the organization that presents Grammy awards).
In April 1972, MGM again filmed Presley, this time for Elvis on Tour, which won a 1972 Golden Globe for Best Documentary. A fourteen-date tour started with an unprecedented four consecutive sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, New York. RCA taped the shows for a live album. After the tour, Presley released the 1972 single "Burning Love"—his last top ten hit in the U.S. charts.