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Famous Veterans: Elvis Presley
He was the rebellious King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but Elvis Presley didn’t shirk his duty when he was drafted by the U.S. Army and gained the more modest title of “sergeant.” With that said, the timing for young Presley wasn’t the greatest, as he was experiencing a rise to stardom seldom seen before or since in popular music.
After some early dabblings as a blues snger, Elvis had hooked up with Sun Records and its famous owner Sam Phillips, and with his strutting yet sensitive rockabilly style, had rattled off a number of hits by 1957 that are still classic to this day: “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Love Me Tender.” At the end of 1956, he had already charted more top-100 hits than any performer since the list had been invented, and his handsome looks had scored him roles in movies such as Jailhouse Rock — and that’s not even mentioning his legendary appearances on the Ed Sullivan television show, which led to near-riots by the studio audience and an order from the show’s producers to show him performing “from the waist up” so America’s youth wouldn’t be corrupted by his gyrating hips.
And then the Army entered the picture. On January 8, 1957 (the King’s 22nd birthday), the Memphis Draft Board announced that Elvis had been chosen under the current selective service system to serve two years of active duty and four years in the Reserves. Knowing that the military had happened upon a good thing, the Navy and Air Force quickly made offers for him to join them — the Navy was ready to start a specially trained “Elvis Presley company” and the Air Force had starry visions of using Elvis at their recruiting centers. Refusing special treatment, Elvis turned them down, and after getting a deferment so he could finish filming King Creole, he entered the Army as a regular GI at Ft. Chaffee on March 24, 1958. As his famously tousled hair was shaved down to regulation length, he cracked, “Hair today, gone tomorrow.” His induction was a major event, with hundreds of overlookers and media there to witness it.
Elvis was stationed at Ft. Hood for Basic Training and was assigned to the Second Armored Division’s ‘Hell On Wheels’ unit (once led by General George Patton). He still remained involved with music in his free time, cutting a five-song record in Memphis during a two-week leave. Later he was assigned to the Third Armored ‘Spearhead’ Division, and stationed in Friedberg, Germany — it was here that he met Priscilla Beaulieu, who would eventually become his wife over seven years later. During his time in Texas and Germany, Elvis kept a low profile, although he was already wealthy enough to bring his father and grandmother to live with him off-base. One hundred members of his division also got a taste of Elvis-mania when they participated as extras in the film G.I. Blues, made during his stay in Germany. A Stars and Stripes article at the time described the movie as “a comedy on the light side dealing with 3d Armored Division soldiers. There will be three or four girls, one French, one Italian and two Germans. The finished film will about three GI’s or possibly four… The show will include eight or nine songs, mostly ballads, and some rock ‘n’ roll.”
By February 1960 Elvis had been promoted to sergeant (E-5), and he finished his 18-month stint in Germany in March of that year. At Fort Dix, New Jersey he was honorably discharged from active duty on March 5, 1960, receiving a mustering-out check of $109.54. Just prior to his return, Elvis reflected on his experiences in an interview for Armed Forces Radio and Television: “I was in a funny position. Actually, that’s the only way it could be. People were expecting me to mess up, to goof up in one way or another. They thought I couldn’t take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise, not only to the people who were wondering, but to myself.”
It has been reported that Elvis privately feared that his stint in the military would negatively affect the momentum he had building in his music and film career, but he needn’t have worried — over fifty years and a multitude of hits later, his legendary status and legacy as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is still secure.
Per http://www.Elvis.com the official Elvis Presley website:
It is estimated that Elvis Presley has sold over one billion record units worldwide, more than anyone in record industry history. In America alone, Elvis has had 150 different albums and singles that have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with more certifications expected as research into his past record sales continues and as current sales go on. Research is also underway to document hisrecord sales achievements in other countries. It is estimated that 40% of Elvis’ total record sales have been outside the United States.
Elvis Presley’s trophy room at Graceland is filled with gold and platinum records and awards of all kinds from around the world. Some of the countries represented are: Norway, Yugoslavia, Japan, Australia, South Africa, England, Sweden, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, and The Netherlands.
It is interesting to note that, except for a handful of movie soundtrack songs, Elvis did not record in other languages, and, except for five shows in three Canadian cities in 1957, he did not perform in concerts outside the United States. Still, his recordings andfilms enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, popularity all over the globe, and he is known throughout the world by his first name.
Record Chart Statistics
Elvis has had no less than 149 songs to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Chart in America. Of these, 114 were in the top forty, 40 were in the top ten, and 18 went to number one. His number one singles spent a total of 80 weeks at number one. He has also had over 90 charted albums with ten of them reaching number one. These figures are only for the pop charts and only in America. He was also a leading artist in the American country, R&B, and gospel fields, and his chart success in other countries was substantial.
Historic Television Guest Appearances
In 1956, Elvis made his network television debut with the first of his six appearances on “Stage Show,” a weekly variety program hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. He followed these with two appearances on “The Milton Berle Show,” the second of which included a performance of “Hound Dog” that was so provocative (for that time, anyway) that it caused a national scandal. Elvis next appeared on “The Steve Allen Show,” with Allen mocking the sensation of the Berle appearance by having Elvis dress in a tuxedo, eliminate his usual physical gyrations, and sing “Hound Dog” to a Basset Hound. Ed Sullivan had once said he would never have the controversial singer on his top-rated show, but that was before the week that Elvis’ appearance on “Steve Allen” had surpassed Sullivan’s ratings. Sullivan paid Elvis $50,000 to make three appearances on his show, which was, at the time, more money than any performer had ever been paid to appear on a network variety program. When Elvis made his third Sullivan appearance in January of 1957, Ed Sullivan surprised Elvis by telling him on camera that his show had never had a better experience with a name act, and said “I wanted to say to Elvis and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy.” It was on this very same Sullivan appearance that Elvis was shown on camera from the waist up only, one of early television history’s most memorable moments. Elvis’ next network television appearance was in 1960, when Frank Sinatra gave his variety show a “Welcome Home, Elvis” theme to herald Elvis’ return from the Army. Elvis was paid $125,000 to appear – again, making history.
The Silver Screen
Elvis starred in 31 feature films as an actor and two theatrically released concert documentary films, all of which enjoyed financial success. For a number of years he was one of Hollywood’s top box office draws and one of its highest-paid actors. His two most critically acclaimed films, “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) and “King Creole” (1958), have become classics of their era. His movies and concert films enjoy a healthy life today in television syndication and home video sales and rentals. Some of his top-selling music came from his movies. Eleven of his movie soundtrack albums went to the top 10, and of those, four went to number one. The soundtrack for “G.I. Blues” (1960) was number one on the Billboard Top 100 album chart for 10 weeks and remained on the chart for 111 weeks. The album from “Blue Hawaii” was number one for 20 weeks and was on the chart for 79 weeks.
Elvis TV Specials
The three Elvis TV specials on network television – “Elvis” (1968), “Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite” (1973), and “Elvis in Concert” (1977) – stand among the most highly rated specials of their time. His 1968 special, “Elvis,” is one of the most critically acclaimed music specials of all time. His 1973 special, “Elvis – Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite,” was seen in 40 countries by 1 billion to 1.5 billion people and made television history. It was seen on television in more American homes than man’s first walk on the moon.
The Concert Stage
When Elvis returned to the live stage after the success of his 1968 television special and the wrap-up of his Hollywood movie contract obligations, he opened at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in the summer of 1969 for a four-week, 57-show engagement that broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records. He returned to the International a few months later in early 1970, during the slow winter season in Vegas, and broke his own attendance record. Right after that came a record-breaking six-show engagement at the Astrodome in Houston, where Elvis played to a total of 207,494 people. Elvis took his elaborate live show on the road in the latter part of 1970 for his first concert tour since 1957. Throughout the 1970’s, Elvis toured America where he broke box office records, while continuing to play an engagement or two per year in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Among the outstanding highlights of this period was in 1972, when Elvis performed four sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. During his “concert years” from 1969 to 1977, Elvis gave nearly 1,100 concert performances.
Elvis received 14 Grammy nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). His three wins were for gospel recordings – the album “How Great Thou Art” (1967), the album “He Touched Me” (1972) and his live Memphis concert recording of the song “How Great Thou Art” (1974). In 1971, NARAS also recognized him with their Lifetime Achievement Award (known then as the Bing Crosby Award in honor of its first recipient). Elvis was 36 years old at the time.
Six of Elvis’ recordings, all of them his original studio masters, have been inducted into the NARAS Hall of Fame: “Hound Dog” (1956 recording, inducted 1988); “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956 recording, inducted 1995); “That’s All Right” (1954 recording, inducted 1998); “Suspicious Minds” (1969 recording, inducted 1999); “Don’t Be Cruel” (1956 recording, inducted 2002); and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (1960 recording, inducted 2007). The Recording Academy’s national trustees established the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1973 to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old. Many inductees are recordings that were created and released before the 1958 inception of NARAS and the Grammy Awards.
One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation
The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (the Jaycees) named Elvis One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 in a ceremony on January 16, 1971, one of Elvis’ proudest moments. This award has been given since 1938 and has honored men of achievement in all areas of endeavor – sports, government, science, medicine, entertainment, etc. It recognizes outstanding personal achievement and the exemplification of the opportunities available in the free enterprise system, along with patriotism, humanitarianism, and community service. (In the 1980’s, eligibility was opened to women as well as men, and the award has since been presented to the year’s Ten Outstanding Young Americans.)
Elvis Presley was famous for giving away Cadillacs, cash and jewelry, often on the spur of the moment. But, the true depth and breadth of his generosity and community involvement is not so widely known. In 1961, Elvis gave a benefit concert at Bloch Arena in Hawaii that raised over $65,000 toward the building of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The resulting publicity gave new life to the fund-raising effort, which had, by then, lost its momentum. The memorial opened a year later. Audience tickets for his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” television special and its pre-broadcast rehearsal show carried no price, as each audience member was asked to pay whatever he or she could. The performances and concert merchandise sales were a benefit raising $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii. Each year, for many years, Elvis gave $1,000 or more to each of 50 Memphis-area charities, but also continually made many other charitable donations in Memphis and around the country.
Most of Elvis’ philanthropic endeavors received no publicity at all. Throughout his adult life, for friends, for family, and for total strangers, he quietly paid hospital bills, bought homes, supported families, paid off debts, and much more.
Elvis’ legacy of generosity continues through the work of the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, which is the philanthropic branch of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and the creator of the Elvis Presley Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Memphis. The tradition of giving also continues through the work of the Elvis fan clubs worldwide, most of which are heavily involved in charitable endeavors in Elvis’ memory.
Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home and refuge for 20 years, is one of the most visited homes in America today, now attracting over 600,000 visitors annually. In 1991, Graceland Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark. Find out more about visiting Graceland.
The Elvis Stamp
In 1992, the U.S. Postal Service announced that Elvis’ image would be used for a commemorative postage stamp. The Postal Service narrowed the artwork choices down to two images – one of Elvis in the 1950’s as a sizzling young rocker, and one of him as a concert superstar in his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” special. In an unprecedented move, the USPS put the decision to the American people and distributed ballots coast to coast. Over 1.2 million votes were cast and the image of the young rocker Elvis stamp won. The stamp was released on January 8, 1993, with extravagant first day of issue ceremonies at Graceland. The Elvis stamp is the most widely publicized stamp issue in the history of the U.S. Postal Service and it is the top selling commemorative postage stamp of all time. The USPS printed 500 million of them, three times the usual print run for a commemorative stamp. Several countries outside the U.S. also have issued Elvis stamps over the years and they’ve become an essential piece of Elvis Presley memorabilia.
Special Posthumous Honors
The 1984, W.C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis recognized Elvis for “keeping the blues alive in his music – rock ‘n’ roll.” The Academy of Country Music’s first Golden Hat Award presented in 1984 recognized Elvis’ influence on country music. In 1986, Elvis was among the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1987, Elvis was honored with the first posthumous presentation of the Award of Merit by the American Music Awards. In 1998, Elvis received the Country Music Association’s highest honor, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2001, Elvis was inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame. With that honor, Elvis was the first artist to become a member of all three of these halls of fame – Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel.
A New Concert Career
On August 16, 1997, Elvis, via video, starred in an extravagant concert production entitled Elvis in Concert ’97 at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee, accompanied live on stage by over 30 of his former bandmates and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The show played before a capacity crowd of fans who had come to Memphis from around the world to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Elvis broke the MidSouth Coliseum’s all-time record dollar figure for box office sales. This concert was the prototype for the 1998/99 touring production Elvis – The Concert. By being the first performer ever to headline a live concert tour while no longer living, Elvis made history again. The March 1998 tour included a three-show smash engagement at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The August 1998 tour included the excitement of Elvis’ “return” to the Las Vegas Hilton with an eight-show engagement. The January/ February 1999 European tour opened with a sell-out at London’s Wembley Arena and, in effect, marked Elvis’ first-ever concerts outside of North America. As of 2010, the show continues to tour worldwide.
August 1, 1955 — Elvis appeared at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. It was his first professional show in his hometown.
August 15, 1955 — The first managerial contract linking Elvis and Colonel Parker was signed by both men.
August 22, 1956 — Principal photography began on Elvis’s first movie, Love Me Tender, on 20th Century Fox’s lot in Hollywood.
August 24, 1956 — Elvis recorded the song “Love Me Tender” in Hollywood.
August 31, 1957 — Elvis performed a controversial concert at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. It was Elvis’s last concert outside of the U.S.
August 14, 1958 —Elvis’s mother, Gladys, died in Memphis.
August 16, 1960 — Principal photography on Elvis’s sixth movie, Flaming Star, began at the Conejo Movie Ranch in Thousand Oaks, CA.
August 29, 1962 — Kid Galahad, Elvis’s tenth film, opened nationwide.
August 7, 1965 — Principal photography began on Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Elvis’s 21st movie.
August 27, 1965 — The Beatles came for an evening visit with Elvis at his Perugia Way home in California.
August 16, 1977 — Elvis Presley died in Memphis at the age of 42.
Thank you to http://www.ElvisPresley.com.au
Elvis Presley loved Hawaii.
From his first visit in November 1957 to his final vacation in March of 1977 he would visit the Islands of Hawaii on many occassions. Not only did he make three movies in Hawaii (Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise, Hawaiian Style) he also came to Hawaii for live performances, the one most well known being the show on January 14, 1973 telecasted world-wide as Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii.
Elvis fell in love with the beauty of the islands and the hospitality of the people of Hawaii. The Islands are a true paradise for people in search of sun, white sandy beaches, surfing and beautiful nature scenes. Hawaii would become Elvis’ favorite vacation destination and he would enjoy many vacations there.
Elvis’ first visit to Hawaii was 1957. On November 5, 1957, Elvis sailed for Honolulu Hawaii on the U.S.S. Matsonia arriving on November 9. While Elvis is still aboard the USS Matsonia, Elvis’ latest movie ‘Jailhouse Rock’ opened at theaters across the USA.
Elvis has a press conference aboard the USS Matsonia after its arrival in Honolulu’ harbor at 8.45 a.m. After the press conference Elvis and his party head to the Hawaiian Village Hotel where Elvis checks in for room 14a.
Later today the members of the band and the Jordanaires will arrive on Oahu by plane.
In the book; Elvis in Hawaii, former Hawaii resident and celebrity biographer Jerry Hopkins tells the story of the King of Rock and Roll’s twenty-year love affair with the Hawaiian Islands and its people.
Over 100 photos, many previously unpublished, document Elvis’s ties to Hawaii, the site of two of his most important concerts, the setting for three of his films and up to a few months before he died, a favorite vacation spot. A must for Elvis fans, this revealing portrait offers new perspectives on Elvis Presley’s life and career.
Elvis waves to his fans when the ship docks in Honolulu Harbor.
Elvis Presley and Colonel Parker, November 9, 1957 – Honolulu Hawaii
Hawaii concerts: November 10 and 11, 1957
10 November. Honolulu, HI. Honolulu Stadium (2 shows)
11 November. Schofield Barracks, HI. Post Bowl
These are Elvis’ last concerts of the 1950s.
Elvis Presley, November 9, 1957 – Honolulu Hawaii
On March 25, 1961 Elvis performed live at the Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The show was a fundraiser to build a memorial for the USS Arizona, the largest of the eight battleships that had been sunk on December 7, 1941, during the surprise Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor. Ticket prices for Elvis’ performance ranged from $3 to $10 a seat, with 100 ringside seats reserved for people who donated $100.
Pearl Harbor Benefit. March 25, 1961
Elvis and Colonel Parker bought 50 of these special seats and donated them to patients from Tripler Hospital in Hawaii. Elvis’ benefit raised more than $52,000 for the memorial fund. On March 30, the Hawaii House of Representatives passed Special Resolution 105 thanking Elvis and the Colonel.
The benefit for the Arizona memorial could be considered a good career move in that it helped Elvis become more acceptable to an adult audience, but his career was not the only reason Elvis agreed to do the concert. He had a sensitive, generous nature, and throughout his entire life, Elvis gave freely to charities and other worthy causes, whether he received publicity for it or not. Of the additional 100 tickets, 50 of these tickets were bought by Elvis and The Colonel for patients from Tripler Hospital.
Elvis Presley on holiday, Visits the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial 1965
Five years after this benefit, while in Hawaii filming Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Elvis visited the completed U.S.S Arizona memorial and placed a wreath there. Photographers and reporters rushed in to record the event, but Elvis sent them away. He did not want his visit to the memorial to become a publicity stunt.
During a holiday to Hawaii in May 1968, Elvis, Priscilla, Joe Esposito, Charlie Hodge visited the memorial.
Elvis Presley on holiday, Hawaii, May, 1968
Elvis Presley on Holiday, Hawaii : May and October 1969
On May 4, 1969 Elvis, Priscilla, Lisa Marie with the Espositos, Charlie hodge, the Gambills and the Fikes, flew to Hawaii by commercial airline, the Presleys were booked under the name, the Carpenters, Elvis often used this name, from his charator from his 1969 movie, Change Of Habit. The group returned to Los Angeles on the 18th.
On October 5, 1969, Elvis flies to Los Angeles, then continues on to Hawaii accompanied by Priscilla, Vernon and Dee, the Espositos, the Gambills, and the Schillings, in a trip paid for almost entirely by the International Hotel. On the 12th the group returns to Los Angeles with plans formulated in Hawaii to continue their vacation in Europe. The idea is almost immediately dropped when Colonel Parker argues that Elvis’ European fans would be insulted if he were to travel there as a tourist before performing in England or on the continent. So the plans are switched to the Bahamas were the Colonel has contacts and he says they will enjoy the gambling.
Aloha From Hawaii TV Special : January 14, 1973
Elvis made television and entertainment history with his ‘Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii – Via Satellite‘ concert special. The show was performed at the Honolulu International Center Arena on January 14, 1973 at 12:30 AM Hawaiian time. The concert was beamed live via Globecam Satellite to Australia, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, South Vietnam and other countries, and was seen on a delayed basis in approximately thirty European countries. The first American airing was April 4, 1973 on NBC-TV.
Elvis Presley Photos – Elvis Presleys last vactaion, Hawaii, March 1977
He was blessed with talents and had the courage to pursue something that he loved and knew he was meant to do and that was…sing.
Thankfully Sam Phillips, as Sun records, put Elvis on vinyl and Elvis built a career that lasted three decades.
Along the way he became the most successful; recording artist of all time, performer of all time, Las Vegas act of all time, entertainer appearing live in sold out concerts around the United States (including Canada and Hawaii), and actor as he was (and remains) the ONLY actor whose movies made money. I repeat Elvis Presley was the only actor in history whereby all of his movies were monetary successful. Needless to say, he was unique and his story of brutal poverty to eternal fame is one of inspiration.
To Elvis Presley fans worldwide thank you for continuing to pursue your passion about Elvis Aron Presley.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to seek out and support each of these individuals for their contributions about Elvis; Marty Lacker, Billy Smith, Alanna Nash, Sonny West, Red West, Jerry Schilling, Joe Esposito, and Sandi Pichon.
Thank you and may god bless you.