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The Life Of Elvis Presley Essay

1873 words - 7 pages

Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in one of the two rooms of his parents shotgun shack in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis was the first born in a set of twins. However the younger, Jesse Garon, whose name was created to rhyme with his brother's, was still born. Vernon Elvis and Gladys Presley were typical Mississippians of their generation. Vernon was a truck driver for a dairy and a wholesale grocery. Gladys worked as a sewing machine operator at the Tupelo Garment Factory. The Presley family was the epitome of the word poor, living on, and off, welfare. Vernon even spent time in Parchman Prison for writing bad checks. At the age of ten, Elvis came in second place at the Mississippi- Alabama Fair and Dairy Show talent contest for his rendition of "Old Shep." The prize for the contest was a meager five dollars and free admission to the amusement rides, but ten- year- old Elvis may have obtained a much greater gift from the contest: inspiration. For his 11th birthday, Elvis wanted a bicycle. Instead, he received a small, very cheap guitar. His uncles taught him some chords, and before long, he was singing and accompanying himself in church. In his later youth, Elvis vowed to get rich and buy his Mother a Cadillac. He told her so out loud and even in front of company. Throughout his youth, Elvis was influenced by many musical genres. Elvis' generation was the first that had access to the radio, so he heard blues, country and western, pop, and black gospel. His favorite style of music, White Gospel, was learned firsthand in church. For the Presley's, music began in the church. Years later, Elvis boasted of knowing "practically every religious song that has ever been written." "When I was four or five," Elvis recalled "all I looked forward to was Sundays, when we could go to church. This was the only singing training I ever had." The Presley family attended the First Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church, first in Tupelo, and later in Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis obviously learned a great deal of his stagecraft from the flamboyant Pentecostal preachers of his youth, with their frequent use of theatrics and dancing. However, the gospel quartets made the greatest impression on Elvis. Later he would say that his musical inspiration was Jake Hess, the lead singer of the Statesmen Quartet. Although Jake Hess was his greatest inspiration, he certainly was not the only influence. Elvis and his family moved to Memphis when he was about 13. Around the age of 16, he began hanging out around the famed Beale Street. It was during this time that Elvis became interested in the Blues. The Blues was still in it's infancy, and Beale street was known to be it's birthplace. Other well-known influences were Roy Orbison, with whom Elvis was so impressed, that he died his own light brown hair black, Hank Williams, a country singer from Alabama, and Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, a song-writing...

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