"Elvis has no aptitude for singing." (Elvis' grade 8 music teacher)
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935, to an 18 year old father, Vernon, and a 22 year old mother, Gladys. His grandfather had constructed a two room "shotgun house" for the young family to live in. The following year, the modest house survived an F5 tornado which struck Tupelo. However, the family struggled financially, losing the home in 1938 after Vernon "kited a check" landing him in jail for 8 months.
At 13, Elvis' family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. It soon became apparent that young Elvis liked to sing and play the guitar. However, he was extremely shy and had stage fright. The teenager enjoyed a new type of music called "rockabilly", a combination of country and rhythm and blues. He also had a distinct singing voice, one that his Grade 8 teacher did not appreciate which translated into a C in music.
Memphis, Tennessee had a thriving blues scene, one that Elvis wanted to be a part of. He started growing sideburns and slicking back his "pouf" with rose oil and Vaseline. He signed up for a Minstrel Show, intent on conquering his stage fright, where he sang and strummed on the guitar "Till I Waltz Again with You". The audience gave him a warm reception.
IN August of 1953, Elvis, along with two band mates, recorded a two sided disc at Sun Records, but did not make much of a mark. However, the following year, recording executive Sam Phillips invited him back to the studio for another recording session. Elvis, accompanied by a guitarist and an upright bass player, sang song after song, a mix of country and gospel. However, nothing seemed to please Mr. Phillips. The band was about to pack up for the night when Elvis grabbed a guitar and belted out a blues number called "That's All Right". That was the sound Sam was looking for!
Promotional shot for Sun Records courtesy upload.wikimedia.org.
Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right " on his Red, Hot & Blue Radio Show and received many phone calls from listeners wanting to know who the new singer was. The response was so enthusiastic that the DJ played the recording repeatedly during the last two hours of the show. Elvis and his band mates ended up recording "Blue Moon of Kentucky on the B-side of the disc, and voila, they had their first single.
Elvis went on to have a hugely successful career as a musician, selling 600 million units worldwide, and making him the best selling solo artist in the history of recorded music.
Besides music, another love of Elvis' was food. In the backwoods of Mississippi he liked to hunt squirrel and possum which his mother would fry for supper. As a teenager in Memphis, he enjoyed Southern comfort food like sweet potato pudding, ham bone dumplings, blackberry pie, buttermilk skillet cornbread and a fried peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich (later called the "Elvis Sandwich"). Here is a recipe for his Sunday Meatloaf, also a favourite of "The King of Rock & Roll".
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic buds
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 slices bread
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 can tomato juice
Combine first eight ingredients. Beat eggs and mix into meat. Cook meat loaf in tomato juice. Cover and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes.