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Elvis Presley: from an Unknown Musician to The Best-selling Artist of All Time

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In the American entertainment industry, there are plenty of names that have recorded achievements and acclaim in the industry’s history, but none can quite match the cultural and historical significance of Elvis Presley, who is famously known as the King of Rock and Roll, and one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Although he is primarily known for his music and impact in the entertainment industry, Elvis’ career recorded impact outside of music, stretching into political and human right issues such as race relations in America. Despite the fact he has been dead for more than four decades, Elvis still retains the cultural relevance and popularity among American audience as he did when was alive. In this essay, we took a look at his journey from an unknown musician from Tennessee to becoming the best-selling solo artist of all time.

Elvis was born on the 8th of January 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon and Gladys Presley. Elvis was born a twin, but his brother died a stillborn. He grew up in a modest Christian family, attending an Assembly of God church with his parents. He credited the church as the place he fell in love with music. Elvis Presley and his parents relocated to Memphis, Tennessee when he was a teenager. He then attended L.C Humes High School, where his music teacher told him that he had no talent for singing. Before Elvis Presley became a musician full time and earned his place among the best-selling music artists of all time, he worked as an usher in Loew’s State Theater, and at other establishments like Precision Tool, and MARL Metal Products. After graduation, he worked as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company before a walk-in into Sun Records helped him get his start as a professional musician.

Long before he became one of the best-selling music artists in history, in Elvis Presley’s formative years, he was repeatedly told that he wasn’t a singer and wouldn’t make it as one. However, that all changed in 1954. After repeated auditions with Sun Records, failing to impress the management, the stars eventually aligned for the singer in June 1954 when he sang the demo song, Without You. Although he didn’t knock the audition out the park, Elvis did enough to impress the studio’s manager, Sam Phillips. Sam formed a team around Elvis with Winfield Moore and Bill Black, and they recorded their first song, That’s All Right. Three days after the song was recorded, it was played on the Red, Hot, and Blue show and it became an instant hit, with many people calling in to identify who the singer was. He followed up the single with another, Blue Moon of Kentucky, kicking off his professional career, and Elvis’ journey to becoming one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

The popularity of the tracks resulted in a string of stage performances by Elvis Presley, with his first performance with his team coming on the 17th of July 1954 at the Bon Air Club. Elvis had a nervous start for his stage performances, but the more he appeared on stage, the more he grew as a stage performer and increased in popularity. As he grew in reputation across the country, Elvis Presley achieved national stardom in 1956, when he was booked on the CBS Stage Show, showcasing his style and musical genius to the country. The move proved very successful for Elvis who appeared on the show six times over the course of six months. In the same year, he also released his debut album, solidifying his arrival on the national stage as a musician. During his days, singles were the primary forms of commercial music, and he recorded much of it; he also recorded a couple of albums. His first studio album, Elvis Presley, was released in 1956, selling over one million copies. It was the first rock and roll album to achieve the feat, spending ten weeks at the top of the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, and setting a trend that would eventually place him among the best-selling music artists of all time.

The King, as he was fondly called, has released a total of 23 studio albums, as well as nine live albums, 28 compilation albums, 18 soundtrack albums, 29 EPs and 24 box sets. There have also been over 100 posthumous compilations of his work. His discography, which is estimated to consist of between 665 and 711 songs, has earned him over 110 gold, 67 platinum, and 27 multi-platinum records. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, he has also over 1.5 billion records globally, with at least 600 million of his records sold in the United States to make Elvis Presley the best-selling solo music artist of all time.

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