When it comes to music royalty, no one has more claim to the rock ‘n’ roll throne than Elvis Presley. With his new-age rockabilly style and provocative performances, Elvis brought rock into the mainstream and helped to blur color lines within the music world. Even now, years after his death, Elvis remains one of the greatest musical icons of all time.
But while “The King” is no longer topping charts and selling out stadiums, Elvis lives on today through his family as they navigate the highs and lows of superstardom. The Presley name certainly has its perks, but is the pressure that comes with being related to “The King of Rock & Roll” really worth it?
Born in Tulpeo, Mississippi, on January 8th, 1935, Elvis Presley knew he was destined for greatness as soon as he could walk. Despite his family’s poor financial situation, his mother Gladys bought him his first guitar for his 11th birthday.
Elvis was considered a loner for most of his teenage years. After wowing audiences with his performance in Hume’s Annual Minstrel show in 1953, however, Elvis’ career officially took off.
With a number of so-so records to his name, Elvis struck gold with his 1954 rendition of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right.” The single propelled the 19-year-old singer to international stardom.
Just two years later, the king took his talents to Hollywood and began his film career, debuting in 1956’s Love Me Tender. Despite his newfound superstar status, Elvis was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1958 and shipped off to Friedberg, Germany.
Army barracks were certainly a far cry from the bright lights and big stages back home, but it was during this time that Elvis was introduced to 14-year-old fan Priscilla Beaulieu.
Following a seven-year courtship, Elvis wed Priscilla in 1967 and moved her into his now-legendary Graceland ranch in Memphis. It was here that Priscilla gave birth to the couple’s only child, Lisa Marie, in 1968.
But the relationship didn’t last, and in 1973, the couple divorced. Just four years later, as a result of years of prescription drug abuse, Elvis Presley died of heart failure at the age of 42.
The Washington Times
Since Elvis’ death, his family has managed to maintain their place in the American spotlight. Priscilla, for instance, began a successful acting career in the 1980s, making over 140 appearances on the prime-time soap Dallas.
Priscilla retired from the screen in 1999, though by this time, she had also established herself a savvy businesswoman. Following Elvis’ death, Priscilla founded Elvis Presley Enterprises and transformed Graceland into the landmark attraction it is today.
As for Lisa Marie, this period of time in her life was marked by hardship and struggle. At 17, she found herself in one of the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Centres as she recovered from drug abuse. There, she met rock musician Danny Keough.
The couple wed in 1988, and a year later, Lisa Marie gave birth to their first child, Danielle Riley, who also became Elvis’ first grandchild. They welcomed their second child, Benjamin Storm, in 1992.
Lisa Marie’s marriage to Keough only lasted six years, and they divorced in 1994. Over the next decade, she’d go on to engage in a number of high-profile relationships, including marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage.
But Lisa Marie’s life wasn’t all turmoil; in 2003, she began a successful career in music with her debut album To Whom it May Concern. She went on to release two more albums in 2005 and 2012, with the latter, Storm & Grace, being her most well-received.
She also found love again during this time, marrying musician Michael Lockwood in 2006. Two years later, Lisa Marie gave birth to fraternal twin girls, Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love.
Moving down a branch on the family tree, Lisa Marie’s eldest daughter, Danielle Riley Keough – known simply as Riley Keough – has made a name for herself in the film industry without drawing upon her family’s legendary lineage.
“I always wanted to have my own money — not my family’s money,” Keough told Esquire magazine in 2016. “None of my drive was, ‘I need to get away from my family legacy.’ I wanted to save up the money to go to film school.”
Keough has appeared in a number of notable films, including Magic Mike and Mad Max: Fury Road. She also earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role in The Girlfriend Experience.
Riley’s brother, Benjamin, has more or less stayed out of the spotlight, but not without good reason — many believe the 26 year old is the spitting image of his legendary grandfather.
“[Benjamin] does [look so much like Elvis],” his mother opined during an interview. “He was at the Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage. Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo.”
But the similarities don’t stop there: Benjamin is also a musician! He’s supposedly already recorded a full-length album, though the music has yet to be released. Could Elvis’ grandson really be the second coming of “The King of Rock & Roll”?
Most recently, Lisa Marie found her way back to rehab after dealing with prescription drug addiction — the same kind that took her father’s life over four decades ago. Similar as they may have been, there was no one quite like the The King…
Though Elvis had close relationships with both of his parents, he was the ultimate mama’s boy. The two constantly spoke in baby talk, and he made his first record as a gift for her. The two of them also slept in the same bed until Elvis reached his teens.
Would you believe that Elvis was a natural blond? To match his rebel persona, he started dyeing his signature pompadour jet-black as a teenager. Since that look made him famous, he mostly stuck with it for the rest of his career.
The most notorious member of Presley’s entourage was Scatter, the singer’s pet chimp. Elvis liked to dress him up in various outfits — a chauffeur’s uniform and Hawaiian shirt were two favorites – and trained him to flirt with women at parties.
Always a man with a healthy diet, Elvis had a particular penchant for sandwiches. His combo of choice included peanut butter, banana, bacon, and honey slapped between two thick slices of bread. He needed to do a lot of hip-shaking to burn off that snack!
In 1970, Elvis set up a very bizarre meeting with President Richard Nixon, who accepted mainly for the positive press. During their conversation, Elvis shared his concerns about country and volunteered his services to fight drugs and anti-American conspiracies.
The King of Rock actually had a twin brother, Jesse, who sadly was stillborn. Elvis felt burdened by the loss his entire life and wished that his lost sibling had survived. They would have made quite the doubt act!
On a 1959 trip to Germany, Elvis fell head over heels in love with Priscilla Beaulieu. The unusual part was that while the rocker was 24, she was only 14 years old. Nevertheless, they started dating soon after and tied the knot in 1967. It was Elvis’ only marriage.
Presley’s wild, hip-gyrating dance moves earned him the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis.” Many people, however, felt that he was too suggestive for younger viewers. That’s why certain TV programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show, played it safe by only filming him from the waist up.
Elvis purchased his Graceland mansion when he was only 22. Though he initially bought it for his parents, he made it his own home and furnished it as the ultimate rock star pad. Now a tourist site, over 600,000 fans visit the homestead each year.
The King of Rock didn’t always have such a large number of subjects. As a child, teachers didn’t believe much in his musical ability, and his classmates sometimes ostracized him for his strange taste in “hillbilly” sounds.
Elvis’ famed manager was actually an illegal immigrant! “Colonel” Tom Parker, born in the Netherlands, ran away to America as a teen and later discovered the young singer in Memphis. He helped mold Elvis into a superstar and received up to half of Presley’s earnings.
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Elvis started off as a highly controversial artist, but he didn’t want to be divisive. After the U.S. Army drafted him in 1958, he cooperated and refused special treatment. This move earned him some much-needed respectability in the eyes of the American public.
Maybe because of his patriotism, Elvis never felt the need to perform a single concert outside of North America. He toured incessantly across the United States, plus a couple appearances in Canada.
Rhinestone jumpsuits were staple of his 1970s shows, and Elvis designed many of them himself. He wanted an outfit that looked one-of-a-kind and also provided ample mobility for him when performing. Some he wore for years, while others only made a single appearance.
Always looking to surprise his listeners, Elvis sometimes pulled a prank where he would dress up as a police officer and “pull over” some fans. Instead of giving them a ticket, he would hand them his autograph.
Elvis had many talents, but songwriting was not one of them. In fact, other musicians and composers wrote nearly his entire catalogue. “Hound Dog,” one of his signature tunes, came from blues singer Big Mama Thornton, who intended it as a takedown of an unfaithful man.
Elvis received his first guitar for his eleventh birthday. At the time, however, he expressed disappointment; he wanted a rifle or bicycle instead. The instrument only cost $6.95 at the time, but at a 2016 auction, it fetched over $340,000.
Elvis was incredibly generous with his wealth, to the extent that his father Vernon complained his son gave him too many Christmas gifts. He often presented friends with brand new Cadillacs, and even gave his maid six new cars over the 14 years she worked for him.
Elvis’ famed meeting with Richard Nixon isn’t his only connection to the White House. He was a distant cousin of both Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter. Elvis, of course, couldn’t have been President himself. He was too busy being The King.
For all his success, Elvis never fared well at the Grammy Awards. His dozens of albums only won him three Grammys — all in the less competitive Gospel category — plus a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.
Elvis saw himself as a true Christian, but admitted that he “didn’t want to miss out on heaven due to a technicality.” As a result, he often wore both cross and Star of David necklaces to appease as many higher powers as possible.
The King of Rock and Roll introduced a teenage King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to his daughter when she was six years old. The two became romantically involved two decades later. Jackson, of course, had quite the backstory himself…
Critics of Jackson harped on the oddity that was Neverland Ranch — the 2,700-acre private amusement park with its own zoo and railroads where Jackson invited young children. But psychologists saw the sad truth behind Jackson’s home…
Jackson revealed to Oprah that, as a kid, he suffered so much physical and mental abuse from his father that he threw up whenever he saw him. Neverland Ranch, then, was likely an effort to recapture a childhood he never got to enjoy.
Many fans and critics alike wondered how Jackson went from the black boy of the Jackson Five to the light-skinned complexion he had in his later years. Well, Jackson claimed he had a skin condition called vitiligo — which an autopsy confirmed.
Jackson electrified fans with flawless dance moves like those seen in the video for “Smooth Criminal.” In it, the pop star literally defied gravity by standing at a 45-degree angle. But fans didn’t realize he pulled it off with a trick…
With two partners, Jackson filed for a patent for “Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion.” The method used a pair of shoes with a slot in the heels and a retractable peg on the floor. Hook the slot on the peg, you could lean as far as you wanted.
Jackson famously threw his son a Spider-Man-themed birthday party, and, in the late ’90s, he tried buying Marvel Comics when it filed for bankruptcy. He planned to create a Spider-Man movie starring himself. Well…
As you probably guessed, based on the lack of MJ Spider-Man flicks, the plan didn’t work out, but that didn’t stop him from lobbying for the role of Professor X in 2000’s X-Men. That part was eventually given to Star Trek veteran Patrick Stewart.
In the mid-2000s, fresh off the assault allegations, Jackson mulled over two plans for a Las Vegas Revival. The first was a concert series with brilliant costumes and stage lights. The other?
Jackson met with casino mogul Steve Wynn to pitch an idea for a Michael Jackson themed hotel and casino. To promote these ideas, Jackson drew up a 50-foot robot version of himself that walked around the Nevada desert near the airport.
In 1984, two years after the release of “Thriller,” Jackson dealt with a major cosmetic change. See, Jackson signed on to do a Pepsi commercial. Producers wanted the commercial to feel like a live concert…
So commercial crews brought out pyrotechnic machines to spark dazzling explosions. During the sixth take, however, a machine went off too early. Jackson didn’t notice when the explosion ignited his hair — he kept dancing.
Crew members swarmed him and snuffed the flames, but not before Jackson suffered serious burns on his scalp. He was officially bald. The pop star had a hairline tattooed on his forehead and wore wigs for the rest of his life.
When Michael Jackson faced serious allegations of child abuse in the early 2000s, Jermaine and the Jackson family — knowing Michael wouldn’t fare well in prison — hatched a last-resort escape plan for the pop star.
Towards the end of the trial in 2005, unbeknownst to Michael himself, Jermaine arranged for a private plane to take Michael to Bahrain were the trial to go poorly. The Middle-Eastern country had no extradition treaty with the United States.
In the mid-1980s, tabloids printed bizarre stories about larger-than-life Jackson — like how he tried to buy the remains of “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick — earning him the nickname “Wacko Jackson.” The strangest part?
Some of the weird stories about Jackson were leaked to the press by the pop icon himself! Eventually, he began to despise the “Wacko Jackson” reputation, but hey — at first, it was kind of his own fault.
In the early ’80s, Jackson bought Bubbles, a baby chimpanzee, from a primate research facility in Texas. Like a newborn child, the ape followed Jackson closely for years, even joining the pop star at the dining table. Until…
As Bubbles amassed power and strength, Jackson feared he’d hurt his son. He eventually donated his primate friend to the Center for Great Apes in Florida, where the older chimp spent his time painting and hanging with another chimp named Sam.
He had a body image disorder: Speculation insists the operations proceeding the Pepsi incident kick-started Jackon’s interest in plastic surgery and painkiller addictions. Between ’84 and ’88 he had at two rhinoplasties and an inserted chin dimple.
Of course, Jackson returned time and time again for more plastic surgeries; he went under the knife so many times doctors speculated he had body dysmorphic disorder — an obsession with every single perceived physical imperfection.