Elvis Aaron Presley
(January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer and actor.
Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th
century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and Roll", or
simply, "the King".
Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and when he was 13 years old, he
and his family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. His music career began
there in 1954, when he recorded a song with producer Sam Phillips at Sun
Records. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black,
Presley was an early popularizer of rockabilly, an uptempo,
backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. RCA Victor
acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who
managed the singer for more than two decades. Presley's first RCA
single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in January 1956 and became a
number-one hit in the United States. He was regarded as the leading
figure of rock and roll after a series of successful network television
appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of
songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a
singularly potent mix of influences across color lines that coincided
with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, made him enormously
In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. In 1958, he
was drafted into military service: He resumed his recording career two
years later, producing some of his most commercially successful work
before devoting much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and their
accompanying soundtrack albums, most of which were critically derided.
In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he
returned to the stage in the acclaimed televised comeback special Elvis,
which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of
highly profitable tours. In 1973, Presley was featured in the first
globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii. Several
years of prescription drug abuse severely damaged his health, and he
died in 1977 at the age of 42.
Presley is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the
20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop,
blues and gospel, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of
recorded music, with estimated record sales of around 600 million units
worldwide. He won three Grammys, also receiving the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music
halls of fame. Forbes named Elvis Presley as the 2nd top earning dead
celebrity with $55 million as of 2011.
A vast number of recordings have been issued under Presley's name. The
total number of his original master recordings has been variously
calculated as 665 and 711. His career began and he was most successful
during an era when singles were the primary commercial medium for pop
music. In the case of his albums, the distinction between "official"
studio records and other forms is often blurred. For most of the 1960s,
his recording career focused on soundtrack albums. In the 1970s, his
most heavily promoted and best-selling LP releases tended to be concert
albums. This summary discography lists only the albums and singles that
reached the top of one or more of the following charts: the main U.S.
Billboard pop chart; the Billboard country chart, the genre chart with
which he was most identified (there was no country album chart before
1964); and the official British pop chart.
The year given, in the table below, is the year the record first reached
number one, rather than its original year of release. For instance:
Elvis' 40 Greatest, released in 1974, a compilation on the budget Arcade
label, was the fourth highest selling album of the year in the United
Kingdom; at the time, the main British chart did not rank such
compilations, relegating them to a chart for midpriced and TV-advertised
albums, which Elvis' 40 Greatest topped for 15 weeks. The policy was
altered in 1975, allowing the album to hit number one on the main chart
in 1977, following Presley's death.
Before late 1958, rather than unified pop and country singles charts,
Billboard had as many as four charts for each, separately ranking
records according to sales, jukebox play, jockey spins (i.e., airplay),
and, in the case of pop, a general "Top 100". Billboard now regards the
sales charts as definitive for the period. Widely cited chart
statistician Joel Whitburn accords historical releases the highest
ranking they achieved among the separate charts. Presley discographer
Ernst Jorgensen refers only to the Top 100 chart for pop hits. All of
the 1956–58 songs listed here as number one US pop hits reached the top
of both the sales and with three exceptions, the Top 100 charts: "I Want
You, I Need You, I Love You" (three), "Hound Dog" (two, behind its flip
side, "Don't Be Cruel"), and "Hard Headed Woman" (two).
Several Presley singles reached number one in the United Kingdom as
double A-sides; in the United States, the respective sides of those
singles were ranked separately by Billboard. In the United States,
Presley also had five or six number one R&B singles and seven number
one adult contemporary singles; in 1964, his "Blue Christmas" topped
the Christmas singles chart during a period when Billboard did not rank
holiday singles in its primary pop chart. He also had number-one hits in
many countries beside the United States and United Kingdom.