Much of Elvis’ life, and the stories written about him, is flooded with the basics such as; he grew up poor, his family was on assistance, he walked into Sun Records under the guise of making a record for his mother, he made “That’s All Right (Little) Mama” which catapulted his voice/name into the music industry, and he was a great performer and sold millions of records. Yes these things are true but there is far more to Elvis “under the surface” than is widely known so I’ll use this blog to share some of my insights/facts.
Music was the only class, during Elvis’ school years (i.e. from first grade to high school graduate), that he failed. He actually received an “F” which he spoke about in latter interviews but his (beloved) mother was livid about (note: even though Gladys could not read or write she knew an “F” was the worst grade) this grade which bothered Elvis greatly as he loved his mother and never wanted to disappoint her.
One of Elvis’ teachers told Elvis about a singing contest to be held at the Alabama Mississippi Fair and between her confidence in him, and his cousin accompanying him, he sang “Old Shep” and came in 6th place. There are several photographs of Elvis, with blonde hair and oval glasses, on stage with the other contestants including the winner. Elvis stated on numerous occasions (jokingly) said “boy singing and losing that day was rough until I was given $ 5.00 and able to ride all the rides all day and that went I got home Momma whipped me as she was worried to death not knowing where I was. I though to myself boy, your singing career just went down in flames”.
Elvis often sang the song “Old Shep”, about a boy and a dog that has to be put down, and on several interviews related the personal story he associated with that song and that was the genesis of why he felt so emotionally about the song. Why didn’t I divulge the details of this interview/story you ask? Well, come on man I can’t share everything in one post.
Elvis had a photograph memory as well as “perfect pitch”. Both of these traits would serve him well throughout his career.
Elvis had some “body issues” meaning there were things about his looks, can you imagine him having anything to complain about, that he did not like (note: Elvis shared these insecurities with those close to him and the degree of insecurity fluctuated throughout his life). An example would be his neck, the pores on his face, and his weight.
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