January, 1954

Elvis makes another demo acetate at Sun. This time the songs are "Casual Love Affair" and "I'll Never Stand in Your Way".
Sam Phillips, the owner, is in this time and, like Marion Keisker, is intrigued by this unusual looking and sounding young man.
(There has recently been scholarly argument about which songs were recorded this time around. The two songs listed here are those most typically identified as the ones he recorded.)

Summer 1954
At Marion Keisker's suggestion, Sam Phillips calls Elvis into the studio to try singing a song Sam hopes to put out on record.
The song is "Without You" and Elvis does not sing it to Sam's satisfaction. Sam asks Elvis what he could sing, and Elvis runs through a number of popular tunes. Sam is impressed enough to team Elvis up with local musicians Scotty Moore (guitar) and Bill Black (bass) to see if they, together, could come up with something worthwhile. Nothing really clicks until July 5, when after a tedious session, Elvis and the guys break into a sped-up version of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right". This song, backed with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" would be the first of five singles Elvis would release on the Sun label. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill start performing together, with Scotty acting as the group's manager. Elvis continues to work at Crown Electric as the group starts to play small clubs and other smalltime gigs locally and throughout the South, enjoying moderate success with the records and personal appearances. Elvis's one appearance on the Grand Ole Opry doesn't go over particularly well, with one of the Opry officials suggesting that Elvis go back to driving a truck. The Opry is very important at this time. This is a painful disappointment in Elvis's early career.
for country star, Hank Snow. A previous client was country star Eddy Arnold.

October 16, 1954
They appear for the first time on the "Louisiana Hayride", a live Saturday night country music radio show originating in Shreveport, Louisiana, broadcast over KWKH Radio. The show is the Grand Ole Opry's chief competitor, carried by 190 stations in thirteen states. This leads to regular appearances on the "Hayride" and, in November, Elvis signs a one-year contract for fifty-two Saturday night appearances. This is a great break, but as Elvis's popularity grows, his commitment to the "Hayride" prevents him from traveling much outside the South to further his career on a larger scale. During Elvis's association with the "Hayride" he meets "Colonel" Tom Parker, a promoter and manager connected with various acts, and connected with the "Louisiana Hayride". Parker is also the manager for country star, Hank Snow. A previous client was country star Eddy Arnold.

October 16, 1954
They appear for the first time on the "Louisiana Hayride", a live Saturday night country music radio show originating in Shreveport, Louisiana, broadcast over KWKH Radio. The show is the Grand Ole Opry's chief competitor, carried by 190 stations in thirteen states. This leads to regular appearances on the "Hayride" and, in November, Elvis signs a one-year contract for fifty-two Saturday night appearances. This is a great break, but as Elvis's popularity grows, his commitment to the "Hayride" prevents him from traveling much outside the South to further his career on a larger scale. During Elvis's association with the "Hayride" he meets "Colonel" Tom Parker, a promoter and manager connected with various acts, and connected with the "Louisiana Hayride". Parker is also the manager

Late 1954 - 1955
Elvis, Scotty, and Bill continue to record and to travel.


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January 1955
Elvis signs a contract with Bob Neal, who becomes his manager.

January 10, 1956
Two days after his twenty-first birthday, Elvis has his first recording session for RCA, held at their studio in Nashville. Among the songs laid to tape during this session is "Heartbreak Hotel".
The Jordanaires, a gospel quartet and popular country back-up group, begin working with Elvis in the studio during the first few RCA sessions and would soon begin touring with him. They would also appear with him in several films. They would be his main back-up group until the late sixties.
January 27, 1956
"Heartbreak Hotel" b/w "I Was the One" is released by RCA and sells over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks on the market. It would go to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks and would also hit number one on the country chart and number five on the R&B chart. It would become the first Elvis single to sell over one million copies, thus
becoming Elvis's very first gold record.
January 28, 1956
Elvis appears with Scotty, Bill, and D.J. on the Jackie Gleason-produced "Stage Show", starring Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on CBS. This is Elvis's first network television appearance. He appears on six weekly "Stage Shows" in a row and makes minor waves nationally. The last of these six "Stage Show" appearances is March 24. Traveling and personal appearances continue during this time, including the "Louisiana Hayride" appearances for which he is still under contract. Fame and "infamy" build.
February, 1956
As "Heartbreak Hotel" makes its climb up the charts, "Mystery Train" b/w "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", Elvis's fifth and last single to be released on the Sun label, hits number one on Billboard's national country singles chart. His first number one hit on a national chart.
March 13, 1956
RCA releases "Elvis Presley", Elvis's first album. (He had not released an album on Sun.) The album would go to number on on Billboard's pop album chart for ten weeks. It would become the first Elvis album to reach over $1 million in sales, thus becoming Elvis's first gold album.
April 1, 1956
Elvis has a screen test for Paramount Studios in Hollywood. He lip syncs "Blue Suede Shoes" and he performs a scene from the as yet unmade film, "The Rainmaker", a film he did not end up being in.
April 3, 1956
Elvis appears on "The Milton Berle Show" on ABC, which, for this particular broadcast, originates from the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Hancock.
April 6, 1956
Elvis signs a seven-year movie contract with Hal Wallis and Paramount Pictures.
April 23 - May 9, 1956
Compared to the usual hysteria, Elvis has lukewarm acceptance for his two-week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel in Las
Vegas. He is not exactly what the adult audience of Vegas gamblers relates to very well. During these two weeks, the single
"Heartbreak Hotel" and the album "Elvis Presley" both hit number one on the Billboard pop charts.
Through all of this, the travel and personal appearances around the country and new record releases continue. The crowds get
bigger and bigger, wilder and wilder. Elvis's fame grows dramatically Some shows have to end early due to fans' storming the stage. Elvis creates pandemonium wherever he goes.
June 5, 1956
Elvis appears again on "The Milton Berle Show", this time in the studio where the show usually originates, this time backed by the Jordanaires in addition to Scotty, Bill and D.J. Among his selections is a playfully sensuous, bump and grind performance of "Hound Dog" that drives the kids in the audience wild, and, the next day, has the press and some of the adult viewers appalled.
It is one of his most controversial performances. This merely serves to fuel his seemingly unstoppable popularity even more.
Traveling and personal appearances and new record releases continue. By this time Elvis, with his sexy moves and black-influenced sound, is being condemned by certain factions of the " morally concerned" establishment and the religious community. But, the kids love it.
July 1, 1956
Elvis appears on "The Steve Allen Show" on NBC. Among his performances that night is a much toned down version of "Hound Dog". Allen has Elvis dressed in white tie and black tux with tails and has him sing the song to a live Basset hound, a tongue-in-cheek response to all controversy created by the Berle appearance the month before. Elvis good-naturedly goes
along with it, but is not too happy about it.
Record releases, touring, and recording continue. The condemnation and controversy continue along with the ever-growing
popularity. Ed Sullivan, who had said that he would never have the likes of Elvis Presley on his show, changes his tune when he sees the big ratings that Elvis attracts to the Berle and Allen shows. A three-appearance deal is worked out for $50,000 and is the highest amount ever paid to a performer, up to that time, for appearing on a variety show.
August 1956
Elvis begins shooting his first movie, "Love Me Tender" on loan-out from Paramount to Twentieth Century Fox. It is originally titled "The Reno Brothers", but is re-titled before its release to capitalize on Elvis's sure-to-be-a-hit single from the soundtrack.
September 9, 1956
Elvis makes the first of three appearances on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town Show", the top television program of the era.
Elvis attracts the highest ratings ever for any television variety show.
September 26, 1956
"Elvis Presley Day" is proclaimed in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis's parents join him as he returns to the town of his birth as a big star. He performs two shows that day at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, the same fair at which he had performed at age 10. This time there are a hundred National Guardsmen surrounding the stage to control the crowds of excited fans.By this time, souvenir merchandising using Elvis's name, image, and likeness has become a big part of the Elvis phenomenon.
Licensees would soon be producing as many as thirty different products including hats, t-shirts, jeans, kerchiefs, sneakers, shirts, blouses, belts, purses, billfolds, wallets, charm bracelets, necklaces, magazines, gloves, bookends, a statue, lipstick, cologne, stuffed hound dogs, stationery, sweaters, crockery, and more. Elvis and the Colonel blazed new trails in the area of celebrity merchandising. This would forever be part of the marketing of Elvis Presley, feeding a never-ending demand.
October 28, 1956
Elvis makes his second of three appearances on the Sullivan show.
November 16, 1956
Elvis's first movie, "Love Me Tender" premieres at the Paramount Theater in New York City, opening nationwide in the days following. It becomes a smash hit, and the critics' reviews aren't bad for his acting in this melodrama, which is set in 1800's Civil War era southern America. The film has Elvis performing several songs, of course.

December 31, 1956
The front page of the Wall Street Journal reports that in the past few months Elvis merchandise has grossed $22 million in sales.
Elvis ends the pivotal year of his career, when regional popularity gave way to unprecedented national and international fame.
The year of 1956 had seen the beginning of Elvis souvenir merchandising, the beginning of a successful movie career, history-making record sales (five number one singles on the pop chart, two number one albums on the pop chart, and other hits), history-making television appearances, record-breaking personal appearances and more.
Elvis had become the primary symbol of the new youth culture in America. He had also become one of society's most controversial figures. His unique blending of white country and gospel music, black R&B and gospel music, white pop music, and his particular brand of charisma and talent, and the resulting success and controversy, had him helping greatly to begin, without premeditation, a cycle of change in music and pop culture and the mores of American society. Nothing would ever be the same for Elvis Presley or the world!


January 6, 1957
Elvis makes his third and final appearance on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town Show". It was for this appearance that Elvis is seen only from the waist up. It's funny that after all of his television appearances the previous year, such censorship comes at this time. It is particularly amusing that this guideline remains in place during Elvis's performance of the gospel standard, "Peace in the Valley", one of five songs he performs on this Sullivan appearance. Ed Sullivan himself helps diffuse some of the
controversy surrounding Elvis when he comes out on stage to thank Elvis and tells the studio audience and millions of American television viewers that "this is a decent, fine boy" and what a delight he had been to work with when appearing on the show. Ed Sullivan is the most influential person on television audiences and one of the most powerful people in the television industry at the time.
Personal appearances, recording sessions, record releases, controversy, and publicity continue.
January, 1957
Elvis begins production of his second movie, "Loving You".
February 3, 1957
The New York Times runs a story entitled "Presley Records a Craze in Soviet Union". Elvis records are not legally available in the Soviet Union. The article tells of bootleg recordings being cut on discarded x-ray plates and being sold in Leningrad on the black market for fifty rubles (about twelve and a half dollars) each, a lot of money back then.
March 1957
Elvis buys Graceland Mansion for himself, his parents, and his paternal grandmother to live in. It will be ready for them to move into in early April.
April , 1957
While touring with his show, Elvis performs outside the United States for the first time when he appears in Canada: two shows in Toronto on April 2 and two shows in Ottawa on April 3.
May, 1957
Elvis begins work on his third motion picture, "Jailhouse Rock" for MGM.
July 9, 1957
Elvis's second motion picture, "Loving You" premieres and quickly reaches the top ten at the box office. Hit records include the title song and the classic smash "Teddy Bear".
Traveling, touring, record releases, and personal appearances continue.
August 31, 1957
Elvis performs in Vancouver. This is the third Canadian city he has performed in, and marks the last time he would perform in concert outside the United States.
September 27, 1957
Elvis returns once more to the town of his birth to perform. This time it is a benefit for the proposed Elvis Presley Youth Recreation Center in Tupelo, Mississippi. The grounds include Elvis' birthplace home. He would donate regularly to the center for the rest of his life. (The center is still used by the general community today. The birthplace home is open for tours, and there is a small museum and a memorial chapel.)
October 17, 1957
"Jailhouse Rock", Elvis's third motion picture premieres in Memphis, opening nationally in November and quickly going to the top five at the box office. The title song is a smash hit. This film would, years later, be considered Elvis's best, rivaled only by "King Creole", which followed in 1958. "Jailhouse Rock" would come to be considered the ultimate classic of all "rock opera" movies, and the "Jailhouse Rock" production number in the film would later be recognized as the grandfather of pop/rock music videos, a music format that would become widely popular by the 1980's.

November 10, 11 1957
Elvis performs shows in Hawaii for the first time.
December, 1957
Elvis and family enjoy their first Christmas at Graceland and Elvis officially receives his draft notice, a day he had known would be coming soon.

Late January- Early March, 1958
Elvis films and records for his fourth motion picture, "King Creole".
March 15, 1958
Elvis performs two shows in Memphis. These will be his last stage performances until after his army release in 1960.
March 24, 1958
Elvis Presley is inducted into the U.S. Army at the Memphis Draft Board and is assigned serial number 53310761.
March 25, 1958
Elvis gets his famous G.I. haircut at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
March 29, 1958
Private Presley arrives at Fort Hood, Texas for basic training and is stationed there for six months. His parents soon move to a temporary home near the base.

June 10, 1958
After basic training, while on his first leave, Elvis has a recording session, his last until 1960.
July, 1958
"King Creole", Elvis's fourth motion picture opens nationally and the reviews are the best he would ever have for his acting. Its
impressive list of co-stars and supporting cast includes Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dean Jagger and Vic Morrow. It becomes a top five film at the box office. This Michael ("Casablanca") Curtiz-directed movie, set in New Orleans and based upon the Harold Robbins novel, A Stone for Danny Fisher, will come to be regarded as Elvis's finest film, his greatest acting performance, and proof positive that he had the talent to have developed as a respected serious actor, though the realization of this desire would remain forever out of his grasp.
August, 1958
Gladys Presley becomes ill and returns to Memphis to be hospitalized with acute hepatitis. Elvis is granted emergency leave and arrives in Memphis on the afternoon of August 12th. He visits her that night, and the next day and night. A few hours after Elvis goes home to Graceland to rest, she dies in the early hours of August 14 at age 46. Her body lies in state at Graceland that afternoon. Services are at the Memphis Funeral Home on the 15th, with the Blackwood Brothers singing "Precious Memories"
and "Rock of Ages", two of Gladys Presley's favorite hymns. She is laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery, a few miles down the road from Graceland. Elvis suffers the most verwhelming grief and despair of his life. He would never be the same after this.
August 25, 1958
Elvis reports back to Fort Hood.
September/October 1958
September 19, Elvis boards a troop train to New York, later boards the USS Randall, sails to West Germany, arriving on October 1. He will be stationed in Friedberg for 18 months, maintaining an off-base residence in Bad Nauheim, shared with his father and grandmother, and some friends from Memphis. He finds the fans in Europe to be as enthusiastic as those in America.


January 8, 1959
Elvis is interviewed via transatlantic telephone by Dick Clark on his "American Bandstand" show on ABC-TV. The show (which Elvis never appeared on)commemorates the star's twenty-fourth birthday.
June, 1959
On a two-week leave, Elvis visits Munich, then goes clubbing in Paris, which includes a visit to the Lido.
Colonel Parker has continued to keep Elvis's career alive with promotions and hit record releases.
November 1959
Captain Joseph Beaulieu is transferred from Texas to Weisbaden Air Force Base near Friedberg, accompanied by his wife and
children, including his fourteen-and-a-half- year-old stepdaughter, Priscilla Ann. (Priscilla is the only child from Ann Beaulieu's marriage to her first husband, James Wagner, a Navy pilot who was killed in a plane crash when Priscilla was an infant.)
Through a mutual friend, Priscilla is invited to a party at Elvis's home soon after her arrival in West Germany. They meet, and the rest is history.


January 20, 1960
Elvis is promoted to Sergeant.
March 1960
Elvis leaves West Germany on March 1, arriving in New Jersey the next day for a press conference, and is officially discharged from active duty on March 5, 1960. He boards a train for Memphis, arriving on March 7. Press and crowds of fans are everywhere for this historic series of events. He holds a press conference at Graceland in his father's office behind the mansion on March 8.
He had served his country just like any other GI, with no special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him. These two years away from his career have been a time to mature. He has also worried constantly that his lengthy absence might have damaged his career progress. He needn't have worried. He has yet to see his greatest stardom.
Late March, 1960
Elvis has his first post-army recording session. On March 21 he receives his first degree black belt in karate, an interest he developed while in the army. On March 26 he tapes a special "Welcome Home, Elvis" version of Frank Sinatra's ABC-TV variety show, for which he is paid a record sum for a single variety show appearance.
Late April, 1960
Elvis begins filming and recording for his first post-army movie, his fifth film, "GI Blues" for Paramount, the the first of nine to be produced (not consecutively) by Hal Wallis. "GI Blues" co-stars dancer/actress Juliet Prowse.
May 8, 1960
ABC airs Frank Sinatra's "Welcome Home, Elvis" edition of his variety show, which attracts a 41.5% share of the national television audience. Elvis is sets a new television record by being paid $125,000 for his brief appearances in the show.
July 3, 1960
Vernon Presley marries divorcee and mother of three sons, Davada "Dee" Stanley, an American whom he had met in West Germany, where she had been stationed with her husband. They live at Graceland briefly, then move to a home nearby.
August/September 1960
Elvis records and films for his sixth movie, "Flaming Star", a drama with limited music. Elvis plays a half-breed Native American, caught between two cultures. His positive portrayal of Native Americans earns him special recognition. The film co-stars Barbara Eden.
October, 1960
The soundtrack album for "GI Blues" enters the Billboard album chart and soon goes to number one. It remains number one for ten weeks and stays on the chart for 111 weeks. It would be the most successful album of Elvis's entire career on the Billboard charts. (In terms of total record sales, we do not know which album was the most successful.)
Note: Elvis has three number one singles, one number two album, one number one album, and other hits in 1960, his first year out of the army.
November 1960
Elvis begins recording and filming for his seventh film, "Wild in the Country", which will be completed in January. "GI Blues" opens nationally to warm reviews and big box office sales and is among the fifteen top-grossing films of the year. It is a light comedy melodrama with lots of singing by Elvis, who seen in uniform for most of the movie.
Late December, 1960
"Flaming Star" opens nationally to warm reviews, but this dramatic film with little singing does not set the box office on fire so much as "GI Blues".

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