You’re in the Army Now
March 24, 1958: Elvis Presley is inducted into the US Army. Elvis was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi and his identical twin brother was stillborn 35 minutes later. As an only child, Elvis formed a very close bond with both his parents. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948 and for almost a year they lived in rooming houses. While in eighth grade, Elvis received a C in music and his teacher told him he had no aptitude for singing. The next day, he brought his guitar to school and sang a popular song in order to change her mind. All she would agree to was that she didn’t like his kind of singing.
By 1950 he was practicing guitar with Jesse Lee Denson, his neighbor, and with three other boys they formed a music group and played frequently in the area. Elvis never had any formal music training and could not read music. However, he was able to listen to and copy the songs he heard played in jukeboxes. In August 1953 he brazenly walked into the offices of Sun Records to record a couple songs. He recorded again in January 1954 and none of these songs went anywhere. He ended up driving a truck instead. Again in the recording studio on July 5, things were going poorly when Elvis grabbed his guitar and played an older song, singing boisterously. This was the sound the studio was looking for.
First came more recording and then Elvis was invited to play on television. His hit, “Heartbreak Hotel” brought him fame and a chance to expand. His first TV appearance on the Milton Berle Show was on April 3, 1956 and he then made appearance with both Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan. His first appearance on Sullivan’s show was seen by about 60 million viewers or 82.6% market share. In his first year recording for RCA, then one of the largest music companies, Elvis’s recordings accounted for half of their singles sales. He was a star.
But when he was 21, he – like every other American male – was up for the draft. His manager worked for more than a year to get him into Special Services, but when the draft notice came, Elvis insisted on being just one of the guys and not getting any special treatment. Elvis assumed his career was already over anyway. During basic training, he was notified that his mother was ill. He was given a pass and made it home just two days before she died. After finishing training he was station with the 3rd Armored Division in Friendberg, Germany. It was there a sergeant introduced him to amphetamines. Elvis thought they not only energized him but also were great for strength and weight loss. His drug use would be a contributing factor in his death. All his army buddies insist that he wasn’t given special treatment but did do special things for his compatriots. He was discharged on March 2, 1960 and got back to his regularly scheduled stardom.
Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.
I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.
When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.
The image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way. – all from Elvis Presley
Also on this day: Alaska Mess – In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and began to spill oil.
Cruising – In 1898, the first American built automobile was purchased.
Metropolitan Life – In 1868, the insurance company was formed.
Beating a Killer – In 1882, Robert Koch announced the cause of TB.