Last Reviewed and Updated on June 12, 2022
Elvis Presley is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century. The story of his life, from humble beginnings to international superstardom, is a fascinating one. There are many very interesting facts about Elvis Presley you should know, each giving you a bit of insight into the king of rock ‘n’ roll.
1. Elvis had an identical twin brother who was sadly stillborn
Elvis would have had an older brother, an identical twin, Jesse Garon Presley. Jesse was born 35 minutes before Elvis was, but was sadly born stillborn.
2. He came from a poor family
He was born to Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Presley. His father wasn’t too ambitious and was moving from one job to another. To make ends meet, the family relied on the help of neighbors and government food assistance.
His father also landed in jail for altering a check, and the family lost their home. Elvis and his mother had to move in with their relatives.
3. He got his first guitar for his 11th birthday, but he was hoping for something else
You may think one of the greatest musicians of all time would have hoped for or asked to receive a guitar for his birthday. This wasn’t the case. His mother bought him a guitar for his 11th birthday, however, he was really hoping he would get a bicycle or a rifle, the things most other boys at that time had hoped for.
4. He was average in school and even considered a loner
When Elvis started attending school at East Tupelo Consolidated, his teacher described him as an average student on most accounts. He was recognized for his singing talents and was encouraged to enter a singing competition at a fair.
He entered a new school, Milam, for sixth grade. The kids there regarded him as a loner and teased him when he would play his guitar.
The start of high school was no different, he was still a bit of a social outcast. It was only after a talent show that the tides turned and he became popular.
5. He failed music in high school
This may be one of the most shocking facts about Elvis Presley, he failed a music class in high school.
He attended high school in Memphis, where his family moved in hopes of better opportunities.
Music class was the only class he ever failed.
6. He couldn’t read music
Elvis was taught to play the guitar by his uncles and the pastor at the family’s church. He never received any formal musical training and was unable to read music.
He studied and played music by ear.
7. He failed an audition and was told he couldn’t sing
Elvis knew he wanted a career in music. He recorded himself twice in the studio, in hopes he would be discovered, but nothing came of it at first (although he was recognized as good by the studio).
He auditioned for a local vocal quartet, the Songfellows, and he failed the audition. According to Elvis, he was turned down as they thought he couldn’t sing.
Ant this wasn’t the only time!
8. Elvis worked as a truck driver
He hoped for a music career but as things weren’t exactly going his way, he began working as a truck driver for the Crown Electric company.
9. He was born with blonde hair
If you look at the pictures of Elvis, one of the things that really pops out is his gorgeous black hair. However, his hair wasn’t naturally black. He was born with blonde hair, that darkened to medium brown in his adulthood, but was never black.
He started dying his hair black early on.
10. He first dyed his hair with black shoe polish
This is one of the coolest facts about Elvis Presley and his ingenuity. Since he wasn’t from a wealthy family and hair dye wasn’t exactly cheap, he first used black shoe polish to dye his hair.
Later in life, as he rose to fame and his financial situation was different, he would use professional hair dye.
11. “That’s alright” was his first song on the radio, played 14 times in a night
“That’s All Right Mama” was written and originally performed by singer Arthur Crudup. Elvis recorded his own version of this song and this was the first song that he performed and was played on the radio.
The song was unintentionally recorded, it was a song Elvis started to play during the break in the studio when he was recording other songs. The producer liked it and asked for the song to be recorded.
The song was played on the radio and the response was so overwhelming the DJ allegedly had to play it over and over again 14 times.
12. He didn’t write any of his songs
He did co-write a handful, but Elvis wasn’t really a songwriter.
13. He had a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge (as well as many other police badges)
Elvis was basically a DEA agent. He orchestrated a meeting with Nixon in 1970 and he explained how he could reach out to and help youth combat drugs. And to be efficient and have credibility, he would require the badge. Nixon agreed.
He loved collecting police badges and had many given to him, by his friends, some he got by offices deputizing him and some were sent by fans.
14. He starred in 31 feature films
He is most known for his music career, although his career as an actor was rich as well.
While the movies he played in weren’t exactly great, as the plots were shallow and predictable, his acting was regarded as really good.
15. Priscilla, his only wife, was 14 when they met
And he was 24. The age difference wasn’t an issue for Elvis. After 7 years of courtship, they married.
They met in Germany where Elvis, as well as Priscilla’s family, were stationed during their military service. When his service ended, they had a 2-year-long long-distance relationship, exchanging photos and love letters. After that Priscilla joined him in the US, where she stayed in his home Graceland.
It is claimed, that they waited until their wedding night to consummate their relationship.
16. Priscilla had to always wear makeup when Elvis was around
When it came to her looks, as well as some other aspects of life, Elvis was very controlling. He never wanted to see her without makeup and she always needed to have her hair done.
He also controlled the way she would dress.
17. He had a black belt in karate
This is one of the facts about Elvis Presley that might surprise you. Elvis became interested in karate when he was serving in the military. He started training when he returned to Memphis and he achieved his first black belt in 1960.