Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jeana from Adrian, MI. Jeana Wonders, “Who was Elvis Presley?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jeana!

Most people know him as The King. Others call him the Memphis Flash. You’d probably recognize him by his sideburns and lip curl. Yes, today’s Wonder of the Day is one of the most famous people in history. Who are we talking about? Elvis Presley, of course!

Elvis was one of the most successful musicians of all time. But before his rise to fame, Elvis Presley lived a normal life. He was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. When Elvis was a teenager, the Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. That’s where Elvis would later start his music career.

Shortly after graduating from high school in 1953, Elvis began recording music. He worked with the record label Sun Records. He released his first single in 1954. The next year, he signed with a different label, RCA Records. He released his first number-one single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” in 1956.

What kind of music did Elvis make? He combined many genres, including blues, gospel, country, and rock and roll. Elvis sometimes referred to his own music as “rockabilly.” Some of his most popular songs were “Love Me Tender,” “All Shook Up,” and “Hound Dog.”

How big did Elvis become? Huge! In the mid-1950s, Americans saw Elvis Presley everywhere they looked. His music played through the radio. His movies hit the big screen. He even ended up on TV, as a guest on shows like the Ed Sullivan Show. 

In 1957, Elvis was drafted into military service. He joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany between 1958 and 1960. There, he met Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he would marry in 1967. 

When Elvis returned from military service, he picked up right where he left off. He starred in a total of 33 movies, the most popular of which was “Blue Hawaii.” He recorded more albums as well. Elvis went on to receive 14 Grammy nominations, three of which he won.

As his success continued to grow, Elvis developed some troubling lifestyle habits. He began abusing drugs and eating a greasy, unhealthy diet. His personal relationships also suffered. He and his wife, Priscilla, divorced in 1973.

On August 16, 1977, Elvis passed away in his home, called Graceland. Doctors determined he’d had a heart attack, likely brought on by his diet and drug use. He was only 42.

Today, Elvis lives on through his legacy. He’s been called the greatest cultural force of the 20th Century. His music influenced countless entertainers, including Michael Jackson, Prince, and the Beatles. His daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, has also followed in her father’s footsteps to become an entertainer.

Have you ever listened to Elvis Presley’s music? Do you think he influenced any of your favorite musicians? Elvis made quite an impact during his short life. Maybe he even helped shape your own musical taste!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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Why did the little boy throw butter out the window? Find out tomorrow in Wonderopolis!