Alternate History Elvis Presley Biography & Related History & Biographies

This entry is in the series "Popular music"
Introduction

This alternate/revised history thread is all about Elvis and people associated with him.

Elvis Presley Quick Facts

Born: January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi
Full Name: Elvis Aaron Presley
Country: United States
Origin: Memphis, Tennessee
Years Active: 1949-present
Principal Genre: Rock
Additional Genres: Rock and roll, rockabilly, pop, country
Height: 6 ft. (note at the end of this post for further information)
Short description: American musician

Biography

Elvis Presley is an American singer, songwriter, and performer. He has achieved iconic status internationally since 1956 as the “King of Rock and Roll”, or the “King of Rock” for short. Elvis is widely considered responsible for the birth of modern rock music, which is generally set in 1958. While mostly a musician of rock music and rock and roll, he has crossed the line into other genres sometimes. He divorced his first wife in 1960, and has been happily married to his second and current wife Priscilla since 1967. Elvis Presley received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Vernon Elvis Presley (1916-1991), and Gladys Love Smith Presley (1912-1986). He had a twin brother named Jesse Garon Presley, who died the day he was born. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee when Presley was a child, where he spent the rest of his growing up years. He began his professional musical career singing in local venues in September 1949. Presley spent nearly four years in these venues, singing a lot of contemporary country music, as well as increasingly more blues ballads, especially after he began recording singles. In December 1950, Presley’s talent was noticed by Memphis record producer Jim Butler. Butler then mailed Presley, inviting him to come to the local record company Butler was working with and record a single. The teenager and his parents accepted the invitation, saying they would come shortly after the new year arrived.

Elvis recorded his first single on his 16th birthday, January 8, 1951. The single was released February 2 of that year, and sold moderately well in Memphis and surrounding towns. Presley cut several singles that followed the first, being made on an intermittent basis. They were recorded, released, and sold with moderate success as well. Presley did not sign a recording contract until 1953, when he signed on to Sun Records under Sam Philips (1923-2003). It was with the singles Presley recorded at Sun that he enjoyed his first taste of fame. By 1955, he had become famous enough so that his contract was bought by RCA Victor that year. Presley’s first single at RCA Victor, “Heartbreak Hotel” (recorded on January 11, 1956 and released on February 3 of that year) became the first of his many US #1 hits in the middle of March 1956. During the rest of the 1950s, he became more and more famous for helping in large part to popularize rock and roll music. His musical contemporaries around this time included other rock and roll legends such as Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. However, Presley’s biggest and most potential rival working in a contemporary variety of the lighter traditional pop genre was Engelbert Humperdinck, the singer born in India as Arnold Dorsey, who rose to superstardom in the summer of 1957.

Humperdinck, taking his name from a well-known German composer, and a resident of Los Angeles, California since 1955, gained superstardom comparable to Presley in 1957. His traditional pop style characteristic of the songs he recorded during 1957 to 1965 is very similar to that of Johnny Mathis and many songs by Paul Anka. Due to Humperdinck’s popularity, which was in turn due to his handsomeness and his smooth, powerful vocal, Presley had to remain active in the music industry. He had to continue to record and release new singles and albums without a hiatus in order to prevent Humperdinck, also a close friend of Presley’s, to surpass him in popularity (note at end for elaboration). Thus, Presley took no break too long from his musical career from his first RCA Victor single in January 1956 until November 5, 1980 (the day after the 1980 US Presidential and Congressional Elections), when he started spending some more time with family and friends. By the time hit records for Elvis and Engelbert became more or less intermittent, things had turned out very well, more for Elvis than for Engelbert, although both artists have been extremely successful.

Starting in 1958, Elvis’s albums and singles were of a more hard-edged rock and roll genre, and it was those in the middle of that year that are widely regarded as marking the birth of modern rock music as we know it today. After rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper were tragically killed in a plane crash in 1959, Elvis responded by recording even more rebellious albums and singles with even harder-edged rock music. Elvis Presley albums and singles recorded from 1958 on became very influential among later rock bands in the United States, such as the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys, and those in England, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

From 1958 to 1964, the new genre of rock music was rivaled by the earlier rock and roll genre. After the Beatles exploded onto the American music scene in 1964 (heralding the British Invasion), early rock and roll quickly faded away, eventually becoming obsolete, and rock music reigned supreme.

As a side note, Elvis met his future second wife, Priscilla Beaulieu, in September 1959 in Germany, while he was on a European concert tour with Engelbert Humperdinck. Priscilla, the daughter of a US Army officer stationed in Germany, saw Engelbert and Elvis, already household names in the US, live in concert. She was fond of Engelbert by his handsomeness and fine vocal, but she was blown away by Elvis as he took his turn in the concert. While Priscilla obtained autographs of both Elvis and Engelbert, she was an active participant in Elvis fan clubs, though not so much in those for Engelbert. She saw Elvis many more times in concert before she came of age in 1963 at 18. For four years since then, she dated the rock legend before finally marrying him in 1967.

Following the lead of Engelbert Humperdinck, in mid-March 1967 Elvis Presley attempted to make a songwriting contract with certain songwriters in London, including Gordon Mills and the team of Barry Mason and Les Reed, who wrote songs for Tom Jones and Richard Strauss (this is not the same person as the famous German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949); refer to the third note at the end of this post for more information) as well as some for Engelbert. Such a contract never materialized, due to Elvis's strong adherence to rock music, which he excelled in performing; while Mills, Mason, Reed, and others were strictly inclined to writing in lighter, more commercial pop genres.

A museum dedicated to Elvis, and memorabilia associated with the rock musician, opened its doors in Memphis, TN in February 1981. The opening of the Elvis Presley Museum marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Elvis's first commercial single.

Presley is known for having a fan club totaling millions worldwide, and he still performs live in concert, sometimes going on tour, to the present day. A 30th anniversary anthology series featuring songs from 1951 to 1980 by Presley was released on LPs and cassette tapes starting March 31, 1981; it was released on CDs starting July 28, 1987. Elvis Presley lives in Memphis, but also has residences in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Family

Elvis Presley dropped out of high school in June 1952 to marry his fiancée, Mary Elizabeth Butler (born in Memphis on November 30, 1935). They married in Memphis on November 30, 1952. During their short-lived marriage, they had a pair of twins both born on September 1, 1953. Their names are James Vernon Presley and Lucy Anne Presley. Due to his lust for women, Elvis Presley divorced Mary on February 13, 1960. Elvis married a second time to Priscilla Ann Beaulieu (née Wagner) (born in New York City (Manhattan) on May 24, 1945) in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. They had one child together, daughter Lisa Marie Presley (born February 1, 1968).

Notes
  • Elvis Presley’s peak height is exactly 6 feet, as measured by his rival/friend Engelbert Humperdinck (6 ft, 1 1/2 in) back in 1958.
  • Due in large part to the sudden rise of Engelbert Humperdinck to superstardom during the last several months of 1957, Elvis Presley is not inducted into the US Army in 1958, something that occurs in current history. In this scenario, it is set that if Elvis were to go into the Army in 1958 anyway, Engelbert would fill in the void left by Elvis and dominate the popular music charts, so the King of Rock and Roll would, in the least, have a great deal of difficulty in reclaiming his “throne” upon a 1960 discharge from the Army. Instead, due to the fact that Engelbert is “here to stay”, Elvis must stay active in the music industry to remain supreme; as is mentioned above, his music ends up becoming even more rebellious between 1958 and 1959. Elvis’s music continues on the path of greater rebelliousness in the years to come, with occasional breaks of course (i.e. his cover of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, which would peak at #1 at the end of 1959, as Engelbert’s cover of that song would do earlier that year).
  • The Richard Strauss mentioned above is a British pop singer of my invention, born Richard Henry Harris in London on March 23, 1939. Not the same person as a well-known Irish actor of the same name as the singer’s birth name, this Richard Harris later became known as Richard Strauss. He used the name of the famous German composer and adapted it to be his stage name late in 1965. I’ll write more on the British pop singer Richard Strauss in another alternate/revised history post.
  • In this alternate/revised history, as a reader might guess, Elvis is still alive and well and performing to the present day. This is in contrast to the current history in this timeline, with the possibly false narrative that Elvis died in 1977 from a drug overdose. If he is in fact still alive in this timeline, he certainly hasn't performed live in concert since '77, at least not under his actual name!
  • On the other hand, while in current history Elvis is known for having been doing a lot of drugs, in alternate/revised history he stays far away from them. This is to keep up with Engelbert, his rival; besides Engelbert, he also uses the Four Seasons, a band whom he influenced, as role models.
  • While the Seasons, as any other rock band would, adjust to the changing times as the 60s progress (singing not only love songs but also those about or referencing psychedelic drugs and socially-conscious topics), they do not do drugs themselves. That’s because the members of the Four Seasons themselves convert to the Baptist faith in 1965, with leanings towards Mormonism. (Sometime prior to this time in 1965, the Seasons consider becoming Mormons, but ultimately reject the faith due to its hierarchy structure.) Sometime in the future, there will be another alternate/revised history thread focusing on the Seasons.
Next entry in the series 'Popular music': Engelbert Humperdinck Bio & Related History & Bios
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Comments

Are his songs any different?
I haven't figured that out entirely yet, but that question is a little vague.

If you're talking about what songs he records, then I can say most of the songs, depending on the era, are all the same, plus a lot of different original ones.

If you're talking about Elvis recording his songs in a different fashion, I'd say for the most part yes, especially after 1957. As I've said before, Elvis songs from 1958 onward are of harder-edged rock music in a general sense. However, certain songs, including ballads like "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" are largely unchanged from the ones in the current history or timeline.
 
Elvis Presley's US #1 Hit Singles

Amount of #1 Hits by Year Released:
  • 1956: 6
  • 1957: 4 (10)
  • 1958: 3 (13)
  • 1959: 3 (16)
  • 1960: 3 (19)
  • 1961: 2 (21)
  • 1962: 2 (23)
  • 1963: 1 (24)
  • 1964: 1 (25)
  • 1965: 1 (26)
  • 1966: 1 (27)
  • 1967: 1 (28)
  • 1968: 2 (30)
  • 1969: 3 (33)
  • 1970: 1 (34)
  • 1971: 1 (35)
  • 1972: 1 (36)
  • 1977: 1 (37)
Total: 37 #1 Hit Singles

Elvis Presley 30th Anniversary Anthology
  • Elvis Presley, 1951-1955 (released on LP and cassette: March 31, 1981; CD: July 28, 1987)
  • Elvis Presley, 1956-1960 (released on LP and cassette: June 30, 1981; CD: October 27, 1987)
  • Elvis Presley, 1961-1964 (released on LP and cassette: September 30, 1981; CD: January 26, 1988)
  • Elvis Presley, 1965-1968 (released on LP and cassette: December 29, 1981; CD: April 26, 1988)
  • Elvis Presley, 1969-1972 (released on LP and cassette: March 30, 1982; CD: July 26, 1988)
  • Elvis Presley, 1973-1976 (released on LP and cassette: June 29, 1982; CD: October 25, 1988)
  • Elvis Presley, 1977-1980 (released on LP and cassette: September 28, 1982; CD: January 31, 1989)
  • Elvis Presley, 1951-1980 (bundle package; released on LP and cassette: November 30, 1982; CD: March 28, 1989)
Notes
  • This is one of the two additional posts that focus on Elvis and/or his family. The remainder of the posts focus on people closely associated with the King.
  • The first year provided for #1 hit singles in the United States, in this case 1956, shows the number of #1 hits to the right of the year, indicated by the colon. Elvis has 6 #1 hits in the year 1956. For each year of #1s following 1956, the number to the right of the colon likewise shows the number of #1 hits in that given year, while the number to the right of that in parentheses is a cumulative total of #1s up to that point. For instance, Elvis has 4 #1 hits in the year 1957, while the “10” in parentheses indicates the total number of career #1s for 1956 and 1957 combined; Elvis has 3 #1 hits in the year 1958, while the “13” in parentheses indicates the total number of #1s counting every year since 1956; and so on.
  • Yes, Elvis has a whopping total of 37 US #1 hits, which is much better than the Beatles could ever do! (I’ll get back to the Beatles, including their #1s, in another alternate/revised history thread.) After all, Elvis is the King of Rock.
  • The “Elvis Presley 30th Anniversary Anthology” series is a compilation series covering tracks from singles and albums by the King released between 1951 and 1980; these years serve as the golden era of his professional musical career, otherwise known as his heyday. The series is modeled after two Beatles compilation albums, “1962-1966” and “1967-1970”, which were originally released a few years after the Beatles disbanded.
 
Family of Elvis Presley

Parents


Father: Vernon Elvis Presley
  • Born April 10, 1916
  • Died June 27, 1991
Mother: Gladys Love Presley (née Smith)
  • Born April 25, 1912
  • Died August 16, 1986
Note: Both parents died of heart disease.

First Wife and Parents-in-law

Wife: Mary Elizabeth Butler (born November 30, 1935)

Father-in-law: James Theodore “Jim” Butler
  • Born May 29, 1901
  • Died December 26, 1988
Mother-in-law: Elizabeth Anne Butler (née Stewart)
  • Born January 28, 1911
  • Died August 15, 2004
Note: Both parents of Mary Butler Presley died of heart failure.

Children (with Mary Butler Presley)
  • James Vernon Presley (born September 1, 1953)
  • Lucy Anne Presley, tomboy (born September 1, 1953)
Daughter (with Priscilla Beaulieu Presley)
  • Lisa Marie Presley (born February 1, 1968)
Notes
  1. James Presley married Sophie Victoria Johnson (born September 7, 1954 in Memphis) on July 19, 1970 in Memphis.
  2. Lucy Presley married John Andrew “Johnny” Cartwright (born August 27, 1952 in Memphis) on May 28, 1967 in Memphis.
  3. Lisa Marie Presley married her first husband, Daniel “Dan” Keough (born February 8, 1966) on June 12, 1988. They later got divorced.
Grandchildren

James and Sophie Johnson Presley had four children together:
  • Theresa Kimberly Presley (born April 21, 1971 in Manhattan)
  • Aaron David Butler Presley (born May 7, 1973 in Manhattan)
  • James Vernon Presley Jr. (born August 21, 1975 in Manhattan)
  • Sarah Ruth Presley (born March 31, 1978 in Manhattan)
Johnny and Lucy Presley Cartwright had four children together:
  • Pamela Jean Cartwright (born March 3, 1968)
  • William Andrew Cartwright (born March 29, 1969)
  • Jennifer Lucy Cartwright (born April 12, 1971)
  • Nicholas Elvis Cartwright (born November 6, 1973)
Dan Keough and Lisa Marie Presley had two children together:
  • Danielle Riley Keough (born March 17, 1989)
  • Benjamin Storm Keough (born March 29, 1990)
James Presley Mini Biography

James Presley
is an American classical pianist, violinist, and operatic baritone. His father is Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”. James Vernon Presley was born on September 1, 1953 in Memphis to Elvis and his first wife Mary Butler. He began taking piano and violin lessons at an early age. In 1970, he married his childhood sweetheart Sophie Johnson, who later became a violin teacher. The couple moved to Manhattan soon after they married. James began his professional career in 1972. James and Sophie still live in Manhattan to this day.
 
Biography of Steve Sholes

Steve Sholes
was an American record producer. He was Elvis Presley’s producer at RCA Victor from 1956 to 1998. Stephen Henry Sholes was born on February 12, 1910 in Washington, DC. He first became famous for launching various musical artists, such as Elvis and Chet Atkins, to national fame. Steve Sholes is also known as a founder of the Nashville Sound. Besides his accomplishments in music, Sholes was also involved in the career of the African-American civil rights leader and icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sholes befriended Dr. King during the early 1950s and nurtured his political views, while also nurturing his love for pacifism, passive resistance, and Gandhi. Sholes discussed politics greatly with Dr. King after the two developed a friendly relationship.

There was only one Democratic presidential candidate that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. voted for, and that was John F. Kennedy in 1960. By the time 1964 arrived, King had long ignored the backlash of Republicans by the mainstream media and supported Republican Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, although Goldwater lost the election to incumbent Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Although King disagreed with Johnson’s political views and many of the contents of the Civil Rights Act, which contained politically-correct legal material that contradicted a line in King’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech (in which King wanted people to be judged by the “content of their character” instead of the “color of their skin”), he remained respectful toward Johnson until his assassination in April 1968.

Sholes attended Dr. King’s funeral and balanced his time between his musical career with Elvis Presley and others, and his political hobbies with promoting traditional Republican values and fulfilling Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to “better” outcomes. Sholes became more involved with politics after retiring from his musical career in August 1998, particularly following the “terrorist attacks” of September 11, 2001, which was really an inside job.

In 2008, an aging Sholes supported Republican Alan Keyes for President. Keyes became the Republican presidential nominee later that year, and went on to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a massive landslide in November.

Steve Sholes died peacefully at his home in Nashville on July 22, 2018.
 
Colonel Tom Parker Biographical Notes

Colonel Tom Parker
was an American music talent manager. He is best known for being Elvis Presley’s manager from 1953 to 2006, when he retired. Thomas Andrew Parker was born Andreas Cornelis Van Kujik on June 26, 1908 in the town of Breda, in the Netherlands, and lived primarily in Memphis. He also had a residence in Las Vegas. Parker died of natural causes at his home in Memphis on September 21, 2020.

Additional Notes

As a side note, for when history is changed, Tom Parker handles the prospect of becoming an American more honestly. Admitting to the fact that he was born in the Netherlands, he manages to legally change his name to the current, and he either gets a green card, or he immigrates to the US legally and applies for the process of becoming a US citizen. This way, Elvis Presley is better able to go on foreign tours (like ones with his rival Engelbert Humperdinck), without any legal issues involving Parker arising. For instance, Elvis’s foreign tours take him to West Germany in 1959, as it is essential for him to meet his future (second) wife, the future Priscilla Presley.
 
Jim Butler Notes

Jim Butler
was an American record producer. James Theodore Butler was born on May 29, 1901 in Memphis. He is best known for being the ex-father-in-law of Elvis Presley, as well as Presley’s original record producer from 1951 to 1953, when Presley got his recording contract from Sun Records. Butler died of heart failure at his home in Memphis on December 26, 1988.

Notes About Which People Are/Aren’t My Invention

In addition to British pop singer Richard Strauss, the Butler family (including Mary, Elvis’s first wife), Elvis’s twins James and Lucy, Sophie Johnson, Johnny Cartwright, and Elvis’s grandchildren by Mary Butler Presley are my invention. All the other people mentioned, such as Elvis’s parents, Steve Sholes, and Colonel Tom Parker are not.
 

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