Do you remember where you were that day? I do. I was working as a camp counselor at a children’s residential summer camp. I remember how we all crumpled into devastated sobbing, huddling together, singing our favourite Elvis songs and wondering how we would ever survive.
In honor of the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, I pulled together 35 of my favourite little tidbits of trivia. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed putting them together!
- Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA on January 8. 1935. Elvis had an identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley. Jesse was delivered 35 minutes before him, stillborn. Elvis grew up as an only child. Elvis was his dad Vernon’s middle name. His mum Gladys’s middle name was Love. When Elvis was born, his parents chose “Aron” as his middle name, using that particular spelling so that it would be similar to his identical twin’s middle name. However, state records listed his middle name as “Aaron.” When Elvis was older, he decided to use the traditional “Aaron” and it is now considered to be the official spelling of his name.
- Elvis was 15 months old when he survived a tornado in Tupelo, Mississippi, which killed 233 infants.
- In the eighth grade, Elvis received a “C” in music. Elvis never learned to read music. He studied and played by ear.
- Wood shop was his favorite class in high school.
- Elvis loved football very much and often had three televisons set up at Graceland to watch all of the games.
- Elvis was rejected as a singer after a tryout during his teenage years and was advised to stick to truck driving because he was never going to make it as a singer.
- Elvis won three Grammy Awards – for his gospel recordings.
- Elvis recorded more than 600 songs in his music career, but didn’t write a single one of them.
- Elvis recorded 15 songs with the word “blue” in the title.
- Some strangely titled Elvis songs include: “Queenie Wahini’s Papaya,” “Yoga Is as Yoga Does,” “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car.
- One of Elvis’ very favourite songs was the gospel song “Peace in the Valley”. He sang it on the Ed Sullivan show even though Sullivan asked him not to.
- Elvis loved Cadillac cars. In 1975 he was buying several at once when he noticed a woman admiring his own Cadillac. So he bought her one for $11,500.
- He loved Fool’s Gold Loaf, a hollow loaf filled with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of grape jelly and a pound of bacon. It had 42,000 calories.
- Elvis ate nothing but meatloaf, tomatoes, and mashed potato for two years.
- Presley hated fish. He wouldn’t allow Priscilla to eat fish at Graceland.
- Elvis always kept a Bible (King James Version) with him and he enjoyed spiritual/enlightenment books as well.
- Elvis wore a cross, the Hebrew letter chai, and a Jewish Star of David around his neck, saying: “I don’t want to miss out on Heaven due to a technicality.”
- While in the Army he bought his fellow soldiers clothes and TVs — and gave his army pay to charity.
- Elvis had a pet chimpanzee called Scatter which liked to look up women’s skirts. A well-known prank of his was to gather his female friends together, and then let Scatter wreak havoc among them.
- Sometimes, Elvis would sign “Elvis” on a female fan’s left breast and “Presley” on the right. (There is no truth to the rumor that this gave rise to the term “double-breasted.)
- Elvis let good-looking girls, who waited outside Graceland into the mansion. One night there were 152.
Elvis’ big disappointment while in Germany in the Army? He never got to meet Brigitte Bardot.
- Elvis’s favourite toothpaste was Colgate. His favourite aftershave was Brut. And his favourite soft drink was Pepsi.
- Elvis preferred sponge baths.
- Elvis used A&D ointment to keep his lips soft.
- The King had a number of romantic liaisons in the Sixties, most of them famous. Yet few know about his reportedly deep love for Elizabeth Montgomery, better known as the original Samantha on TV’s Bewitched. Elvis and Montgomery remained good friends until he died.
- Elvis was a big Monty Python fan. Many report that one of his favourite films was The Holy Grail. It was in his video recorder when he died.
- Elvis always sent a roomful of flowers to Ann-Margret whenever she opened up a show in Las Vegas. He did this from the first time they met ’till his death.
- Elvis was once threatened with arrest for gyrating. After the first of several shows in Jacksonville, Florida, in August of 1956, Juvenile Court Judge Marion Gooding threatened to arrest Elvis if he didn’t tone down his show. Judge Gooding had sat through the initial concert to get a first hand account of the singer’s performance. Afterwards, he called Elvis in and warned him that he would only permit limited side-to-side movements.
- Elvis thought The Beatles were a bad influence on America’s youth, despite the fact that they admired him very much. Presley and the Beatles met at his BelAir, California house in 1965, after Colonel Tom Parker forced Elvis to invite the Fab Five over.
- Led Zeppelin were big fans of Elvis and were desperate to meet him when they toured the US. In 1973, the longed-for meeting came to pass, when Robert Plant and John Paul Jones met the King in Los Angeles. The Zeppelins were rendered speechless by the meeting, but Elvis broke the ice by swapping his $5,000 gold and diamond watch for Jones’s watch – which featured a picture of Mickey Mouse. From that moment on, any member of Led Zeppelin was welcome in the front row of an Elvis concert.
- Change of Habit (1969) was the singer’s final movie role. (This was my favourite Elvis movie.)
- Although his autopsy detected ten different drugs in his bloodstream and many mistakenly believe he died of a drug overdose, Elvis actually died of a heart attack on August 16, 1977.
- In 1977 there were 170 Elvis impersonators. By 2002 there were 85,000 all around the world. At that rate of growth, by 2019 a third of the world’s population will be Elvis impersonators. (In Mogadishu, Somalia, it is illegal impersonating Elvis without a beard.)
- Elvis still regularly tops Forbes magazine’s list of the highest-earning dead celebrities. In 2011 his estate’s income was listed at $55 million.
I would use the cliche that the King lives, but did you know that Elvis didn’t like being called “The King”? Elvis knew that God was God and he wasn’t. ‘He didn’t like being called ‘The King’, says Ray Walker of the Gospel group The Jordanaires that backed Elvis up on many of his hit songs. “The ‘king of rock ‘n’ roll’ was one thing, but not ‘The King’.” Elvis used to say that ‘There’s only one King, and that’s Jesus Christ.’
Amen, and thank you Elvis!