Crazy Facts And Even Weirder Stories About Elvis Presley
Aside from being "The King Of Rock And Roll" and changing the course of music forever, there are other things about Elvis Presley that not everyone may know. Although he was one of the most popular people on the planet at one point and always under the spotlight, the media didn't capture everything. There's a lot more to Elvis than gyrating hips and funky costumes. See the crazy antics he got into off stage and some interesting facts about "The King" that often go overlooked.
He Was Incredibly Shy When He Was Younger
As a young man, Elvis was notorious for being very shy. Apparently, at his prom when he was 18, he told his date, Regis Wilson, that he was unable to dance, and the two spent the evening talking on the sidelines. Afterward, when the two had plans to hang out with friends, they stood him up, and he embarrassingly took her home. Once Elvis became famous, he still hadn't overcome his nervousness and shyness.
While at the Wink Martindale local studio TV show, Elvis was stuttering and fidgeting so much that people thought he was under the influence. Martindale eventually came to realize that Elvis was extremely nervous and found himself as awkward.
He Had A Strange Collection Of Pets
After rising to fame, Elvis began to collect rather unusual pets. At one point, he had a turkey named Bowtie, five dogs, numerous horses, donkeys, peacocks, ducks, chickens, a spider monkey, a mynah bird, and a chimpanzee. However, out of all of them, his chimpanzee was the oddest of all.
The chimp, named Scatter, could often be found in a suit and tie, and was prone to drinking alcohol and lifting up women's skirts and attacking them. At one point, Scatter became so uncontrollable, that Elvis banished him to his own room at the Graceland estate so that the residents and staffs didn't have to watch their backs for a drunken chimpanzee.
Elvis Was A Black Belt In Karate
Although most people associate Elvis with music, he was also very passionate about karate. He began training while he was stationed in Germany and continued to do so when he returned to the United States. After studying under his friend Ed Parker, he earned his first-degree black belt in Memphis under Hank Slemansky.
Not long after, Elvis trained with Master Kang Rhee, who presented Elvis with his seventh-degree black belt. Elvis then went on to open his own karate studio, the Tennessee Karate Institute. While on stage he was known as the "King of Rock and Roll," in the studio, he was referred to as "Mr. Tiger."
Parents Were Relieved When Elvis Was Drafted
Already a major star, Elvis was drafted into the United States military in December 1957. Many concerned parents, religious leaders, and others who disapproved of his music and dancing were relieved to hear so. Serving between March 1958 and March 1960, he was even offered the chance to enlist in the Special Services to be more safe and comfortable but he declined and opted to serve as a regular soldier.
This earned him the respect of many of his fellow soldiers and even some of those who previously disapproved of his antics. Coming out of the army, his music grew in popularity among an older group after learning he had served the country.
Elvis Had An Interesting Choice In Sandwiches
As it turns out, The King had an interesting taste when it came to sandwiches. What he called his signature sandwich was massive amounts of peanut butter, bananas, and sometimes bacon and honey, in between two slices of white bread that have been fried in butter. it's believed that he's the reason why the sandwich is relatively well-known today.
But it doesn't stop there. Another one of his known favorites was the Fool's Gold Loaf. This was a sandwich that contained a pound of bacon, an entire jar of peanut butter, and a full jar of jelly. All of the contents were then stuffed into a hollowed-out loaf of Italian bread, then fried in butter.
The Story Behind Elvis and Nixon
One of the most famous photos of both Elvis and Nixon is the one they are in together. Elvis showed up to the White House with a letter stating, "I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good." Nixon was convinced Elvis would be the perfect person to have on his side for pro-American propaganda.
However, Presley was really there in hopes of receiving a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which Nixon obliged. Elvis believed that obtaining this badge would allow him to travel freely with all of the guns and drugs that he wanted.
He Was Almost Arrested For His Gyrations
According to Elvis' ex-girlfriend June Juanico, a Florida judge threatened to arrest Elvis if he did any of his notorious hip gyrating at his shows in Jacksonville, Florida. The judge found it to be appalling and unsuitable for anyone, especially his younger fans. So, with the judge in attendance, Elvis kept his moves to a minimum, but he couldn't keep entirely still. He still proceeded to make suggestive motions with his finger and hands.
The judge in Florida wasn't the only person who felt this way either. Jazz musician Eddie Condon even commented that he behaved like a "sex-crazed maniac" in front of millions of kids.
"Heartbreak Hotel" Has A Dark Origin
Elvis' first major breakout song, "Heartbreak Hotel," was inspired by an unfortunate event. The song was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton about a newspaper article about a lonely man that jumped from a hotel window. His suicide note read, "I walk a lonely street." The pair approached Elvis at a country music convention in 1955, asking Elvis if he would record it for them, and Elvis agreed.
The track topped Billboard's Top 100 list for seven weeks and Cashbox's pop singles chart for six weeks. It became Elvis' first million-seller and was one of the top-selling songs of 1956. The record went double platinum and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.
He Only Played Outside Of The United States Five Times
During Elvis' entire music career, he only played out of the United States for five shows. All five of those shows were part of a 3-day tour in Canada. Many people assume that he basically never left the United States again after that, because his longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker was an illegal immigrant from Holland.
Elvis feared that he would be have been deported if he went to apply for a United States passport, so he decided he'd rather be safe than sorry. Although this may have been a disappointment for his fans abroad, he didn't want to put his friend and manager at risk.
Aspiring Law-Enforcement Officer
If Elvis hadn't been the King of Rock and Roll, he would be a police officer. He even admitted this in an interview in the 1970s. He was also known to collect police badges from cities that he played in, and not fake ones. His wishes were granted and he had quite a collection badges, some even with his name on them.
In the 1970s, he acquired a blue police light and was known to pull over speeding drivers, flash one of his badges, and lecture them on the dangers of speeding. He would then sign an autograph and tear off in his car, leaving the stunned individual in the dust. He was also known to use police scanners to arrive at the scene of accidents to help direct traffic.
Nixon Drew A "Gun" On A Marine
In 1957, 18-year-old Marine Hershel Nixon was walking in downtown Memphis and passed Elvis. He approached Elvis and claimed that he had bumped into his girlfriend as an excuse to talk to him. As a joke, Elvis pulled out a convincing-looking cap gun and pointed it at Nixon's face angrily claiming he was going to "blow his brains out."
Obviously, this frightened Nixon and his girlfriend who swore out a warrant against Elvis. Luckily, the two got together and worked things out so no further legal action was taken. This stunt by Elvis only helped to solidify his bad boy image. Also, the guy didn't claim he bumped into their girlfriends anymore.
The Origins Of "Elvis The Pelvis"
While doing a live performance on television in 1956, the host, Milton Berle suggested that Elvis perform without his guitar. He thought that it took up too much space and hid the majority of his body. He reportedly even said, "Let 'em see you, son." In response, Elvis began to gyrate his hips back and forth in a dance that nobody had ever seen outside of the bedroom before.
This helped to launch him into the spotlight as well as gain the attention of others who found his dancing to be repulsive and inappropriate. From that performance on, Elvis was known as "Elvis the Pelvis."
Elvis Greatly Influenced Barry White
After hearing Elvis' 1960 hit "It's Now Or Never," it inspired a prisoner who vowed to have a music career once he was released. That prisoner was Barry White, who was serving four months after being caught stealing tires. White went on to become a three-time Grammy Award-winner after his major success in the '70s with The Love Unlimited Orchestra and as a solo artist.
During his career, he had 106 gold albums, 41 which went on to go platinum. Two of his biggest hits were "You're My First, My Last, My Only" and "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe."
He Liked To Change Lyrics When Playing Live
Unsurprisingly, Elvis also enjoyed playing some tricks on his fans. One of these was deliberately changing his lyrics on stage while performing. He mostly did this for his own amusement or to see if anyone even noticed.
On one occasion, while performing "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" in Las Vegas in 1969, instead of singing "do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?" he sang "do you look at your bald head and wish it had hair?" Definitely not the worst thing that a musician has done on stage, especially for Elvis.
He Released An Album Of Just Him Talking On Stage
Released in 1974, Having Fun With Elvis On Stage is an entirely spoken word album. Essentially, it's just on-stage antics and jokes by Elvis in between songs that were recorded and put on an album. This was by his manager Colonel Tom Parker as a way to self-release an Elvis record through his own Boxcar Records.
It would consist of content that Elvis' label RCA didn't contractually own, so Parker would be able to keep the profits. The album is by far Presley's worst album considering that it made no sense of all and there wasn't a hint of music. Elvis later requested that it be withdrawn.
Elvis' Doctor Prescribed Him 10,000 Doses Of Drugs The Year Of His Death
After Elvis' death in 1977, it was discovered that his personal doctor, Dr. George Nichopoulos or "Dr. Nick" had prescribed him over 10,000 doses of drugs in the year leading up to his passing. He was prescribing Elvis barbiturates, amphetamines, laxatives, hormones- you name it.
It's widely believed that Dr. Nick was responsible for Elvis' death due to how many drugs he was taking under the "supervision" of his doctor. It was clear that people were pointing fingers at him when he was shot a month after Elvis' death while attending a football game. Although he survived, he lost his medical license in 1995 and passed away in 2016.
Elvis' Hair Was A Lie
While one of Elvis' trademark looks was his jet black hair, that doesn't necessarily mean that it was natural. Growing up, Elvis had dirty blonde hair until he grew to be a teenager. At that point, it began to darken to a light brown. However, it wasn't brown enough for Elvis.
He wanted his hair as black as could be, and at one point, he even used shoe polish to get it to the shade that he wanted. Thankfully, after that, he began to use professional dyes. He even had a personal barber that he would visit daily when he could to take care of his hair and ensure its color and longevity.
He Couldn't Bear To Watch His Second Film
During his career, Elvis appeared in over 31 films, beginning with the Western Love Me Tender in 1956. In his second film, Loving You,both of his parents are featured. They're seen in the movie as audience members, which was something nice for Elvis and his family.
However, after his mother passed away of a heart attack rather unexpectedly when Elvis was in in the military, it broke his heart. After her death, Elvis couldn't bear to ever watch Loving You again because his mother had been a part of the production.
He Had A Twin Brother
Elvis was actually born a twin. However, unfortunately, it's a tragic story. Elvis was born in his parents' two-room house in East Tupelo, Mississippi 35 minutes after his older twin brother Jesse. Tragically, Jesse was a stillborn.
Although Elvis may have never known his twin personally or grown up with, throughout his life, he openly talked about his twin in an attempt to make sure that he wasn't forgotten. He commented that it still weighed heavy on his heart no matter how many years ago it happened, because the two shared a womb together.
A Bold Return To Music
After his major success during the 1950s, Elvis saw a massive decline during the 1960s. Although he may have established the genre of rock and roll, he became overlooked as bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones built on his music and started making music history of their own.
During that time, while experiencing no success in making music, Elvis found himself making movies in Hollywood. He was complacent for a while until he walked through LA without anybody noticing him. That was the last straw and in 1968, he relaunched his music career with a television special known as the "68 Comeback Special."