Elvis Presley

We don’t take to Elvis jokes down here. After all, here is a man who may have done more to change American popular culture than anyone who has ever lived.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935, and his working-class family moved to Memphis when he was a child. In 1954 a record producer named Sam Phillips signed him to a small recording label called Sun Records, and two years later he moved onto a much larger label called RCA. For a while it looked like Elvis might be a country star (he once appeared on the Grand Ole Opry), but his manager Colonel Tom Parker saw something different in the young man. In 1956 Presley began going on national television shows, and from that point his career skyrocketed to the delight of teenagers and the horror of some of their parents.

Presley died on August 16, 1977. Every year on that day his fans still make a pilgrimage to his Memphis home, Graceland.