Since his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has routinely been listed by “Forbes” magazine as one of the world's top-earning dead celebrities. Usually he holds the number-one position (Michael Jackson beat him out in 2010), and every year in the past decade, Elvis has at least been in the top-10. But even before the King left the building, Elvis Presley was a memorabilia machine, thanks to his career as a singer, movie star, and bona-fide cultural icon.

Elvis fans and collectors can track his life through his memorabilia. Some make pilgrimages to his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, to pick up souvenir patches and T-shirts. But the real action in early Elvis material is in the 45s and 78s cut at Sun Records in 1954.

The first Presley single for Sun was "That’s All Right." With Sam Phillips at the mixing board, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, Bill Black on upright bass, and Presley on vocals and rhythm guitar, the trio recorded the track live in the studio, with no overdubs or even drums. The single’s B-side was a Bill Monroe bluegrass tune from the 1940s called "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

Two more Sun singles followed that year, with another pair in 1955, for a total of five Sun singles containing 10 songs. RCA re-released them all when it paid Sam Phillips $35,000 for Presley’s contract. Dozens more RCA singles were released throughout the 1950s, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don’t Be Cruel," and "Hound Dog" from 1956, and "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock" from 1957—all of these charted at number-one.

RCA kept Presley busy recording albums, too. "Elvis Presley" in 1956 came first. It included covers of "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins and "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles, as well as a Rogers and Hart tune from the 1930s called "Blue Moon." The album reached number-one on the charts, as did the next two Presley albums for RCA (Elvis’ “Christmas Album” from 1957 remains the best-selling Christmas record ever recorded).

Another popular category of Presley records are the soundtracks for movies the singer made from 1956 (“Love Me Tender”) to 1969 (“Change of Habit”). “Jailhouse Rock” from 1957 can be found as an EP, with five tracks, including the Leiber and Stoller penned title. Parts of “G.I. Blues” were filmed when Presley was still an enlisted man stationed in West Germany, and the film and soundtrack (vintage vinyl collectors can acquire all 10 versions) were both huge hits when they were released in the summer of 1960.

The biggest music-movie crossover hit for Presley was “Viva Las Vegas,” which was released in 1964 as an EP of four songs, none of which, astoundingly, was the title track. Presl...

“Viva Las Vegas” is also one of Elvis’ most collected movie posters, while the Hatch Show Print music poster for an Elvis concert in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 10 and 11, 1956, is a classic of that genre.

Even though Elvis is associated with Memphis—he called Graceland home from 1957 until his death—Hawaii also claims the King. He filmed “Blue Hawaii” there in 1961, “Paradise Hawaiian Style” in 1966, and honeymooned on the islands with Priscilla in 1967.

Even the Hawaiian shirt he wore for the cover shot of “Blue Hawaii” has become a collectible—the design was called Tiare Tapa and it was manufactured by Shaheen. Other items that became fashionable because of Elvis include the Hamilton Ventura wristwatches he favored in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as the numerous Omega and Rolex wristwatches he wore thereafter.

Las Vegas was another home-away-from-home, especially in the early 1970s. Today, Elvis Presley belt buckles, poker chips, playing cards, board games, and figurines commemorate those years. So do Elvis charm bracelets and enamel pins. But perhaps no item of Elvis memorabilia captures the star’s appeal better than the 29-cent U.S. postage stamp issued in 1993 as a part of the U.S. Postal Service’s American Music Series.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Remember Eddie Cochran

Remember Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran died in 1960 at the age of 21, but his legacy lives on at Remember Eddie Cochran. The site pays tribu… [read review or visit site]

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

Hey babe, check out this database of over 2,900 Bob Dylan ticket stubs and concert posters, assembled with the help… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare 1964 Movie Promo Radio Spots 10" 1 Sided Lp Elvis Viva Las Vegas ListenElvis Presley 1957 Japan Only Ep Jailhouse Rock Ep-1267 JapaneseVintage 1950s Old Shure Elvis Shock Mounted Microphone & Multi Impedance + WorksElvis Presley Original & Personal Black Leather Jacket From Hillcrest Home 1969 Funko Pop Rocks 1970's Elvis #03Original 1962 One Sheet Movie Poster Kid Galahad - Elvis PresleyRare Elvis Presley Scrapbook W/ Autographed '56 Card, Concert Photos B&w Photos Hard Rock Cafe Pin Lot #5(21 Pins) Limited Elvis Fish Pic MartiniFunko Pop! Rocks 1950's Elvis #02 Vinyl Figure Retired Loose No Box Missing MicOriginal 1962 One Sheet Movie Poster Follow That Dream - Elvis PresleyRare 1956 Topps Elvis Non Sport Trading Cards Lot #48-66 Nm-m Psa Ready Elvis Presley A Boy From TupeloFranklin Mint Die Cast Model Elvis Harley Davidson Kh Motorcycle 1:10 MibRare 1970s Elvis Presley Rca Records Do It Yourself Advertising Promo Kit UnusedFranklin Mint Elvis Diecast Motorcycle 1956 Harley DavidsonRare 1972 Elvis Presley You Can't Lose Rca Display Contest Kit In-store Promo Elvis Owned Nautic Neostyle Glasses Worn By Elvis Presley Ultra Rare Engraved EpElvis Presley Original Autograph Signed Photo From Estate Sale Gold Frame 5 X 4Elvis Presley On Stage 1970 Afrts Lp Record Album Vinyl Vehicle Ides Of MarchElvis Presley Gold Card Autographed Singer Film Star Actor Mega Legend Army Usa1956 Bubbles Inc. Elvis Presley Trading Card Lot Of 38Screen Used Prop From Elvis Presley Movie, Stay Away Joe - Ashtray, With CoaPin Trading Disney Pins Lot Of 4 New Disneyland Paris Stitch Posing Set ElvisLot 5 Elvis Presley Sun Label 45rpm Records All Issue Stamped 1973 Mint ScarceCase Elvis Presley Toothpick Knife 2011 Issue Special Elvis Sparkle Shield MibElvis Presley Sings For Children And Adults Too Org Rca Promo Press Sales KitRare Elvis Presley 1971 Souvenir Menu From Vegas ConcertDisney Le 250 Pin Lilo & Stitch Flag Day ElvisElvis Presley Original 1956 Sunday News MagazineElvis Presley Hair Lock W Towel Piece Photo Autograph Certified Signed AuthenticS416. Vintage: Mgm Presents "elvis" Set Of 8 Miniature Lobby Cards (1971) [Franklin Mint Die Cast Model Elvis Harley Davidson 1956 Motorcycle 6 Sm Breyer Horses Elvis Horses Of Graceland Bandit, Tucker, Max, Candy, PlaysetElvis Ftd: Las Vegas 1975Elvis Ftd: Elvis' Gold Records Volume 41978 Donruss Elvis Presley Trading Card Wax Box 36 Sealed PacksVintage Pop-art Andy Warhol Elvis 'graceland' Fabric From Andrew Martin, 2+ Yds1970 Elvis "summer Festival Now" Promo Poster International Hotel, Las VegasSealed Mint Elvis Presley Complete 50's Masters 6 Album Set 1992 Box Set VinylElvis Presley Vintage Concert Ticket Stub/photo - Lakeland Fl - Sept 4 1976 Set Of 2 Bottles Of Elvis Presley Wine And An Officially Licensed Cross-body BagElvis Presley Personal Owned Cigarette Film Star Card - Joan CrawfordElvis Presley Collector Series Box Lot Of 15 45rpm Records W/ Picture Sleeves Elvis Presley Hero Or Heel? 1957 Issue #1 Scarce W/ Fold-out InsertDisney M&p Japan Store Pin Happy New Year 2005 Elvis Stitch1963 Elvis "kissin Cousins" Lp W/bonus Photo!! Lpm-2894Vintage 1977 Elvis Ceramic Chalkware Bust Memorabilia 11 InchesElvis Presley - Speedway - Ftd Classic Album Cd1970s Original Press Photo Elvis Presley "on Stage" The King In Concert2017 Krewe Of Rolling Elvi Elvis Voodoo Doll New Orleans Mardi GrasLot Of 11 Elvis Presley Chu-bops Minature Collector Factory Sealed Photo GumsElvis Presley Limited Edition Pez Dispenser Set W/cd #/400,0003 Ftd Limited Edition Elvis Books With Cds Org 1963 Invoice Sam Phillips Sun Records Signed By Scotty Moore Elvis PresleyElvis Rare Promo Sampler, Young Man With The Big Beat, '56 Masters, Mint, Sealed Poster Elvis Presley 1963 Worlds Fair Original Numbered 63 / 82 RareElvis 2 Cd Set: Hometown Shows (ftd)Burlesque Queen Tempest Storm Autographed 8x10 With Elvis Presley!Elvis Presley - Nbc Tv Special - Ftd Classic Album CdElvis Costello 1982 Promo Poster Imperial Bedroom Masterpiece