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]

Dylanstubs.com

Dylanstubs.com

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 Elvis Presley Paramount Blue Hawaii Tiki Bob Promotional Mug From 1961Elvis Presley Autographed/signed 1959 Christmas Card-the Presleys-in Army-mrepM672 Vintage Elvis Presley In Concert Utica Auditorium Unused Ticket (1977) [Elvis Presley Ticket Stub Freedom Hall Johnson City Tennessee1956 Topps Elvis Presley Trading Card Lot X 4 Cards Inc Card No. 1 , EtcElvis Presley Concert Ticket Stub Capital Centre Lake Arbor Maryland Elvis Presley Concert Scarf 1970s White Satin 21"Lucy & Me Enesco Musical Bear Plays Elvis’ Love Me Tender W/red Sports Car '872001 American Pie Elvis Presley Authentic Worn Jacket Card King Of Rock Roll GuElvis Concert Scarves Jumpsuit EraElvis Presley: 'elvis The Music' Trading Cards Box Of 28Elvis Presley Gold Card Autographed Singer Film Star Actor Mega Legend Army UsaElvis 24kt Gold Card Signed Old Antique Contains Over 0.5 Gram Pure Solid GoldCustom Elvis Presley 2007 Harley Davidson Number 10 Of 30 MadePop Rocks 1970's Elvis Glow In The Dark Chase Funko3 Elvis Presley Personally Owned Items + Coa'sElvis Presley Sun 217 45 Baby Let's Play House / I'm Left You're Push Marks Vg-Elvis Presley Owned Super Anahist Throat Spray Bottle Feb 19th 1977 Charlotte Nc1970's Elvis 03 Funko Pop Rocks! Vinyl Figure Rare And RetiredFunko Pop! Vinyl Toy - Rocks - #02 - 1950's Elvis Presley1957 Topps Hit Stars Near Set 83/88 75% Nm Or Nm-mt, 16% Exmt Elvis Sammy DeanElvis Presley Personal Owned Written 1975 Check Stub To Homer M GillelandElvis Presley 1970's Radio Station Concert Tour Poster Kisn Win Free TicketsElvis Presley Vinyl Clutch Purse/pocket Book/wallet-1950s-elvis Ent.-mrepCase Xx Elvis "the King" Presley Collectors Series KnifeElvis Collectors Doll, 2000 Elvis Presley - Standing Room Only 1970-1975 Tunzi Book - Very Good Condition1971 Elvis Presley Lot ~ Rca Wardrobe Swatch, In Person Badge & Tri-fold PosterElvis 1971 Japan 2-lp 16" X 13" Box Panel De Luxe With Booklet!!! Nr Mint!Vintage Elvis Photo Must See Original 8x10 Candid 1970 Mgm Lot # 296 Wow!!!!!Elvis Presley Mccormick Bourbon Whiskey Gold Tone Bust Decanter Empty 10" H - AElvis Presley Mccormick Bourbon Whiskey Gold Tone Bust Decanter Empty 10" H - BZippo - Collection Elvis Presley - 4 Lighters - New / Original Boxes - CollectorElvis Presley Ftd - Elvis In Atlanta 1975 Elvis Presley Lot/4 Rock/elvis Story Magazines-hep Cats, Rock Roll Stars-lmepElvis Presley Real Photo Lapel Pin-jeweled Guitar-mother Of Pearl-1950s-mrepDisney 10 Pins All Lilo & Stitch, Easter W/bunny, Light-up, Elvis, Epcot FestivlVery Large Lot Of Elvis Presley Album Cassettes-well Over 50 -all Play WellElvis Presley Original Photo Ring-marked Elvis Ent On Back-1950s-mrepElvis Presley Hair Lock W Towel Piece Photo Autograph Certified Signed AuthenticFunko Pop Disney #127 Elvis Stitch Hot Topic Exclusive Elvis Presley Lot/4 Letters Col Parker Office-various Content-220 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley Fan Club Photos & Postcard Lot-various Sizes-1950s/1960s-mrepElvis Presley Press Release Las Vegas Hilton Concert Col Parker-220 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley In Hollywood-small Format All Elvis Magazine-1956-lmepElvis Presley Pair Of Earrings-real Photos In Brass Frame-1950s-mrepElvis Presley Signed Letter Tom Diskin-thomas Parker Letterhead-417 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley Rock N Roll Vinyl Binder, Note Book/loose Leaf-1950s-lmepElvis Presley Celluloid Pinback Button-"don't Be Cruel" 1 3/4" Dia.-mrepElvis Presley Movie Poster 11x14 Lobby Card 1966 Frankie And Johnny #6Elvis Presley Fan Club Card-forever Elvis-ladies In Waiting-signed-1950s-mrepElvis Presley Official Christmas Card-black Graceland-1964 W/envelope-lmepElvis Presley Signed Letter Col Parker Office-elvis Tv Show-220 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley On Cover Of Tv Guide W/ Frank Sinatra-may 7, 1960-ny Ed-lmepElvis Presley Lot/8-concert Tour Schedules-promotional Flyers-1970s-lmepElvis Presley Official Christmas Card-green-graceland-the Presleys-1960-lmepElvis Presley Lot/3 Letters Col Parker Office-various Content-417 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley Official Blue Christmas Card-the Presleys-graceland-1961-lmepElvis Presley Signed Letter Col Parker Office-take Me To Fair-417 Po Box-lmepElvis Presley Lot/6 Letters Col Parker Office-various Content-417 Po Box-lmep