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    

Elvis Presley Las Vegas 1970-71 Concerts. Souvenirs, Etc. Hilton, InternationalElvis Presley 1957 Japan Only Ep Jailhouse Rock Ep-1267 JapaneseOriginal 1962 One Sheet Movie Poster Kid Galahad - Elvis PresleyElvis Presley Rca 1970-71 Memorabilia. Photos, Calendars, Postcards, CatalogsOriginal 1962 One Sheet Movie Poster Follow That Dream - Elvis PresleyRare 1964 Movie Promo Radio Spots 10" 1 Sided Lp Elvis Viva Las Vegas ListenElvis Presley Concert TicketsElvis Presley 45 + Picture Sleeve Lot Of 5Now Elvis Presley Las Vegas 1970-71 Concert. Metal Button. Hilton, Intl HotelElvis Presley Original & Personal Black Leather Jacket From Hillcrest Home 1969 Funko Pop Disney Elvis Stitch 127 Hot Topic Exclusive Damage Box1956 Bubbles Inc. Elvis Presley Trading Card Lot Of 38Elvis November 1956. Tv Radio Life Magazine. Near Mint! Los Angeles Edition.Vintage Elvis Presley Handmade Fan Scrapbook Newpaper Clippings-articles 1960'sFranklin Mint Elvis Diecast Motorcycle 1956 Harley DavidsonFunko Pop Stitch ElvisMg32-145 Elvis Presley Vintage 35mm Color SlideVintage Elvis Presley Handmade Fan Scrapbook Newspaper Clipping-atricles 1960'sElvis Presley 2007 Press Pass Rock 'n Roll Relics Worn Pajamas Platinum 79/991956 Elvis Answers Back! "the Truth About Me!" Record And Magazine - Pink Rare 1956 Topps Elvis Non Sport Trading Cards Lot #48-66 Nm-m Psa Ready Elvis Presley Parade Magazine 1956 Cover Story 6 Page Article 8 Pics VfElvis Unseen Photo Aloha From Hawaii 1973 Ed Bonja Original Lot # 175 Must See Writer’s Digest. November 1956. Elvis On Cover, Love Me Tender. Debra Paget.Rca Victor Phonograph Gramophone Hmv Nipper Elvis Presley Coffee Mug MagnetsElvis Presley Gold Card Autographed Singer Film Star Actor Mega Legend Army UsaWow Wee Alive Elvis-lifelike Singing & Talking BustElvis Presley Legendary Performer 1973 Rca Sealed Promo In-store Poster DisplayScreen Used Prop From Elvis Presley Movie, Stay Away Joe - Ashtray, With Coa1968 Original 1 Sh Movie Poster~speedway~elvis Presley~nancy Sinatra~vg CondRare Org 1970 Elvis Presley Let's Be Friends Rca Camden Promo Standee DisplayMccormick Elvis Miniature Music Decanter Army Sergeant Elvis Presley Book - Good Rockin' Tonight - Signed By Joe Esposito - HardcoverElvis "stay Away Joe" Ftd (2) Lp Set (factory Sealed) W/stickerElvis Ftd Cd - The Memphis Sessions Rare & OopElvis Presley Original 1956 Sunday News MagazineElvis Velvet PaintingElvis Presley - Speedway - Ftd Classic Album CdElvis Presley - Elvis Sails - Rca - Epa-4325Elvis Presley Book- Elvis "what Happened?" Set 1 - Elvis Presley 4 B&w 8x10 Concert Photos - June 1973 Uniondale, NyFrankie And Johnny Movie Poster Elvis Presley VintageElvis Presley On Stage 1970 Afrts Lp Record Album Vinyl Vehicle Ides Of MarchMccormick Forever Elvis 68 Statue Whisky Bourbon Decanter FigureElvis In Blue Hawaii Barbie 12.5" Barbie Collector Doll Nib - 2009 Mattel R4509Elvis Presley - Nbc Tv Special - Ftd Classic Album Cd Elvis Presley Original Concert Tab Pin Badge In Person 1970's Pin Trading Disney Pins Lot Of 4 New Disneyland Paris Stitch Posing Set ElvisElvis Presley Vintage Candid Photo - Lake Charles - May 4 1975 B And K Elvis World Championship Belt Rare Elvis Presley Scrapbook W/ Autographed '56 Card, Concert Photos B&w Photos Elvis Presley Concert Scarf Light BlueVintage Elvis Bust RareElvis Presley Good Times 1974 Rca Sealed With Promo In-store Poster DisplayMarilyn Monroe And Friends - Elvis, James Dean, Bogart - Framed!Elvis Pink Cadillac Zippo Never Used, 2008Vintage Elvis Presley LampDept 56 Elvis Presley's Graceland Vintage Elvis Presley Lamp2001 Mattel Timeless Treasures - Elvis The King Of Rock & Roll Gold Suit Barbie