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    

Stern Elvis Pinball Machine Excellent 100% WorkingElvis Presley Ultra Rare 1956 ' Elvis Presley Mens Wallet ' In Mint Condition!Witco Decor Inc. Three-piece Elvis Dragon Bar Graceland!Elvis Presley Signed/autograph With Coa & Loa *no Reserve*Elvis Presley 1970's Funko Rocks Pop Vinyl Figure New! Vaulted!Original Color Picture Signed By Priscilla Presley - Wife Of Elvis Presley78 Sun Records Elvis Presley-mystery Train-i Forgot To Remember1956 Vintage Elvis Presley WalletT731 Vintage Elvis Presley Green Duck Co. E. P. E Pinback Badge Button 1956 [1956 Topps Elvis Presley #1 Go, Go, Go, Elvis Psa 6 Nice Centering Undergraded1956 Elvis Presley Souvenir Photo Album From Rca RecordsT732 Vintage Elvis Presley Green Duck Co. E. P. E Pinback Badge Button 1956 [Elvis Presley Concert Worn Scarf & Ticket Stub 1974 L.a. Forum LotElvis Presley 45 Rpm Record Rca Not For Sale1978 Donruss Elvis Wax Box 36 New Unopened Wax PacksElvis Presley Graceland "his Memory Lives On" Limited Number Sculpture Lights UpOriginal Elvis Presley Now Concert Las Vegas Hilton Souvenir Dinner Menu 1973Elvis Ads Collection - Movies And Concert!! From ScrapbookLot Of 23 Hard Rock Cafe Collector Pins Anniversary/elvis/holiday-taipei,rome++Yvonne Craig Hand Signed Photo. Batman. Adam West. Burt Ward. Elvis. Star Trek.Original Unused Elvis Presley Concert Ticket August 21 1977 Hartford Ct RareElvis Presley, In West Texas Ftd Follow That Dream Live Cd May 30th 1976Elvis Presley Vintage Concert Ticket Stub/photo - Birmingham Al - Dec 29 1976 Lot Of 34 Cards 1956 Elvis Presley Bubble Inc. Trading CardsElvis Presley Acoustic Guitar With Hard Case By Bradford ExchangeElvis Presley Record Signed TwiceElvis "spanish Flower" Black Stage Belt By B&kElvis Presley 45 Rpm 4 Records Blue Rca X 41967~elvis Presley~original 1 Sheet Movie Poster~easy Come, Easy Go~vgc!Original Used Elvis Presley Concert Ticket Stub July 28 1976 Hartford Ct RareM&m's(r) Collectors Club 2008 10th Anniversary Clock W/blue Elvis CharacterLot: Elvis Presley 1975 Souvenir Concert Photo Hilton 1959 Press Photo Weeki Wachee Mermaids Flo Mcnabb, Sandy Lewhun, Welcome ElvisElvis 1970 Souvenir Menu International Hotel Las Vegas Exc CondElvis Presleys Graceland Department 56 Special Edition Elvis Presley, The Return To Vegas Ftd Follow That Dream Live Cd 7/31/1969Elvis Presley, In Alabama Ftd Follow That Dream Live Cd 2x Shows Sep 6/76Disney Shopping Elvis Stitch Playing Guitar & Surfing Calendar Jumbo Le 500 PinElvis Presley 1956 Charm Bracelet Rare Vintage Original 60 Years Old!!!!!!!!!!!!Jim8ball #3001 Lady Elvis Uh Huh Sexy Fantasy Sketch Card Aceo Original ArtUnique Bust Of Elvis Presley! Amazing Likeness!!!Elvis Presley Authentic Certified Hair Lock W Relic Provenance Memorabilia CoaLot Of 3 Vintage Unique Unusual Elvis Presley Items - Photo Printing Plate CardsElvis Presley Vintage Rca Records Piece Of Elvis Presley Wardrobe In Pack2012 Leaf Pop Century Priscilla Presley Autograph Elvis On CardWowwee Realistic Robotic Elvis Presley Talking Bust Head1964~elvis Presley~kissin' Cousins~original Half Sheet Movie Poster~vgc~rareLot Of 10 Original 1956 Bubbles Elvis Presley Trading CardsLot: Elvis Presley Seasons Greetings Souvenir Postcards Concert / HiltonVintage Elvis Presley Vegas Concert Menu Hilton Casino 1971Funko Pop Disney Elvis Stitch Hot Topic #127 NibNew Mcfarlane Toys Gospel Elvis "if I Can Dream" FigurineElvis Back In Memphis Lsp-4429 Rca Victor Label New Never Opened Apl1-4429 Cows On Parade Figurine Elvis Blue Hawaii Gem Stones Lei Sunglasses #9137 Stitch As Elvis With Ukulele Guitar Lilo And Stitch Disney Pin 38770Elvis Presley Gold Coin Americana Sings Blues Rock Pop Memphis Tennessee Signed2 Aug 17 1977 Concert Tickets Portland The Day After Elvis Presley Died Elvis Presley Glass Plate - 1956 Epe. Mint= Rare!!Elvis Presley Personal Owned Scarf - With Letter And DokumentsElvis Presley Authentic Certified Hair Lock W Towel Piece Provenance Memorabilia