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    

Elvis Presley Gifted Mathey-tissot Watch Rare Memorabilia Gold Stainless SteelElvis 1971 Sahara Tahoe Gold Tassel Souvenir Menu Rare!!!!!!!!!!!Elvis White Phoenix Jumpsuit With BeltElvis Presley 1956 Souvenir Photo Album Rare!!!!!G.i. Blues Original Movie Poster 1960 Elvis Presley/juliet ProwseElvis Presley Owned Original Karate Belt On Display With Startifacts Documents 4 Vintage 1956 Elvis Presley For President Political Campaign 1.5 Inch TabsElvis Presley Autographed Colonel Parker's "snowmen's League" Guide Book Jsa LoaElvis Presley Original Epe "sincerely Yours" 1956 Pencil On Original Card Elvis Presley Owned Cigarillo With Loa From His Girlfriend- The Last One!!Vintage No More Blue Hawaii Elvis Presley Sheet Music 1961Vintage Almost Always True Blue Hawaii Elvis Presley Sheet Music 1961Case Knife Elvis Presley Guitar Box - Red Bone Humpback Half Whittler Knife3 Original Elvis Owned Artifacts Framed With Museum Documentation - ReadElvis Presley Kissing Cousins Reel To Reel Tape W/ Bonus Gift Franklin Mint Model Kh Elvis Harley And AccessoriesElvis Presley International / Hilton Hotel Dinner Menu 1972 Orange S656. Vintage: Elvis Presley National Fan Club Celluloid Pinback (1950's)[Vintage One Boy, Two Little Girls Kissin' Cousins Elvis Presley Sheet Music 1964Rare! Original 35mm Color Transparency Slide Jocelyn Lane Actress Elvis Co-starOriginal Elvis Presley Promotional Photo Card King Creole 1958Elvis Presley Originale Guitar Pick 1969 White E2x Mint 1978 Full Box Elvis Presley Collectors Series Bubble Gum Cards -72 Pack Elvis Presley Souvenir Poster All Star Shows Burning Love Concert Tour / Hilton 1968 Original 1 Sheet Movie Poster~stay Away, Joe~elvis Presley~nm Condition!Classic 1955 Shure 55s Elvis Microphone Elvis Presley 1969 Poster Ad Concert International Hotel Las VegasElvis Presley 1969 Record Catalog & 1967 Easter Greetings Card 1956 R710-1 Elvis Presley Topps Check List Card #2 Nm-mtElvis Presley Elvis Country Lp & Bonus Photo 1971Vintage Kissin' Cousins Elvis Presley Sheet Music 1964Elvis Presley Souvenir Button / Pin Concert Tours / Hilton / Lake Tahoe 1976Elvis Presley Singing And Dancing Telephone Made In 1996 By TelemaniaVtg Elvis Presley Souvenir Memorabilia Lot Magazines, Posters, Iron On's, More!!Funko Pop Rocks 1970's Elvis Vinyl FigureFranklin Mint**elvis Presley's 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood *pink Box & Papers 1/24Elvis Presley Christmas With Elvis 45 Epa-4340 Dog On Side 99% Mint!!Commemorative Elvis Presley Zippo Lighter Limited Edition Only 3500 MadeElvis Presley "elvis Country" Reel To Reel Stereo TapeElvis Presley 2010 Press Pass Worn Swim Trunks Card Swatch Relic The Kings ThingElvis Presley Epa 747 45 Record Elvis Presley His Hand In Mine Reel To Reel Stereo TapeElvis Presley Card Press-pass In In Very Nice Condition Lot Of Four 2008Elvis Presley 68 Special Doll With All Paperwork Nib!1956 Topps Elvis Presley #11 Don't Be Cruel (near Mint) *593359Elvis Presley Legendary Ep 25 Coffee Mugs 16 Oz 25th Anniversary, Set Of 2, Blue1956 Topps Elvis Presley #2 Elvis Presley (ex) *598874Elvis Presley Signed Autograph Card. Original Issued Numbered Coa & Loa Incl. 1960 Complete Set Of Lobby Cards ((1-8): Flaming Star - Elvis PresleyElvis Presley Gives 150k To Motion Picture Relief Fund Frank Sinatra Orig Photo2010 Press Pass Elvis Presley Yvonne Craig AutographElvis Presley Dinner Menu 1975 Hilton Hotel Elvis Presley Memphis To Vegas / Vegas To Memphis Double Lp & Bonus Photos 1970Elvis Presley Dinner Menu 1974 Hilton Hotel Elvis Presley #68 Graceland Jersey Football Adult Medium M Black & Blue RareSet Of 3 Pepsi Cola Elvis 1999 Miniature Bottles 'artist Of The Century'originalElvis Stitch Kracov CreationsPress Pass Elvis Presley Worn Swatch Master Pieces Japanese Kimono Mp-11956 R710-1 Go Go Go Elvis Presley Topps Card #1Elvis Presley Pez Set With Cd. Factory Sealed. New!