Today marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of the death of beloved rock n’ roll icon Elvis Presley, who tragically passed Aug. 16, 1977. He died from a heart attack due to drug abuse, the outcome of the emotional toll his divorce with Priscilla Presley in 1973 took on him.
The King of Rock and Roll never formally learned to read or play music, but started getting involved in the blues scene of his hometown in Memphis, Tennessee, in the early 50’s during his high school years.
This led to the takeoff of his music career in 1954 with Sun Records. Over the next two decades, he sold chart-topping records, became involved in the film industry, and made network television appearances, all the while becoming one of the most loved symbols of the Civil Rights Movement due to his acceptance of all races and provocative performance styles.
After a two-year stint serving in the U.S. Army, Elvis met 14-year-old Priscilla in Germany, who he kept in touch with after his departure and would eventually move out to Los Angeles and marry. After a few affairs and the death of his mother, their marriage crumbled, throwing Elvis into the world of prescription drug abuse and his death at 42 years old.
Despite his tragic ending, Elvis will always be known as the king of rock and a male sex icon of the 1950s-60s. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, won three Grammys including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into multiple music halls of fame. Here are his top-10 greatest songs of all time.
10. ”Stuck On You”
Released in 1960 as Presley’s first single since he was discharged from the Army, this tune went straight to the top of the charts.
This song was released in 1958 reaching number 4 on the R&B charts, and eventually becoming Presley’s eleventh number-one hit in the country.
8. ”Love Me Tender”
This 1956 soft-spoken love ballad was adapted from a Civil War tune called Aura Lee.
7. ”It’s Now Or Never”
This song was released in 1960 and spent five weeks as the top song on the charts. It was also Presley’s biggest international single ever, after spending eight weeks at the top of the charts in the U.K.
6. ”Are You Lonesome To-Night?”
This song was originally recorded by Bob Haring & the Cameo Dance Orchestra in 1926 and recorded by numerous other artists in 1927. Presley’s version, the most notable version, was released in 1960.
5. “Jailhouse Rock”
This song was released in 1957 concurring with the release of Presley’s film of the same title. It was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
4. ”(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”
This blues-inspired tune was a number-one hit in the U.S. during the summer of 1957, staying there for seven weeks.
3. ”Heartbreak Hotel”
This rock and roll melody with a strong storyline behind it was released in 1956 and became Presley’s first number one pop record. It was also the best-selling single of that year.
2. ”All Shook Up”
This 1957 single went to the top of the pop charts in the U.S. for eight weeks. It also topped the R&B charts for four weeks and reached number three on the country charts.
This blues tune and well-known party song was re-recorded by Presley in 1956 after it’s original release in 1952. Presley’s version was named number 19 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
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