Though it’s hard to imagine, Elvis Presley would have turned 80 on Thursday. To salute the King, here are 25 facts you should know about the man from Tupelo, Mississippi.
1. Elvis had Billboard's 1 song of the year for both 1956 (“Heartbreak Hotel”) and 1957 (“All Shook Up”). Nobody else has ever had the year's No. 1 song two years running.
2. Elvis was just 21 when he first notched Billboard's No. 1 song of the year. He was the youngest artist to achieve this feat to that point. (Two artists have since had the year's top song who were even younger. Lulu was just 19 when she had the No. 1 song of 1967, “To Sir With Love.” Andy Gibb was 20 when he had the top song of 1978, “Shadow Dancing.”)
3. Elvis’s 1956 single “Don’t Be Cruel”/”Hound Dog” is one of just two records where both sides have, separately, been voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The other is the Beatles’ 1967 single “Penny Lane”/”Strawberry Fields Forever.”
4. “Don’t Be Cruel”/”Hound Dog” was No. 1 for 11 weeks. That was a rock-era record until 1992, when Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” stayed on top for 13 weeks.
5. Elvis’s No. 1 albums span 46 years and five months, from May 1956 to October 2002. Only Barbra Streisand has had a longer span of No. 1 albums (just shy of 50 years). (Streisand and Presley sing a duet version of his “Love Me Tender” on her recent No. 1 album, Partners.)
6. Elvis had a No. 1 album (Elv1s: 30 No. 1 Hits) in 2002, 25 years after he died. Nobody else has ever had a No. 1 album that long after his or her death.
7. Four of Elvis’s albums (Elvis Presley and the soundtracks to Loving You, G.I. Blues, and Blue Hawaii) each logged 10 or more weeks at No. 1. Only one other artist — the Beatles— stayed on top that long with four different albums.
8. Elvis had 17 No. 1 hits, a total topped only the Beatles (with 20) and Mariah Carey (with 18). In addition, six of Elvis’s songs peaked at No. 2. The biggest of these, “Return to Sender,” spent five straight weeks at No. 2 in 1962, stuck behind the Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
9. Elvis had 24 consecutive top five hits (excluding B-sides, EPs, and old Sun Records recordings). The streak started with “Heartbreak Hotel” in April 1956 and extended through the aforementioned “Return to Sender” in November 1962. The streak-breaker: “One Broken Heart for Sale,” which peaked at No. 11 in March 1963.
10. Six of Elvis’s singles reached No. 1 in both U.S. and the U.K. That’s a record for a male solo artist. (The tally includes three consecutive singles in 1960-61: “It’s Now or Never,” “Are You Lonesome To-night?,” and “Surrender.”)
11. Elvis’s Blue Hawaii soundtrack was No. 1 for 20 weeks. Only three other artist-linked soundtracks have had 20 or more weeks at No. 1: Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever (24 weeks in 1978), Prince & the Revolution’s Purple Rain (24 weeks in 1984-85), and Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard (20 weeks in 1992-93).
12. Seven of Elvis’s top 10 hits came from his movies. The first was “Love Me Tender” (No. 1 in October 1956). The last was “Bossa Nova Baby” from Fun in Acapulco (No. 8 in November 1963).
13. Elvis’s biggest hit of the 1960s was “Are You Lonesome To-night?” The 1960 smash spent six weeks at No. 1 and received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. The song was first a hit for female singer Vaughn De Leath in 1927 — eight years before Elvis was born.
14. Singer (and future Gong Show panelist) Jaye P. Morgan had a chart hit with “Are You Lonesome To-night?” in February 1959, nearly two years before Elvis’s version topped the chart.
15. Elvis’s biggest hit of the 1970s was “Burning Love.” The track reached No. 2 in October 1972. (Oddly, it was kept of the No. 1 spot by a hit by another 1950s rock ‘n’ roll veteran — Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling.”)
16. The only Grammys that Elvis won were for religious recordings. He won three times for the Best Sacred or Inspirational Performance. (The Recording Academy made amends in 1971, making Presley the first rock artist to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award — then called the Bing Crosby Award).
17. Elvis’s Christmas Album logged four weeks at No. 1 when it was first released in 1957. Its run at No. 1 was interrupted by Bing Crosby’s 1945 album Merry Christmas, which returned for one final week on top. (Elvis and Bing, two of the biggest music stars of the 20th Century, died within two months of each other in 1977.)
18. Elvis’s last No. 1 album in his lifetime was Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, which topped the chart in May 1973. It displaced Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (which has gone on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time).
19. Elvis was No. 1 on the country chart with “Way Down” the week he died in August 1977. The record hit No. 1 in the Billboard issue dated Aug. 20, which was published the previous week. (He died on Aug. 16.) He returned to No. 1 on the country chart posthumously in March 1981 with a remix of his 1968 hit “Guitar Man.”
20. Cheap Trick’s 1988 remake of “Don’t Be Cruel” (which reached No. 4 that October) marked the first time a remake of one of Elvis’s top 10 hits went top 10 for another artist.
21. UB40’s 1993 version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is the most successful remake of one of Elvis’s hits. The group’s reggae-tinged take on the song was No. 1 for seven weeks. (Elvis’s version, from his movie Blue Hawaii, peaked at No. 2 in February 1962.)
22. Elvis’s “The Wonder of You” from 1970 was his only top 10 hit that was recorded live. He recorded it at one his shows in Las Vegas in February of that year.
23. Elvis’s 1958 hit “One Night” was originally written as “One Night (of Sin).” The original title was considered too risqué. (Times have changed.)
24. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote or co-wrote six of Elvis’s top 10 hits — more than any other songwriters.
25. Mac Davis is the only writer of a top 10 Elvis hit who went on to have a top 10 hit of his own. Davis wrote two top 10 hits for Elvis (“In the Ghetto” and “Don’t Cry Daddy”). He went on to have two top 10 hits of his own (“Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” and “Stop and Smell the Roses”).
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