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INTERESTING FACTS

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ELVIS PRESLEY

Elvis Presley

* Elvis was a black belt in karate. He took up martial arts under the shotokan sensei Jürgen Seydal, while fulfilling his military duties in Germany in 1958. He was awarded his black belt before he returned to the United States, in 1960, by the chito-ryu instructor Hank Slemansky. Elvis's love of martial arts continued throughout his life. His favourite form of fighting became American Kenpo.

* Elvis's favourite board games were Monopoly and Yahtzee

* The name Elvis was his dad Vernon’s middle name. His mum Gladys’s middle name was Love.

* Elvis once ate nothing but meatloaf, tomatoes, and mashed potato for a period of two years. His favourite foods were burned bacon, peanut butter & banana sandwiches, cheeseburgers, pork chops, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and grape jelly. He loved Fool’s Gold Loaf, a hollow loaf filled with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of grape jelly and a pound of bacon. It had 42,000 calories. At its height Elvis's s daily food intake was an estimated 94,000 calories a day. An Asian elephant consumes only 50,000. His last meal was four scoops of ice cream and six chocolate chip cookies.

* None of Elvis's feature films or music documentaries were ever nominated for an Oscar in any category. He made 31 movies and two music documentaries.

Elvis and  President Nixon

* On 21 December 1970, Elvis met President Nixon at the White House. Presley had initiated the meeting with a six-page letter to the President, in which he had spelt out his desire to be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. During his meeting with Nixon, Presley denounced The Beatles as being 'un-American' for their open drug-taking and anti-Vietnam politics. For his part, Nixon reminded Presley of his need to "retain credibility". Nevertheless, he is said to have given Presley a 'Special Agent' badge.

* In his younger days Elvis considered becoming ... an electricain, truck driver and law enforcement officer

* Elvis purchased his first guitar when he was just 11 years old. He wanted a rifle but his mum persuaded him to have a guitar instead.

* Elvis's first public performance was at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. The young Elvis entered the singing competition dressed as a cowboy, and had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone. His performance of "Old Shep" by Red Foley earned him second prize.

* In 1960, when Elvis was at his post-military trimmest, he weighed a little over 12 stone. When he died, in 1977, he weighed just under 19 stone.

DJ Dewey Phillips

* Elvis's first radio play was on Memphis station WHBQ, on the Red, Hot and Blue Show, in 1954. DJ Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right", and, a week later Sun Records had received 6,000 advance orders for the single "That's All Right"/ "Blue Moon of Kentucky".

* Elvis recorded more than 700 tracks in his music career, but didn't write a single one of them.

* Aged 18 Elvis paid $4 to make his first record, a present for his mum. He sang My Happiness and That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.

* When Elvis discovered that his wife, Priscilla, had been having an affair with Mike Stone - a karate instructor and mutual friend of the couple - he flew into a rage. The biographer Peter Guralnick claims that Elvis was so angry, he said: "there's too much pain in me ... Mike Stone [must] die." But when his bodyguard, Red West, came back to his boss with a price for Stone's contract killing, the King's mood had softened. "Aw hell," he said. "Let's just leave it for now. Maybe it's a bit heavy."

* The word Elvisology is the official Graceland term for historical and statistical information on the life and career of Elvis. He bought his mansion Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1957 for $100,000 (£36,000). It was named by a previous owner whose daughter was Grace.

The Original Entourage: Elvis Presley's 'Memphis Mafia'

* The King's entourage were known collectively as the Memphis Mafia. All members of the Memphis Mafia sported diamond and gold rings, given to them by Elvis, on which a thunderbolt and the letters TCB had been imprinted. TCB stood for "Take Care of Business".

* He only performed five concerts outside the United States - all in Canada in 1957. At the time of his death, he was planning a European tour. He only set foot on British soil once, when the plane taking him back to the United States from Germany stopped to refuel at Glasgow Prestwick airport. The singer enjoyed a two-hour stopover before re-boarding the military plane.

* Elvis's national breakthrough was the 1956 release of Heartbreak Hotel, inspired by a newspaper report of a suicide.

*Elvis's first girlfriend was high school sweetheart Dixie Locke; his last girlfriend was Ginger Alden.

* The last film Elvis saw at the cinema was The Spy Who Loved Me. The day before he died, though, he had tried to obtain a print of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, to show his daughter, Lisa Marie.

Elvis as a boy with his natural blonde hair

* Until his teens, Elvis was blonde, before his hair turned brown. Elvis died his hair black

* When performing on TV in 1956, host Milton Berle advised Elvis not to use his guitar, saying: “Let ’em see you, son”. Elvis’s gyrating hips caused outrage across the US. Within days he had been nicknamed Elvis the Pelvis.

*Elvis's favorite collectables were official badges; he had police badges from almost every city he sang in.

* Even before the obese later years, Elvis was a prodigious eater. In his 20s, he told Country Song Roundup Magazine that he could demolish eight deluxe cheese burgers, two bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches and three milkshakes in a single sitting.

* Led Zeppelin were big fans of Elvis and were desperate to meet him when they toured the US. In 1973, the longed-for meeting came to pass, when Robert Plant and John Paul Jones met the King in Los Angeles. The Zeppelins were rendered speechless by the meeting, but Elvis broke the ice by swapping his $5,000 gold and diamond watch for Jones's watch - which featured a picture of Mickey Mouse. From that moment on, any member of Led Zeppelin was welcome in the front row of an Elvis concert.

Some of Elvis's bejewelled jumpsuits

* Elvis first got his taste for outlandish clothes while a student at LC Humes High School in Memphis. He admired clothes at Lansky Brothers on Beale Street, but only had enough money to buy the occasional shirt. When he became famous, he began shopping there more regularly, and continued to use Lansky Brothers his whole life. Indeed, Bernard Lansky, the proprietor, is responsible for some of the more egregious fashion crimes perpetrated by the King. It was Lansky, for instance, who made Elvis's gold lamé jacket.

* Some of Elvis's bejewelled jumpsuits weighed more than two stone, they also had names, including Gypsy and Mad Tiger.

* Elvis was 5ft 11.75in (182 cm); however, he routinely wore shoes that had "lifts" inserted into his size 11 shoes making him over 6 feet tall.

* In 1956 a Florida judge called Elvis a “savage” because he said his music was undermining the youth. He was forbidden to shake his body at a gig — but he waggled his finger in protest.

* Elvis had a brief affair with the Swedish-American actress and singer, Ann-Margret, as they filmed the kitsch 1964 hit Viva Las Vegas. Elvis's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, demanded that the relationship end, but his charge continued to hold a special place in his heart for Ann-Margret. Every time Ann-Margret opened a show in Las Vegas, he would send her flowers arranged in the shape of a guitar.

Elvis and Scatter

* Sometime in the early 1960s, Elvis adopted a chimpanzee called Scatter. Scatter had previously belonged to a Memphis children's entertainer, and was trained to perform. He also had a penchant for looking up women's skirts. Elvis found this trait amusing. A well-known wheeze was to gather his female friends together, and then let Scatter wreak havoc among them.

* On 30 July 1954, Elvis played one of his first shows, at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis. He was, apparently, so nervous, that his legs started to shake. The outlandish flares the singer had chosen to wear that evening only exacerbated the shaky movement. The girls in the audience went wild, and Elvis decided to incorporate his shaky-legs routine into future shows.

* In 1956, on the Steve Allen show Elvis was forced to sing Hound Dog to a basset hound. When Elvis recorded Hound Dog in the studio, he demanded 31 takes

* Elvis's favourite hobbies were go-carting, karate, touch football, gospel singing, numerology.

* In 1954, when Elvis was cutting some early records at Sun Studios, he auditioned for an amateur gospel quartet called the Songfellows. They turned him down.

 The engraved plaque reads: "National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences...Elvis Presley...Best Inspirational Performance...1972...'He Touched Me'."

* Elvis won three Grammy Awards - his three Grammy wins, incidentally, were all for gospel recordings: the 1967 album, "How Great Thou Art;" the 1974 live recording of the song, "How Great Thou Art;" and a Grammy for his 1972 album, "He Touched Me."

* Elvis's favourite toothpaste was Colgate. His favourite aftershave was Brut, and his favourite soft drink was Pepsi.

* Elvis is the eighth most popular celebrity name for UK dogs.

* The last movie Elvis saw was a special viewing of The Spy Who Loved Me.

* Elvis was christened Elvis Aron Presley, but his gravestone reads Elvis Aaron Presley. Elvis was christened with only one 'a' in his middle name, so that he would share a characteristic with his stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley. Towards the end of his life, Elvis sought to add an 'a' to his middle name to make it a biblical name.

Muhammad Ali wearing the robe given by Elvis. March 31, 1974

* In 1973, Elvis gave Muhammad Ali a $10,000 white robe, with the words "People's Champion" emblazoned across the back. Ali was touched, and wore the robe on 31 March, when he fought Ken Norton for the first time. Norton broke Ali's jaw in the second round, before winning a 12-round decision. Ali vowed never to wear the robe again, although he maintained his friendship with Elvis.

* The book Elvis was reading at the time of his death was Frank O Adams's The Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus.

* Elvis only ever did one advert — it was for radio on November 6th 1954 for Southern Maid Donuts. This commercial was broadcast during the Louisiana Hayride. Elvis sang the jingle: 'You can get 'em piping hot after four PM, you can get 'em piping hot. Southern Maid Donuts hit the spot, you can get 'em piping hot after four PM'.

* Elvis was a 151/2 - 16 necksize in shirts and size 11 in shoes

* Not only was Elvis a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln's great-great grandfather, Isaiah Harrison, he was also a distant cousin of Jimmy Carter.

Elvis with some of his gun collection

* The American firearms company America Remembers released a special edition "Elvis Presley TCB Tribute Revolver". The weapon, a .357 Smith & Wesson Magnum Revolver, is decorated with a picture of Elvis, as well as a lightning bolt, in 24-carat-gold. The weapon is designed, say its makers, to "honour the legend of Elvis Presley, and we are proud to offer it on one of the most powerful firearms ever used in American law-enforcement". Elvis was himself a keen collector of guns. He had 40 weapons in his arsenal, including M-16s and a Thomson sub-machine gun.

* Elvis's first cars were a 1951 Lincoln Continental, wrecked by his band member bassist Bill Black; a 1940's Cadillac Sedan, and the of course the infamous pink Cadillac, a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, which was actually blue before Elvis painted it pink.

* Elvis collected marble statues of the Venus de Milo and Joan of Arc.

* When recording Are You Lonesome Tonight at 3am, Elvis insisted that the studio lights be lowered to create the right mood. At the end of the song you can hear him bump into a microphone stand. When performing the song in Las Vegas in 1969, Elvis did one of his occasional lyric changes, from “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?” to “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?” He then noticed a bald man in the audience, and was reduced to hysterics

* Elvis wore a cross, the Hebrew letter chai and a star of David around his neck. "I don't want to miss out on heaven due to a technicality," he said

Elvis with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker

* Elvis played only five concerts outside the US, on a three-day tour to Canada in 1957. Many think the reason he never toured abroad again was that manager Colonel Tom Parker was an illegal immigrant from Holland and would have been deported if he applied for a US passport. Colonel Tom, real name Andreas Cornelius van Kuij, had always had an eye for a quick dollar. Before managing Elvis he used to paint sparrows yellow and sell them as canaries. He held an incredible power over Elvis — most managers take ten or 15 per cent but by the end of Elvis’s career Colonel Tom was taking 50 per cent. Together with extra payments, it meant he was earning more than the singer.

* While in the Army Elvis bought his fellow soldiers clothes and TVs and gave his army pay to charity.

* His last concert was at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 26th 1977. His last song at the concert was Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. "Way Down" recorded in October 1976, it was Elvis's last single released before his death on August 16th 1977. The last song he ever sang was Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, sitting at his piano at home on the night he died.

* In 1956 he began his film career with Love Me Tender. His next film, Loving You, featured his parents as audience members. After his mother’s death the following year, he never watched it again. The 1957 film Jailhouse Rock premiered at the Loews State Theater cinema in Memphis, where Elvis had once been an usher.

* His 1960 single It’s Now Or Never was heard in jail by a prisoner who was so affected by it he vowed that on his release he would pursue a career in the music industry. It was Barry White who had been jailed for four months for stealing tyres.

"Lisa Marie"  Elvis's Convair 880

* Elvis was the first artist to have a private jet, he named one of his private jets, a Convair 880, "Lisa Marie" after his daughter. It had a blue suede double bed, gold toilets and faucets. He owned 2 jets in his life, the other was a Lockheed Jetstar called Hound Dog II. One of his pilots had the real name of Milo High. Elvis also had the tail of his private jets painted with the initials "TCB" (Taking Care of Business) and a lightning bolt.

* In 1962 Elvis had a hit with Return To Sender. 30 years later in 1992, on the day a commemorative Elvis stamp was issued in the US, many people used it on letters with deliberately invalid addresses so that they would receive it back marked “return to sender”, increasing the stamp’s value.

* In 1977 Elvis saw a petrol station attendant being attacked by two youths. He got out of his limo and took up a karate stance. The shock of being confronted by the star calmed them down.

* Elvis was a big Monty Python fan. His favourite film was The Holy Grail. It was in his video recorder at the time of his death.

* In 1977 there were 170 Elvis impersonators. By 2002 there were 85,000. Impersonators include black Elvises, disabled Elvises, Jewish Elvises, Greek Elvises and child Elvises. A Mexican one is called El Vez. Elvis Herselvis is a lesbian one. In Mogadishu, Somalia, it is illegal impersonating Elvis without a beard.

the Memphis Mafia diamond and gold ring

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