Most of the King’s biographers attribute his singing style to black gospel and country music. But Elvis wanted to reach a wider audience, so he based his early vocal stylings on pop crooner Dean Martin. (For evidence, listen to Elvis’s first recording of “Love Me Tender.”)
Elvis Presley’s biggest hit (and the song he said was his personal favorite) was “Don’t Be Cruel.” The song was first offered to another recording artist signed to RCA at the time, but the songwriter, Otis Blackwell, wanted it to go to Elvis. He knew that he’d make more money if Elvis recorded it instead of an unknown. And that other young singer was gracious and consented to having “Don’t Be Cruel” given to Elvis. But don’t feel bad. The “unknown” singer became almost as famous. His name: Frankie Valli.
Take a tour behind the scenes at the NBC television special that relaunched Elvis Presley’s career as a stage musician. Author Steve Binder—who directed the TV special—provides exclusive content that gives fans even more insight into the performance that many see as a high point in the King of Rock’s reign of American music.
In 1964, Elvis Presley starred in the movie Kissin’ Cousins. It was a typical Elvis formula movie—lots of songs, lots of pretty girls. (The only unique aspect of this ﬁlm was that Elvis played two roles: Cousin Josh and Cousin Jodie.) Among the pretty girls were Yvonne Craig, who would later star as TV’s Batgirl; a young Teri Garr, who would later be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie; and Maureen Reagan, whose father would later be elected president of the United States.
Could you imagine Elvis—with a British accent—saying, “I fart in your general direction”? According to former girlfriend Linda Thompson, the King was a huge fan of the British comedy troupe Monty Python. “He’d be doing all the voices,” she said, “which is mind-boggling. He’d even do the ladies’ voices.”