The History of Elvis: 1955

The story of Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley Performing On Stage
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Here's a short look at what Elvis Presley's life and career were like in 1955

By 1955 Elvis Presley had achieved his dream of being a professional singer, even if he was mostly uncategorizable and already engendering controversy for his wild onstage movements and unbelievable charisma. But the records show that Elvis' path to stardom, while quick, was not without a ton of work on his part—having found a musical home at Sun and a touring band that understood his mix of country, blues, R&B, and pop, Presley spent almost every single day of the year working it, touring from New Mexico to Cleveland to the Florida Everglades and performing anywhere that would have him.

For someone whose previous stage experience consisted mainly of finishing fifth place at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show at the age of ten by singing "Old Shep," he learned quickly; the kid often billed with some combination of the words "hillbilly" and "bop" began 1955 running third or fourth on the bill, sometimes even in his adopted hometown of Memphis, but by March, he was headlining. By May, his shows were literally creating a riot. By June, he'd outgrown his manager. By July, he'd hit the national charts. By October, he'd outgrown his label. And by the end of the year, he was ready for the big time.

Much of this had to do with his constant appearances on the Louisiana Hayride radio show out of Shreveport, LA, but in order to grasp the full extent of the Presley hysteria, you had to have visuals. In 1956, Elvis would meet television. And both would be changed irrevocably.