The holidays may be officially over, but there are still plenty of reasons to celebrate in the New Year. And today, January 8th, is a big one: Elvis Presley’s birthday—also known as Elvismas! It’s a day that’s sure to keep hips shaking and pompadours puffed to full capacity!
To celebrate The King’s 78th birthday, let’s take a look at how the original “Hound Dog” made history in American culture.
Hall of Fame
As a singer, dancer, and actor, Elvis was the epitome of a triple threat. But Elvis brought a whole new meaning to the term when he got inducted into the Hall of Fame for three different genres of music: country (1998), gospel (2001), and rock ‘n’ roll (1986). The somewhat confusing country tune “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” went straight to No. 1 on the charts, helping to cement his place in the Country Hall of Fame. Elvis may not be remembered specifically for his gospel music, but he was never shy about sharing his religious beliefs and singing Christian music. In fact, of Elvis’ 14 Grammy nominations, his only three wins were from his gospel performances. And of course, the King of Rock had plenty of rock ‘n’ roll hits under his belt, including “Don’t be Cruel” and “Hound Dog,” which hit radios during the summer of 1956 and was among the longest running No. 1 hits during the rock era.
Aloha from Hawaii
Fully equipped with only a white bedazzled jumpsuit, a signature greased pompadour, and an authentic Hawaiian lei, Elvis set out to make history yet again. It was in January of 1973 that Elvis held a concert aptly titled Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite that was broadcast worldwide. The concert didn’t require any cost to attend, just an optional donation for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii, which raised $75,000 from the concert. The concert made history both nationally and internationally after being seen in more homes in the United States than Neil Armstrong’s moon landing; worldwide, it accrued more than 1 billion viewers.
No. 1 Celebratory Stamp
Elvis really knows how to stick around in the hearts—and on the envelopes—of Americans. Of the most beloved commemorative stamps that have ever been released and saved, the 1993 Elvis stamp is the most popular of all time. The stamp easily one-ups the rest of the competition with 124 million saved, while the 2006 Wonders of America stamp comes in a distant second with 87.5 million. Otis Redding and Pie Traynor are the only other people to get into the top 10 most popular stamps, coming in fourth and ninth respectively, but Elvis is the only one who wasn’t a part of a photo with any particular theme or genre. The No. 1 stamp featuring the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is simply labeled, Elvis.
Caring with Cadillacs
Aside from being known as the King of Rock, Elvis could be seen as the King of Caddys, too. It’s a well-known fact that Elvis prided himself in his stylish pink Cadillac, but he didn’t just keep his love for the luxury car to himself. He gave out an estimated 200 of them to family, friends, associates, acquaintances, and even strangers. Even though the all-powerful Oprah Winfrey may go down in history for her televised charitable car giveaway, in which she screamed “YOU GET A CAR! YOU GET A CAR!” Elvis had already been there and done that, 200 times.
Highest Paid Celeb on TV
It’s no secret that Elvis and Ed Sullivan have a freckled past. Long story short, in 1956 Elvis’ provocative hip shaking (Shakira-style) got under Sullivan’s skin to the point that he didn’t want him to appear on his show. However, Sullivan had a change of heart after seeing how Elvis pulled in the high ratings, and so he invited him on The Ed Sullivan Show for three performances. Elvis made history when he was offered $50,000 to make the appearances on Sullivan’s show, which had been the most money that any performer had been given to appear on a network variety show at the time.
20th Anniversary: Digital Resurrection
On August 16, 1997, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ death (or permanent seclusion; we won’t judge you for your beliefs on his disappearance), a concert was held which featured a video of Elvis performing with more than 30 of his former band members live on stage in Memphis, Tennessee. After having fans come from around the world to celebrate the rock star’s life, a tour was developed entitled Elvis – The Concert, making Elvis the first performer ever to headline a live concert tour after death. Since his posthumous performances, other performers have followed in his footsteps by entertaining crowds after death, such as Michael Jackson’s This Is It concert, as well as the unforgettable, super-futuristic performance by Tupac at Coachella 2012.
Watch Elvis’ mini bio: