Elvis Presley Birthplace
Elvis Presley--"The King of Rock-n-Roll"--, though he gained immense fame and fortunate during his lifetime as a music and acting star, began his life in a modest two-room house. Born to Vernon and Gladys Presley on January 8, 1935, Elvis spent the first thirteen years of his life in Tupelo before moving to Memphis with his parents. Today, the home is a part of a museum devoted to the legendary celebrity and is opened to the public seven days a week.
Backstory and Context
Elvis was born in the two-room home along with his stillborn twin brother, Jessie Garon. The family only remained in the home for a few years before being forced to move due to financial hardships. They remained in Tupelo for thirteen years, moving frequently while Vernon and Gladys worked multiple jobs in an effort to make ends meet.
The themes in Elvis's iconic music can be traced to his childhood in Tupelo. The Presleys were members of the Assembly of God Church in Tupelo, and that is where Elvis was first influenced musically. While the family was living in the Shake Rag community of Tupelo the young Elvis was also exposed to the blues. According to the official website of the Elvis Presley Birthplace, "[The Presley] family also listened to country music radio programs from which Elvis drew influence."
Elvis embarked on what would be a life-time music career starting with his first public radio broadcast in 1945. According to the Elvis Presley Birthplace website, "At ten years old, Elvis stood on a chair and sang 'Old Shep' in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. WELO Radio broadcast the talent show, and Elvis won the second prize of $5 and free admission to all the fair rides."
After purchasing his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware in 1946, his pastor taught him how to play. And before leaving for Memphis with his parents, he performed a farewell tribute to Milam Junior High class.
According to the official website for Elvis Presley Birthplace,
Nine years later, Elvis returned to the fairgrounds and performed a benefit concert for the City of Tupelo. After his triumphant homecoming concert at the fairgrounds in September 1956, Elvis returned on September 27, 1957 and performed a benefit concert to raise money to build a Youth Center and park for Tupelo. The proceeds were used to purchase his birthplace and make a park for the neighborhood children. The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park now consist of the Birthplace, Museum, Chapel, Gift Shop, “Elvis at 13” statue, Fountain of Life, Walk of Life, “Memphis Bound” car feature and Story Wall.