Skip Main Navigation Skip To Navigation Content


You are here: › History
Skip top of page navigation

U.S. Census Bureau History: Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in
Tupelo, MS. His first single with RCA Victor, "Heartbreak
Hotel" was recorded on January 10, 1956.

January 8, 1935, marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of the "King of Rock and Roll"—Elvis Aaron Presley [PDF 284KB]. Born in Tupelo, MS, Presley was enumerated in Lee County, MS, during the 1940 Census, and lived with his parents Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Presley. At age 13, he moved to Memphis, TN, with his parents, where his career in music began with Sam Phillips' Sun Records in July 1954, recording That's All Right and I Forgot to Remember to Forget, his first "Number 1" record on the Country Music charts. After successful appearances touring with singers Hank Snow and Roy Orbison [PDF 353KB], Elvis' Sun Records contract was sold to RCA Victor, November 21, 1955.

Elvis began recording music with RCA in Nashville on January 10, 1956, with the first session producing the single Heartbreak Hotel, released January 27. The next day, Presley made his first television appearance on CBS's Stage Show hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Elvis stayed in New York City to record at RCA's nearby studios, recording Carl Perkin's rockabilly song, Blue Suede Shoes.

Presley's fame would snowball in 1956 following appearances on the Milton Berle [PDF 310KB] and Steve Allen shows. His first of three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show drew approximately 60 million viewers—83 percent of the nation's television audience! On January 14, 1973, Presley proved he could still draw millions of viewers when Aloha from Hawaii became the first concert shown globally via satellite broadcast.

Today, Elvis is still considered one of the world's most significant contributors to music, finding commercial success singing pop, blues, and gospel. Elvis has sold more than 600 million records worldwide; earned the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36; and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2007. Nearly four decades since his death on August 16, 1977, thousands of fans continue to celebrate Presley's achievements in music and film by visiting his Graceland home and burial site, purchasing his music, and according to Forbes Magazine, earning his estate approximately $55 million in 2013.

  • Elvis' career coincided with remarkable growth in the nation's radio broadcasting industry. When he was born in 1935, there were 623 [PDF 80KB] standard broadcast (AM) radio stations in the United States. When he moved to Memphis, TN, in 1948, there were 2,034 AM and 1,066 FM stations. In 1957, when his singles All Shook Up, Teddy Bear, and Jailhouse Rock topped the Billboard Pop chart, the nation had 3,079 AM and 665 FM stations.
  • On January 28, 1956, Elvis made his first television appearance on CBS's Stage Show. At the time, approximately 34.9 million American homes owned a television set. Seventeen years later, when his January 14, 1973, Aloha from Hawaii concert was transmitted by satellite to a global television audience, more than 63 million [PDF 61KB] American homes had black and white television sets and 27 million had color.
  • Elvis recorded Blue Suede Shoes at the RCA Studios in New York City, on January 30, 1956. That year (excluding athletic shoes), U.S. manufacturers produced 106.9 [PDF 115KB] million pairs of men's shoes and 273.4 million pairs of women's shoes. Regrettably, the number constructed of blue suede is unknown.
  • When Fun in Acupulco, starring Elvis Presley, began filming on January 21, 1963, Americans spent $4.5 billion on radios, televisions, and records, and $904 million [PDF 102KB] at movie theaters. In 2008, Americans spent $8.77 billion [PDF 64KB] on records, compact discs, and digital downloads, and $11.45 billion at the movies.
  • The population of Las Vegas, NV, numbered 125,787 [PDF 1.6MB] when Elvis began his month-long concert engagement at the city's International Hotel on January 26, 1970. Today, an estimated 603,488 people live in the city. "Viva Las Vegas!"

Elvis Presley moved into Graceland, in Memphis, TN, in 1957. At the time, the state was
home to a population of 3,423,000. When Elvis died in 1977, the state's population had
grown to 4,292,000. Today, an estimated 6,495,978 people call Tennessee home.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Senator Robert Corker (R-TN).

Historic census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Visit the National Archives Website to access 1940 Census records

Online subscription services are available to access the 1790-1940 census records. Contact your local library to inquire if it has subscribed to one of these services.

This Month In Census History

On January 5, 1897, Francis Amasa Walker, superintendant of the 1870 and 1880 Censuses, died of "apoplexy" at his Boston, MA, home. He was buried near his childhood home in North Brookfield, MA.

Filming the Wizard of Oz

In addition to overseeing the census, Walker served with distinction during the Civil War; was Indian Affairs superintendent; president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; fellow and president of the American Statistical Association; inaugural president of the American Economic Association; lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, and Amherst College; and earned many honorary degrees from universities, including Yale, Columbia, Harvard, and Edinburgh.

Tips for Genealogists

Interested in your family's genealogy? Check out our tips for genealogists.

[PDF] or PDF denotes a file in Adobe’s Portable Document Format. To view the file, you will need the Adobe® Reader® Off Site available free from Adobe. This symbol Off Site indicates a link to a non-government web site. Our linking to these sites does not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or the information found on them. Once you link to another site you are subject to the policies of the new site.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: December 31, 2014