Top 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Elvis Presley

2. Elvis Didn’t Write His Own Music

Elvis Presley.  Not a songwriter.
Elvis Presley. Not a songwriter.

A badge of honor for many famous musicians is the credit they receive for writing their own songs, but one of the most famous performers of all didn’t write the iconic songs known the world over. Elvis had a few credits on songs he supposedly co-wrote, but virtually all of his songs were written by other people. Some estimates put Elvis Presley at the top for certifications given for gold, platinum, and multiplatinum albums even though some late 20th century challengers like Madonna and Michael Jackson challenged his supremacy for various sales records.

Elvis was certainly a talented performer, and it’s likely that no other singer could have brought songs like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” to life. However, some of his most famous songs were created by songwriters like Mile Stoller and Jerry Leiber. According to those songwriters, Elvis was passionate about music and was quite well-versed in the medium, but he wasn’t a songwriter. Elvis was said to have an encyclopedia’s knowledge of music, which may have helped him bring rock into the mainstream. Elvis was particularly knowledgeable about the blues, which greatly influenced the progression of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s.

The reason Elvis was credited as a co-writer on some of his songs is because it was common at the time for singers to be given a partial credit to retain some rights to royalties in the years after the song’s release. Elvis’s wife Priscilla was even credited as a co-writer on some songs, but the credit was just a way for Elvis’s manager to squeeze some extra money out of royalties. Even though Elvis didn’t write his music, his singing talent and ability to interpret the music allowed him to earn the industry’s respect.

1. Elvis had a Twin Brother

Twin Elvis Presleys!  Be still my heart.
Twin Elvis Presleys! Be still, my beating heart.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

When Elvis’s mother gave birth to him, he wasn’t the only son born that morning on January 8, 1935. Elvis had a twin who was stillborn and born first. Elvis came along about a half-an-hour after his brother. Elvis’s mother gave birth at home, but she was so sick from the event that she had to be taken to a local hospital. The stillborn twin was given a name: Jesse Garon Presley and Elvis’s parents decided to give Elvis the middle name of Aron as a way to remember the twin who didn’t make it. Later in life, Elvis changed his middle name to Aaron, and that’s the way his middle name was spelled on his tombstone.

Elvis regularly spoke about his twin as he grew up and of being an only child in a poor household. His mother was never able to have more children because of the difficult birth. Conditions in Elvis’s household growing up were quite desperate with his father being sent to prison because of a forged $4 check. When Elvis graduated from high school in the early 1950s, he was the first person in his family to earn that honor. Before launching his music career, Elvis was known as a quiet person who had a job in a machinist’s shop.

Elvis carried the memory of his brother with him his entire life, and the memory turned him into a very spiritual person. He was often said to read books about spirituality, and he even wore the necklaces of multiple religions around his neck: a Star of David and a Christian cross. Stories told about Elvis’s childhood suggest he used to have conversations with his dead brother at night.

As one of the most indelible parts of America’s rock ‘n’ roll history, Elvis Aaron Presley certainly earned the title as the “King” with his hundreds of famous songs. It’s hard to believe that he was only 42 when he died in 1977 and yet he’d already given the world so many iconic songs to enjoy. The flamboyant lifestyle Elvis led is often focused upon by the media, but his life was so much more than white, sequined costumes, dark sideburns, and flowing capes.

Investigations conducted after the King’s death concluded that Elvis had been prescribed thousands of prescriptions over the years for painkillers and had spent years dependent upon the drugs that were handed out like candy to stars of his caliber. With such an amazing talent for music, Elvis’s death was nothing short of a tragedy. It’s fortunate that humanity will always have his songs to remember him.