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Purely Mississippi: From Impoverished to Immortal, The King of Rock and Roll

TUPELO, Miss– A young boy born to a poor Tupelo family–80 years later Elvis Presley (January 8, 1935-August  is still the “King of Rock and Roll” beyond the grave. 

It started with a little boy who wanted a gun for his birthday. Imagine a young kid, his head barely reaching the top of the counter, pointing at a gun and saying “I want that one.”

Like any mother would, this mom said no. The clerk at Tupelo Hardware suggested a guitar instead. That’s the first guitar that Elvis Presley would ever play.

“He got his start here in Tupelo, singing in church,” says Dick Guyton, Executive Director at the Elvis Birthplace and Museum, “the Pastor helped him out.”

Guyton says Elvis Presley’s talent was described as “genuine and raw,” in the beginning.

“His parents didn’t have much,” says Guyton, “he and his family had to leave the home they had built after just three years to move to Memphis.”

Elvis found a job later on, as a truck driver. He would make stops and play at different spots when he would go on hauls, but that didn’t launch his career. It was a simple gift for his mom that put Elvis on the map.

“He stopped into a studio to record a bit for his mom,” says Guyton, “the rest is history.”

History indeed. Elvis Presley’s career took off in 1956 with the release of his first single “Heartbreak Hotel.” From there he released numerous hit records and starred in movies. Years later, Elvis went down in history not just for being the King, but for being in the first ever globally-broadcasted concert “Aloha from Hawaii.”

In 1977, The King met an early grave at the age of 42, after years of prescription drug abuse. His name didn’t stop there, as he went on to be forever known as “The King of Rock and Roll.”

It’s the legacy of his music and his humble beginnings from Tupelo that make Elvis Presley the definition of Purely Mississippi.

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