When America was entering into World War II, music legend Elvis Presley was just reaching the peak of his success in the entertainment industry. However, that didn’t stop the all-American singer from proudly accepting his duty to defend his country. Something which won him a great deal of respect with both his fans and detractors alike. Although the singer’s time overseas might not have been all that it cracked up to be by the singer’s many adorers. It’s certainly admirable that Elvis didn’t try to get out of drafted and actually saw some time in active duty. Join Facts Verse as we explore the truth about Elvis Presley’s military career.
It just before Christmas in 1957 when legendary singer Elvis Presley received the news that he’s going drafted into the United States Army. The singer was spending the holiday at his famous Graceland estate, and was amidst the peak of his career success. While Elvis could’ve arguably used some of his connections to try and get out of serving in the war. He was actually grateful for the opportunity to serve his country. Elvis had always been incredibly patriotic. And had proudly submitted his draft card as soon as he had turned 18 years old.
By the time that Elvis had drafted into the army, he already a bit of a legend in his own time. The singer had already released such classic singles as “Hound Dog”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and “Heart Break Hotel”. And had starred in such hit Hollywood films as Love Me Tender. The singer had already defined what it meant to be a popular music idol. And has gone down in history as the first of his kind. Elvis’ acceptance of his draft into the United States Army only helped cement his cultural legacy that much more.
Although Elvis grateful for the opportunity to defend his country after America’s entrance into World War II, fans terrified at the prospect of losing their new idol. Letters sent by the thousands to military offices asking for Elvis’ draft notice to rescinded. But Elvis made it clear to his fans that he wanted to go and serve, regardless of the draft. Still, Elvis was willing to receive one deferment in order to complete filming of the movie that he was currently working on. Which was King Creole. Elvis accepted the deferment not so much for his own sake but for the crew’s. Feeling that he had a professional obligation to finish the film. It’s good that he did, as the film has gone down in history as one of the singer’s most popular movies, as well as his own favorite.
Elvis received his draft notice on December 20, asked for his deferment on December 24. And received notice that the deferment had accepted on December 26. All in all, it appears that Elvis had a very busy Christmas in 1957! Elvis’s original date of induction into the United States Army had on January 20, 1958. But the date postponed to March 24 after the deferment. The deferment period also allowed Elvis time to record several songs. Some of which used in King Creole and some of which released as singles while Elvis was serving overseas.
Elvis had finished all of his remaining work by March 14, 1958. And had some time to relax with his family back in Memphis before officially inducted. During this time, Elvis seen shopping for records. Going to the barber, roller skating, and going to the local drive-in theater with some of his closest friends. That night, Elvis was apparently so excited for his induction into the army that he was unable to sleep. The next day, his friends and family saw him off as he headed out to Fork Chaffee, Arkansas.
Besides Elvis’ family and friends, his manager was also there to see him off before he left to become inducted. Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker, and he’s not too happy about the fact that his most prestigious and highest earning client had drafted. Tom claimed that Elvis’ drafting had cost the singer around half a million dollars in income. Which is a vastly greater sum of money when adjusted for inflation.
Tom did his best to keep releasing singles while Elvis was serving overseas. But Elvis’ service actually ended up being incredibly beneficial for the singer’s career due to the clout that he received from fans and detractors alike. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! While you’re at it, ubscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Before serving in World War II, Elvis had certainly been one of the biggest celebrities in the world. However, he’s also a bit of a controversial figure amongst the more conservative members of the population that hadn’t yet gotten used to the world of popular music. Because of this, Elvis’ induction into the United States Army did a lot to help him garner the respect of the people. As he finally seen as a positive role model for the youth instead of just a nuisance.
The press made a huge deal out of Elvis’ induction into the United States Army. They followed him to Arkansas, and the singer receiving his G.I. haircut became a major press event that was seen by eyes around the world. On March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley was officially sworn in as a private.
Elvis began going through basic training, and didn’t take his first leave until June. At that time, he went back to Memphis and recorded a few songs before heading back into training. Elvis serving during the subsequent release of the film King Creole a month later. And the film met with positive reactions from both critics and audiences alike. As mentioned previously, the film went on to become a personal favorite of Elvis. With him claiming it to be the absolute best of the 31 films that he starred in during his career.
As soon as Elvis finished with basic training, tragedy struck. Elvis received news that his mother not doing well. And the singer given emergency leave to go and visit her on her deathbed. She died in August 1958, with her son present. Elvis returned to service on August 24, and sent overseas to see active duty the next month. He’s greatly affected by the loss of his mother. And was likely grateful that the war was about to take his mind off of it.
Elvis stationed in Friedberg, Germany. According to the singer, his time during service was a challenge. But one that he was ready and willing to meet. It’s hard for him to get used to the new location. And his outfit also said to have gotten quite a bit of field duty. During his time serving, Elvis slept in the snow and ate rations, both of which were new experiences for the singer. Although some of the times were difficult. He was glad to have the opportunity to try it out. And he was also glad that he was serving his country.
Later in Elvis’ multi-year military career, he bought a house to share with his grandmother and father slightly off the boundaries of his base in Germany. The singer also filmed the movie G.I. Blues during this period. After buying his off-base property, Elvis continued working in the day but began having lavish parties at night. Some of which included improvised musical jam sessions with his army buddies. It was one of these buddies that introduced Elvis to a woman that would later become his wife. Though she’s only fourteen years old at the time, Elvis introduced to Priscilla Beaulieu by one of his army friends. And the two went on to become married several years later.
Elvis returned from Germany in 1960. Over the course of his military career, Elvis had risen to the rank of sergeant. He’s honorably discharged from service on March 5, and subsequently travelled back to his home state of Tennessee. Elvis had a great deal of plans for his career when he returned home from serving in the army, and he jumped back into the saddle without missing a beat.
Although people like his manager had feared that the time overseas would hurt Elvis’ career, it ended up only boosting the singer’s popularity in the long run. While Elvis felt that the music industry may have changed a little bit while he’s gone. He’s ready and willing to rise to the challenge of climbing right back to the top of it, just as he had met the challenge of serving overseas during the war.
When it came time for Elvis to speak on his tenure in the United States Army in the years after his service, Elvis expressed that it was hard for him to feel as if he was meeting the expectations of the people. Unlike other soldiers, all eyes were on Elvis. This affected the singer not only during his service, but it actually continues to affect his legacy to this day. Many people still hold Elvis’ time in the army up to a critical eye and question whether or not the singer was truly the hero that many make him out to be.
One of the friends that Elvis would have improvised musical jam sessions with while serving overseas in Germany was Charlie Hodge. Charlie went on to work with Elvis in his musical career after both of them returned overseas, and he stayed a key member of Elvis’ band until the latter’s death.
While Elvis’ military career might not have seen the legendary singer acting like an all-out war movie hero, it is admirable that he didn’t try to neglect his duty to serve his country like some other stars of the time. Comment down below to share whether you think Elvis deserves respect for his time in the United States Army, or if you think he spent too much time on his improvised musical jam sessions and not enough time defending America. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!