52 years ago to the day, Elvis Presley embarked on the second half of his stellar career after being honorably discharged from the United States Army.
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To understand what this day means to the history of music, one must first educate themselves on the events that took place for Elvis prior to March 20, 1960.
In 1956, Elvis had six #1 hit singles spanning two #1 albums. Elvis Presley became music’s first pop star in just one year’s time.
In early 1957, Elvis Presley was virtually standing alone atop the music mountain. On January 6 of that year, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show once again and captivated the nation with his hip-swinging dance moves and devilish good looks.
So much publicity came as a result of his scheduled appearance that show producers had to film him from the waist up so as not to excite the millions of teenage girls watching from home.
However, his career would soon be forced down a different path…
Two days after making his final Ed Sullivan Show appearance, “The King” received notification from the Memphis draft board that it’s very likely he would get drafted into the United States Army.
Never the one to sulk and wallow in his own misery, Elvis went on to produce even more #1 hits including “Too Much,” “All Shook Up” and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” He even bought Graceland during this time so he and his parents could live in Memphis.
Then, later that year on December 20, 1957, Elvis received his official draft notice from the army. He was given time off to shoot the movie King Creole and on March 24, 1958 he was inducted into the army as a private at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.
Elvis earned the respect of his fellow comrades by not being treated any differently. In fact, his entire army pay went directly to charity. He even bought TV sets for the base and purchased extra fatigues for the men in his group.
His mother passed away while he was enlisted, which devastated the young Elvis. He was given time off to see his mother during her final days, and she died from a heart attack at just 46 years old.
Then on this date in 1960, Elvis officially kicked off his post-Army recording career.
He entered RCA’s studio in Nashville 52 years ago today to record tracks for his upcoming album, Elvis is Back!, an album that would reach as high as #2 on the US album charts and produced three #1 hit singles.