Salute to Sergeant Presley – Elvis the Army Years

Elvis in the Army

Elvis in the Army

“The army called and I answered and said: Uh Thank yuh, thank yuh very much”

-Elvis Presley

At the height of Elvis’s career, everything that was built in a few short years seemed to be at the brink of being stripped away. On December 19th, 1957, Elvis received his draft notice from the Memphis Draft Board #86. Fearful that this meant an end to his career, Elvis was uncertain about the future. Rock and roll music was just developing and it was unsure if it was just a fad. There was no way to determine what would come of rock and roll music along with Elvis Presley.

Clearly, Elvis had nothing to worry about. If nothing else, his time with the military shifted the thoughts of those who doubted his effect on the younger generation. Elvis was becoming a positive influence and those who had negatively viewed him in the past, came back with a completely different attitude toward Elvis. Specifically, looking at Frank Sinatra.

Elvis Enters The Army

Sinatra was quoted in 1957 saying:

My only deep sorrow is the unrelenting insistence of recording and motion picture companies upon purveying the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear – Naturally I refer to the bulk of rock ‘n’ roll. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people, it smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly, lewd – in plain fact, dirty – lyrics, and as I said before, it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the fact of the earth… this rancid-smelling aphrodisiac I deplore. But, in spite of it, the contribution of American music to the world could be said to have one of the healthiest effects of all our contributions (Sinatra, 1957).

Did I say wow earlier… because WOW! Harsh. He did not directly say Elvis, but he definitely implied Elvis. Back to the point of this, Frank Sinatra clearly did not like Elvis or rock ‘n’ roll music in 1957. However, something must have changed. Elvis served 1958 – 1960 and although he had some hits released during his time with the army, he did not do anything different with his music really.

Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley Duet – “Witchcraft” and “Love Me Tender”

So what changed? Frank Sinatra hosted Welcome Back Elvis and they even sang “Witchcraft” and “Love Me Tender”. This legendary performance seems completely unpredictable based on what was said above. Elvis later went on to star with his friend, and daughter of Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra. Not to mention, later on when Priscilla Presley was pregnant with Lisa Marie, Nancy Sinatra hosted a baby shower for her.

Elvis’s Home Coming

Elvis received a 60-day deferment so he could finish filming King Creole. On March 24th, 1958, Elvis was sworn in as a member of the United States Army and was assigned the serial number 55310761. He wanted to make sure he was treated like every other soldier and turned down special privileges and softer assignments. The Colonel wanted to make sure Elvis would stay relevant and made sure to publicize every moment before Elvis left.

The Army definitely changed how the public viewed Elvis, but it also altered how Elvis viewed himself. After dealing with life-changing moments, it was clear that once Elvis returned from the Army he was never really the same.

Elvis had an extremely close relationship with his mother, being the only twin to survive making him an only child, they depended so much on one another. When Gladys took ill, Elvis was granted an emergency leave on August 12th. Gladys passed away August 14th, 1958 just after a visit from Elvis.

Elvis Presley in G.I. Blues – 1960

Reporting back to Fort Hood August 25th, Elvis had to push away the pain and get back to work. At this point in his life, Elvis was feeling incredibly alone and missed his mother for the rest of his life. Things began to look up for Elvis later on as he found someone that he could talk to and the loneliness soon started to dissipate.

On September 13th, 1959, Elvis met Priscilla. At the time, Priscilla was 14 years old and her beauty captured Elvis in an instant. It was years later, but as you all know they’re love story continued and they married May 1st, 1967.

When Elvis returned from the army, his life had changed forever, but he was welcomed with open arms. His career was still in motion and it was clear the army made a positive impact on him.

Until we meet again, TCB,

Little Sister Signature

Fun Facts:

Battalion Motto: “Victory or Death”

Division Nickname: “Hell on Wheels”

Selective Service Number: 40-86-35-16

Serial Number: 53310761

Rank at the End of His Tour of Duty: Sergeant E5

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