Elvis Presley: From Rags To Riches

The 450 square foot birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Elvis Presley may have achieved fortune and fame as the most famous rock and roll singer, but overcame very humble beginnings to become one of the wealthiest entertainers ever.

Presley entered the world on January 8, 1935 in a 450 square foot house in Tupelo, Mississippi. His father Vernon Presley had built the house for only $185.

It is unlikely that anyone imagined the baby boy born 77 years ago would achieve stardom, as a rock and roll singer and actor and in my estimation the best entertainer to walk on a stage.

Six No.1 Hits in 1956

Elvis re-released I Forgot To Remember To Forget in 1956 and it went to No.1 on the country charts, but didn’t make the pop charts. However Heartbreak Hotel, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, Hound Dog and Don’t Be Cruel topped both the pop charts and country charts. Love Me Tender climbed to No.1 on the pop charts in 1956, but just missed being No.1 on the country charts, topping out at No.3.

Elvis Presley's Graceland - 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Elvis Presley purchased Graceland in 1957, which was twenty times larger than his Tupelo, Mississippi birthplace that was 450 square feet and cost $185 to build.

Purchases Graceland For $100,000

Elvis had bought a house in Memphis for him and his parents for $40,000 but the neighbors complained about the crowds of Elvis fans congregating around his house. So Elvis told his parents to find a farm home for $100,000 and they chose Graceland as the place they wanted to live. Elvis bought the house in 1957 and lived there the last 20 years of his life.

Fame had enabled Elvis to move from a 450 square foot house in Tupelo and a $35 a month apartment in Memphis into a 10,266 square foot house in Graceland. Elvis had moved during his life from a house that cost $185 to build, into a palatial mansion costing $100,000.

As rich as Elvis had become, his manager Colonel Tom Parker prevented him from being even richer, by taking a 50 percent agent’s fee off the top.  For more on the life of Colonel Parker:


Elvis Presley is a prime example of how even the poorest kid can become wealthy in the United States. Elvis Presley didn’t just live at Graceland after becoming famous. He lived in several homes, while still maintaining his home in Graceland:


Only in America can someone like Elvis grow up in a 450 square foot home and move into a home 20 times larger 22 years after his birth. Elvis was happy to share his wealth with the less fortunate, sometimes giving new cars to complete strangers, who just happened to be at a car dealership, while Elvis was looking for a new car of his own.

People can still go from rags to riches, if they get the right breaks like Elvis Presley did. He followed his dream from recording a song for his mother, to appearing on Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen shows, to starring in movies for several years. He then went on to appear in Las Vegas and resume touring after making 31 movies and was preparing to leave on another tour at the time of his death.

I was fortunate to have seen him appear in concert in Alexandria, Louisiana in March of 1977. He was not the same Elvis we had seen in three years earlier in Monroe, Louisiana, when he was at the top of his game.

The local newspaper, the Alexandria Town Talk ran this review after the first show of a two night concert stand:


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

4 thoughts on “Elvis Presley: From Rags To Riches”

  1. Wow, that’s so cool to read an Elvis review from 1977, months before his death! I’ll never forget, I was in Florida with my Grandma that summer and heard the sad news on the radio. I was 13 and I think he was the first famous person I heard about dying. And his rags to riches story is awesome. He was so generous too with his money. I got to visit Graceland on summer. I met Elvis’s uncle, Vester Presley and had my picture taken with him. You’re so lucky to have seen him live — not once, but twice! Excellent blog today!

  2. Thanks for the compliments. I remember the reporter that wrote that review. Seems like there was some controversy about it being too negative. It was sad to hear of the death of Elvis. Shame he got into the drugs. I read today that Elvis asked what kind of drugs he was taking to handle the fame and Tom told him he didn’t do drugs. My wife and her sister were about to leave for the mall, when we heard the news on television. This August will be the 35th anniversary of his death. Wish we had better seats for the second show, but it may have been too depressing to see him being so bloated looking.

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