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The History of Elvis: 1959

A timeline of important Elvis Presley events


Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu in 1959

Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu in 1959

source: interq.or.jp
Here's a short look at what Elvis Presley's life and career were like in 1959. You can also find out what else Elvis was up to in 1959 and in all the years of his life.

Here's your problem. You're managing the world's biggest pop superstar, a multimedia giant who will someday prove to be the biggest celebrity of all time, yet he's stuck in the Army for another year and a half -- in another country -- and you have no idea how to sustain his popularity. You can't record him. You can't make any movies or TV appearances. And allowing him to perform at, say, a USO function would destroy his everyman status, the one thing holding his credibility together. What do you do?

If you're "Colonel" Tom Parker, manager of Elvis Presley, you fight the war against fad and obscurity by maintaining several different fronts at once. Take the material you have left over from last year and release it as "new" singles; take the lesser leftover stuff, along with everything from his Sun days, and repackage it over and over as albums and EPs; play up the aw-shucks average-G.I. image of your boy, and make sure the world knows he'll be back.

This is what happened. And yet, it almost seems as if machinations were unnecessary: if the powers that be were attempting to silence Elvis' perfect cultural storm by sending him away, they did it a little too late. Presley had become so famous so fast from 1955-1958 that hiding him backfired. His overwhelmingly female fanbase was rabid for more Elvis now, creating a PR nightmare for the Army by sending truckloads of letters to the White House, pleading that their idol be let loose. But being returned to the pop stage was the last thing Col. Parker wanted; he knew that only by seeing this thing through (and priming the pump in the meantime) could his boy cement his one-of-us persona for good. If Parker's Hollywood contract eventually turned the singer into a template for everyone's fantasies, a Ken doll for the music industry -- cowboy, race car driver, fisherman, and occasionally singer -- then this was Soldier Elvis, the plucky and impossibly sexy hero who always made out all right in the end. It's no coincidence that Elvis played a handful of soldier roles after he got out.

For Elvis personally, the year 1959 revolved around two women: Dee Stanley, his father's new (and already married!) love interest, and Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, a precocious 14-year-old who was more than willing to step in and fill the vacuum the death of his mother had created in his soul. But time takes time, as they say, and our hero would have to wrestle with his own demons some more before he could get his own storybook ending. Which, of course, also failed him.

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