CMT’s new series about legendary producer Sam Phillips, Sun Records, chronicles the birth of rock & roll by spotlighting the early careers of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Drake Milligan stars as the future King, who had his first success with Phillips at his iconic Memphis recording studio. Ahead of Sun Records‘ February 23rd premiere, here are five things you didn’t know about its most famous artist.
Elvis was the son of a jailhouse rocker.
Elvis’ father Vernon served eight months of hard time in 1938, nearly two decades before his son starred in the prison musical Jailhouse Rock. The crime? Forging a $4 check from the local dairy farmer who’d purchased Vernon’s pig.
Elvis had a twin.
Elvis was one of two sons delivered by Gladys Presley on January 8th, 1935. The other, Jessie Garon, came into the world stillborn.
Elvis was not a star pupil of his music class.
After receiving a C in his 8th grade music class, Elvis brought his guitar to school, hoping to boost his letter grade with a live performance of Pee Wee King’s “Keep Them Cold, Icy Fingers Off Me.” His teacher, Mrs. Morman, remained unimpressed.
Elvis and B.B. King shared the same tailor.
Hellbent on looking different than his classmates, a 17-year-old Elvis began shopping at Lansky Brothers, the Beale Street clothing store that initially catered to black singers like B.B. King and Rufus Thomas. Shop owner Bernard Lansky took a liking to his new customer, providing him with his first pair of pegged pants. Elvis remained a customer for life. “I put Elvis in his first suit,” Lansky told the New York Times in 2001, “and I put him in his last.”
Elvis didn’t develop his signature pelvic thrusts and hip swivels until after high school.
“It’s hard to believe, but he did not know how to dance,” remembers Regis Wilson, Elvis’ prom date during the spring of 1953. Although he sported a pair of blue suede shoes, Elvis spent most of the evening off his feet, sitting with Wilson at a table in the Peabody Hotel ballroom while most of their classmates danced nearby.