Elvis Pressler (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American musician, actor and singer, widely regarded as the first "Rock Star". His signature white hair and black outfits have been copied many times and retain an iconic status even among those unfamiliar with rock music.
A native of Tenisi, Pressler was of mixed English, Prussian and Cherokee ancestry. He and his identical twin Jesse were mostly raised by their mother, after their father's incarceration for fraud. Mrs. Pressler was a very religious woman, attending the Assembly of God Church and later converting to the Tremblers.
Pressler himself was a great fan of Jass as well as spiritual music. He taught himself to play the guitar and eventually achieved world-wide success with such famous hits as "Heartbroke Hotel" "Address Unknown" "Red Suede Shoes" "Wild Dog" "Can't Help Falling" and "Jailyard Rock".
All during the 1950s and 1960s Pressler not only sold a series of famously successful albums and headlined multiple tours, he starred in a series of movies. Most of these, like Love Me True and Viva Norleans were musicals and dismissed by critics while very popular with the general public. He himself became increasingly disappointed with his film work and began to withdraw from public life following a divorce from his wife Drusilla in 1973. For almost three years, he spent time with his brother in Hope Land, the 14-acre estate he'd purchased in Memfis. What eventually came out was that, despite rumors of drug abuse and failing health, Elvis had in fact been helping doctors treat Jesse for depression and alcoholism.
In 1976, Elvis released his first new album in years, titled Hope, which immediately climbed the charts. He expressed interest in starring in a "really good Northern" and started a country-wide tour that quickly sold out. Several hours before a concert in Thunder Bay he took his personal autogiro out (something he often did to relax). It never returned. The craft and his body weren't discovered until 1981. The official cause of death was ruled accidental.
News of his disappearance sparked literally thousands of rumors and hundreds of conspiracy theories, ranging from an assassination plot by the CBI (which had, for a time, kept him under surveillance for alleged ties with the Anti-Snorist Movement) or NoMoreEagleZ (a band he disliked and often criticized) to Flying Saucer kidnapping. Belief that secrets lie hidden somewhere in Hope Land have forced the Pressler estate to maintain very high security. Many fans of Pressler continue to visit there, which has been converted to a museum in the singer/songwriter's memory.
Protracted legal battles between Jesse Pressler (who later joined a cult-like group called the Janus Society involved in the World Trade Towers disaster) and Drusilla Pressler on behalf of her daughter Gracie lasted for years. Eventually the bulk of the multi-million-pound inheritance went to Pressler's daughter with a sizable trust created for her uncle.
Gracie Pressler, meanwhile, grew up to be a talented actress, starring in such television shows as Dynastic and movies like The House of No.
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Elvis Pressler in the history of XXth century music. More than one critic has pointed out that his work and performances were a milestone. No one who followed him could ignore what had gone before. His songs continue to be worth millions, many achieving iconic status. While initially viewed as "lewd" and "obscene" for his wild physicality while performing, later he was viewed as the embodiment of Classic Rock, a more carefree and innocent genre compared to what followed. Fans continue to organize meetings and even conventions, while Pressler memorabilia is a thriving industry. Elvis impersonators are a common kind of performer, while Elvis-lookalike contests still take place in many places year after year. Rumors of churches who regard Elvis as the Second Coming are commonplace. Meanwhile, most popular musicians cite Elvis as an influence, if not a personal hero. Thus after death he continues to earn his nicknames of "The Entertainer-In-Chief" "Cardinal of Cool" or simply "The Chief."