When Sam Phillips set up his small Memphis record label on 3 January 1950, I doubt that in his wildest dreams he ever thought that he would go on to discover one of the finest performers of all time. It was said that Phillips once suggested that Elvis Presley was “the greatest man to walk the earth since Jesus.” It was Phillips who would go on to teach Elvis how to deliver what he had to offer, but in a strange turn of events would go on to sell his contract in November 1955 after having had some local success in the South — not one of the better business decisions Phillips would make.
Although I wasn’t around during his reign, even today, August 16, 40 years on from Elvis’s death, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is heading back to the top album slot in world charts. As it currently stands, It’s Elvis versus Ed Sheeran for the UK number 1 spot!
A few things you need to know about Elvis:
- He came in fourth last year in the Forbes List of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities, with $27 million. He has sold more than a billion records (on all formats) worldwide, according to his record company.
- He died aged only 42 at his home, Graceland, in Memphis Tennessee in 1977.
- Elvis’ famous black hair was dyed — his natural colour was blonde, turning medium brown as he grew older.
- Elvis was 6 feet tall and wore a size 11 shoe.
- He was a watch guy.
You can tell looking at the images below that he not only loved watches, but he was knowledgeable and had fun with it. Elvis was a global superstar who could have afforded pretty much any watch he wanted, but often sported modestly-priced watches from brands including Hamilton and Elgin.
Elvis had several watches in his collection, notably a rare Omega Constellation (pink gold with a black “sniper” dial), developed by the Omega management of the day, René Bannwart and Adolphe Vallat. It was a delicate dress watch with cross hair dial, from the era of Omega domination.
Elvis also owned a King Midas Rolex (reference 9630), which interestingly enough, was the most expensive Rolex on the market at the time, retailing for a whopping $2,500 in 18-karat gold. Why a Midas? It came from Greek mythology, and was obviously fit for a king (forgive me).
Finally, Elvis was given a Hamilton Ventura — the world’s first battery-powered watch. He wore it regularly, and the timepiece became iconic when it showed up in his 1961 film Blue Hawaii. It’s now known as “the Elvis watch”.
On this, the anniversary of his passing, we say: Long Live the King!