Elvis Presley was a legendary musician dubbed the King of Rock and Roll and is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century.
Elvis amassed a considerable fortune throughout his career through his music, and films.
This guide tells the story of Elvis Presley's net worth and life, from his beginnings in Memphis to his years as a music legend, as well as his licensing royalties.
What was Elvis Presley's net worth?
At his death in 1977, Elvis Presley's net worth was an estimated $5 million (about $20 million today after adjusting for inflation).
|Elvis Presley's net worth||$20 Million|
|Full name||Elvis Aaron Presley|
|Date of Birth||January 8, 1935|
|Place of Birth||Tupelo, Mississippi, US|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.82 m)|
|Profession||Singer, Musician, Actor, U.S. Soldier|
|Resting place||Graceland, Memphis|
Who was Elvis Presley?
Elvis Presley was an American singer, musician, and actor who became the King of Rock ‘n Roll and the best-selling artist of all time. Even after his death, Elvis still holds the record for the most #1 albums and #1 singles in history. He transcended musical boundaries, becoming a cultural icon. With his fame, his last name became largely unnecessary – Elvis or The King is usually enough.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935, to Gladys and Vernon.
Elvis first encountered music at church and in the streets, where jazz music was played. He was an average student, but his musical talent drew the attention of his teachers.
At 13, Elvis relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family, and continued practicing his guitar. He trained music with several accomplished guitarists, many of whom became pioneers of Rockabilly.
After graduating high school, Elvis settled on a music career.
Sun Records and Early Success
Elvis began his musical career in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1954. He recorded his first single, “That's All Right” with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
Sam Phillips, who wanted to market African-American music to a wider audience, found a gold mine in Elvis.
Elvis Presley started as an acoustic rhythm guitarist, and with Scotty Moore as lead guitarist and bassist Bill Black, they pioneered rockabilly. In 1955, drummer D. J. Fontana joined them to complete their lineup.
Elvis’ sound and style were initially difficult to market. Radio DJs were unsure about it, and country stations would avoid him for sounding “too black.”
RCA Record Deal
In 1955, RCA Victor acquired Elvis Presley’s contract in a deal worth about $40,000.
Presley's first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was released in January 1956 and became a #1 hit in the U.S. he released an album featuring hits such as “Blue Suede Shoes.”
The same year, he starred in a movie debut in Love Me Tender (1956).
He also transformed the rockabilly genre into rock n' roll, and with TV appearances and chart-topping records, he became the leading figure of rock ‘n roll. Within a year, RCA would sell 10 million Presley singles, and he became their cash cow for decades.
Elvis was drafted into military service in 1958 as a regular G.I.. His fellow servicemen said that he never tried to get any special treatment.
Unfortunately, his mother fell ill and died during his military service.
Despite being away for military service, Presley's management carefully prepared for the two-year hiatus and steadily released a stream of new Elvis singles while he was enlisted.
After military service, Elvis became much more involved in movie production. He used much of the 1960s to make Hollywood films and soundtrack albums.
Some of his most famous Hollywood films included Jailhouse Rock (1957), Blue Hawaii (1961), and Viva Las Vegas (1964).
In 1968, after a seven-year break from live performances, Elvis returned to stage.
In 1973, Presley gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast worldwide, Aloha from Hawaii.
Years of prescription drug abuse, overdoses, and unhealthy eating habits severely compromised the health of Elvis. Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, at his Graceland estate at age 42.
How did Elvis earn his money?
Most of Elvis Presley's wealth was from his music sales. Throughout his career, Elvis sold more than 600 million records and singles worldwide and is recognized as the best-selling solo music artist of all time by Guinness World Records.
At his peak, Elvis commanded up to $1 million per performance. 21 albums reached #1, and 35 singles reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Some of his most iconic singles are Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and Suspicious Minds.
Elvis was known for his electrifying live performances, which drew massive crowds and earned him significant income. His average concert gross in the mid-'70s was about $130,000 a night (about $700,000 today). He performed over 1,100 concerts throughout his career, often in sold-out arenas and stadiums, which earned him a lot of money.
Besides being a music superstar, Presley was an actor. He commanded about $1 million per movie role. Since he made a staggering 31 movies between 1956 and 1969, including Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, and Blue Hawaii, it’s estimated he earned over $30 million in acting.
Elvis was among the first musicians to market his image and brand. His name and likeness appeared on various products, including t-shirts, posters, mugs, and other items. He also had his own line of merchandise, including a successful line of clothing and a fragrance called Elvis Presley's Promise. By the end of 1956, he had raked in $22 million in merchandise sales alone. His estate continues to license his image and likeness for use on merchandise, generating millions of dollars in revenue each year.
Elvis Presley's image, likeness, and music have been licensed in various products and media, including films, television shows, commercials, and video games. According to different sources, Elvis made about $250,000 in royalties for each album released. His estate continues to earn significant revenue from licensing deals and licensing royalties.
Elvis made only one commercial in his life in November 1954 for Southern Maid Donuts, where he raked in multiple millions of dollars. This commercial was broadcast during the Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis sang the jingle: You can get 'em piping hot after four PM, you can get 'em piping hot.
Estate and House Tours
Elvis’ estate, Graceland, bought for $102,500 (about $1.061 million today) in March 1957, was his sanctuary and home. He lived there with his family, parents, and paternal grandmother.
His late daughter, Lisa Marie, inherited Graceland. Her mother, Priscilla Presley, helped her turn it into a museum and tourist attraction in 1977 to continue his legacy. The estate grew to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, second only to the White House.
During Priscilla Presley's years as chair of Elvis Presley Enterprises, she increased the value of Presley's estate from $1 million to over $100 million. In 2006, Graceland became a National Historic Landmark.
Intellectual Property Rights
Elvis reportedly earned a total of $100 million through intellectual property rights during his lifetime. Elvis Presley's estate controlled and still controls rights to his name, image, property, licensed his name, image, and likeness for use in products and media, including movies, TV shows, and ads. In 2013, Authentic Brands Group acquired Elvis Presley’s intellectual property rights for about $125 million. Elvis’ estate intellectual property rights are believed to be worth approximately $32 million annually.
Music Publishing Rights
In addition to his recordings and performances, Elvis also earned significant income from the publishing rights to his music. He co-wrote several songs, and countless other artists have covered his music over the years.
Throughout his career, Elvis Presley made numerous personal appearances, including TV appearances, interviews, and public events. These appearances helped further cement his status as a cultural icon, increase his popularity among fans, and increase his income, as he was paid to make the appearances.
Elvis Presley's record sales continue to be a major source of income for his estate. His music has been re-released and re-packaged numerous times over the years, with new collections and box sets hitting the shelves on a regular basis. In addition to physical record sales, his music is also available for digital download and streaming, making it accessible to a new generation of fans.
What is Elvis Presley's net worth?
At the time of his death in 1977, Elvis Presley's net worth was estimated at $5 million (around $24 million today), but it has since grown to over $500 million.
How did Elvis Presley make his money?
Elvis Presley made his money in a variety of ways. These included music sales, concerts, merchandise sales, licensing royalties, commercials, estate and house tours, intellectual property rights, music publishing rights, personal appearances, and record sales.
Who inherited Elvis Presley's money?
Elvis Presley left his money to his daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who was 9 years old at his death, while his dad Vernon was the estate's executor. Vernon died two years after Elvis, leaving Priscilla, Presley's ex-wife, and Joseph Hanks, Presley's family accountant, to run the estate.
How did his fame and career impact his net worth?
Elvis Presley's fame and career significantly impacted his net worth. His popularity as a musician and cultural icon helped to generate millions of dollars in revenue through record sales, concerts, and merchandise sales. His estate continues to earn significant income from licensing deals and royalties.
What properties did Elvis Presley own?
Elvis Presley owned several properties throughout his life, including Graceland, his famous home, a ranch in Mississippi, and a house in Beverly Hills.
What attracted fans to Elvis Presley?
Elvis Presley's music, charisma, and stage presence were all major factors that attracted fans to him. He blended elements of country, blues, and gospel music to create a unique sound that captured the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.
What was Elvis Presley's most successful album?
Elvis Presley’s most successful album was Elvis' Christmas Album, released in 1957 and sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
What were some of the financial drawbacks of Elvis Presley's fame?
Elvis Presley's fame came with several financial drawbacks, including exorbitant expenses, such as maintaining Graceland, funding his entourage, and a lavish lifestyle. Additionally, Elvis’ later years were marked by declining health, drug addiction, financial mismanagement, and divorce, which took a toll on his personal finances.
What was Elvis Presley's tax filing status?
Elvis Presley was a high-earning individual and was subject to a high tax rate. He famously paid an estimated 90% of his income in taxes during the peak of his career. However, his estate has since used various tax planning strategies to reduce tax liability.
How did Elvis Presley's heirs benefit from his success?
Elvis Presley's heirs, including his daughter Lisa Marie Presley, have immensely benefited from his success. Lisa Marie Presley inherited the estate and earns millions yearly from music sales, licensing deals, and other revenue streams.
How did Elvis Presley's music royalties and merchandise sales contribute to his net worth?
Elvis Presley's music royalties and merchandise sales were (and still are) the main source of his income and net worth.
Elvis Presley was a music legend and cultural icon who rose from humble beginnings in Memphis, Tennessee, to become one of the biggest stars ever.
He earned millions of dollars through various means, including music sales, concerts, merchandise sales, licensing royalties, music publishing rights, personal appearances, and record sales.
Elvis Presley’s net worth was estimated at $5 million at his death but has since grown to over $500 million.
His legacy continues, and his estate earns significant income from his music and image rights.
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