Elvis Presley’s First Recording Is Highlight of Graceland Auction

Among the 68 lots of Elvis artifacts and memorabilia to be auctioned off at Graceland on January 8, the day the late superstar would have turned 80, is his first recording.

Before being crowned the “King of Rock n’ Roll,” a teenage Elvis Presley ventured into Memphis Recording Service studio (later renamed Sun Records), to cut two songs, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” In June 1953, the 18-year-old paid $4 to record the songs and receive an acetate pressing that was intended as gift for his mother, Gladys. He also simply wanted to hear how his voice sounded on record, Elvis later recalled. He returned later that year to Sun Records to begin the series of recordings that would launch his epic career. But these are his earliest songs committed to acetate, which predated vinyl. Because his mother didn’t own a record player, he took the acetate to a friend’s house and left it there.

According to reports filed by BBC and others, most of the lots are from third-party consignors, and not holdings from Presley’s estate, which acts as an intermediary to authenticate the items intended for auction. Other offerings in the January sale are Elvis’s first drivers license, issued in 1952; a 1955 contract to perform on the Louisiana Hayride; radio and TV programs; and a jacket he wore in the hit film Viva Las Vegas.

With Warhol’s portrait of Elvis having just led the highest auction ever (see “Epic Christie’s $852.9 Million Blockbuster Contemporary Art Sale is the Highest Ever“), maybe Elvis is having a moment at auction.

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