On December 20, 1957, Elvis was drafted while he was celebrating Christmas at Graceland, and three months later on March 25 the 23-year-old Elvis went into the U.S. Army. During his time in the Army, Presley served as a member of two armor battalions, first completing basic and advanced training with Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas until September 1958.
Starting in October 1958, Presley served in Germany until March 2, 1960, as a member of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor. It was during this time in Germany that he met the young teenager Priscilla Beaulieu, who would become his wife. Elvis left active duty on March 5, 1960 and received his discharge from the Army Reserve on March 23, 1964.
This newsreel has the story of the induction.
There were some downsides to these Army years. It was during this period that Elvis began abusing prescription drugs, a practice that would later lead to his death. As Elvis went into the Army, many wondered how his absence would affect his career.
When Presley returned from the Army, he showed he could still generate pop hits like “It’s Now or Never.” Additionally, he would return to making movies, but he was an adult and further away from his teenage rebel rock and roll years.
Although Presley still had good music ahead of him, the music scene had changed during the short time he was gone. In addition to the loss of Elvis during those years, Chuck Berry fell into trouble with the law, Little Richard joined the ministry, Jerry Lee Lewis lost his popularity when he married his young cousin, and Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in Iowa in early 1959. While the survivors of those years would resurrect their careers to varying degrees, American music was never again like it was before this date in 1958.
Do you remember when Elvis went into the Army? Leave your two cents in the comments.
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