He was one of the biggest stars in music and remains a pop culture icon several decades after his death. How rich was Elvis Presley?
Elvis Presley made millions of dollars throughout his music and movie careers. He spent money freely throughout his life, both on himself and others, and his estate was valued at $4.9 million after his death in 1977.
For more on Elvis Presley’s wealth and his estate, read on.
During his lifetime, Presley made a great deal of money from his music and movie careers. His ability to make money was matched only by his capacity for spending it.
Elvis’ spending habits included buying things for himself, as well as friends and colleagues. He was also known for giving money to strangers. Whenever his management or family informed Presley that his finances were running low, he simply arranged a concert, new album, or movie.
In the mid-1970s, an Elvis concert grossed an average of $130,000 per night. An album would provide him with at least $250,000 in royalties and his movie salary was usually $1 million per film.
When Elvis died in 1977, his estate was valued at $4.9 million but his home of Graceland alone required an estimated $480,000 per year to maintain. This money was spent on taxes, property insurance, and hiring security to protect Presley’s grave.
In the years immediately following Presley’s death, his estate continued to generate about $1 million per year but this lowered due to having no new material to release. Record royalties largely went to RCA Records and not to his family.
Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla, inherited responsibility for the estate until his daughter, Lisa Marie, came of age. Under Prescilla’s guidance, Presley’s estate was rejuvenated and a decade later it was valued at more than $75 million, producing an estimated $15 million per year.
Even in death, Elvis Presley continued to be one of the biggest music stars in the world, generating more revenue than many top musicians who were still active.
Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. Elvis’ parents were working class and had been expecting twins but Elvis’ brother, Jesse, was stillborn.
In his youth, Presley regularly attended the Assembly of God Church, where he was introduced to gospel music, which became a significant influence on his musical style. He was given a guitar by his mother, Gladys, for his 11th birthday and quickly became interested in music as a possible career.
Presley entered a talent show at Humes High School in nearby Memphis, emerging as the winner. He graduated from high school in 1953 and set out to pursue his musical ambitions, working a number of day jobs to pay his bills.
He recorded his first demo in 1953 and record label owner Sam Phillips immediately saw potential in him. He released his first single, “That’s All Right”, in 1954.
Presley’s musical talent, good looks, and provocative dancing style helped him quickly gain a following and, in 1955, he signed a contract with RCA Records. He earned his first chart-topping single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, and a Number 1 album, “Elvis Presley”.
Entertainment companies saw the crossover appeal and Paramount Pictures quickly signed him in 1956. His suggestive performances caused controversy but Presley also became a major attraction on television, making the most of the spread of TV across America.
Aside from a brief stint in the military after being drafted in 1957, Elvis was enjoying meteoric success, with both his music and movies performing very strongly. While stationed in Germany, he met Priscilla Beaulieu, who he later married.
Presley’s films usually received mixed reviews but had performed well at the box office. However, their performance had gradually declined through the 1960s and it began looking as though his popularity was on a downward trajectory.
In 1968, he recorded his first TV special, determined to prove that his musical talents had not dimmed. Elvis and Priscilla had a daughter, Lisa Marie, in 1968 but divorced in 1973.
Presley was becoming increasingly addicted to prescription drugs and had gained a significant amount of weight. He became a staple in Las Vegas, as well as touring the country.
He completed a tour in Indianapolis in June 1977 and returned to Graceland, his Memphis mansion. He died on August 16, 1977, after heart failure related to his drug misuse and was buried near his parents and grandmother on the Graceland estate.