Daily Archives: March 7, 2010

Elvis in the Army — By the Numbers

It’s a natural for Elvis websites and fan magazines to do something to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ discharge from the Army on March 5, 1960.  But, what could you do that would be different.  How about a list of significant (or at least, interesting) numbers relating to his two years in the Army?



The number of Elvis hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts during the period from October 5, 1959 to March 27, 1960.  Elvis had recorded a number of songs  before entering the Army, and these were released about one every three  months during his tour of duty.  When “A Big Hunk O’ Love” went off the charts,  there was nothing left in the vaults.  Finally, after Elvis returned from Germany  and recorded new material, “Stuck on You” broke the long draught and shot up to  Number 1.  The King was back.


The number of times Elvis had to carry his duffel bag up the gangplank to the  USS Randall before departing for Germany.  There were so many news film  crews and photographers there to record the event, that seven extra takes were  necessary to accommodate them all.


The number of cents royalty Elvis received for each copy of the album Elvis Sails, which contained no music, just his press conference with newsmen at New  York harbor before entering the USS Randall.


Priscilla Beaulieu’s age when she met Elvis in Germany in 1959.  Her birthday is May 25, 1945.


The last birthday Elvis celebrated while in the Army (January 8, 1960).  Two months later he was out of the service.


The number of reporters witnessing Elvis getting his Army haircut at Ft. Chaffee,  Arkansas on March 25, 1958.


Elvis’ weight when he was discharged from the Army.  Two years earlier, when  he started his service, he weighed 185 pounds.


The dollar total of out-of-pocket cash spent for a trip Elvis took to Paris in January, 1960 while on leave.  The hotel and transportation costs were paid separately.  Accompanying Elvis on this six-day vacation were Joe Esposito, Cliff Gleaves, Lamar Fike, and karate instructor Jurgen Seydel.  Elvis picked up the whole tab, which would equal $9,336 in 2010 dollars.  Over 2/3 of the money was spent in night clubs.  It sounds like Elvis and the guys had a lot of fun.


The approximate number of screaming fans who greeted Elvis leaving the USS Randall after it docked in Bremerhaven, Germany on October 1, 1958


Pieces of mail sent to Private Elvis Presley at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas during the few days he was stationed there.  It has not been reported how many letters Elvis received at Fort Hood, Texas, where he did his basic training.


Miles that Elvis was away from Anita Wood.  In an October 28, 1958 letter, less than a month after he arrived in Germany, he referred to himself as a “lonely little boy 5,000 miles away.”  He also wrote he would never love anyone in his life as much as he loved her and he looked forward to their marriage and “a little Elvis.”

Anita Wood visiting Elvis at Ft. Hood


The dollars Col. Parker demanded from Life magazine for a cover feature story it wanted to do on Elvis’ return from the Army.  This backfired, as Life dropped the idea. 


Total copies of Elvis Sails that were sold.  The mini-album contained just 5-1/2 edited minutes of Elvis’ embarkation press conference.


Sympathy cards and letters Elvis received after his mother’s death on August 14, 1958.  Gladys Love Presley was 46 years old.  Elvis had arrived to Memphis from Fort Hood two days earlier to be by her side.


Elvis’ income in dollars for the year of 1958, nine months of which he served in the Army.  He paid $360,000 income tax that year.

Elvis’ Army pay was a bit less than $1 million a year


The total number of records Elvis had sold in his career to date, as reported in Billboard magazine just two days before he flew out of Germany to end his Army career.  He would sell a lot more.

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