Elvis Presley’s Classmates Considered Him ‘Trashy’ In School

Elvis Presley may be King these days, but back when he first looked up at the scene, people weren’t so sure. In particular, upper-class white people were less certain. Many saw the player as something of a “hill jerk,” considering him uneducated, poor and slow. Presley even suffered this kind of classical discrimination during his time in school, when children ridiculed him for his musical interests.

Elvis Presley was ridiculed at school

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

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Elvis Presley was not born to wealthy parents. In fact his family was working class and multi-generational, often working as shareholders. They often struggled with poverty, and were pious people.

Presley spent ample time attending church and local churches. These helped stimulate his interest in music, and he began learning to play the guitar at the age of 11. In fact, Presley would often cite evangelical angles as some of his greatest musical inspirations.

When Presley was only ten years old, he said played in a talent contest. Too short for the son to arrive, Presley took the chair and played “Old Shep.” He won fifth prize, giving himself $ 5.00 in tickets to the festival.

Later, when Presley asked his parents to buy him a bike, they were able to convince him to go for a guitar instead – it wasn’t that expensive. Unfortunately, the classmates did not enjoy Presley ‘s musical interests.

Children can be brutal, and Presley’s peers would often mock and ridicule the player for his preference for the gospel and the blues. He was often regarded as “rubbish”, and there is a story that his classmates cut the strings of his guitar.

Elvis Presley was considered by some to be a ‘hick’ or ‘hillbilly’

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Bettmann through Getty

As Elvis Presley rose to prominence, many wealthy people, especially upper-class white people, began to see him as a “hick” or “hillbilly” largely because of his humility, and -again, because of its music preferences.

Naturally, a major racial element was also involved – much of the gospel and blues that Presley originally drew were drawn by black actors.

In White Trash: A Class 400-Year Unconscious History in America, Nancy Isenberg addressed the way Presley was seen early.

“In the early years, Elvis’ style of music was seen as a mixture of hilly singing and rhythm and blues,” she said. write.

“He was born into poverty in a gunboat in the wrong part of town. But when he put a guitar in his hand… he once saw it as going against middle – class norms and behaving like a kind of hill – very suitable for his new home in Tennessee, ”She said.

Some were angry with what he had won

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Keystone / Getty Images

There were upper-class people who were angry at Elvis Presley for defying expectations of wealth.

“Arkansas elder William Fulbright complained… that Elvis symbolized the hierarchy of the upside-down class,” Isenberg wrote.

Others felt harassed by his hip movements and shaking of his leg – in 1956, Judge Marion Gooding threatened to arrest Presley after the maneuvers to see him on stage.

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