How long was Elvis in the army

When Elvis came to Germany

Status: 01.10.2018 00:01 am | archive

Elvis Presley fans of course know exactly: On October 1st, 1958, the King of Rock 'n' Roll came to Germany to do his military service. Elvis stayed for a year and a half - a turning point in many ways. And still a strange time.

In 1958 Elvis Presley began his military service in Germany.

The King assured him three times how happy he was: finally in Germany. At 8.46 am the troop transport, the "USS General Randall", docked at the Columbuskaje in Bremerhaven. A little later, uniformed Recruit Elvis Presley trudged down the gangway. Schoolgirls, by class, greeted the King. A reporter from Radio Bremen wondered: "What's so good about Elvis?" Answer: "Everything! How he moves, so back and forth", "He just sings it the way young people want it", "That brings you into ecstasy!"

Happy to be here

Elvis looked, waved. And did not sing. "I don't think they want that right now," he muttered to the reporter. Never mind. He was happy to be here. And then it went on by train in the direction of Hesse, destination Friedberg. Someone had painted "Wellcome to Germany, Elvis Presley" on the train. Welcome - embarrassed with two l. Well

Elvis becomes patriotic, humble and well-behaved

Elvis Presley had received his draft notice a year earlier. A catastrophe for the rising star: two years of military service? And the career? His manager Colonel Parker turned down the offer to place his protégé like other entertainers somewhere in a subordinate special unit in the USA. On the contrary: He used his military service to turn the wild man, the spoiled youth Elvis, into a good boy for conservative America - patriotic, humble, well-behaved. Even the great one had to leave.

In Germany, Presley served in a tank battalion.

At this time, rock 'n' roll was close to death, it seemed: The time of turmoil, of new beginnings - over. Chuck Berry was in jail, Little Richard was ordained a priest. Jerry Lee Lewis had been dropped for marrying his underage cousin. Buddy Holly crashed on a plane a year later. And Elvis served in a tank battalion.

Production for the public

But the clever Colonel Parker was already rocking the thing: he fed a hungry public with ever new stories, photos, encounters of the young GI Elvis. Much was embellished and staged. In fact, Elvis lived first in a hotel, then in a villa in Bad Nauheim, together with friends, his father and his grandmother. He hit the wall at the weekend, as the Kessler twins, for example, remembered who danced at the Lido in Paris.

On May 1, 1967, Priscilla and Elvis Presley married in Las Vegas.

And two more things came into Elvis' life that changed it forever: amphetamines, which he got in the military. And Priscilla, his future wife, who was only 14 years old at the time, and whose stepfather was also stationed in Germany.

Relegation or beginning?

In the spring of 1960, the King returned to the USA - and played in cinemas for years. Meanwhile others were wild. So did it begin to decline 60 years ago? For the girls on the quay in Bremerhaven, everything started just now: Elvis, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. In Germany. Hard to believe. "But you can't really see him from here!" Said the reporter. "Oh, if I only see his right arm, then I'll be happy!"

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NDR Info | Culture | 10/01/2018 | 06:55 am