Historical Events  People
Blonde Elvis

What was the natural hair color of Elvis?

MMDE: Black

Current: Blonde

The King of Rock 'n' Roll, or just "The King", is right up there with the most famous people of all time.

His tall, dark and handsome looks catapulted him to stardom in the 1950's. Who could resist the groundbreaking swagger, the amazing voice and the slick, jet black hair which became his trademark?

Yet there's something wrong with this picture, and it's causing quite the stir for other reasons. The fact he dyed his hair, being born blonde originally, isn't in doubt nowadays, it's the fact this was supposedly widely known. Many who hear of this say it's been no secret since even his heyday, yet just as many are shocked and believe it's been kept a secret universally until recently.

Humble origins

His rise from a poor background in 1935 to the best selling solo artist of all time mirrors the massive transformation in society of his career, such as race relations, technology and the economic boom following the second world war. As a young man, he was an average student, but his natural singing talent was spotted early and encouraged by his teachers. He got his first guitar at the age of 10, but remembers being shy at that age and unwilling to sing in public. 

His first on-air performance was when he was 12, but stage fright got the better of him at the first attempt. He actually made it the week later, after much more practice.

Rock 'n' Roll takes the credit for the birth of the teenager, a segment of society that was previously too old to be children and too young to be adults. They instantly latched on to his rebellious style because their parents hated him. Everything about popular music was new then, to the point at which it's hard to imagine nowadays a time when, for example, even the guitar wasn't front and centre like it was from then on, and who was right up there at the crest of this wave? Elvis, or course!

He could not read music and never had any music training. He claimed he did everything by ear, and "watching others".

Shoe polish

Elvis realised early on his look was crucial to his success, and a big part of that was his hair. He was from a poor background, so hit on the idea of using black shoe polish - and it stuck, literally. There's only one photo now of how he looked before doing this, and it's on the wall in Graceland.

Later on he used regular hair dye - said to be a deliberate mixture of Black Velvet / Mink Brown from Paramount and Miss Clairol 51D, again to give a unique color by blending both.

Reports of his life in Vegas, just coming to light now, even mention the hair dye that used to mess up the hotel rooms he stayed in.