Elvis Presley: Incredible History Behind the First Guitar His Mother Bought for Him

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

It’s hard to say where the music world or Elvis Presley would have been without his mother. She was a defining influence on his life and later his career as well. Presley was a mama’s boy through and through. In fact, Presley’s mother bought him his first guitar.

Presley was only 11-years-old at the time. For his birthday, he wanted a rifle or a bicycle, typical of boys his age. But Presley’s mother wasn’t having any of that. Instead, she took him to the local hardware store and bought him a $6.95 guitar. That gift proved to be influential in the future musician’s life.

Growing up, Presley was surrounded by music. His family would listen to records of various types including country, bluegrass, gospel, and blues. As a child, Presley stood in front of the First Assembly of God Church choir and imitated their moves as they sang. Both the music and guitar had an impression on Presley, who decided to pick up the craft himself. It wasn’t long before he started writing his own music.

Elvis Presley and His Mother

Presley and his mother remained close throughout his life. At 18-years-old, he recorded “My Happiness” in a Memphis studio as a Christmas gift for his mother. Just a few years later, Presley’s singing career took off. And his mother couldn’t have been more proud of his accomplishments.

The singer made sure to take care of his parents, particularly his mother after he hit it big. For one, he bought his mother the famous pink Cadillac that she never learned how to drive. But he also lavished her with various of other gifts as well. He even set up a publishing company in her honor that made sure she had money for life.

Presley and his mother talked almost every night on the phone. She would also sometimes go to his concerts to watch her son perform. But over time, she grew tired of all the fame her son received. She wished that they could go back to simpler beginnings instead. Eventually, Presley bought Graceland and moved his parents in with him so they could all be together.

Presley’s mother died on Aug. 14, 1958, following a heart attack. Her death devastated the singer, and he was never quite the same afterward.

“She’s all I ever lived for. She was always my best girl,” Presley said. At another point, he wished, “Mother, I would give every dime I have and even dig ditches just to have you back.”