“Elvis Presley had a twin?” If that was your reaction to this headline, then you’re in for an absolutely fascinating, yet deeply tragic, history lesson.
Arguably the most famous entertainer to ever live, there isn’t much the public doesn’t know about the birth, life, and death of Elvis Presley. This does not mean, however, that a few startling details haven’t been relegated to the background – overlooked in favor of flashier fare.
Elvis was, as his family would and will tell you, full of surprises, after all. Unfortunately, though, his twin brother was one family member who wouldn’t live to see the incredible man Elvis Presley would become.
According to History.com, Elvis would speak of his twin throughout his entire life. The icon himself, however, grew up in a small, impoverished family as an only child.
Elvis was born on January 8, 1935 as Elvis Aron Presley (later spelled Aaron). Gladys Presley gave birth in their small, two-room house in East Tupelo, Mississippi. Although Elvis would grow up an only child, he was the second baby Gladys would give birth to.
Just 35 minutes before, Gladys brought Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis’ twin, into the world. Tragically, however, Jesse would never get the chance to cherish life with his twin brother. Jesse Garon Presley, twin to the future King of Rock & Roll, was stillborn.
With little to their name, the Presleys would have no choice but to bury Jesse Garon in an unmarked grave. He was laid to rest forever in the nearby Priceville Cemetery the day after his birth: January 9, 1935.
Elvis Presley: A True ‘Rags to Riches’ Tale
Although he would become the most famous man in the world, Elvis’ early life would be marked by poverty and tragedy, starting with the loss of his twin brother, Jesse.
To support their small family, Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley, would work odd jobs in Mississippi. In 1938, Vernon would receive a sentence of 3 years in prison for forging a $4 check. Thankfully for Gladys and Elvis, the patriarch would spend less than a year behind bars, History cites.
To overcome their past, Vernon would pick up the Presleys and move from Tupelo, MS to Memphis, Tennessee – the city most closely associated with the legacy of Elvis Presley. Vernon sought better opportunities in the ‘Volunteer State,’ and it is here that Elvis would attend Humes High School, becoming the first member of his immediate family to graduate with a high school diploma.
His road to stardom was far from clear cut, however. At Humes, Elvis was “quiet” and an “outsider.” He even failed his music class. Upon graduating in 1953, the icon would first work in a machinist shop, then drive a truck, before considering launching his music career.
Music was always within Elvis, though. Just a year after graduation, he would release his first recording: “That’s All Right,” in 1954. And the world would never be the same.