Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi. His mother Gladys worked as a cotton picker, while his father Vernon drifted from job to job.
With his rebellious style, provocative moves and a new sound that fused blues with country, Elvis is credited with inventing rock 'n' roll.
Elvis released his first single in 1955 and scored his first chart-topper with Heartbreak Hotel the following year. He went on to sell almost 120 million records in the US alone.
The singer soon became a global phenomenon, and is seen here swapping personal trademark items with Liberace, another of America's cultural icons from the era.
Despite being a worldwide star, Elvis was called up to do military service. He was drafted in 1958 for two years and sent to Germany, where he rose to the rank of sergeant.
Elvis joined fellow superstars Dean Martin (second left) and Shirley MacLaine to celebrate Martin's birthday in 1961 on the set of Martin's movie All in a Night's Work.
As well as being a musical phenomenon, Elvis also enjoyed a prolific and successful movie career. He is seen here with Ursula Andress in 1963's Fun in Acapulco.
In 1967, Elvis married Priscilla Ann Beaulieu in Las Vegas after meeting her while in the army. Their daughter Lisa-Marie was born in 1968, but the couple divorced five years later.
Elvis met US President Richard Nixon in 1970, when the singer suggested he be made a Federal Agent-at-Large in the fight against drugs and "Communist brainwashing".
In the 1970s, his chart hits and movie smashes dried up - but Elvis reinvigorated his career as a touring artist. He played almost 1,100 concerts between 1969 and 1977.
But greasy foods and prescription drugs took their toll on Elvis' health. He died of a heart attack brought on largely by drug abuse on 16 August 1977, aged 42.