Graceland, Elvis Presley’s estate in Memphis is holding a Elvis auction on Jan. 8, which would have been his 80th birthday.
The prize item this time is Presley’s first recording – an acetate disc, of which only a single copy exists, with “My Happiness” on one side and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” on the other. Presley paid $4 to record the two songs at the Memphis Recording Service, a studio run by Sun Records, on July 18, 1953. The performances are familiar: RCA included them in several compilations. But the disc itself has always remained in private hands.
According to the New York Times where we read this story, the official story was that Presley made the recording as a present for his mother. But biographers have proposed other theories, partly because the Presleys did not own a record player, and also because he left the disc with a friend, Ed Leek, who later said that he had given Presley the money for the session. One theory is that Presley simply wanted to hear how his voice sounded on record. Another is that he hoped to catch the attention of Sam Phillips, the owner of the studio and the Sun label. Phillips signed Presley to Sun in 1954.
Graceland did not provide estimates for the items it is selling, but the British magazine Record Collector once listed the disc’s value at $500,000. Another item from the Leek collection in the auction is Presley’s first Sun single, “That’s All Right,” a 78-r.p.m. disc autographed by Presley.
The items come from private collectors, but are authenticated by the Graceland archives. Graceland is selling an auction catalog for $20 at Shop.Graceland.com.