Elvis Presley

An old acetate record, which Elvis Presley paid $4 to create in 1953, sold at auction Thursday for $300,000. It features Elvis’ first recorded song, My Happiness, which he cut at famed Memphis recording studio Sun Records at 18 years old. Due to the fact that his family didn’t have a record player at the time, after leaving the studio Elvis headed to the house of his friend Ed Leek to listen to the song.

Though he couldn’t have guessed then how valuable the record would later become, Leek kept the 78 rpm record safe for over 6 decades. In fact, the record, with it’s worn yellow label, is still playable to this day. After the death of Leek and his wife, the record was inherited by their niece Lorisa Hilburn, who contacted Graceland to find it a new home through today’s auction.

Hilburn told USA Today that she was very happy with the results of the auction and would be using some of the money to send her two sons to college. “There was adrenaline beforehand … but when it was over, I was numb,” she said. “It was surreal.”

As it turns out that Presley cut the record on a day when Sam Phillips, famed Sun Records studio head, wasn’t in, he was assisted by Phillips’ assistant Marion Keisker. After the session, Keisker wrote a note that Elvis was a good ballad singer due to the fact that he had sung My Happiness on the A side of the record and That’s When Your Heartaches Begin, on the B side. Both of the songs are slow ballads that contain few hints of the revolution the singer would go on to spark by introducing the world to rock n’roll.

It wasn’t until 1954 that Elvis would return to Sun Records to record That’s All Right, a more uptempo song that would end up launching his career.

Sun’s public relations director, Jayne Ellen Brooks, revealed that although My Happiness may seem like a tame choice for Elvis’ first recording, it actually does show his  knack for thinking outside the box.

“This was a pop ballad song done by female singers, so as far as the song choice goes, it’s really interesting,” Brook said. “It sort of sums up Elvis, pre-fame.”

Photo credit: That Hartford Guy / Foter / CC BY-SA