If I live to be a hundred*, I'll never believe that the drafting of Elvis Presley on this day in 1958 wasn't an attempt by the US government to stifle the social dissent amongst young people being caused by rock and roll, of whom Elvis was even then the greatest icon. It failed, of course, as subterfuge of this kind inevitably does; it did, however, shift the axis of popular music from the US to the UK**, and so bring about the British Invasion of the early 1960s.
Reporting for duty at Fort Chaffee, near Fort Smith, Arkansas, Presley was accompanied by a media whirlwind, which seems to have taken the base's information officer Captain Arlie Metheny entirely by surprise. For his part the singer undertook his military service studiously, despite the fact that he could have easily fought for and won deferment. 'The Army can do anything it wants with me,' he is reported as saying.
Despite his training at Fort Hood, Texas, and service in Friedberg, West Germany - during which time he developed hankerings for amphetamines, karate, and 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu - between the time of his induction and his discharge in March 1960 Presley had ten Top Ten hits, including Wear My Ring Around Your Neck, the best-selling Hard Headed Woman, and One Night in 1958, and (Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I and the number one A Big Hunk o' Love in 1959.
*At the rate I'm going, not even a remote possibility...
**Which has a professional army, untainted by conscription or 'selective service', to use the odious euphemism of the US government.
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