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Elvis Presley is known for belting out songs such as “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Love Me Tender.” When Presley died in 1977, fans around the world mourned. But his influence lives on, and his signature look — including his hairstyle — is still highly recognizable.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How did Elvis Presley become famous?

Elvis Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, according to Biography. He became interested in music — especially gospel music — early on, and his mother gave him his first guitar when he was 11 years old. By the time he was 13, he was performing for friends and neighbors.

After moving to Memphis, Tennessee, Presley decided to pursue a music career, checking into the studio at the famed Sun Studio to record a song. Presley quickly gained recognition, and though he had no formal music training, he started growing a following.

In the mid-’50s, Presley’s song “Heartbreak Hotel” became a huge hit on the radio. Although his career was momentarily sidelined by a stint in the United States Army, Presley’s fan base only grew. And when he returned to music in the ’60s, he became bigger than ever. All throughout the ’60s and into the ’70s, Presley’s status as a cultural icon remained unchallenged.

What was Elvis Presley’s natural hair color?

During his lifetime, Presley was known as much for his looks as for his music. Presley’s handsome features and stylish apparel made him a cover star, and people raved about his natural charm and charisma. As he grew ever more famous, Presley became very invested in maintaining certain elements of his personal style and was known to be particular about his hair.

“Elvis’ real hair was a sandy blond, but he wanted that black, black color,” said Kim Adelman, author of The Girls’ Guide to Elvis, per Yahoo Beauty. “You can see pictures from the army when he couldn’t dye it, he got highlights.”

For maintenance, Presley turned to Hollywood hairstylist Larry Geller. When he worked with Presley, Geller admitted to mixing up a variety of custom concoctions that helped to keep The King’s hair healthy and soft. “He had great hair,” Geller told Yahoo Beauty.

How did Elvis dye his hair?


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For as long as fans knew him, Presley always rocked shining black hair. Presley favored such a bold look that he turned to an unconventional ingredient to get the color that he craved.

According to Collider, Presley actually dyed his hair with shoe polish in the early days of his career to hide the natural sandy blond color. Not only did the shoe polish give him the shade he wanted, but the thick paste helped to keep his hair slicked back and stuck firmly to the sides of his head. 

However, as Presley got older (and grew more famous), he made the switch to hair dye, presumably applied by his expert stylist. Until the day died, Presley continued to rock his signature black coif, a look that has now become iconic.