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Elvis and His Harley: The Secret Passion of The King of Rock and Roll

Elvis Presley is one of the most commercially successful performers of the 20th century. Thanks to Elvis, rock and roll became extremely popular. For this, he even got his nickname the King of Rock and Roll. In addition to music, Elvis was a devoted motorcycle enthusiast. The musician was remembered as a big fan of Harley-Davidson. Like any avid motorcyclist, he had a very large collection. It was so huge that it is still not known for sure how many and which brands of motorbikes he’s owned. The singer has given many of his bikes to friends and relatives.

"When I started making money, I first bought a car. But then I realized what a motorcycle is! Therefore, I bought a motorcycle and it was great! Going towards the wind, feeling it, maneuvering ..." these words describe his passion for two-wheelers.

Many of Elvis’s motorcycles can be seen in museums but the 1956 Harley-Davidson KH is considered to be the most famous of all his bikes.

Some people think that Pepper Red 1956 Harley-Davidson KH was the first motorbike of the Rock and Roll King, but it is not so. The first motorcycle in his stall was the Harley Model 165, which young Elvis acquired in 1955 with money from the first contract with the label Sun Record. However, the very next year Presley upgraded the Model 165 to a full-fledged KH. It is noteworthy that the model with the Flathead 883cc engine became the last K-bike from Harley Davidson. Next year, the motorcycle manufacturer introduced the model of the next generation OHV Ironhead Sportster.

Pepper Red 1956 Harley-Davidson KH became, perhaps, the most famous motorcycle of the singer. The bike is now in the Harley-Davidson Museum along with all the documentation, including the original purchase receipt. It is known for certain that this bike was purchased on January 14, 1956, from Tommy Taylor in Memphis. 21-year-old, little-known Elvis paid $ 903 for the bike and added an extra $ 47 monthly. It was not a spontaneous purchase – shortly before that he moved from a small label Sun Records to a large record company RCA Victor. 4 days before January 14, 1956, the future king of rock and roll recorded his first song with the record company called ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. This single was included in the first album ‘Elvis Presley’. The record had a stunning success.

But let's go back to Pepper Red 1956 Harley-Davidson KH. So, Elvis chose a two-color bike with an extra windshield and rear seat for his girlfriend. This two-wheeler was destined to leave its mark in history because Presley posed with it for the cover of Harley-Davidson's magazine ‘The Enthusiast’. The article was entitled “Who is Elvis Presley?” Well, soon after that, the world found out who this Elvis was. It was not the last appearance of Elvis with his motorcycle. Later it was immortalized on the cover of Presley’s compilation album ‘Return of the Rocker’.

Harley-Davidson KH did not stay long with Elvis. In late 1956, Presley acquired 57 Harley-Davidson FLH, and therefore he flogged KH to his friend Fleming Horn. In 1995, Horn sold the bike along with full documentation, including a receipt, registration papers, and insurance documents, all signed by Elvis. Since then, the motorcycle has become the centerpiece of the Harley-Davidson Museum’s Pop Culture Exhibition, launched in 2008.

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