Elvis in army uniform

Howard Finster (1916–2001)
Paint on wood, 1991

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; purchase with funds from the Cousins Foundation, Inc., and donors to the Paradise Project Campaign

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Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records in Memphis, put Elvis in the studio with Scotty Moore on the guitar and Bill Black playing the stand-up bass. The product of that session, “That’s All Right, Mama,” was first played on Memphis radio on July 8, 1954. By 1958, Elvis had sold millions of records and performed in four movies, but his ascent was put on hiatus as he complied with his government draft notice. Elvis served in the United States Army for two years and was honorably discharged in 1960.

Howard Finster was an untrained, or “outsider,” artist who created more than 46,000 works. Finster claimed to have his first spiritual vision in early childhood; his later visions would dictate to him decisions affecting both his life and his art. Among his commissioned artworks were album covers for the Talking Heads and R.E.M., as well as an eight-foot-tall Coca-Cola bottle for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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