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After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts. When his music teacher informed him that he did not have an aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the next day and sang a recent hit, "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me", in an effort to prove otherwise.

A classmate later recalled that the teacher "agreed that Elvis was right when he said that she didn't appreciate his kind of singing." In 1950, he regularly began practicing guitar under the tutelage of Jesse Lee Denson, a neighbor two-and-a-half years his senior.

They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts.

During his junior year, Presley began to stand out more among his classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew out his sideburns and styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline.

He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music.

By then, the family was living in a largely African-American neighborhood.

His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines that coincided with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, made him enormously popular—and controversial.

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