MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Elvis Presley fans love an anniversary.
Every year, thousands of Elvis devotees flock to Memphis to remember the singer's death on Aug. 16, 1977. The main event of "Elvis Week" is the solemn candlelight vigil at Graceland, his longtime home, at midnight Tuesday.
This year, fans have something else to commemorate. It was 55 years ago -- 1956 -- when the first two Elvis albums were released, launching an international music career that brought Elvis' mix of country, rhythm and blues, and gospel to millions of fans around the world.
"It's a documentation of what I think is rock music's most incredible year," said Ernst Jorgensen, a music producer and Elvis catalog expert. "Nobody was prepared for Elvis."
To mark Elvis' breakout year, Jorgensen and his team have assembled a five-CD box set called "Young Man with the Big Beat." Jorgensen will be unveiling the RCA/Legacy box set today at Graceland. The collection goes on sale Sept. 27.
The set includes not only the five CDs, but also an 80-page book that provides a daily chronology of Elvis' year though photos, postcards, fan letters, magazine covers and other memorabilia. The set also includes rare photos, posters and a replica concert ticket stub.
The first two CDs in the set are packed with music from the debut LP "Elvis Presley" and the follow up "Elvis." Those seminal albums had some of Elvis' most well-known songs: "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender."
Those tunes, recorded in New York, Memphis, Nashville, Tenn., and Hollywood, helped sell 10 million singles and 800,000 LPs in 1956 alone. They also brought Elvis to television on Milton Berle's show, where he gave a hip-swiveling performance that excited his young fans and shocked their parents.
But it was the first album, which included "Trying to Get to You" and Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," that author Peter Guralnick said is the more important of the two 1956 albums.
"I would look at the first album as an American songbook. It's an homage to all the great genres of American music," said Guralnick, who wrote two Elvis biographies, "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley" and "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley."
The third CD features rare live recordings that have been re-mastered. They include songs from a previously unreleased concert in Shreveport, La., in December 1956.
The fourth CD in the set features outtakes from the first RCA recording session in January of that year, and a February session in which Elvis does 12 takes of "Shake, Rattle And Roll."
The fifth CD includes interviews and two segments of Elvis' rare monologue, "The Truth About Me." The outtakes and interviews display a sensitive, emotional side of Elvis amid a great deal of criticism.