The King of Rock ‘n Roll is Dead

It’s been 36 years today since the King of Rock n Roll passed away.  I was in my room listening to one of his albums when my mom came in and gave me the news as it broke on the t.v.

I was barely 17 and completely devastated.  The thought of his voice never crooning new songs in my ear was unfathomable.  There had to be a mistake.  I’d just seen him for the 3rd time in concert in May 1977.  But we all know there was no mistake.  The King of Rock was gone.

He’d captured my attention and grabbed me as a loyal fan nine years earlier.  I was going through my mom’s ’45s when I stumbled upon a record titled “I Got Stung” backed with “One Night”.  The singer’s name was one I’d never heard before and it was “One Night” that stole my heart, and I never looked back.  Up until then, I’d never seen his face.  When I realized what he looked like…O.M.G.! 

His voice mesmerizes me to this day.  It is a shame he couldn’t sort out his personal problems and get off the prescription drugs.  The world lost a great singer and a good man on August 16, 1977.  Thankfully, his legacy lives on.  May the world never forget.

It’s Elvis’ Birthday!

Yes, today is Elvis Aron Presley’s 78th birthday!  I guarantee, if he was alive today he wouldn’t look like that dude dancing around up above.  I wonder what he would look like today.  Nah, I don’t want to go there.  The thought is too scary.

My first ‘meeting’ with Elvis came when I was nine years old.  At the time, my mom kept all of her LPs and 45s stacked in our upstairs hallway.  I had one of these , and when I wasn’t listening to the top AM stations (FM was kind of new and there weren’t a whole lot of stations when I was growing up), I was spinning records.  I remember sitting in the hall on the floor and going through all of my mom’s albums looking for something new to listen to.  Her collection included the greats:  Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Glenn Miller Orchestra.  I abandoned her LPs as I’d heard them all and turned to her 45’s.  Flip, flip, flip.  More and more of the same.  And then I came upon a name I’d never seen before:  Elvis Presley.  The songs:  One Night With You backed with I Got Stung.  It was One Night With You that turned me into an Elvis junkie.

In a music world saturated with the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles, I find it rather ironic I fell head over heels in love with a dude who hit it big a decade before then. 

The year was 1969,  (yeah, do the math. I’m old as the dragons I write about), and the man’s voice captivated me.

Like him or not, Elvis is probably the most written about and imitated celebrity ever.  YA author Rick Riordan even takes his readers on a whirlwind tour of Elvis’s Graceland estate in his book, The Red Pyramid (great book if you haven’t read it).  

Elvis recorded his first record (That’s All Right, Mama) in 1954.  He was 19 years old. A true rags to riches story about a poor boy from Tupelo, Mississippi making it big. Fifty-nine years later, the King of Rock ‘n Roll is still selling the cds, and Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee sees around 600,000 tourists a year.  Nine and ten-year old kids are still discovering Elvis and are becoming fans.  Now that’s a hell of a legacy to leave behind.

I was lucky to see Elvis perform in concert 3 times.  They were all magical moments, even though his health was failing in the end.

I was devastated when Elvis died.  I wept horribly.  I hadn’t cried so hard since my father died five years before.  I couldn’t imagine a world without his talent.  His music and his voice pulled me through some very difficult times in my life, including my father’s death.  His music and voice still pull me through my difficult moments.  I can’t explain what it is, but his voice soothes my soul.

So Elvis, if you can hear me, Happy Birthday, and thanks for the memories.  They do sweeten through the ages just like wine.