A tribute to the King of Rock and Roll who has been gone thirty-two years on this day, August 16,2009, but certainly not forgotten. I was driving around Center Square in Easton, Pa when I heard the news on the radio. I was heading home, after spending the morning with my friend Jan showing her how to decorate a birthday cake for her son Michael. The radio station played "Suspicious Minds", and I wept.
I felt nostalgic as my sister Irene had a former boyfriend who was a huge Elvis fan, and he also worked as a projectionist at area movie theaters. We got to see all of the latest Elvis movies right in the basement of our luncheonette. George and Irene also took us to the Starlite Drive Inn to see Elvis movies.
Those were the days, the Starlite and the Boyd Theater both are also gone. Two songs come to mind right now, Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin and Paved Paradise by Joni Mitchell, a fitting tribute to the fate of those two theaters.
When we loose these icons of our past, we feel a certain disconnection to those little moments of a carefree childhood. This is why you will see me reiterate over and over, that nostalgia is a perfect combination of pleasure and pain. On one hand we want to remember and immerse ourselves in those memories, and on the other hand it is painfully sad.
Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two room house in Tupelo Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis , Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.
Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.
He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, far more than any other artist. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.
His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977.