Editor’s Note: August 16th marks the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death.
I was a week shy of my 8th birthday when Elvis Presley died, and I still remember being in the playground at school with my friends when I heard the news. Even at that young age, I was shocked that such a prolific singer was gone.
Once I had grown up, I was reintroduced to Elvis by a friend and discovered his music all over again. I became addicted to his voice – I just couldn’t get enough of that deep, sexy voice. My I-pod today has over 40 of his songs, and I’d be hard-pressed trying to list my top 5 favorite songs – they’re all fantastic.
|Elvis in Concert with the TCB band|
I thought all my Christmases had come at once when they announced that “Elvis in Concert with the TCB band” was coming to Sydney last year. I was almost front row for the concert, and it was as close seeing Elvis in concert as I was ever going to get. All the same band members were there, just a few (well, 40 or so) years older. Elvis, naturally looked as good as ever!! The band and backup singers performed live while Elvis joined in via a large screen, center stage. The musical selections ranged from Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii (which was the first satellite program beamed around the world), to his Vegas concerts (from the movie Elvis: That’s the Way It Is) performed in the late ’60s. I’m not ashamed to admit I got goose bumps when he sang An American Trilogy.
|Graceland in Memphis|
I also once made the trek to Graceland, and stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis. If you’re not an Elvis fan, it may be a little much, but there are a lot of hardcore fans out there and for them, it was probably not enough. There is nothing like submersing yourself for days in something/someone you admire so much. There is so much to see and do (and buy) to help keep the memory of Elvis alive and some amazing stories to hear. His generosity was unmatched, and the sheer number of awards he received for his music was quite astounding.
But all this is just a reminder that this legend is no longer with us (unless you believe all the stories of Elvis working in a laundromat in Boise!). This year marks the 30th anniversary of his passing – on the 16th of August (ironically the same day, although not the same year, that my own father passed away). Every year, Elvis fans from around the world join in to celebrate the life of Elvis with special concerts, candlelight vigils, conferences and more. The week of celebrations is not just for the die-hard fans, but also for new fans to learn about the singer, his music and his life.
Elvis introduced rhythm and blues to mainstream America and the rest of the world. Although he was considered shocking at the time with his gyrating hips and sultry voice, he opened the door for performers like Chubby Checker, Fats Domino and Little Richard, and melded popular music and rhythm & blues into a new musical genre. His music styles ranged from rock, country, gospel and blues to rockabilly – he could easily do it all. And lets not forget (even though he tried to at times) the list of movies he made – all 31 of them!
Everyone has a story that seems to involve Elvis – whether it’s swinging your hips and curling your lip to Heartbreak Hotel or donning a wig and jumpsuit for the staff Christmas party, or cooking your roast leg of ham with Coca Cola – just like Elvis did, there is no denying that he left his mark on all of us in one way or another. That is a true cultural icon.