It's hard to believe Elvis Presley would've been 81 years old tomorrow, January 8th. Elvis, the "King of Rock and Roll," was in his early 40s when he died, but he lives on through his music and memories of him.
My mom was an Elvis fan. Sunday nights we sat around the TV and watched Elvis and other musicians perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. At other times, Mom would turn the radio on and dance around the kitchen to tunes by Elvis, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, and Andy Williams. She also loved Tom Jones.
Two of her glitzy (and, to be honest, ditzy) sisters made several trips to Vegas, where they saw Elvis and other famous entertainers perform then they'd come home and tell Mom about their adventures. Mom could never afford to go with them -- although she was thrilled when my sister Kathleen and I took her, much later in her life, to see Tony Bennett and Andy Williams perform when they visited St. Louis on separate occasions.
Back to Elvis. I wasn't a huge Elvis fan. I liked some of his music, especially "Love Me Tender," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "Blue Suede Shoes" was another good one, but I thought his movies were cheesey. Several friends from our neighborhood Bunco, which has been going strong since 1974, adored "The King" while they were teens and well into adulthood. In fact, a few of them were upset on Bunco night two days after Elvis died in August of 1977; they were so inconsolable they could barely roll the Bunco dice.
Another Elvis story came from Nick Nixon, a contemporary of Elvis. Nick was a local St. Louis area celebrity, a songwriter, and country singer. Nick discovered late in life that he wanted to write something other than songs, and he became a treasured member of our Coffee and Critique writers' group for several years until he passed away a couple years ago.
Nick once told a story during lunch at C&C of how, while he was in the Marine Corps and stationed in Tennessee, he had a run in with "The King of Rock and Roll." Apparently words were exchanged between Nick and Elvis, a gun was brandished, and an apology from Elvis arrived in the form of a telegram to Nick some time later.
How about you? Care to share any thoughts or memories about Elvis on his birthday? Or, do you have a favorite Elvis song?