Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dixieland, that's where he was born, early Lord one frosty morning

Elvis actual birth certificate - photo by me

Elvis' death was my JFK assassination moment. I remember precisely where I was when the news was first whispered around the room - at my paternal Aunt Shirley's, well her ladies hairdressing salon in Salisbury (the glamour!). It was like being caught in a morbid tornado hearing this omnipresent superstar had faded, flat-lined and was now, gone forever.

Although I was too young catch the sonic boom of his Rock 'n' Roll years - the aftershock of Elvisness was still resonating in my era - the seventies. His films were repeated in the schedules during the summer holidays, record shops and department stores had endless variations of compilation albums (Separate Ways was a standard) in the racks (including budget tribute LPs - 'insert name here' sings Elvis). Regular radio play for hits from the fifties to the seventies, while Live via Satellite gave a white-suited Elvis the aura of a rock 'n' roll astronaut.

But more than this, his influence was at the core of popular culture: from ginger quiffed, crepe-booted Teddy Boys to prime-time impressionists - whether comic (Freddy Starr) or musical (Alvin Stardust, Cliff, Les Gray) and any number of white suited popsters The Osmonds, showaddywaddy, The Rubettes. At the more respectable end of R.O.C.K  Bryan Ferry and Bowie both lent heavily on Elvis' legacy...

An indicator of Presley-power is: long before I had any real awareness of The Beatles, Stones or in fact who any of Rock's heavy-hitters were - Elvis seemed - to me anyway - like an untouchable international idol with a seemingly god-like presence and super-hero stature, revered across the world - while other rock and rollers had come, copied, gone or been forgotten. For perspective, thumb through David E. Stanley's The Elvis Encyclopedia and you'll find Clapton and Led Zeppelin desperate to get an audience with Elvis..

Should you (and you really should, as it's his 80th birthday this year) fancy coming as close as possible to The King, book yourself a trip to Elvis at the 02. It houses the largest collection of Elvis' items ever to appear in the UK, all imported from Graceland and overseen by Priscilla Presley.

Items that include.....

The Heartbreak Hotel Acetate

Dress down casual Elvis-style

 The American Eagle suit cape

Front detail 

 Suits you 

68 Special 'Trouble' outfit

A gift from Ali 

The Vegas Room

A defining performance is, of course the 68 Special - where you could lucky dip any clip for pure-brewed musical-boom. Although this medley, with Elvis in full flight, revisiting his Rock 'n' Roll back catalogue with a renewed and unrelenting energy is explosive. 


But for the essence of Elvis - this outtake is the key to his magic as I wrote a few years back..

' While the offstage boffins were making technical tweaks and possibly 'checking levels' between takes, Elvis asks for his guitar, kicks off the riff for 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' the orchestra jump in, start jamming and the audience go wild'

If you're a Bookfacer - you can see the full set of my Elvis 02 pics here 


londonlee said...

I was in my bedroom doing my homework when my mum came up and told me it had been on the news. I wasn't that fussed to be honest, my mum was though, she was the same age as him.

Was watching Viva Las Vegas with my own kids last night, trying to explain who Elvis was to them.

The Swede said...

When I was 11 or 12, a kid in my class went on holiday to visit family in America. This was 1972 or thereabouts, so the idea of someone I knew actually travelling to America was mind boggling in itself, but while he was out there he saw Elvis in concert - a concept so remote to my young mind that he might as well have said that he'd been to the moon for a fortnight. I remember peppering him with questions about the show at the time, but I'd have many more to ask if I still knew my old school chum today.