As Bob Dylan once sang, ‘time is a jet plane…it moves too fast’. It hard to believe that it’s now forty years since Elvis passed away, and it’s fair to say that everything changed on that fateful day of August 16th 1977.
For lifelong fans that had grown up with Elvis, and followed him through the rock ‘n’ roll years back in the ‘50’s, the Hollywood movie years, the glorious comeback at the end of the ’60’s, and the all conquering 1970’s concert years, it must have been impossible to believe that he was gone at just 42 years of age.
But as the impact of Elvis’ death began to sink in around the world, a new fan base was also emerging. Neil Young said it best, ’the king is gone…but he’s not forgotten’.
I was one of those new fans. At just 10 years old back in 1977, I could remember seeing G.I. Blues on T.V. one Saturday evening and being quite impressed by the young G.I. by the name of Specialist Tulsa McClean.
I had also heard Elvis’ music on the radio many times, and was very much aware of who he was, but I was yet to have that moment when you become a real fan. That happened in August 1977.
Watching Elvis’ life flash before me on the news reports around his passing that seemed to go on for weeks, I began to get hooked on all of the different eras of Elvis. I wanted to hear all the songs and see all the movies, which was a much more difficult task in those pre-internet days than it would be for any new fan today, but second hand record shops soon became the ideal place to spend my Saturday afternoons, with any spare money I had going towards seeking out another piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
For the next few years Birthday and Christmas presents were almost always Elvis records or books, as my parents expressed surprise that I was still going through my ‘Elvis phase’ and I
hadn’t moved on to something else.
As the years went by, I did start to listen to many other artists and musical genres, some of which were almost certainly influenced by the songs Elvis chose to cover, and some that I would call unrelated, although I think it is fair to say that all performers are influenced by Elvis in some way, be it directly or indirectly.
But I’m pleased to report that my ’Elvis phase’ is still going strong. Lifelong friendships have been formed because of it, and only last week I tracked down a near mint original U.K. pressing of the G.I. Blues album, and the thrill of taking the record out of the sleeve, carefully placing the needle on it, and analysing the cover artwork whilst listening to the music is still as strong as ever.
Which is why at 50 years old, 40 years after Elvis passed away and I became a fan, I would like to present my own little tribute; From Elvis In Nashville .
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