Elvis lives in our hearts
Elvis Presley (Toronto Sun files)
On a warm August afternoon in 1977, the world was stunned by the news coming from their radios and TVs.
Elvis Presley was dead.
Four decades after the King of Rock ‘n Roll suddenly died of heart failure in his famed Memphis mansion, Graceland, the Presley legend has only grown.
His death on Aug. 16, 1977, is one of the key bookmarks in the history of music.
Dalton Lambert — a judge at the annual Tweed Elvis Festival the past three years — told the Toronto Sun he remembers hearing the tragic news like it was yesterday.
“I was driving a truck going to work when I heard that the King of Rock ‘n Roll had died. I turned around, thought it was a joke and when I got home I turned on the TV,” Lambert, 67, recalled. “And sure enough he was gone.”
But the Elvis aficionado said that his love for Presley’s music has never diminished.
“I loved his music, it’s the only music I really listen to ... sometimes I’ll go home, put on YouTube and blast Elvis on the big screen ... it’s just really, really good — and fun,” he added.
Former New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy cautioned that there was another side to Elvis.
The tabloid legend should know. His book, Elvis: What Happened, hit newsstands and bookstores on the day Presley died. The shocking book laid bare the superstar’s demons and deadly battle with pharmaceutical drugs.
But the 79-year-old writer says if Elvis were alive today, he’d still be packing them to the rafters.
“It didn’t matter whether he was hot and handsome or hugely overweight, people would still make the pilgrimage to Vegas or wherever,” Dunleavy told the Sun.
“And they would be packing the place today if he were still alive. He was one of the greats.”
But whether it’s a former president like Bill Clinton, or an auto worker from Akron, Presley is as big now as he ever was.
In Memphis Wednesday, tens of thousands of fans traipsed past his Graceland grave.
But this year, it was going to cost them $28.75 for the privilege.
Longtime fan Fred Schwarz of Springfield, Ill., said he and his wife have been to several vigils over the years and have enjoyed them.
But not this year. He says fans should be insulted at the new charge.
“I looked forward to going down there this year, and they come up with all this,” Schwarz said. “I don’t want to even go to Memphis anymore. The people running that are not Elvis fans. They are in business. Corporations, they want the bottom line.”
While the $28.75 wristband also provides access to a new $45-million entertainment complex at the Memphis tourist attraction, fans felt it cheapened the King.
Cheryl Skogen, of Los Angeles, said: “I don’t think Elvis would like it if he knew the fans were charged to go up and see.”