Imagine being a young child in the mid-1980s, flipping through your mother’s vinyl records collection, and stopping on an album with an attractive man’s face on the cover.
You slip the record out, place it on your Fisher-Price record player, set the needle down on the first track, and then stand in awe when you hear the powerful vocals coming from the small speaker. Elvis has a voice like no one else. Pure, God-given talent.
In 1988, when most 7-year-olds were probably listening to the popular music of that time, I was transformed into an Elvis Presley fan. Soon I asked my mother if Elvis was still alive. It saddened me to hear that he had passed away four years before I was born. A spectacular man with so much talent, gone too soon. I continued to listen to his music with the few vinyls my mother had in her collection.
Through my endless questioning about The King of Rock-n-Roll, I learned that he had played on the Louisiana Hayride many times in Shreveport. I also found out that the YMCA camp (Camp Forbing) not far from my childhood home had a pool he had raised money for. I have bragging rights to having been able to swim in that pool one summer when I attended camp there.
In 1989, my brother had a judo tournament in Memphis, Tennessee with his group. When I found out that was where Elvis had lived, if my memory serves me correctly, I begged my parents to go to Graceland. Both of them knew how much I loved him and his music. It was all a blur, but I still have the ticket stub from our first visit. My favorite room there is a tie between the T.V. room and “The Jungle Room.” It was a memorable experience that I want my daughter to experience. Hopefully this summer we can go tour Graceland together.
Elvis was ahead of his time and kicked the door open for future artists. His energy and charisma, in my opinion, are one of a kind. His generosity was amazing and he did things for others without them knowing. He loved see the looking of surprise on someone’s face.
We all have our good and bad character traits, but what matters most is the impact we leave on others in the physical life. As the saying goes, “You get what you give in return.” Elvis gave a lot of himself because he wanted to do what was right. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person, entertainer, actor, and pioneer in Rock-n-Roll, all in that order. His legacy lives on through those whose lives he touched. I know that he has had a profound effect on mine.
Take it easy, E. I’ll always love you.