Thursday, August 19, 2010

The King Is Dead...Long Live The King

It's Elvis Week in Memphis.  Funny, I just figured every week was Elvis Week in Memphis.

There were the ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist) competitions, the annual Candlelight Vigil at midnight on August 16, a TCB Band (the remnants of Elvis' stage band) concert, and more.

I can still remember August 16, 1977, like it was yesterday.  I was in Marietta, Georgia, in the last of twenty--count 'em--twenty churches the Mission Team I was a member of had been in that summer.  Going home that night, Mama and Daddy had brought me my fire-engine red Chevy Impala.  I couldn't wait.

My partner that summer, Fred O. Pitts (Fred-O), knew I loved Elvis.  When I got back to the home where we had been staying, he was waiting.

"Roscoe," he started, "I have some bad news.  The King is dead."

Just like that.

I didn't have to ask who he was talking about and he didn't have to tell me.  He knew I loved Elvis.  I talked, sang, and acted like him constantly.  Fred-O wanted to be the one to tell me.

In disbelief I drove down to the 7-11 to get an Atlanta Journal, which was then published in the afternoon (the Atlanta Constitution was the morning paper).  I knew it was true when I saw the "Blue Streak" edition of the Journal, only published under special circumstances.  The headline confirmed what Fred-O had told me: "THE KING IS DEAD".  I still have the paper.  The Memphis Commercial-Appeal was more poignant:  "A Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard".

I had seen Elvis in concert at the Macon Coliseum less that two months earlier.  He was wearing the same powder-blue suit they would bury him in.  I was shocked at his appearance and told my date, "He won't last six months."

He didn't.

While others were in West Memphis this past Sunday night, walking quietly past graves in the moonlight, I was watching "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii".  Again.

When Elvis sang "I'll Remember You", the lyrics were haunting.  Again.

I'll remember you, long after this, when the summer is gone...Love me always, promise'll remember too.

 I thought to myself:  yes, I will.

No comments: