Elvis and the per­ti­nent ques­tions

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE -

IN­TRO­DUC­TION: From the writ­ing of this col­umn one week un­til time to write an­other, so many top­ics ap­pear on the scene about which this writer feels might be of in­ter­est to many read­ers and wor­thy of ex­am­i­na­tion. To­day, I am go­ing to touch on sev­eral points con­cern­ing the life and death of Elvis Pres­ley. In ad­di­tion to a dis­cus­sion of the dif­fer­ence be­tween “The nine best and the best nine” at­ten­tion is go­ing to be given to Elvis Pres­ley. Elvis died on Au­gust 16, 1977. This year marked the 41st an­niver­sary of his death. For sev­eral days TV pro­grams of ev­ery kind pro­vided view­ing for much of the life and ca­reer of the en­ter­tainer.

Let me share some thoughts off the top of my head. Elvis’s ap­pear­ance on the scene: It was in the mid­dle 1950s that Elvis was first made con­scious to me. It was on the way to the 1956 adult men’s state soft­ball tour­na­ment in Colum­bus that my friend, the late Jim Floyd of Sugar Val­ley, sang “You ain’t noth­ing but a hound dog” for the en­joy­ment of those in our car.

I had never heard of Elvis and cer­tainly not that song, and while I ad­mired Jim’s abil­ity to sing, I knew there wasn’t much about the song or the per­former (Elvis) that would lead to star­dom. How wrong can an old id­iot (young at that time) be?

It did not take long for Elvis to be­come a sen­sa­tion on the Amer­i­can (and pos­si­bly the world) scene. With two young chil­dren and an­other on the way and no television in the house, ex­po­sure to mod­ern in­no­va­tions of any kind did not come eas­ily.

A cou­ple of per­sonal ap­pear­ances in At­lanta al­lowed sev­eral peo­ple close to me to at­tend Elvis’s con­certs. I did not un­der­stand the ex­cite­ment but I saw sheer joy on the part of many dur­ing those early years. A state­ment made by some young ladies after Elvis ap­peared on the scenes has al­ways re­mained with me: Three sis­ters ex­pressed at the Christ­mas gath­er­ing of their fam­ily that they on De­cem­ber 19th, 2003 at age 70. “But she is fondly re­mem­bered as an in­tel­li­gent, strong, tal­ented ac­tress. If Elvis were alive to­day: We can all en­joy the ca­reer of Elvis by see­ing and lis­ten­ing to a tal­ented and young man (He died at the age of 42). Briefly, prob­a­bly his ador­ing public would not want to see an old and wrin­kled old Elvis to­day. Elvis would be 83 years old. That is around the same age as this old writer. Also, Pat Boone was in one of the episodes on TV last week; Pat Boone is also 83 and I could not be­lieve how old he looked. His old fans can see him as he was when young and new fans will be ex­posed to the same young and hand­some young man his early fans knew. What killed Elvis? This is a ques­tion still rav­ing among many. Some say drugs; oth­ers de­clare the mafia was in­volved; sui­cide is of­ten of­fered as the rea­son. We re­ally don’t know. When pre­scrip­tion drugs are sug­gested I think of the words I claim will be on my tomb­stone: “He said his medicines were killing him.” (Then I have to stop and give thanks that doc­tors and their care has kept me alive for 84 years).

It is hoped here that nat­u­ral causes killed Elvis.

Elvis’s last pro­ducer, Fel­ton Jarvis said, “Maybe Elvis had a death wish and it wasn’t the fans that killed him. It was the peo­ple around him.” That state­ment re­minds me of what Ray Walker (Bass singer of the Jor­danaires) said to me at Eddy Arnold’s fu­neral after I had sug­gested if they could have been around him more pos­si­bly Elvis would still be here. His sad an­swer was, “Yes, Jerry, but we might not be here.” In con­clu­sion: I liked Elvis; His voice, his mu­sic and his stage pres­ence were en­ter­tain­ing and en­joy­able as a whole. Please join me and let us en­joy the good and whole­some things about the man.

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