Elvis and the pertinent questions
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.