Where were you when Elvis died?
Where does the time go? Elvis Presley died almost 39 years ago on Aug. 16, 1977. Despite all that has been reported on how he spent the last days of his life, his cause of death can be distilled down to one word, lifestyle.
My mother in-law, Ann Nix, was a big Elvis fan. He played two concerts in Fresno during his life. My husband took his mother to both of them. She had all his albums and listened to them all the time. Do you remember where you were when you heard Elvis died? Many people consider this some kind of benchmark similar to where they were when the heard JFK was assassinated.
I was sitting at the bar at Madera Valley Inn. “Moody Blues,” one of his last singles, was playing on the jukebox. Another patron made the comment, “I can’t believe he is dead!”
I knew I had to get home and check on Ann. In those days my main mode of transportation was a Honda Twinstar motorcycle. I rode to our home in Dixieland like my tail feathers were on fire. She heard me coming and met me in the driveway. We were both in shock.
In the days, weeks and months following his death every newspaper, tabloid and magazine in America must have seen an increase in circulation as the public’s hunger for Elvis information seemed insatiable.
My mother in-law had severe and untreated cataracts. We spent hours and really bonded while I read her every news story on the rack.
The persona of the “King of Rock-and-Roll” is comprised of a carefully crafted marketing campaign. According to the website therichested.com the company Elvis Presley Enterprise is worth $300 million.
At the time of his death according to people.com Presley’s estate sat at only $10 million. Despite having earned a reported $1 billion, he spent money like it was goin’ out of style. Stories of his generosity expressed through the purchase of fleets of Cadillacs and motorcycles for his personal use and the members of his entourage are numerous.
Presley’s “Memphis Mafia” were cousins and childhood friends who both worked for him and joined him at play.
Nearly every time he left his home, Graceland, a secured facility, he was mobbed by adoring fans. Consequently if he wanted to see the latest film he would rent an entire theater often in the early hours of the morning. He used the same practice to buy private entrance to amusement parks for him and his friends.
After his death, all his worldly possessions were left in trust for his only child, Lisa Marie, naming his father Vernon Presley as trustee. After Vernon’s death less than two years later on June 26, 1979, the control of his estate was passed to his former wife, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley.
Under her guidance the King’s likeness became a registered trademark and can be seen on everything from lunchboxes to fine jewelry. She turned Graceland into an Elvis museum that is still a popular tourist attraction.
Tickets to the museum, according to its website, range in price from $30 to $75. I spent my 45th birthday touring Graceland, using the platinum all-access ticket. In addition to the house, the tour included several outbuildings filled with gold records, tour wardrobes and motor vehicles.
His private plane, the Lisa Marie, and his gravesite are on display. Adjacent to his grave are the graves of his father and mother. Their grave markers are thick marble and cover the entire grave, a common sight in southern cemeteries.
Many musicians have made a career with their Elvis tribute performances.
On Sept. 9 the Madera Elks Lodge, 112 W. 6th St., is staging a benefit dinner and show featuring Jeremy Elvis Pierce “A Tribute to the King.”
I have seen his show and Pierce puts on a very credible performance.
Doors are set to open at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 and the show at 7:30. Tickets are $25 each. For information or tickets contact the Elks lodge 673-1918.
Have a great weekend.