It’s a strange thing to mark one’s death so deliberately as America does with the day Elvis Presley died, particularly when the same cannot be said of his birth. Sure, Elvis’ birthday is marked with celebration, but not to the extent that the day of his passing is memorialized and marked by so many people across so many generations. Today, as so many ponder the reason for this, we mark the thirtieth anniversary of Presley’s death, but, instead of dwelling on that fateful day in 1977, when 75,000 grief-stricken fans rushed Elvis’ Graceland home, Presley, the man forever immortalized as the King of Rock and Roll, might better be remembered for the music and words that together create a very unique legacy.
Some say Elvis was sheltered, kept away from much of the press that pertained to him, but Presley was not ignorant or blind. In fact, he once addressed one of the most critical statements ever made of his performances, though, if Elvis were with us today, he might have to reconsider his assessment.
“I don’t like being called Elvis The Pelvis. That’s gotta be one of the most childish expressions I’ve ever heard coming from an adult.”
On the other hand, Elvis Presley never failed to express his love for rock and roll, always knowing that his love of performing and expressing himself was something borne in his blood.
“Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.”
In 1970, Presley was included among the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Awards, and his acceptance speech was inspiring for his talk of dreams and of heroes.
“When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie,” Presley said. “So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times… I learned very early in life that ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend – without a song’. So I keep singing a song. Goodnight. Thank you.”
Everyone is inspired by someone, and so it was with Elvis Presley.
“Roy Orbison is the greatest singer in the world.”
Decades later, fans look back on Presley’s film career with nostalgic glee, but even Elvis was unhappy with the films and the way in which the Hollywood atmosphere affected his music career.
“I sure lost my musical direction in Hollywood. My songs were the same conveyor belt mass production, just like most of my movies were.”
Finally, Elvis Presley left us with this thought.
“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.”
[Featured image: Elvis Presley courtesy of buzzpo.com]