Elvis Presley still the king 30 years later

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2007

“It’s rare when an artist’s talent can touch an entire generation of people. It’s even rarer when that same influence affects several generations. Elvis made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer.”

— Dick Clark

I always liked the music of Elvis Presley.

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Beyond his provocative movements for his era, his bad movies or the raging debate about the “fat” Elvis or the “skinny” Elvis, the man’s music has stood the test of time.

Countless artists credit Elvis for their motivation to rock ’n’ roll. He is, of course, known as the king of rock ’n’ roll, but his versatility and talent took him beyond the parameters of the music he originated.

But here’s the thing about Elvis. He has some fans who are a little scary. OK, OK, a lot scary.

This week, an estimated 75,000 people are expected to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of his death and they’ll do it in scorching heat in Memphis, Tenn. This week, temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees for six consecutive days.

A candlelight vigil that was scheduled at 9:30 p.m. was an event that saw fans begin lining up before the sun came up. According to an Associated Press story, Mary Powell of Salinas, Kan., got there at 5 a.m. to make sure she could get near the front.

“A lot of people would say I’m crazy,” she said.

You betcha.

I can’t think of many things in this world that would make me want to stand in 105-degree heat. I’m really not sure what they would be, but a candlelight vigil would not make the list. Ever.

This week’s festivities are just another example of how the Elvis mystique is alive and well. The old saying is that rock ’n’ roll will never die. That’s up for debate, but the fascination with Elvis Presley will never go away.

The evidence in that is $27 million in revenue that Graceland brought in last year. Altogether, Elvis merchandise and other related items rake in about $40 million a year.

Gimmicks like The Flying Elvi, the 10-man skydiving team that was featured in the film “Honeymoon in Vegas,” keep Elvis alive and well.

Still, there’s a little bit of sadness that comes with the countless impersonators and people who, no matter how well-intentioned, do a disservice to Elvis’ image.

Some of those 75,000 people this week get it, even if they are a little on the obsessive side. Some understand that in his prime he was a real musician, a true visionary and the kind of performer that made his lofty status in rock ‘n’ roll legitimate.

So I guess that means I prefer the skinny Elvis.

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or rick.greene@irontontribune.com