Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More Thoughts On Elvis

re:  ELVIS:
>>>Here in Forgotten Hits, we have always preferred to celebrate the day he was BORN instead ... just seemed so much more fitting!  (kk)
I am with you on this one, Kent.  I am one who truly misses people and will grieve, but THEN I  celebrate their lives (which began at birth) and not memorialize their deaths.  I figure they are just waiting for me someplace else.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano

You were right -- we heard Elvis music all day long -- most of the same stuff you always hear (with some '50's stuff thrown in for a change) -- I probably heard 40 different songs in all, hopping from station to station -- but NOBODY played the tracks you posted on your website. 
Thanks again for always keeping Forgotten Hits fresh, new and different -- it's why I come back every single day.
Rick S.

Little know fact ... 
You had to live in Chicago in 1969 to know that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley completely banned the Elvis Presley record "In The Ghetto" (about the slums in Chicago) from airplay and only the flip side "Any Day Now" could be played.
Bob Kurtz
Sounds like urban legend to me ... I DID live in Chicago in 1969 (still do as a matter of fact!) and both WLS and WCFL, our two big 50,000 Watt AM Powerhouses, played "In The Ghetto" all the time.  A quick check of Ron Smith's books shows "In The Ghetto" peaking at #4 on the WLS Chart (during an 8-week run) and topping out at #6 on WCFL during a 7-week run.  All I can say in hindsight is that if Mayor Daley DID try to prevent the record from being played here in Chicago, he wasn't very successful in his efforts.  We LOVED that song back then ... it was perhaps the most "un-Elvis" thing we'd ever heard him record.
In fact,  take a moment to check out our "Remembering Elvis" piece from a couple of years ago.  It all tied in nicely with the 40th Anniversary Salute we were doing to 1969 at the time ... and holds up pretty well today, too, if I do say so myself!  You'll find a little bit of "In The Ghetto" trivia in there as well.  (kk)

Kent ...

Bob Shannon reflects on Elvis' death.
Frank B.
Some of the cool videos shown here are from that "Elvis: The Greatest Performances" DVDs that we've been telling you about.  You can find the complete run down here (kk) :

Frannie mentioned the other day that the death of Elvis Presley is another one of those "Where Were You When You Heard That Elvis Died?" moments in history.  She came home to find her Mother crying and just assumed the worst ... that her Grandmother had died or something!  It took a few minutes for her Mom to gather her composure enough to explain that she had just heard that Elvis Presley had died.  Imagine THAT mix of relief and sadness!!!  (kk)

On August 16th, 1977, my Aunt Norma called and asked me if I wanted to go car shopping with her. She was in the market and since I had just gotten my driver's license, I wanted to see what the car buying procedure would entail. It was a long day of looking, but she finally chose what I vaguely remember was a Ford Thunderbird. I sat in the dealership office and proceeded to watch her turn this perfectly nice salesman into a whimpering sadsack. After hours of back and forth negotiating, she had her deal. I was completely mentally exhausted and couldn't wait to get back home. As we pulled up to my house, we saw my mother standing on the balcony, sobbing heavily. Scared and nervous, I looked at Aunt Norma and we both said, "Oh no ... Grandma". We rushed into the house and mom was then inside, still crying. Aunt Norma said, "Irene, what is it? Is it mom? My mother looked at us both and said, "It's ... it's ... Elvis!!
He is dead!!" I certainly did not mean to laugh or snort, but I'm afraid I did, just a little. My mom loved Elvis as if he was a family member ... a very close one.
In the years that have passed since that August afternoon, I have come to realize just how much Elvis meant not only to my mother but to the whole world.  But that afternoon ... after an exhausting day spent listening to all my aunt's relentless negotiating ... I have to admit that I only felt relief ... that grandma was still alive.
-- Frannie Kotal

As for me personally, I was at work when a friend and former coworker called me to tell me that Elvis had died.  The first reaction was complete disbelief ... I just couldn't imagine it being true ... somebody had to have made a mistake ... this HAD to be a mistake.
I had seen him earlier that year TWICE when he played The Chicago Stadium.  Another recent live concert television special was in the editing stages.  (It was ultimately held back and reworked as more of a tribute special.)  He had looked SO good on his "Aloha From Hawaii" television special a few years earlier.  The news came as a complete shock.  And then the sadness crept in. 
What Elvis contributed to the musical landscape cannot be put into words.  Everything that came after him came as a result of him.  All the music I grew up loving in the '60's was directly inspired by what Elvis had done in the '50's. 
Two months later (almost to the day), my Dad passed away.  The same friend (who, by this time, was now a coworker of my Dad!) called again in complete shock and despair.  I'll never forget his words: 
"Wow ... first Elvis ... and now your Dad."  
Saddest thing is that I probably got more inspiration and encouragement from watching Elvis than I ever did from my own father.  A sad thing to say ... but completely true.  Three years later we would lose John Lennon.  That's the one that hurt the most.  Such a senseless death.  Nothing ever touched my soul as much as the music of The Beatles ... again, there's always been more of them in me than my own true blood. Nothing else has ever had as profound ... or long-lasting ... an impact.
So yes, I can relate ... some VERY powerful losses.  I can honestly say that I grieved deeper ... and longer ... for Elvis and John Lennon than I did for my own parents when they passed away.  Now that's tough to type ... and I had to pause for a few moments afterwards to digest what I had just written ... did I really want this to go out like this?  Did I really want this to go out at all?  But again, the statement is completely (and perhaps all too brutally) true.
What does that say about me?  What does that say about them? 
The truth is at the hands of my parents I probably felt more in the way of discouragement and/or ridicule for what I felt was important ... for what touched me ... and I was often told that I was simply wasting my time ... go out and do something MEANINGFUL.  I'd listen to the radio constantly and absorb every new sound.  I'd collect the records and the Top 40 Charts and play imaginary radio shows in my head when I wasn't listening to the real thing.  It's the one constant that's stayed with me ... and mattered ... my entire life.
So yes ... I miss Elvis ... I miss The Beatles ... but thankfully their music will outlive us all.  That was their gift.  I just feel lucky to have had a few brief moments to experience it at all. 
I grew up in the most exciting of times ... I can't imagine any other era having as much impact or holding as much meaning as this did for me ... and for that I am thankful.  I didn't have to read about it in books ... I was there ... I saw it all first hand ... I lived it ... and in a million years I could never hope to convey in words just how much it all meant ... but perhaps in baring my soul today, you now have some small idea.  (kk)

Today in 1962, Pete Best paid a visit to Brian Epstein's Liverpool office and was fired as the Beatles' drummer.
See - August 16 isn't always about Elvis.
David Lewis
True ... but I think it's safe to say that both these guys had a pretty bad day! 
Some other cool August 16th events (courtesy of Ron Smith's "Eight Days A Week: Births, Deaths And Events Each Day In Oldies History" book):  Peter Gabriel left the band Genesis on this date in 1975; Paul Simon married actress Carrie Fisher (a Princess Leia fetish perhaps?) in 1983; in 1965, Mike Smith (of The Dave Clark Five) was pulled off the stage right here in Chicago by a few over-zealous fans, breaking two of his ribs in the process!; Brian Wilson performed in concert for the very first time with his daughters Wendy and Carnie of Wilson Phillips in 1995; Buddy Holly and the Crickets were booed during a performance at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem in 1957; The Guess Who were awarded a gold record for "These Eyes" in 1969; Ricky Nelson recorded "Be Bop Baby" and The Everly Brothers recorded "Wake Up Little Susie", both on this date in 1957 ... and the very first Monkees single, "Last Train To Clarksville", was released on this date in 1966.  Eydie Gorme (whose hit record "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" we just featured in Forgotten Hits as part of our "Blame Game" series) was born on August 16th, back in 1931.  And Elvis Presley himself had another important anniversary on August 16, 1956 ... that's the date he received the key to the city of New Orleans right before performing a concert there.  And, in another Elvis-related story, songstress Kitty Lester (who recorded The Top Five Hit "Love Letters") was born on this date in 1934.  (We featured the 1968 Elvis version of this tune in our online tribute to The King back on the 16th of August.)  kk