Monday, August 14, 2017

Elvis Presley Edition - Music Years Of My Life: 1977

This is what I knew about Elvis Presley when I was 13 years old in 1977:

1.  He made a lot of movies.  And they were shown often during the afternoon movie of the week.  Sometimes they would show five in one week.
2.  My Dad had a bunch of his 70's studio albums, plus Elvis' Golden Records  (1958)
3.. Elvis wore lots of jump suits.
4.  Elvis imitators were on TV before 1977.  I saw one on a show months before he died.  
5.  I knew most of his hits, but not much else.  And his Sun Records era was still new to my ears.

The Summer of '77 wasn't a bad time on the charts for Elvis.  He was now charting better on the Country Top 100 then on the Billboard Pop 100.  "Moody Blue" went #1 Country earlier in the year.  And in August, "Way Down" was #1.  But on the Pop charts he couldn't get out of the Top 30.  
That year I got my first job.  Cleaning fireplaces at the Hotel my Mom worked at.  It was mostly weekends and weeks off from school, and it was small change, but I used the extra money to buy albums or movie tickets.
August 16, 1977, happened to be a movie day.  Star Wars was all the rage that summer.  Released in late May, I had already seen it but wanted to experience it again.  As luck would have it, there was a theater in the area of my mom's hotel. 
Getting into the car to go home that afternoon, I did what I normally do and put the radio on.  The Top 40 channel was playing an Elvis song.  Odd, he never got played on it before.  The other station was doing the same.  Something wasn't right.  I kept changing channels and finally landed on a news station.  Elvis Presley was dead.  A jolt.  My mom couldn't believe it.  It couldn't be true.  
The 1977 Elvis wasn't like the ones we remembered.  He was overweight.  That's not the Elvis I knew.  There was a book published in July called Elvis What Happened?  The rag mags had all the gory details.  This is pre-Internet before we knew everything about someones life. 

That day set off my fascination and love for Elvis Presley.  It continues through this day.  He's my #1 artist.  I've been to Graceland three times and each stop is a reminder of all he gave us and what might have been.  It's both a sad and exhilarating tour stop.

One other life changing moment occurred that Summer.  My first trip to Tower Records.  A road trip with friends resulted in a pit stop at a restaurant in a shopping mall.  And what just happened to be across the street?  I even remember the album I bought.  Go For Your Guns by the Isley Brothers which was Top 10 on the album charts.  
I didn't make many more trips until I got my license 5 years later, but that Tower Records would turn out to be the closest one.  Ninety minutes and 45 miles away from home.  Some things you never forgot.  
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