Today is the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and I thought I’d share a few memories I have of him.
I was lucky enough to have seen Elvis in concert, just a few months before he died. It was at the venerable Spectrum in South Philadelphia, and my friend Joe had somehow managed to get a couple of tickets.
I don’t remember much about the show, but there is one memory that is etched in my mind.
One of the songs Elvis decided to sing was “My Way”, and he told the crowd that he didn’t know all of the words, so he had to read them while he sang! I’d never seen anything like that, before or since. But it was still a great rendition, and he truly did it his way.
(To see if my memory of this was correct, I did a quick search, and I found a review of the concert from that night, and the reviewer talks about Elvis reading the words to My Way.)
Another memory was from back when I was about 12 years old. Elvis had just released the song “In the Ghetto”. I thought it was a great song, and one day I decided to try and call one of the local radio stations and request that the song be played. As luck would have it, the request went through, and the DJ played the song and mentioned me by first name on the radio. Quite exciting for a 12-year old!
One final memory of Elvis is from my freshmen year in college, specifically my first night at college. There was no doubt that I had lived a sheltered, nerd-like life up to that point. My roommate, Steiny, was the exact opposite. He was from Northeast Philly, and he was the quintessential tough guy. The only thing we had in common was that we were both on the swim team, and that is why we were roommates.
Well later that night, as we were falling asleep in the darkened dorm room, for some strange reason I still don’t fully understand, I said to Steiny:
“Let’s each sing our favorite song, and that way we’ll never be embarrassed around each other.” As I said earlier, I have no idea what prompted such a thought, but he agreed, and then launched into an Elvis song. To be honest, I can’t remember what it was, but he sang it all the way threw (without having to read the lyrics).
(I do remember that I sang Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce.)
Surprisingly, Steiny didn’t try to switch roommates the next day, and we became good friends, and he ended up being one of my groomsmen several years later.
(I also remember at his wedding that the bride and groom song was “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.)
Steiny was obviously a huge Elvis fan, and he turned me into one as well. We were probably one of the few dorm rooms that you would hear Elvis music coming from, but no one was going to question Steiny’s taste in music.
Steiny also turned me onto Elvis the actor, and Viva Las Vegas remains one of my favorite movies.
So thank you Elvis for sharing your gift of music with the world, and thank you Steiny for your friendship. I know you don’t read this blog, so I’ll give you a call; maybe we can do an Elvis duet on the phone…