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Fans fascination with 1977 Elvis

Tue Jul 22, 2003 9:55 pm

I've given this a lot of thought and was wondering if any of you felt the same way? Are some of us, as fans, fixated on 1977 Elvis because we particularly enjoy him during this phase of his career (end of his life) or, as I suspect, is it possibly subconcious fixation with a time period that is as close to the living Elvis as we'll ever get?

Let me explain. I remember in my teens watching the '68 Comeback and Elvis In Concert. For some reason, I felt a closer connection with Elvis In Concert because I was watching it only a few years after his death. That period of time seemed closer to the time I was living in, as opposed to nearer the time I was born. I was wondering if the same might apply today? Are we simply fixated on 1977 Elvis because it's the closest we're ever going to get to him? Thoughts?

Tue Jul 22, 2003 10:24 pm

Interesting topic. I've often wondered about that myself. With me it's certainly not a morbid fascination with this last year of Elvis' life. I think it subconsiously is a feeling of nearness in terms of time because I was 3 years old when he died, so I was somehow during 3 years walking the same planet, the same worldly soil he was :wink:. I must say I didn't feel like that all at all when I was three, I didn't fully know who he was probably, although I did hear his name occasionaly. It's only later my fascination with the 70s Elvis started and I got around in collecting soundboards and what have you.

I'm also fascinated with people who, despite their great difficulty, struggle to achieve grace (I believe Guralnick wrote that). I'm greatly moved by that. Legendary sportsmen who, after their public has long given up on them, manage to hit one more home-run (metaphorically speaking), against all odds. Musicians who, no matter how far they went out in self destruction, still had that spark of brilliance until the end. Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Jim Morrison, Billie Holiday, Little Walter come to mind. And of course, Elvis. In desperate times they dug deep and stunned everyone. Remember Elvis' first comback performances in 1968 (when everyone thought he was virtually dead), his triumphant 1969 return to live concerts, his sold out MSG 1972 concerts, his july 1975 tour, his late december 1976 concerts. I can listen to these moments of greatness again and again, and never get tired of them.

Elvis somehow managed to do that, become brilliant, when he sang the definitive "My Way" in Rapid City 21-6-77. This still brings tears to my eyes, especially when footage of the youthful 50' Elvis is intercut with the '77 footage (in "This is Elvis"). It brings me in total awe to think about how long and rocky a road this must have been for Elvis, how incredibly "far" (not in actual distance but musically, sociologically, emotionally) he has travelled throughout his carreer, his meteoric rise to intergalactic super-stardom; from a poor southern boy from Tupelo to this worldwide phenomenon, who is still seen today as a gas attendant in Vancouver or as a statue on a far away planet. :)

Watching '77 footage and audio undeniably also brings sadness, because you can't help thinking "what if" and "why". But it is a comfort Elvis still lives on for so many people and for me he always was and will be The King. And he managed to give 'em onehellavu last concert on 26-6-77, ending in grace.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:23 am

Interesting point. I personally liked Elvis best in the 70's and I think it was for a couple of reasons - his voice (to me) had reached perfection and that's who he was when we lost him...

Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:29 am

I think just the fact that it is the last year Elvis lived and performed and just seeing in disbelief of how much he deteriorated physically in the last year (1977)...Hard to believe its the same slim handsome man who was knockin them dead in 69 -72.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:31 am

I really don't feel any closeness to those last yrs esp 77. That's not how I want to remember Elvis, sorry.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:31 am

1977 was the greatest year of the whole decade! The ultimate popculture year of the 70s....

KISS, Star Wars, Smokey & The Bandit, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, UFO fascination, Bigfoot/Sasquatch fascination, Fleetwood Mac, Lynda Carter as "Wonder Woman," Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Shaun Cassidy, Andy Gibb, Saturday Night Fever, Three's Company, Charlie's Angels, The "Farrah Poster", Elvis' MOODY BLUE album...

but..... :cry:

The death of Elvis ruined it come August.

My favorite year of the Seventies is scarred by the sudden death of The King. All things considered, good and bad, I will never forget '77.

GG

Wed Jul 23, 2003 2:22 am

Not to forget the late-1977 issue of the Sex Pistols' landmark Never Mind The Bollocks LP. It's one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

Worth a mention, doncha think?

Wed Jul 23, 2003 2:42 am

Yes, worthy of mention!

and Pink Floyd's "Animals"

Perhaps too, the Fonzie phenomenon, "Aaaayyy!" toys and magazines
(wasn't Happy Days the highest-rated sitcom then?)

and the first James Bond movie in 3 years: "The Spy Who Loved Me" (Roger's best),

and a slew of sequels.....
"Airport '77"
Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry returns in "The Gauntlet"
and the Exorcist sequel: "The Heretic"


"Oh! God!" with John Denver and George Burns! There was a bit of a cigar-smoking "god" phenomenon tied in with that film

Woody Allen's classic "Annie Hall"

For Hollywood, '77 was a $1.7Billion-Dollar Revenue Year. The most profitable year of the whole decade.

(Source: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/index1977.html Copyright © 1997-2003 Bruce Nash. Data provided by The Numbers)

Wed Jul 23, 2003 6:11 am

I think you might have something Eagle! Also the TV special is such modern quality compared to some of the other stuff and makes Elvis seem more real i think. It's an interesting thing to think about.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 6:58 am

I like 1977 Elvis, and want the special released etc. But I'm just as facinated with ,76, 75, 74, etc.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 3:41 pm

James27-

It's funny--I typed this reply to the original post yesterday but then started having problems with my computer, so I saved it. Anyway, I just read your post and we say a couple of the same things, including that we were both 3 years old when Elvis died! So anyway, I apologize for any repeated thoughts here, but they are my own. :)

Great question!

I was only 3 years old when Elvis died, and I do think that I on some level enjoy the fact that a particular song or performance by him was done during my lifetime (even if I didn't know it back then). I believe that does somehow make a stronger connection--in my case, anyway.

Just a couple months ago I got a copy of Elvis In Concert which has all the original commercials in it, and watching those commercials emphasized the fact that this was such a relatively short time ago, since they do not seem completely outdated. And the fact that Star Wars, which I was big fan of as a kid (and of which Elvis tried to obtain an advance copy), opened the weekend after Elvis died, also drives home this point in me. Unlike a lot of people on this board, my life and Elvis's only span a few of the same years. So perhaps more so than people who grew up with Elvis, I have an added appreciation for his final years for that reason (admittedly a strange reason to like something).

All that aside, the fact that Elvis in 1977 is who he was, who he ultimately became as a person and a performer, makes for a naturally high level of interest and respect from me. I am not going to say that if you don't like Elvis in '77 you're not a true fan, but that is who he was and I hate that so many fans dismiss or belittle Elvis's work near the end. Like it or not, that is part of his story. Those of you who were of age throughout at least some of Elvis's career, I doubt you turned your back on him as a fan towards the end. So is it people closer to my age who were not priveleged to enjoy Elvis while he was alive that pick and choose during which years they like Elvis's work? Because if you were there and a fan when it happened, I can't imagine you being so dismissive of the period. But looking back in a more detached way, I can see it being easier to do so, although that is obviously not my inclination.

I definitely try to focus on the positive, but I don't deny the negative either. I always get a good feeling when I come across a recording or a photo from Elvis in '77 which is more impressive or flattering than most people think was possible for him at that time.

It is possible, I believe, that part of the attraction is because it was the end of life, as well as a genuine enjoyment that many of us get from listening to or watching performances from 1977. I happen to sincerely dig a lot of the shows from that year, and think that vocally, he was very underrated then. He wasn't on top of his game night in and night out, but he still had some great performances left in him. To me it is so satisfying that he went out on a positive note with his last two performances being among, if not the best of the year.

So Eagle, in my case anyway, what you are suggesting is part of the reason for the fascination, but it is more than that too.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 6:22 pm

I don't want to resurrect the EIC debate yet again (that will happen in due time) but I would like to say this: when I watch the footage, what strikes me about the Rapid City show is that Elvis, for the most part, is making an effort, he's trying to give a good account of himself. This comes through despite the bloated appearance, the trash-job/scarf-toss golden oldies, and the noticable decline in vocal tonality. So to me, in this sense, the better efforts of this performance are more human and honest than, say, Aloha, which seemed to be about presentation of the iconic image and precise - but unadventurous - execution of the material. Now don't get me wrong folks. I'm NOT saying that Rapid City is a better performance than the Aloha show. What I'm trying to say is that, despite the negatives, R.C. is a more "real" performance.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 6:31 pm

I'm fascinated nostalgically with 1977 in general (that's why I rambled on about the year's highlights in a post above) but honestly, I don't get what Eagle's thread means about fans being fascinated with 1977 Elvis.

I am eternally fascinated with 1950s Elvis.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 7:39 pm

Graceland Gardener wrote: I'm fascinated nostalgically with 1977 in general (that's why I rambled on about the year's highlights in a post above) but honestly, I don't get what Eagle's thread means about fans being fascinated with 1977 Elvis.

I am eternally fascinated with 1950s Elvis.


GG, What I'm suggesting with 1977 Elvis is that there is more of a commonality between the year 1977 and the present than there is with any other point in time prior to 1977. It's as close to the time when Elvis lived as we're going to get, forevermore. That is why I think (some) fans, such as myself, have something of a preoccupation with that period. That, and we remember being there as children. We can identify with '77 in a way that we cannot identify with '72, '70, '68. I personally feel Elvis's voice and stage show was of a higher caliber (by his standards) from '69 to '72 than by '77, but it is the images of 1977 Elvis that I can connect more closely with since those are our last of him.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:06 pm

That, and we remember being there as children. We can identify with '77 in a way that we cannot identify with '72, '70, '68.



OK, I definitely agree with that. The 77 Elvis is the final image we have of him and the first image that springs to mind when thinking of Elvis, right? Not the Elvis of history but the Elvis of our own youth.
We, the 70s kids, must backtrack to understand the Elvis beforehand, 60s, 50s. We learn about the way he began, the way he was before, whereas the fans since the 50s see where he went from there, forward over time.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:16 pm

I have to admit, I'm fascinated with 1977 Elvis. I think at that time, for the most part, he had an excellent range in his voice.

Moody Blue was my favourite album for many years. Indeed "Moody Blue" and "Way Down" are two of my favourite songs.

Elvis, somehow, seemed more "human" in 1977 - perhaps because he proved he was.

Looking at my Avatar, it shows the looks were still there in 1977. Had he lost the fluid retention and bloating, he would have looked very similar to how he looked in Aloha, some four years previous.

I think you may have a point Eagle, about 1977 being nearer to the time when we could remember him.

Even more reason to release the 1977 footage on DVD... damn! I wasn't going to mention EIC!! :wink:

Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:31 pm

Probably, well absolutly my facination with 1977 has to do with his death and the sence of loss, "Elvis-What Happeded" indeed, Yes he was a bit over wight and his voice was deeper but I throughly engoy the material that I have seen from Elvis recorded in 1977. Just remembering how nuts it was on TV that week watching for the next "updates" and seeing all the fans so distrought in the summers heat at Graceland was devestaing! Also very much ther rest of the decade had a VERY BIG black cloud over it, all the things mentioned above that happened in 77-79 I could really give a sh*t for because Elvis was dead, and it was unbleavable to me!
JEFF d
EPFAN

Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:45 pm

Firstly, I’d like to add the first album by The Clash to the list of great things to remember about 1977, now back to Elvis.

For many of the people posting here, I would guess that if they can remember a time when Elvis was alive it would be the seventies, and many became fans after watching the media coverage and the various repeated films and concerts on television. These I think are valid points, but I really don’t understand the fascination with Elvis ’77 generally, as it obviously wasn’t a great year for Elvis, and some of the recordings we have from this time period are not representative of Elvis at his best. Of course that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be enjoyed for what they are, but why anyone would want to dwell on them, when there are many other recordings on both audio and video that show Elvis at the top of his game is beyond me.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:45 pm

This might go a little off-topic, but...

This topic made me think of my father. He was born in 1946. When Elvis hit it "big" with Hound Dog, he was 10 years old. He saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show. He had one Elvis album - "Elvis' Golden Records". He also went to see some of the 60's movies. He came home from Vietnam and watched the '68 Comback Special in December. Now up until this time, his absolute favorite music was Motown, Mitch Ryder, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, etc. He liked the black pop/soul music. He thought Elvis was "pretty good - not bad".

Then 1969 came around. He heard Suspicious Minds on the radio, and remembers thinking, "that is Elvis?". Next comes 1970. He then meets and becomes friends with an Elvis fan that's a little older than him (a friend that became someone very speical and considered a big part of the family)- and always bought all of the 45's and albums - and saw all the movies. My Dad gets invited to his house one day in 1970 and puts on an album called "On Stage". He plays "Polk Salad Annie" - and that was it. He never heard anybody and anything sound as good as that album. Dad now buys all of the new Elvis albums that come out - and goes to the theater to see TTWII and watches the Aloha special in '73.

I sometimes find it fascinating that it wasn't until 1970 that Elvis' music struck a chord with my father. You always hear opinions from whoever that the 70's was Elvis's worst decade for music.

But this is all my father listens too (plus the '69 Memphis recordings, like "SM" and "After Loving You"). He only plays the stuff from "On Stage" to "Moody Blue".

But his favorite of all is "Elvis In Concert" and "From EP Blvd/Moody Blue". He loves nothing better than to put on "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" and crank the stereo nice and loud. His other favories are "Trying To Get To You ('77)", "Love Coming Down", "It's Easy For You" and "Danny Boy".

He thinks he never sounded better than in '76/'77. Is it also because Elvis died in 1977? I don't think so - but he loves it anyway.

Hope this wasn't boring :oops:

Rich

Wed Jul 23, 2003 9:15 pm

Rich, Fine story and very familiar.

My Dad grew up in the 50s too and he himself wasn't "affected" by Elvis til around 71-72. He went to Graceland in 72 with his brother-in-law and some friends and got to sit on the front steps. Dad bought the 74 Memphis concert on 8-track and he had that cranked in the car constantly. He saw Elvis live in concert twice in 76.

Now, this is a guy who grew up with the shocking 50s Elvis and the 60s beach-racer movie Elvis but an Elvis only present in a periphreal distance and he hadn't really been "touched" by The King until the matured voice and music style of the married/divorced Elvis in the early 70s.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 9:32 pm

It was such seventies songs like My Boy and T-R-O-U-B-L-E that first caught my attention. I hadn't seen many Elvis films until after he died. My first live "alblum" was Elvis In Concert. I enjoyed it immensley and Elvis good humour and nature seemed to carry the whole thing off well.

Now, many years have passed and I like many different aspects of Elvis' career and prefer other parts but I think it demonstrates that Elvis' was still attracting new admirers even at the end of his life. We, among ourselves as fans, can be Elvis' harshest critics at times and naturaly scrutinise every aspect of his career. I don't think a lot of us can help but be fascinated by this very mixed year. Sadly, his final one.

Derek

elvis77

Wed Jul 23, 2003 9:36 pm

hi all,

like Elvis years 1977,
see my site: http://www.elvisen1977.fr.st

bye all

Loris

Wed Jul 23, 2003 10:03 pm

Graceland Gardener wrote:and a slew of sequels.....
"Airport '77"
Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry returns in "The Gauntlet"


GG

Actually The Gauntlet wasn't a Dirty Harry sequel ...........Eastwood plays a character called Ben Shockley ? - a character not a million miles from Dirty Harry of course.

I dunno about 1977 - as far as Elvis goes I just prefer the whole 1968 - 1977 period.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 10:47 pm

rockinrebel wrote:I’d like to add the first album by The Clash to the list of great things to remember about 1977


Yes! How could I forget? One of the best-ever album debuts by any rock and roll band -- although CBS refused to release it in the US.

rockinrebel wrote:I really don’t understand the fascination with Elvis ’77 generally, as it obviously wasn’t a great year for Elvis, and some of the recordings we have from this time period are not representative of Elvis at his best. Of course that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be enjoyed for what they are, but why anyone would want to dwell on them, when there are many other recordings on both audio and video that show Elvis at the top of his game is beyond me.


BINGO!

Rebel, you completely grasp the issue here. It's not about "belittling" Elvis, but having a realistic perspective on where 1977 falls in the timeline of his career.

Thank God EPE shares this point of view.

Wed Jul 23, 2003 10:56 pm

Not everyone gets the most enjoyment from music which is considered to be the best. The Sun recordings, for example, deserve every bit of the recognition they get and then some, but that doesn't mean that those songs should be what we what we like to hear the most. Nothing wrong with that being the case for people either. I prefer Elvis's voice the way it sounded after it deepened quite a bit. That's just me--well, me and a handful of others. :wink: