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Where Were You On That Fateful Day?

Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:00 am

August 16, 1977. Twenty eight years ago today.

For those of us who were around at the time, where were you and what were you doing when the heartbreaking announcement came?

Were you glued to the television all night like I was? Sitting in total disbelief?

How could this happen? I just saw him in Louisville a few weeks earlier?
He was heavy but he didn't look that bad......... did he?

I'm supposed to go to Rupp Arena in Lexington to see him again!

I can die, you can die. Elvis can't die! This can't be happening!


What's your story? What went through your mind?

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:59 am

Why, I was in line at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, waiting to get in to see the band Kiss. When the news that afternoon swept through the crowd -- "Elvis Presley died" -- one fellow nearby with Gene Simmons clown makeup on yelled "Thank God."

DJC

Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:10 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Why, I was in line at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, waiting to get in to see the band Kiss. When the news that afternoon swept through the crowd -- "Elvis Presley died" -- one fellow nearby with Gene Simmons clown makeup on yelled "Thank God."

DJC


Hey Doc, did ya pop dat stupid **** right where it hoits?

Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:37 am

I was at my grandparents home in Skåne (that´s southern parts of Sweden).
In the morning of the 17 of august I went downstairs and saw the newspaper stating that Elvis was DEAD! :cry:
I couldn´t believe it, so I went upstairs again and there my mom and dad
had just listened to the news on the radio and my dad said:Elvis is dead and I replied:
Yes, I know. I tried to be cool but I have to say, it was one of the worst days of my life.
That night, the swedish TV-news program, Rapport, showed Elvis singing
" It´s over" and it nearly killed me.
A terrible day and I couldn´t play any of his music until I got home since
they didn´t have a record player.
The last album I listened to before Elvis died was That´s the way it is,
but I didn´t see the movie until 3-4 weeks after his death.
It was an amazing experience, Elvis best movie and one of my greatest
musical experiences. It made it even WORSE to know he was dead after seeing how incredible he was live on stage.
I had seen Aloha of course but nothing like TTWII.

Well, I have to listen some Elvis music now, as all of you all will today,
I´m sure!

Regards

Lennart

Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:48 am

I was just a little boy and was at my uncle's house where we watched the legendary CBS broadcast where the news was deemed too insignificant not to lead the show. No one had heard yet so we didn't know to change the channel. It was quite a shock. It was especially shocking to me as I was eight years old and not used to death and because of the fact that the Elvis I knew was the young and healthy Elvis in his movies which were often on Sundays on the New York and Philadelphia stations.

I remember for days afterwards it was the main subject that was on everybody's lips. There was really almost hysteria. I remember going into stores and seeing signs up: "We have no Elvis Presley Records". This is something I never saw again.

I remember all the retrospectives on the radio and TV in the following days including the late night one the day after the event where they showed Elvis singing "Jailhouse Rock" from the movie.

I remember WOR in New York showed "Love Me Tender" on the Thursday after his death. I cried when Elvis died again in the movie. It was the first time I had seen that one.

On Saturday Channel 10 in Philadelphia had a mini-Elvis festival. In the afternoon they showed "Follow That Dream" (starting my lifelong love affair with that movie). As a CBS affiliate they had to show the network shows in prime time but they picked up again at 11:30 p.m and my parents let me stay up. This was the first time I saw "Kid Galahad". They followed with "Kissin' Cousins" at 1:30. Another movie which I don't recall was slated to follow but my mother and I fell asleep before it came on.

On Sunday the NBC affiliate in Philly, Channel 3 showed "GI Blues" which I had seen before. It had a special kick for me though as I found out in the obits that Elvis served time in the army. It was on at 11:30 p.m. and my mother and sister fell asleep before it was over.

I spent most of my time during the day Sunday listening to an Elvis retrospective on the radio. I learned a lot about Elvis including about the '68 Comeback. I remember the announcer recounted his hand shaking as he grabbed for the microphone and being thrilled at the story.

Interestingly, it was the first time I had ever heard "Burning Love". It sounded like exciting and mysterious music to me. For some reason I had visions of Elvis getting all excited about a nurse in a hospital. I find it odd that I had never heard it because I knew a lot of Elvis songs at that time as did many of my friends. Perhaps this was because my mother was a first generation fan as were many of the other guardians in the neighborhood. I knew "Hound Dog" (which I thought was a recent hit and maybe the greatest hit of all-time), "Don't Be Cruel", "Love Me Tender", "Teddy Bear", "Devil in Disguise" and of course many of the movie songs. Additionally, my older sister was one of the 300,000 people that bought a copy of "Hurt"/"For The Heart". But I didn't know "Burning Love" despite the fact that it was only a few years old.

I remember my cousin came to visit my dad and they talked about it. I remember my cousin calling Elvis a "Legend in his own time". I had no idea what that meant but it sounded impressive.

The following WNEW in New York had an Elvis festival and my sister let me stay up late with her to watch them. I missed the Monday show but on Tuesday I watched "Paradise Hawaiian Style". When I was eight, that was a great movie. I remember me and my sister getting a kick of that little girl doing a hula when Elvis sang "Drums of the Islands". The next night was "Roustabout" again a first see. Thursday was "Fun In Acapulco" which carried a little less of a thrill because I had seen it before.

Friday there was a choice as Channel 29 in Philadelphia ran a rival Elvis festival. (He really was all over the place.) They showed "Love Me Tender" in prime time followed by "Paradise" again. Both of them twice in a week but I didn't mind. At 11:30 p.m. there was the old standby "GI Blues" on channel 5 and "King Creole" on Channel 29. I chose "King Creole" because I had never seen it. It was very thrilling for me as I was totally wrapped in the story however it was also disconcerting as it was unlike any Elvis movie I had seen to that point. I thought it was good but weird. I especially liked that he sang some songs that were featured in a TV Ad for an album they were hawking on TV at the time called "Elvis in Hollywood". I watched with my father who was working nights at the time. My mom had gone to bed and my sister who was 19 was still out.

Probably too much detail here but that's the kind of effect it had on me as the events of the days and weeks that followed were implanted vividly on my mind. I remember in the weeks that followed that selling Elvis records became such big business that supermarkets even began to stock them. I remember the newstands had Elvis related magazines on sale for months and months.

I remember a friend of mine a few weeks later got a copy of "Way Down" Elvis' latest release and it was awesome. It was definitely a step up from the copy of "Let's Be Friends" he was able to get at Woolworths the day after Elvis' death. It was the only album left and even to eight year olds it was evident this was not his best work. Still we loved "Have a Happy" and "Change of Habit" because COH was on TV on a loop in those days and we liked the movie a lot.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:27 pm

I was aged 16 and had just started my first job as a Barrister's Clerk. I didn't hear about his death until I bought a newspaper at the station, on my way to work, on the morning of the 17th. I was gutted; I don't remember the train ride, but I do stumbling to my desk, sitting down and asking the two other clerks if they had heard the awful news.
"Way Down" started playing on the office radio when an arrogant young barrister (who I didn't like, anyway) came in and said something like "Oh God! I thought we'd gotten rid of him!". So I turned around and told him to f**k off.
That was the end of my first job... :P

Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:55 pm

I was 11 years old. I'd just come back from a family holiday and there was Elvis's face all over the papers at the airport.

I wasn't an Elvis fan back then, but I was already a big music fan, so I was saddened. My Dad always hated Elvis's music, so he was probably brusque and offhand. He still is!

Years later, I finally got Elvis, and felt sad all over again when I became aware of how tragic his story was.

Here's to you, Elvis - strictly one of a kind!

Jules

Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:57 pm

I have a vivid memory of 16 August 1977. It’s just a snapshot – a brief, almost photographic moment – but it’s more than a flat picture. It’s daytime. The brown, wooden stereo system sits flush against the living room wall. I’m sitting near the window. My dad walks into the room and says, in that way that people do when they’re trying to convince themselves that someone really has died: “Well, that’s it; he’s gone.” I’m seven years old so my concept of death is a little shaky. But I know that something big has happened, that a very important person is no longer around. And I know that that someone is Elvis Presley.

In the years since, when a musician or actor I’ve admired has died, I’ve felt the shock, but I’ve usually found myself grieving for my own mortality as much as theirs. It’s a wake-up call: "You think the world’s pretty cosy and stable? In case you’d forgotten, here’s a reminder that forever doesn’t exist." It’s a side effect of getting older; looking ahead to the years when you won’t be around and wondering if the world will really keep turning. Yet when Elvis died, the only thing that the seven-year-old me felt the loss of was Elvis.

Twenty-seven years later, I stood at the foot of one of the most famous gravestones in history. And the lump in my throat was still exclusively for Elvis.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:20 pm

I was 24 years old, and right in the middle of first open day of a brand new restaurant, just after the lunch rush, and a friend called me and asked me if I had heard the news. Of course I hadn't, and he told me that the televison had just reported that Elvis had been rushed to Baptist Hospital and "might" be dead. I got off the phone and ran into the office to turn on the radio, and within a couple of minutes it was everywhere. Everyone who came into the restaurant for the next two hours was talking about it.

I got home about 5pm and watched every channel I could for the remainder of the evening and was burning up the phone lines back to Memphis. I found out later that night that my brother in law, who was an intern at Baptist, was right there in the ER area when the ambulance arrived and the scene turned into a war zone for about 15 minutes. They moved everyone out while nurses began running around and hospital security suddenly appeared in the area. The phones were ringing off the desks and they couldn't get outside lines to make other calls.

My regularly scheduled day off was the next day and I stayed home all day and watched everything I could to keep up with the news, I later went out and bought 9 or 10 newspapers from different cities.

The whole day was just a blur. A friend wanted to go to Graceland but I didn't want to. I thought I might learn more by watching tv and listening to the radio.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:15 pm

I was 16 years old, and walking down the main street of Bracebridge, Ontario.
I could hear snippets of conversation, and the word Elvis kept floating through the air.
As cars drove up and down the main drag with windows open, songs like Devil In Disguise and My Way could be heard. I knew something was up, because I thought I was the only Elvis fan left in Canada by that point.

When I got into my father's car and turned on the radio, I heard the fateful news ... it seemed to me that this was the first time I had experienced personal loss in my life ... sadly, though, not the last time.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:40 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:Why, I was in line at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, waiting to get in to see the band Kiss. When the news that afternoon swept through the crowd -- "Elvis Presley died" -- one fellow nearby with Gene Simmons clown makeup on yelled "Thank God."

DJC



Ever the devilish joker.... :twisted: :lol: :lol:

Image

Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:39 pm

I was on holiday in Dorset, England.
Awful place called 'Rockley Sands'.
Every year we had a family holiday and normally went to Pontins Wick Ferry(great times) but for some reason we went to this place.

Things seemed to go wrong on that holiday ,like the swimming pool was shut'.
I was only 9 and every morning i got up to get the papers.
I remember walking towards the shop and just getting inside when i saw the headline'Elvis Is Dead'.
For some reason i just turned away and started walking back to the caravan without the paper.I think it was the shock.
I did go back to get it.
I wasnt a big fan like i am now.My Mum was the fan.
I walked into the caravan and said 'Elvis is dead'. My Mum said something like'Dont be stupid' then i remember throwing the paper on the table.
Remember that like it was yesterday. :cry:

Sean

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:05 pm

I was four years old at the time. I was barely aware of Elvis Presley.
I was staying with my grandparents because my parents were having a small holiday on their own for a change. My Grandfather was a very ill man, dying of lymph cancer.

His hobby was colouring in these enormous posters which he use to then give away to neighbours children. One gloriously sunny morning my grandad and I were at the kitchen table doing one of these posters when he asked me to reach over and pass him the newspaper. I'll never forget the front page of that "Daily Mirror".



:cry:
Last edited by Keggyhander on Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:22 pm

Couldn't quite find that one, but I recall seeing it.
Here are some other headlines:
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A very good show for this sad anniversary:

http://www.elvis-express.com/eer_aug16.html

Well-done, folks!

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:52 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Couldn't quite find that one, but I recall seeing it.
Image


It looks like I'd remembered the headline wrong. It WAS the Daily Mirror though. That was the only paper my Grandad ever read.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:56 pm

Keggyhander wrote:
Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Couldn't quite find that one, but I recall seeing it.
Image


It looks like I'd remembered the headline wrong. It WAS the Daily Mirror though. That was the only paper my Grandad ever read.


Chapters bookshops in the UK were selling a pack of reproductions of historic newspapers front pages a while ago. Dunno if they still have them but that Daily Mirror front page was included.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:57 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Couldn't quite find that one, but I recall seeing it.
Here are some other headlines:
Image
Image


A very good show for this sad anniversary:

http://www.elvis-express.com/eer_aug16.html

Well-done, folks!


So, according to that newspaper, It was already speculated that Elvis' death was brought on by Drugs?

I thought that news came out much later...

perhaps the journalists were famaliar with the book ELVIS: What Happened?

Interesting...

Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:25 pm

I can imagine the British tabloids being more hard-nosed.

It was a long time that some of here in the U.S. shook our heads
thinking, "his heart gave out." :roll:

The attention given to "Elvis: What Happened" within days
changed that, too.

So many papers used shots from the '72 press conference,
especially in the New York area. Between the
summer of '77 black-outs and riots, and the
"Son of Sam" (that's the Berkowitz in this headline),
that was one bummer of a summer even for a kid. See
the Spike Lee "Son of Sam" movie someday if you want a
taste of what that summer felt like.

Image


Only the Yanks' dramatic World Series victory that fall lighten the mood for me...

Here are some more:

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That photo the "Sun" used was just awful.
Who would have thought
that in 2005, the BBC still insists on using it?

By the way, there's a very nice "Memorial Medley"
on that Elvis Express tribute-
don't miss it.

Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:49 pm

The news of Elvis's death on the night of the 16th didn't really hit home till the next morningwhen I awoke to a world without Elvis:-(

Image There are a number of international newspaper front pages headlining Elvis death reproduced in this booklet
, first published 1977.

The London "Evening News" headline read " Elvis's Tragic Drug Secret" dated August 17th 1977.

Wed Aug 17, 2005 1:03 am

I was only 7 years old at the time, yet I remember the day so vividly - we were in Italy and all over the streets in our town were pictures and newspapers with the caption "Elvis e morto!" - Elvis is dead!
What a sad day indeed.
Even though I had only been on this earth a short while, I had already been exposed to the King through my father's cassettes and LPs.

Rest In Peace, Elvis - your music and legend always makes me feel good.

Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:00 am

It's interesting the Mirror story and Maurice's post about the Evening News story from the day after. This must surely have been ripples of the 'EWH' book?

I was 11 years old and we'd moved house that day. I can recall being shocked.

I would be interested to hear the stories from our American friends about the CBS news broadcast that night. Had Elvis' popularity dropped that much or was it a bad call by the channel??

Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:50 am

It was more a disrespect of pop culture and snobbery than a mark of Elvis' popularity. In fact they paid for this decision. CBS news was generally the top rated news show at that time but when people tuned in and didn't see Elvis they tuned out. The CBS news suffered its lowest ratings in years that night. They went with President Carter signed the Panama Canal treaties. The decision was probably influenced by a lack of clips. They had the Elvis in Concert stuff but couldn't track down Parker to use it. The whole shebang was recreated in Neal and Janice Gregory's book "When Elvis Died".

It was a far different time before "Entertainment Tonight", "Access Hollywood" and all the celeb news shows. Celebrity news was not nearly so prevalent and perceived as important as it is now.

The decision makers at a lot of the big news outlets were the very same people who had been condemning Elvis as a hillbilly freak show since the 1950s. The death of Elvis Presley probably ranked somewhere above "Hee Haw" getting cancelled.

The reaction to Elvis' death was one of the things that started to shift that attitude.

These people at this time had really no inkling of the very real cultural impact that Elvis had until the reaction of his death. To me it's amazing that a great American artist could die, one who started a genuine cultural revolution and it would be deemed an insult to cover it in a legitimate news outlet.

Neither Newsweek or Time deemed Elvis important enough to get their cover. Time magazine founder Henry Luce hated Elvis on first site in the 1950s and the magazine kept with that hostility until the 1980s when they started to find they could make some money off the rock and roll history they had previously disdained.

Newsweek unbelievably went with the all important story of the financial troubles of Carter advisor Bert Lance a footnote if there ever was one. They corrected their mistake with a cover in 1987.

Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:01 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Ever the devilish joker....

Actually, I must confess. The entire story is true, but it was a dear friend's experience, not mine. I can say that the staggering media reaction to Elvis' death was a real mind-blower. It changed me from a casual fan to something more -- a dedicated fan and scholar of Elvis, the music and rock and roll.

DJC

Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:15 am

I noticed some of the papers state that the king was found face down in his bathroom. I thought that took a few weeks to come out?? I remember the initial reports said he died in bed.

Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:21 am

When you look at some of the editorials gathered by the Gregorys in their book, many, many of them are very dismissive.

"He was not an especially creative man"- the Montgomery Advertiser.

On Elvis' rock and roll- "Bland stuff compared with anarchic rock movements, from acid to punk, that were to follow" The Virginian Pilot.

"He was not a great singer. He never achieved the quality of a Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Robert Goulet (What???) Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole or many others. He made no pretense about it. As an actor his ability was even more limited." Press Herald- Portland Maine.

Utah's The Desert News smarmily wrote that some "mourning is in order" because Elvis never left anything of "lasting value".

"I think what Presley's death really proves is that the majority of Americans- while fine decent people- have lousy taste in music"- Mike Royko syndicated columnist. Royko called Elvis' success an "enormous con."

"Extraordinarily untalented" San Francisco Chronicle.

The Tulsa World called him a "mediocre singer".

Imagine if such comments came forth about Sinatra in 1998. But in 1977 it was ok to say this stuff about Elvis.