Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. I’ve always thought it odd that people commemorate days that people died (birthdays seem a much more fitting honoring of their life), but for better or worse more people pay their respects to the original American idol during this mid-way point through August.
It might seem weird for a self-proclaimed punk feminist like me to have an affinity for Elvis, but that just shows the idol’s mass appeal. I was first introduced to Elvis through my parents and my step-dad, all of whom were musicians and radio DJs during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Amongst the more popular Beatles, Steve Miller Band and various other 70s rock bands my parents listened to, there were also many nights that the only records to touch the player came from Elvis. And in my house, music ruled. Even at the tender age of 4 I had a budding record collection (albeit they were more the Muppet Movie variety).
My mom had a deep love for corny old movies and musicals and would often wake me up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch early broadcasts of old black-and-whites (a point made mute, since we couldn’t afford a color TV until 1986). It was from those early morning movies that I first started my love affair with not only Elvis but Audrey, Kate, Cary Grant, Danny Kaye and Debbie Reynolds (in The Unsinkable Molly Brown). The first Elvis movie I remember watching was Roustabout — the one where he plays a rebellious yet musically talented carny. I also have some early memories of Viva Las Vegas, which is still my favorite Elvis movie.
As I grew older and got into the rockin’ bands of my generation, my appreciation for classics like Elvis, Sinatra and Aretha stayed with me. After all, rock legends from the Beatles to the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osborne to Celine Dion all claim a love for the original King, Elvis Presley. I’m certainly not the biggest fan. I don’t know every Elvis factoid. And there are movies and songs — and even parts of his legacy — that I can live without. But put on the right Elvis tunes and I get the chills every time.
So today I’m taking a break from busting balls in the name of feminism and ranting for the environment. There’s an Elvis movie marathon on and I can’t think of a better way to spend this August 16.