On the morning of August 16, 1977, the individual who had the single greatest influence on Rock and Roll music died in a bathroom inside the mansion he built for his mother in Memphis, Tenn.
There was a large combination of prescription drugs found in his body, according to reports, and he was grossly overweight, but the voice that thrilled thousands and sold millions of records was still able to move fans to tears.
Thirty years after his passing, fans catch planes, trains, and automobiles every year just to be in Memphis during Elvis week. Thousands are there today, riding a tour bus around town to see the king’s old high school, the apartment where he lived, and later to attend the Elvis Memorial Service at noon.
At 8 p.m. this evening, the Elvis 30th Anniversary Concert begins, but all of the VIP $250 tickets have been sold out since early May. However, there is an event for the overflow crowd with an Elvis Midnight in Vegas Concert. This will be an actual performance of the dead performer with footage filmed at the MGM Concert. The week-long activities that began last Saturday will come to a close this Saturday with the Elvis Presley International 5K Benefit.
Texas ties to Elvis run deep and this state was a learning ground for the youngster whose voice and personality captivated fans around the world. It was in Odessa that Elvis opened his first box of publicity photos, took out an 8X10, signed his name in green ink and handed it to Tillie Treadway, now of Hamilton. Tillie’s husband, Joe, was a disk jockey and promoter at that time and had booked Elvis into the Odessa High School for that performance.
“He packed the house that night,” Tillie said. “I didn’t think too much about him at the time but the teen-aged girls just loved him. He was a very sweet boy, extremely polite. He spent many evenings at our house just playing his guitar and singing his songs. When he went in the army, he didn’t forget us and sent me several gifts including an ankle bracelet with his army serial number on it.”
Elvis has ties to Stephenville where he performed in the Recreation Hall in 1955 to a full house. He was also a featured entertainer at the DeLeon Peach and Melon Festival that same year.
Strangely, Elvis continues to make millions. Thirty years after his death, Elvis’ estate earned more than $45 million, according to information published on the Internet. His records are still played, his movies watched, his imitators are legion and can be seen in any city always drawing an enthusiastic crowd.
As long as these reminders of his great talent are still with us, we can close our eyes and pretend that Elvis never left the building, after all.