November 11, 2012

Something Wonderful: It's not over until the fat king sings

From Elvis live in Rapid City, 21st June 1977. He'd be dead within two months.

One of the most remarkable moments late in the career of Elvis Presley occurred in June 1977, shortly before his death, at a concert in Rapid City, S.D. Presley is clearly not in good shape; he's frightfully overweight and is sweating profusely. To end the show, he sits down at the piano and starts to accompany himself on "Unchained Melody." There's no arrangement ready and there's no microphone stand at the piano (someone has to hold a microphone for him)—all of which seems to indicate that this encore was not planned. At one point he belts out an almost frighteningly strong high note; he may not have much left, but he's not holding anything back, and taps into some hitherto unknown reserve of strength. Suddenly, Presley is no longer at death's door: He's the almost-mythic Elvis of old, his voice strong and full, his eyes glistening with delight as he glances at the band as if to say, "I still got it, don't I?" -- Elvis Presley | Prince From Another Planet By Will Friedwald -
Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 11, 2012 10:42 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

His sweat, my tears. I was never really an Elvis fan. Not while he was alive. Not until I went to Graceland many years later on a stopover in Memphis while traveling to Little Rock, and it was instant. I fell in love with this gorgeous, charming man. The thing about Graceland, it was modest compared to the gaudy excesses of today. But my first real Elvis experience was when he died. I worked at a type house, IGI, in NYC in the 70s. A gentleman who was being shaken down by union organizers chose to shut down his own type shop and brought IGI the Rolling Stone account as well as Penthouse Forum and another Guccione publication, Omni. During that time, monthly publications were labor intensive, typesetting copy on blind keyboards, punched out on paper tape which was then run on hand-loaded 6- to 18-font Mergenthaler VIP typesetters onto film positives. Because of these new accounts, the owner invested in a new top of the line typesetter with hard drives the size of suitcases. Somehow or other, whole issues would disappear suddenly, would vanish into thin air. It was torture getting out Rolling Stone with lots of overtime and resets. People screaming and yelling. Finally, finally we pushed out an issue of Rolling Stone. Then. Elvis died. All bets were off. It was pandimonium. I mean that entire issue was put on hold to be replaced with an entirely new Elvis memorial issue of Rolling Stone. Being a typositor operator myself, I just watched people running around in a panic with the owner of IGI cursing and swearing at the doomed system salesman. That system was "not optimal." I left that shop not too long afterward so I'm not sure how long IGI was able to retain these accounts but I've got to say I loved the adrenalin rush of days gone by and knowing how crudely type sausage was made in the days of yore! Then came desktop, which killed the typesetting industry, but that's another story!

Posted by: NLM at November 12, 2012 11:36 PM

"The King, yes the King,
He died on his throne in his ho-ome."

Ya can't pass a dozen deep fried peanut butter banana sandwiches at once, ya know!

Thank ya, than ya vury mutch.

Posted by: at November 13, 2012 3:58 AM

That was one helluva note.

I saw Elvis twice in Las Vegas and twice in concert in San Diego. The minute he began to sing, he had the audience captivated and no one was paying attention to whether he was overweight or sweating. He could control an audience like nobody else I've seen.

I got a new clock radio for my pre-teen birthday and after plugging it in and setting it on my nightstand, I tuned it in to our local pop station and the first song that played was Elvis singing "Heartbreak Hotel." I was hooked. It wasn't until a few months later that I saw his picture on a magazine cover and discovered he was white.

When I was in 8th grade, a close friend of my Mother's who was a college professor, took a two year assignment in Germany on the same Army base where Elvis was stationed. She was in charge of base entertainment and worked with Elvis on some big event on the base. She took several snapshots of Elvis and had them autographed and sent them back to me and the daughter of another friend. Both of us thought we were pretty hot stuff for a few days after receiving those pictures.

In the late '90s, when I was still living in Indianapolis, a good friend of mine from Calif. flew back for a visit and together we drove back to Calif. We detoured South stopping at Churchill Downs and then on down to Memphis. We had the best time touring Graceland. I had known my friend for almost 30 years at that point and found out for the first time while standing in the trophy room that she was the Recording Secretary for the very first official Elvis Fan Club and that she had the most incredible scrap book of those days.

On the day he died, my husband met me for lunch in order to go get car insurance on a new truck he had just gotten. We were on our way back from that appt. when the announcement came over the radio and he darn near wrecked that brand new truck. I was working at the newspaper and as soon as I got back to work, I put the announcement up on the overhead viewer and a boiler room of ad reps, over 100, gave a collective gasp and then the room went dead silent for a few seconds. It was all very surreal. I wrote, "The King is Dead," and every person in the room knew what that meant.

Posted by: Sara at November 13, 2012 5:34 AM

What is it about entertainment success that causes it to destroy the best of them?

Posted by: pdwalker at November 13, 2012 5:38 AM

NLM, 25 years ago I worked at a small print shop that still had Linotype machines! That's right, all mechanical, ETAOIN keyboard and molten metal squeezed in to make a line of type.

Now, I'm not really an Elvis fan. He did have a great voice and that is evident in this somewhat intimate rendition... but there seems to be a problem here. I don't think Elvis is lip syncing... there are a couple of mumbles be makes that would be too hard to match in a recording. Still, there are also a couple of times he clearly stops singing and yet the note sustains. Look at about 2:11 and then a minute later at 3:10. It seems some back-up singer or singers are carrying him.

Posted by: BroKen at November 13, 2012 6:57 AM

I see, some pathetic fat fuck who squandered his God given talent on booze, drugs and whoring dies a comedic death of constipation and a bunch of fat, bald guys get all teary eyed about their "King" like he supersedes God himself (Elvis sold his soul to Satan by the way) and the REAL King, Jesus Christ. If Elvis were alive today he would have joined Obama and his soulless minions in promoting the work of the Prince of Darkness, so GET A GRIP YOU LOSERS.

Posted by: at November 13, 2012 12:59 PM

His potential for Opera was always second or maybe third.

Posted by: Dado5 at November 13, 2012 3:09 PM

Elvis may have been a wonderful fellow. I didn't know him. However, I really despised his smirk. I remember seeing him as a young boy on the Ed Sullivan show and I remember the smirk. I also recall how greasy Elvis looked. By the way, Bill Clinton had/has exactly the same smirk.

I do recall that Elvis's grandmother received a state pension as the surviving widow of a Confederate Army veteran.

Posted by: Lorne at November 14, 2012 6:57 AM

"I didn't know him. However, I really despised his smirk."

That's funny. I was a young man when Elvis made his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
For the life of me I could not understand why the females had gathered around that small black and white TV waiting for him to come on. They didn't get that excited about Pat Boone or Eddie Fisher.

Now I realize it must have been the bad boy smirk and his hip movements. He knew that sex sells and cashed in.

Posted by: Rocky at November 14, 2012 9:11 AM

Elvis, all things being relative, was a champ among stars. His destruction was self-destruction. I never heard him get down on anybody who worked for him.

Posted by: james wilson at November 15, 2012 11:44 AM