It Was Forty Years Ago This August 16th

The Day the King of Rock & Roll – Elvis Aaron Presley – Died

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted August 16th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

I was a child of the 1960s myself, which meant I lived my teen years on a heavy diet of Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, Canada’s own Guess Who and Sly and the Family Stone,  just to mention a few.

Elvis Presley, as he appeared on his 1968, now legendary ‘Comeback Special’ on NBC TV

I was still a year away from starting kindergarten when Elvis Presley entered Sam Phillip’s Sun Records studio in Memphis and began covering songs written mostly by black artists, and played a major role in introducing a new music called Rock & Roll to millions of young people across North America and had their parents shaking in fear with songs like That’s All Right (Mama), Good Rockin’ Tonight, Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel and All Shook Up.

Except for one brief and shining moment in 1968, when Elvis appeared on television for an hour in what would from then on be known as his ‘Comeback Special’, all those crappy movies his money-grubbing manager, “Colonel” (no evidence he ever was a real colonel) Tom Parker, had forced him to do through the early years of the decade, made him pretty uncool for someone like me who saving up my lunch money for the next Cream album and identifying myself with the Woodstock generation.

It wasn’t until years later that I began to appreciate Elvis Presley’s music and the role it and his magnetic presence played in laying the foundation for the sounds I was rocking to in the sixties and onward into the 1970s and decades to come.

As John Lennon once put it during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine when asked about the role he felt Presley played in making possible groups like The Beatles; “Before Elvis, there was nothing,” he said. “Elvis was religion to me.”

Indeed, one of the earliest tunes John Lennon and his fellow Beatle and songwriting partner Paul McCartney ever sang into a primitive recording machine was ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’. McCartney recorded it again, many years later, for one of his albums.

Elvis Presley died at age 42 from an apparent drug overdose, and has taken his place among a pantheon of 20th century, forever young icons like James Dean, Buddy Holly, Lenny Bruce and Marilyn Monroe.

Are you old enough to remember where you were and how you felt when you first heard the news – 40 years ago this August 16th – that Elvis Presley was found dead in his Graceland home?

Share some memories below if you like.

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One response to “It Was Forty Years Ago This August 16th

  1. Sheila Krekorian

    I was 16 and had just gotten my “beginners” license.
    I remember hearing about Elvis dying from CHSC radio. I heard the news while sitting on my bed in my cool new bedroom. I remember my mom was crying later that night while watching the story on Buffalo’s “Eye Witness News.”
    I later remember a lady at the check-out at a Dominion grocery store at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines telling me she was sad about Elvis and that is why she made the mistake of charged me the wrong price for something I was buying, but not to worry about it. She asked me if I knew that Elvis had a daughter.
    Everyone seemed sad that day.


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