THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA WAS SHINING LIKE A NATIONAL GUITAR.

MAKING MY WAY DOWN TO MEMPHIS,TENNESSEE,THE ADVENTURE WAS FILLED WITH EXCITEMENT, AND CHARACTERS THAT YOU WOULD ONLY PROBABLY HAVE MET IN A DAVID LYNCH FILM, MAKING THEIR WAY HOME OR LEAVING TOWN TO MAKE A FRESH START WITH THE AMERICAN DREAM STILL ETCHED IN THEIR HEARTS. ME, I WAS AN ACCIDENTAL TOURIST,AND FOUND THESE PEOPLE FASCINATING,FROM WASHINGTON,THROUGH VIRGINIA TO NASHVILLE,WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE COWBOYS TO ME,ALTHOUGH I TOOK IT ALL IN LIKE A CHILD ON HIS FIRST TRIP TO AN ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND,STARRY EYED AND LOST IN THIS VAST DUSTBOWL,TRAVELLING AND TRYING TO LOOK LIKE I KNEW WHERE I WAS GOING,WHEN I FACT I WAS AN ENGLISH ELVIS FREAK WHO HAD STRAYED OFF THE BEATEN TRACK,WITH ONLY MY WITS TO KEEP ME IN CHECK,BUT THIS PILGRIMAGE TO GRACELAND IS WHAT I HAD WANTED TO DO SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER.
“KEEP ON KEEPING ON,CHARLIE,THIS IS MY DESTINY”.CHARLIE,WAS MY TRAVELLING COMPANION,A COWBOY FROM JACKSONVILLE,HE WAS GOING HOME TOO,FOR A FRESH START,TO LEAVE HIS LIFE OF CRIME BEHIND HIM,IN UPSTATE NEW YORK,”MY PAROLE OFFICER WILL NEVER THINK TO LOOK HERE,DOWN IN THE DEEP SOUTH”(WISE WORDS). PROBABLY FOR THE ENTIRE JOURNEY HE SMOKED MY MARLBORO CIGARETTES,HE SEEMED A LITTLE NERVOUS.WE PARTED COMPANY IN THE JACKSONVILLE BUS TERMINAL.
I ARRIVED IN MEMPHIS,IN THE LATE AFTERNOON AND NEEDED A PLACE TO STAY.I MADE MY WAY TO THE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER ONLY TO BE DIRECTED TO WHERE I HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN, AWAY CROSS TOWN.I ENDED UP ON A TRAM WITH A MEMPHIS TOUR GUIDE,HE GAVE ME AN INSIGHT TO THE PLACES TO VISIT.AS WE WERE MOVING,HE TOLD ME TO LOOK TO MY LEFT,THROUGH THE GAP IN THE APARTMENT BLOCKS,IT WAS WHERE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR HAD BEEN ASSASSINATED,ON THE 4TH OF APRIL 1968,A SHIVER WENT DOWN MY SPINE,I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE THAT.
I EVENTUALLY BOOKED INTO MY HOTEL,EXHAUSTED.
THAT NIGHT I WENT WALKING IN MEMPHIS,AND ONTO BEALE STREET,THE HOME OF THE BLUES,MY FIRST STOP WAS THE ELVIS PRESLEY RESTAURANT WHICH USED TO BE THE LANSKY BROTHERS CLOTHES SHOP,WHERE ELVIS USED TO BUY HIS PINK SHIRTS FROM BACK IN THE FIFTIES,THEN FOR SOME TRADITIONAL DEEP SOUTH CATFISH.

MARC COHEN-WALKING IN MEMPHIS.

THE NEXT DAY,I BOARDED A BUS AND HEADED TO WHITEHAVEN,A PART OF MEMPHIS.

MY FIRST VIEW OF GRACELAND AFTER STEPPING OFF THE BUS.

THE NEXT FEW DAYS WHERE AMAZING,GRACELAND HAS SEEMED TO HAVE GROWN ITS OWN VILLAGE TO ACCOMMODATE ALL THESE VISITORS WHO MAKE THEIR WAY TO GRACELAND EVERY YEAR.I EVENTUALLY STAYED IN HEARTBREAK HOTEL ON ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD.

AND SPENT MY DAYS JUST KICKING MY HEELS AROUND GRACELAND VISITING MUSEUMS AND RESTAURANTS AND PHONING PEOPLE BACK HOME TELLING THEM “I CAN SEE GRACELAND FROM HERE”.WATCHING ELVIS FILMS WHICH WERE ON CONSTANTLY IN THE HOTEL,THIS WAS ELVIS HEAVEN, ACCOMPANIED BY BIG BUCKETS OF SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN,ALSO WATCHING THE FANS COMING INTO GRACELAND WHO EACH HAD THEIR OWN STORIES TO TELL ABOUT THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL.ON THIS HIS 25TH ANNIVERSARY BACK IN 2002.

BOARDING THE PLANE.

HUDDLED AROUND HIS TOMB.

GRACELAND.

ALANNAH MYLES-BLACK VELVET.

PAUL SIMON-GRACELAND.

ELVIS AARON PRESLEY-LONG LIVE ZE KING.

ELVIS AARON PRESLEY 1935-1977.

THIS MONTH SEES THE 33RD ANNIVERSARY OF ELVIS PRESLEY’S UNTIMELY DEATH IN HIS HOME TOWN OF MEMPHIS,TENNESSEE,ON THE 16TH AUGUST 1977.WITH THIS IN MIND,HERE IS A FEW SONGS AND MEMORIES FOR ALL YOU FANS OUT THERE.THE KING OF ROCK N ROLL.

IF I COULD DREAM-WHAT A LINE UP-RADIO 2 ADVERT.

Elvis Presley: Vocals

Marvin Gaye: Vocals

Jimmy Page: Lead Guitar

Noel Gallagher: Rhythm Guitar

Keith Moon: Drums

Sheryl Crow: Bass

Stevie Wonder: Piano

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.

“ZE KING AND I” BY JOHN LENNON.

AUGUST THE 27TH,1965,WAS AN HISTORIC DAY IN THE ANNALS OF CELEBRITY –THE BEATLES MET ELVIS PRESLEY AT HIS HOME IN BEL AIR,CALIFORNIA .THE FOLLOWING IS JOHN LENNON’S DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENING.THANK YOU TO THE ESTATE OF JOHN LENNON FOR ITS USE.

THERE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES THAT WE REALLY WANTED TO MEET–NOT THAT IM SURE HE WANTED TO MEET US–AND THAT WAS ELVIS PRESLEY.IT IS DIFFICULT TO DESCRIBE HOW WE FELT ABOUT HIM .WE JUST IDOLIZED THE GUY SO MUCH.WHEN WE FIRST CAME TO HOLLYWOOD ALL THESE PEOPLE LIKE DEAN MARTIN AND FRANK SINARTRA WANTED TO COME OVER AND SEE US.BUT WE DIDN’T WANT TO MEET THEM PARTICULARLY BECAUSE WE FELT THEY DIDN’T REALLY LIKE US OR OUR MUSIC.IT WAS A REAL THRILL TO GET TO MEET ELVIS,THOUGH–ESPECIALLY TO PLAY WITH HIM.AND BECAUSE WE WERE BOTH PETER SELLERS FANS,I REMEMBER SAYING TO HIM”ZIS IS ZE WAY IT SHOULD BE.ZE SMALL HOMEY GATHERING WIZ A FEW FRIENDS AND A LEELTE MUSIC!”
WE TRIED TO MEET ELVIS DURING OUR FIRST TOUR OF THE STATES IN 1964,BUT COULDN’T MAKE IT BECAUSE OF HIS COMMITMENT AND OURS.BUT WHEN WE CAME IN THE SUMMER OF 1965 WE FOUND THAT WE WOULD BE IN HOLLYWOOD AT THE SAME TIME AS ELVIS WHO WAS FILMING THERE.
AND THATS HOW WE MET ELVIS ON THE NIGHT OF FRIDAY,AUGUST 27,1965.IT STILL TOOK THREE DAYS OF PLANNING TO SET UP THE GET TOGETHER IN ELVIS’S HOUSE–WHICH WE HOPED WOULD BE A SECRET.BUT THE FANS AND THE PRESS STILL GOT WIND OF IT AND WERE THERE IN THEIR HUNDREDS TRYING TO GET IN,AND ALTHOUGH WE WERE USED TO CROWDS,THE THOUGHT OF ELVIS AND THE BEATLES BEING TOGETHER AT ONE TIME JUST BLEW THE MINDS OF SOME PEOPLE.
ANYHOW, ELVIS WAS INSIDE WAITING TO GREET US.HE LOOKED GREAT IN BLACK SLACKS,A RED SHIRT AND A CLOSE FITTING BLACK JERKIN.HE SAID HELLO IN HIS QUIETLY SPOKEN WAY AND LED US INTO A HUGE CIRCULAR ROOM.WE WERE JOINED BY SOME OF HIS STAFF AS WELL AS COLONEL TOM PARKER AND BRIAN EPSTEIN.
I KNOW PAUL,GEORGE AND RINGO WERE FEELING AS NERVOUS AS I WAS.THIS WAS THE GUY WE HAD ALL IDOLIZED FOR YEARS–FROM WAY BACK WHEN WE WERE JUST STARTING OUT IN LIVERPOOL.HE WAS A LEGEND IN HIS OWN LIFETIME,AND ITS NEVER EASY MEETING A LEGEND IN HIS OWN LIFETIME.
HOWEVER,ELVIS TRIED TO MAKE US FEEL AT HOME.HE SAT PAUL AND ME ON ONE SIDE OF HIM AND RINGO ON THE OTHER.GEORGE SAT CROSSED LEGGED ON THE FLOOR.A HUGE COLOUR TELEVISION WAS ON IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM WITH THE SOUND OFF,WHILE A RECORD PLAYER WAS PLAYING THE LATEST TUNES.WE COULD HAVE JUST WALKED IN ON AN AVERAGE ELVIS-AT-HOME EVENING.
ELVIS OBVIOUSLY LIKED TO TREAT EVERYBODY HE MET THE SAME,WHOEVER THEY WERE.HE FINALLY BROKE THE SILENCE THAT HAD FALLEN OVER THE ROOM.”LOOK GUYS,” HE SAID,”IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO SIT THERE AND STARE AT ME,IM GOING TO BED.” HE SMILED AND WE ALL LAUGHED.”LETS TALK A BIT,HUH?”HE WENT ON.”AND THEN MAYBE PLAY AND SING A BIT?”
THAT’S JUST WHAT WE ALL WANTED TO,AND YOU COULD FEEL THE TENSION IN THE ROOM BEGIN TO EASE.ONE OF ELVIS’S STAFF BROUGHT US DRINKS,BUT WHILE WE ALL DRANK SCOTCH AND COKE OR BOURBON AND SEVEN UP,ELVIS ONLY HAD SEVEN UP.
HE DIDN’T TOUCH ANY OF THE CIGARETTES THAT WERE OFFERED AROUND,EITHER.AFTER A BIT ELVIS SAID,”SOMEBODY BRING IN THE GUITARS.”AGAIN ON OF HIS FLUNKIES JUMPED UP,AND WITHIN MOMENTS THREE ELECTRIC GUITARS HAD BEEN PLUGGED INTO THE AMPLIFIERS IN THE ROOM.
ELVIS TOOK A BASS GUITAR,AND I TOOK A RHYTHM GUITAR.ELVIS OBVIOUSLY WASN’T THAT FAMILIAR WITH HIS INSTRUMENT,SO PAUL GAVE HIM SOME INSTRUCTIONS.”HERES HOW I PLAY THE BASS”HE SAID,STRUMMING A FEW CHORDS.”ITS NOT TO GOOD BUT IM PRACTISING.”
GEORGE WAS BUSY LOOKING OVER HIS INSTRUMENT,AND IT WAS A FEW MINUTES BEFORE HE JOINED IN.IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY,IT WAS CILLA BLACKS HIT RECORD “YOUR MY WORLD” THAT WE FIRST GOT TOGETHER.
AFTER THAT I SAID,”THIS BEATS TALKING DOESN’T IT”–AND WE HAD AT LAST FOUND A WAY OF COMMUNICATING THROUGH MUSIC.
ONLY RINGO LOOKED A BIT DOWN.HE COULD ONLY WATCH AS AND DRUM ON THE SIDE OF HIS CHAIR.
“TOO BAD WE LEFT THE DRUMS IN MEMPHIS,” ELVIS SAID,AS IF TRYING TO CONSOLE HIM.
AFTER A WHILE,PAUL PUT DOWN HIS GUITAR AND WENT OVER TO THE LARGE WHITE GRAND PIANO THAT STOOD IN THE CORNER BY THE BAR.HE BEGAN TO PICK OUT SOME NOTES AND WE GOT INTO SOME SHADOWS TUNES.
WHILE ALL THIS WAS GOING ON,BRIAN AND THE COLONEL SAT CHATTING AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM.THEN THEY WENT OUT INTO THE GAMES ROOM TO PLAY SOME ROULETTE.I THINK BRIAN WON A BIT,AND THE COLONEL LOST A LITTLE.
PLAYING THE GUITARS CERTAINLY HELPED US FEEL AT EASE WITH ELVIS.AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR WE STOPPED AND BEGAN TO TALK ABOUT THINGS WE ALL KNEW BEST–ENTERTAINING.IN PARTICULAR,THE EXPERIENCES WE ALL HAD ON TOUR.
“SOME FUNNY THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU ON THE ROAD,DONT THEY?”ELVIS SMILED.”I REMEMBER ONCE IN VANCOUVER WE HAD ONLY DONE A COUPLE OF SONGS WHEN SOME OF THE FANS RUSHED THE STAGE.IT WAS LUCKY THE GUYS AND I GOT OFF THE STAGE IN TIME.THEY TIPPED THE WHOLE DAMN ROSTRUM OVER!”
PAUL IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED UP ELVIS’S WORDS.”YES, WE’VE HAD SOME CRAZY EXPERIENCES,TOO.I REMEMBER ONE FELLOW RUSHED ON STAGE WHEN WE WERE PERFORMING AND PULLED THE LEADS OUT OF THE AMPS.THEN HE TURNED TO ME AND SAID “ONE MOVE AND YOUR DEAD.”
ELVIS REPLIED, “YEAH,IT CAN BE VERY SCARY AT TIMES.”
I CHIPPED IN. “BUT YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN,”I SAID. “AT LEAST WE’VE GOT EACH OTHER UP THERE.IF SOME BODY PUSHED ME ON STAGE AND SAID. “YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN,LIKE THEY DO WITH YOU,I DONT KNOW HOW I WOULD COPE.”
THE CONVERSATION THEN MOVED ON TO THE PROBLEM OF FLYING,WHICH ELVIS ADMITTED COULD BOTHER HIM.
“ONCE I TOOK OFF FROM ATLANTA,GEORGIA,IN A SMALL TWO-ENGINED PLANE,”HE RECALLED, “AND ONE OF THE ENGINES FAILED.”BOY I WAS SCARED!” “I REALLY THOUGHT MY NUMBER WAS UP.WE HAD TO TAKE EVERYTHING THAT WAS SHARP OUT OF OUR POCKETS AND REST OUR HEADS ON PILLOWS BETWEEN OUR KNEES.”.”WHEN WE FINALLY GOT DOWN SAFELY,THE PILOT WAS SOAKING WITH SWEAT,ALTHOUGH THERE WAS SNOW ON THE GROUND OUTSIDE.”
GEORGE TOLD ELVIS A SIMILAR STORY ABOUT WHEN HE HAD BEEN FLYING FROM LIVERPOOL AND THE WINDOW BESIDE HIM HAD SUDDENLY SPRUNG OPEN.
“YEAH,” AGREED ELVIS. “WE PAY THE PRICE FOR FAME WITH OUR NERVES DON’T WE!”
I ALSO REMEMBER I TALKED TO HIM ABOUT CARS.EVERYONE KNEW HOW MUCH HE LOVED THEM.AND HE HAD JUST GOT HIMSELF A ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM FIVE.
“SNAP!” I TOLD HIM. “I SAW IT OUTSIDE.MINE IS JUST THE SAME EXCEPT IVE HAD ALL THE CHROME BITS PAINTED BLACK.”
IT WAS 2AM WHEN WE FINALLY QUIT.ELVIS HAD BEEN A GREAT HOST AND GAVE ALL OF US A COMPLETE SET OF HIS RECORDS.IT WAS A NIGHT NONE OF US WOULD FORGET.AS WE WERE ABOUT TO LEAVE,PAUL SAID, “ELVIS WE WOULD LIKE YOU AND THE OTHER GUYS TO COME UP TO THE PLACE WHERE WE ARE STAYING TOMORROW NIGHT.”
“WELL,ILL SEE,”ELVIS REPLIED. “I DON’T KNOW WHETHER I CAN MAKE IT OR NOT.BUT THANKS ALL THE SAME.”
HE SMILED AND SHOOK OUR HANDS.WE NEVER SAW HIM AGAIN.
IT WAS ELVIS’S SENSE OF HUMOUR THAT STUCK IN MY MIND.HE LIKED TO LAUGH AND MAKE OTHERS LAUGH,TOO.WHICH WAS WHY I PUT ON A PETER SELLERS VOICE AS WE WALKED OUT OF THE DOOR AND SAID.
“TANKS FOR ZE MUSIC,ELVIS–AND LONG LIVE ZE KING!”

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.


I LOVE ELVIS PRESLEY, I WENT THROUGH A LONG PERIOD OF BEING OBSESSED BY HIM.HE WAS MY SECRET OBSESSION WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.HIS STYLE,HIS MUSIC,EVERYTHING THE GUY DID I COLLECTED THATS THE WAY IT WAS.NOTHING ELSE MATTERED.HE WAS THE GREATEST.HE HAD IT ALL,THE WORLD WAS AT HIS FEET.GROWING UP I FELT AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE THAT THIS ROCK N ROLL PERFORMER WAS THE PERFECT ROCK STAR,I WAS VERY NAIVE IN MY THINKING, I THOUGHT THIS GUY COULD DO NO WRONG,WHAT I READ ABOUT ELVIS WAS THAT HE WAS A GOD FEARING MAMAS BOY WHO NEVER SMOKED OR TOOK DRUGS.ALL THE WHILE I WAS GOING TO ELVIS TRIBUTE ACTS THAT WERE AROUND,LOVING THE MUSIC MAYHEM THIS ELVIS WANNABE WAS STIRRING UP,GETTING ALL THESE MIDDLE AGED WOMEN EXCITED,I WAS SUCKED IN WITH IT ALL,IF MY MOD MATES FOUND OUT I WOULD HAVE HAD THE PISS TOOK OUT OF ME,BADLY, LIKE I SAID IT WAS A SECRET OBSESSION.GROWING UP WITH THE KING I MADE THE TRANSITION FROM GEEKY TEENAGER TO GEEKY ADULT AND WHILST READING AND LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE KING,LURKING IN BOOKS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM YOU FIND THINGS OUT LIKE AMID THE ORGY OF GUNS,PILLS AND EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIRS LURKED A PROFOUND INNER LONELINESS OF A MAN THEY CALLED THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL.ALTHOUGH ALL OF ELVIS’S LIFE AND CAREER INTRIGUED ME IT WAS THE VEGAS YEARS I THOUGHT WERE THE WEIRDEST;FROM 1972 ONWARDS AFTER THE BREAK-UP OF HIS MARRIAGE, INTO A MUSICAL DECLINE FROM WHICH HE WOULD NEVER RECOVER FROM,TRAPPED INSIDE A WORLD HE INVENTED.
ONE OF ELVIS’S OBSESSIONS WAS COLLECTING POLICE BADGES AND ON DECEMBER 21,1970,ELVIS WENT AFTER THE COLLECTORS HOLY GRAIL:A BADGE FROM THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF NARCOTICS AND DANGEROUS DRUGS.THE PHOTOGRAPH OF ELVIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE SHAKING HANDS WITH RICHARD NIXON IS ONE OF THE SEVENTIES WEIRDEST,MOST INDELIBLE IMAGES.”THE ULTIMATE REBEL BECAME THE ULTIMATE CONSERVATIVE”

HE EVEN POINTED A FINGER TOWARDS THE BEATLES WHO HE SAID HAD BEEN”PROMOTING AN ANTI-AMERICAN SPIRIT”THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT WERE TRYING TO DEPORT LENNON AT THE TIME OF HIS MEETING WITH NIXON.
AS THE AMOUNT OF DRUGS INCREASED ELVIS’S BEHAVIOUR BECAME MORE BIZARRE WITH HIS CONCERTS BEING USED AS A PLATFORM FOR MONOLOGUES AND PUTTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT THESE BECAME AS LONG AS THE SONGS THEMSELVES.
ELVIS PRESLEY ON STAGE IN THE SEVENTIES.

TOWARDS THE END OF THE SEVENTIES HIS TRIUMPHS BECAME FEWER AND FEWER.ON DECEMBER 12,1976 HE PLAYED LAS VEGAS FOR THE LAST TIME.IN A CITY THAT OFFERS CUSTOM MADE ILLUSIONS,HE HAD FALLEN FOR THE BIG ONE:THE PROMISE THAT THE COMEBACK HE MADE UNDER ALL ITS GLITTER AND MAGIC FAIRY LIGHTS WOULD LEAD HIM TO BIGGER AND BETTER ACHIEVEMENTS,HE COULD HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD.INSTEAD IT TURNED INTO A TREADMILL MORE TEDIOUS AND EXHAUSTING THAN THE ONE IN HOLLYWOOD.BUT ELVIS PRESLEY LEFT ME WITH SOME GREAT MEMORIES AND ONES I WILL TREASURE.

ELVIS PRESLEY-AN AMERICAN TRILOGY-HAWAII-1973.

THE COOLEST MAN ON THE PLANET CIRCA 1968.

ELVIS PRESLEY-1935-1977.
THANKYOUTHANKYOUVERYMUCH.