Today we remember the 30 year anniversary of the passing of the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis permanently left the building at only 42 years of age.
I was only 10 years old when he passed away, but I can still remember being in the car with my Mom and Dad and hearing the news announcement on the radio and not being able to believe it. Going by my Mom's reaction, I knew she couldn't believe it either. It's a memory that sticks in a lot of people's heads.
There are certain things like that, that we always remember where we were and what we were doing, and almost always, we remember because in some way, they were monumental moments that in one way or another, shaped our lives and affected us deeply.
Mike and I, since recently covering the Elvis 30 Year Tribute concert, have been bitten by the Elvis bug ;-) I've found myself wanting to know more about him and really appreciating his music and what he brought to the world of music and just the world, in general. We've also noticed that so many of the songs we remember from childhood, are ones that Elvis sang, though we didn't realize it at the time. I was so honored to be able to work on a piece that honored Elvis and his musical contributions as well as celebrating his life.
Being an entertainment writer, I've found that my world has opened up to all kinds of possibilities and I've also found myself revisiting some of the music that I loved so much as a child. Elvis' songs were very much a part of that, though I didn't really realize the impact when I was so young.
The music I grew up listening to, as well as the influence of growing up in a musical household with a Dad who is a musician (sax and clarinet) as well as a retired band director, and the music I have come to listen to as I grew into adulthood...Contemporary Christian, Gospel, Rock, Pop, Alternative, have all shaped my desire and passion for, music. Music moves our souls, inspires us, touches our emotions. Music was given to us by our Creator as a way to worship Him. It also stirs our souls and brings out life and emotion. It comforts us, moves us, energizes us. I think we have an innate desire to express and feel, through music and rhythm.
I can still remember going to watch my Dad play at different jobs or gigs, as they are called today (my Mom would take us sometimes to watch my Dad and his band play on stage). I knew at that moment, that I wanted to be a part of that world somehow. The music, the excitement, the way it touched people and the happiness that it brought out. I had such pride watching my Dad on stage. For years, my sister Chris and I subjected family members to the "concerts" we would put on, singing all kinds of songs, but especially John Denver tunes. I always loved to sing and still do. Today, I'm blessed to be able to combine my love of the written word, with my passion for music and entertainment and I thank God for that opportunity.
Elvis brought to us rock and roll, popularized Gospel music and opened the doors for so many artists that would come after him, and very few have come close to bringing to the world what he did.
He has sold the most records of any artist, ever, and still continues to, 30 years after his death. There have been very few artists that has ever been able to bring out quite the same reaction and devotion in people. So many other musicians have mentioned Elvis' influence in their life and their careers, and of course, the tribute artists keep his memory alive by bringing to life and to the stage, what Elvis brought to us so many years ago.
Though the media likes to bring out the negatives at times and to play up the different possibilities surrounding his death (his drummer, at the concert Friday night, said he honestly believes that Elvis died of a heart attack as he had others who had died early in his family), it's not how he died that we should focus on, but rather what he brought to us in life and how the music we have today, was very much influenced by this one man and his desire to share his God-given talent with us all.
In talking with DJ Fontana, his drummer of 15 years, as well as hearing the same on so many programs, Elvis himself was a pretty private person, but the music and the soul that he openly shared with the world won't be forgotten, and he has left a musical legacy that still continues to affect the world of music, and people, to this day.
Today, we remember the King of Rock and Roll.
Copyright 2007 by Deborah L. Kunesh
Also, check out www.spinner.com tomorrow, Friday, August 17th. Posted there tomorrow is supposed to be a video of Lisa Marie Presley singing with her late father, "In the Ghetto" (thanks to today's latest technology).