I was in New York on 16th August 1977, when I heard the news on the radio that Elvis Aaron Presley was dead.
He was known around the world as the ‘King of Rock’n'Roll’.
Elvis was born in pretty humble circumstances on January 8th, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, and he was 42 years old when he died. He is considered one of the best-selling and most influential artists in the history of popular music.
I consider him a poor old soul. Well, actually not that old by the time his life came to an end. Poor, because I suppose that after 33 more or less successful movies, 18 Number One hits, a few hundred million records sold, and one unsuccessful marriage, it is sad when there is little doubt that long-term drug misuse caused his heart to fail. Perhaps he found it difficult to live, when his twin brother was still-born. Perhaps he was a victim to the fame that ultimately he could not handle. The pressures were immense, even then.
Enough said. Elvis undoubtedly made Pop Music open up and move in a different direction. And that’s probably as great an achievement as anyone’s, at least if you are a music lover.
I don’t think I have voluntarily listened to an Elvis Presley song in the last 20 years or so. I don’t like his songs any longer. They do not touch me now. They are not relevant to our day and age, at least in my way of thinking. But I do believe that Elvis has changed the way of my musical perceptions. I would not listen to music of John Cage, Morton Feldman or James Tenney today, I believe, if it hadn’t been for Elvis Presley opening the doors to what music was allowed to sound like. There was a before and an after, and I believe that Elvis was creative and daring enough to make that after possible.
And for that I am grateful.
Rest in peace, man.