Thursday, August 16, 2012

The King and I

Hard to believe it's been 35 years since Elvis Presley died -- and that he was just 42 when it happened. I remember being at my mom's best friend Shirley's big house on the lake in Utica, Michigan, when we got the news. Shirley and her daughters, Lisa and Cindy, were way bigger fans of the King than we were, but I can still recall a feeling of sadness and helplessness coming over me, like I wanted to be able to undo what had happened and forever changed life as we know it. It was my first real experience with death -- we didn't have a lot of family, so a celebrity had to stand in -- an experience that hit me even harder the following year when Anissa Jones of "Family Affair" overdosed. That she was a little girl that I "grew up with" was more than I hear handle. Nice that Prsicilla and Lisa Marie surprised fans at Graceland last night. Video and details from the visit HERE.

UPDATE: In my book-writing frame of mind, I ended up emailing my two older brothers my recollections to see if they had any memories of that day. Their answers surprised me, and are proof positive that a lot of memoirs contain incorrect information, but are not inherently dishonest.
Terence: I remember being at Frankenmuth with the family and Betty when I heard the news. Bill: Care to make it a split decision? 
Bill: Hmm. I'm picturing Willow Hill, maybe with Shirley there. Or Linda.


DrewinDC said...

I was 13 and lost my virginity the night Elvis died. The two were not related but it certainly made for a memorable night.

ML said...

You have a brother named Terence? Jesus fuggin' Christ. No wonder you're queer. A name like that could suck the butch out of any family.

Oh, and it's really sad about the King, too. He was only 42 -- younger than I am. OK, OK, he was MUCH younger. But seriously. Terence?

James Greenlee said...

Kenneth, here's a weird one for you: I was on vacation with my parents in Kansas, my step-dad's home state (I'm from Columbus, Ohio). We were at one of my step-dad's friends' house, a 70s-era upper-middle-class abode, with a veranda, and a jukebox.

The jukebox was in disrepair, an my 11-year-old self was put on jukebox repair duty. As a techie (even to this day), I got it running. And the main songs were, "Suspicious Minds," "Burnin' Love," and "In The Ghetto" by Elvis. The next day--no kidding--I heard that Elvis had died on the guest room clock radio. It's all we talked about the next day, and I've never forgotten it. Ever since, I've had a weird "Greenlee Curse" with celebrities. Talking about obscure celebs, and having them die shortly after: Elvis, Isabelle Sanford, Bea Arthur. . .and on and on.