I had no reason to hate Elvis Presley; I wasn’t even yet four years old. But news of his death must have interrupted Sesame Street (the only show I was allowed to watch) because I remember a clip of him à là Aloha from Hawai’i and thinking, “Get that fat guy in that ugly white suit offa my T.V.”
Five years later we went to Graceland. I didn’t much care one way or the other, until we saw a picture of Jumpsuit Elvis. It jarred my memory and made me remember I didn’t like him. We took the tour of his tacky mansion (I was enthralled by the idea of three televisions in one room!) and sat in the Pink Jeep from Blue Hawai’i.
Then we went into the Records Room.
I heard Elvis sing.
That was it – I was hooked. And ever since then, everyone has known how much I love Elvis. In junior high school, girls were drooling over Johnny Depp while I was drawing portraits of Elvis Presley. I bought his albums, or recorded original vinyl onto tape from family and friends. I read books and magazines about him. I watched his movies, even taping the songs onto my little boom box. I was obsessed.
So I’m sorry, Elvis, that my first mean thought was of you.
“Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique, irreplaceable. More than twenty years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense. And he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of this country.”
President Jimmy Carter, 1977. His official statement following Elvis’ death.