In 1977, forty-three years ago on August 16th, Aunt Evie called our home and told us the news that Elvis had died. The news was of that enormity—one had to relay it to someone else. One had to share it with another and commiserate.
Decades later the music still connects with new generations of fans while those of us who always knew the magic relive it on our turntables and CDs. We know the best way to hear Elvis is with the volume, higher and higher.
Lately, I have been really enjoying the Jungle Room recordings from Graceland. In 1976 RCA recording trailers were outside as the machinery was brought into his home and now we have these audio recordings.
The power and punch of Elvis come through with his concert material. The way he controls a massive arena and makes it his own never fails to amaze me.
Only five years after his death I felt a sort of tightness in my chest, an anxiety that had accompanied me that entire day when I went on the radio as an announcer for the first time. I parked my marineblue Chevette in the parking lot of the small cinder block-constructed station house, got out, dusted myself off, and prepared to go inside. Upon entering the somewhat cluttered WDOR studio in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin that day, I went immediately to the record stacks. Rows and rows of vinyl records were all alphabetized according to the artists’ names and were situated behind the console where I would sit to do my job. I scanned the collection quickly and settled on a recording by ‘The King’.
I placed the record on the turntable, and spoke authoritatively to the station’s listeners, my soon-to-be friends. I informed everybody listening in radioland that Elvis, ‘The King’, would “take us to news time at the top of the hour.” The song ended. I gave the call letters for the station per the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC’s requirements, and hit the button for ABC News. I breathed a sigh of relief.
So began my years in radio.