Thursday, August 16, 2007

So, where were you August 16, 1977?

Yeah, I know, most of you weren't born yet.

I, however, was alive and kicking, living and working at the pub in the Ashley Park Hotel in Walton-on-Thames, England. I'd just finished my stint at Exeter College, Oxford, and wasn't ready to return to everyday life in Atlanta, Georgia, and my work at a little television station called WTCG-TV.

As I came downstairs the morning of August 16, the hotel manager and his wife, plus a couple of others, were standing solemnly at the bottom. Even after 30 years I can see the group looking up at me as I walked down the stairs. The memory is still so clear in my mind:

Dougie turned to June and said, "Do you think we should tell her now?"

"Tell me what?"

A little hesitation as they looked at each other. "Well, you should know that Elvis Presley is dead."

"Really? Hm." And I continued on to the kitchen to get my breakfast.

The group followed behind me. "We thought you'd be upset about this news!" said one.

"Um. No, I mean it's sad and I like his music, but I'm not a big rock-and-roll star fan of anybody's so, no. I'm not torn up about it."

And that was the end of it, really (certainly the end of it for The King). Sure, the pub was full of talk about how it happened and wasn't he young and so forth. So, though I never shed a tear over Elvis, I do remember where I was when I heard about his death, and how disappointed the folks were that I didn't fling myself down the stairs, weeping madly. I've always found it interesting that they thought I'd be upset about it. Was it because I was American? Not sure.

Now, I can conjure up a few tears when I hear "Can't Help Falling In Love," or when I hear his songs that bring back memories of those early "Hound Dog," "Teddy Bear," Don't Be Cruel" childhood years. But his death just didn't impact my life - certainly not the way Doug and June thought it would on that August day in 1977. (Elvis sure was purdy when he was young, though. I'll give 'im that.)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was preparing to move into the house I live in now....but it didn't stop me from crying my eyes out over Elvis's death. I was a big fan as a kid and as an adult. What a day that was. ~Joy

PT said...

I was at a Boy's Brigade camp on the Isle of Wight.

The news was buzzing around and was the only thing that people seemed to talk about.

However, as a (nearly) 11 year old, all I thought was "oh, good, rubbish old rock'n'roller is gone. We won't have to listen to his records again".

How wrong was I?

Peter (the other) said...

I was on a TWA flight between Boston and LA, a suitcase full of demo tapes that I had just produced, of a band I had found in Boston. They announced the death over the airplane intercom, but it meant nothing next to the news I thought I just had. My girlfriend had driven me to the airport, and given me a card which she said I shoundn't open until the plane took off. When I did, there was a card with a stork carrying a baby with a congratulatory note inside. This became a moment of hullucination for me, although she had meant my "project" as the baby, I thought she meant she was pregnant. I was literally insane with happiness (I am not sure I have ever been so happy since). I landed in LA around 2am, took a cab to the hotel in Westwood, only to find that somehow my reservation had been lost, and there wasn't a room for miles (a convention?). So I sat up all night in the "Ship's" coffee shop. writing page after page of a letter about our future life together, and the baby. The sun was coming up when it was late enough to call the east coast politely (an expecting mother needs her sleep), but I woke her anyway. Poor young women, she had a madman on the end of the line who had made plans for the next fifty years, and all she could seem to bleat out was the news about Elvis. It took me a few days for my mind to slowly grasp the reality (I was literally insane for a few days). We broke up soon thereafter. Jr. would be 29. Uh-huh-huh, I was all shook up!

MaryB said...

Geez, PtO - you win the story contest, hands down! I can only imagine what you were thinking and feeling in the in-between time.

Joy, I know people who still get misty about Elvis. I was just never a fan of any rock-and-roller or group. (Though I, myself, am - of course - a rock-and-roller!)

PT - so, yeah. No relief for you on the Elvis music. Sorry!