Forty years ago today, Elvis Presley died while sitting on the toilet in his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee. Or so the story goes. Elvis would, or might, be 82 today.
I am old enough to have listened to Elvis in my formative years and to appreciate his larger than life story of a poor Mississippi boy who wandered into Sam Phillips little recording studio to make a record for his mother, only to become the King of Rock and Roll. The first time I went to Graceland, I passed by his grave and saw a big-haired – and also big – woman on the ground next to the flowery grave crying real tears. Just for fun, my wife and I renewed our vows at the chapel there a year ago.
I remember hearing the news of his death as I turned into my driveway that August morning in 1977. I found it hard to believe, and it seems that more than a few continue to doubt his death. You can find a chronicle of the conspiracy theories around his death here. There are almost as many Elvis conspiracy sites on the Internet as there are cat videos. I even have somewhere – please don’t judge – a copy of a National Enquirer with the headline, “Elvis Abducted by Aliens.” Who could resist?
There are more than a few movies claiming that Elvis’ death was faked. Elvis is Alive is one. The Identical claims that is stillborn brother actually lived and took over Elvis’ identity after his death. You can access descriptions of other bizarre films at the same link. One example is Bubba Ho-Tep, in which Elvis and John F. Kennedy are said to be kept in a nursing home, where they find an Egyptian god who rises from the swamp nearby. Actually, it is worth seeing.
Far and away my favorite is Finding Graceland, starring Harvey Kietel, who goes about being, or believing, he is Elvis, while helping the downtrodden that he comes across. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is poignant. But then there are so many tales of Elvis that still touch hearts today.
I suppose we still miss you Elvis, wherever you are.