|Elvis at 77: Somewhat craggy, sad to say|
Today, we celebrate the birthday of a King. The King. Elvis Presley.
The reason for the faithful to flock to Graceland and mourn the man who would have been 77 years old, had not an unfortunate convergence of prescription drugs not killed him in the john. This particular anniversary is an auspicious one, indeed. It marks 35 years since Presley gave up the ghost, and finally left the building for the final time.
If you need to satisfy that hunka, hunka burning love, now there's proof that it's not just the music, but the man himself who lives on.
Nearly a year ago, diehard devotees were enticed by a documentary boasting a title that gave good reason for Elvis conspiracy theorists to finally feel fulfilled. No matter that Elvis Found Alive was likely intended as a spoof; it still appealed to a certain sect that either don't get the joke or, like those convinced that JFK was indeed the victim of an alien plot and Neil Armstrong never really walked on the moon, believe that Elvis grew tired of fame and fortune (really?) and currently works at a BK in Sawbuck, Iowa.
The film's director Joel Gilbert was inspired by a visit to Graceland, and put in a request to the U.S. government for its files on Elvis under the guise of the Freedom of Information Act (cue cosmic soundtrack). The FBI happily obliged with documents containing an address for a Federal Agent named Jon Burrows, supposedly Elvis' 1970 alias.
Burrows is now residing in Simi Valley, California, very happy to be out of the spotlight, thank you very much. However, now that he's revealed for who he really he, a noticeably craggy Elvis naturally agrees to share the details of his secret life and how he faked his death to get away. And the news gets even better -- you can nab a copy of Elvis Found Alive for less than $10 on Amazon!
Okay, so maybe Elvis Found Alive shamelessly capitalizes on wishful thinking. Personally, I thought he died once he moved to Vegas.
Over the past 18 months or so, there have been no less than three major box sets celebrating the King's royal legacy -- The Boy With the Big Beat, a celebration of seminal performances from the year Elvis initially made his mark; Prince From Another Planet, a commemorative CD/DVD combo that captured his landmark 1972 performances at Madison Square Garden; and now Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, a two-disc set that expands on the original recording of the television special that was beamed to over a billion and a half devotees worldwide. That's good news for anyone with memories of the man, because even the inflated cost of a multi-disc box set beats the price of a roundtrip ticket to Memphis.
A new book, Let the Boy Sing, portends to prove through DNA testing that Elvis left behind, not only a daughter, but a son. Born in 1961, John Smith was supposedly adopted by Elvis' mom and, natch, grew up to become a musician. His credits included back up for Lawrence Welk, John Denver, working in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and session work in Nashville. Quite a diverse resume. But it's the "smooth vocals, distinct vibrato and remarkable range" declared in a press release that apparently have some believing there's a genetic connection or that the boy is really the famous dad himself... in disguise. Never mind that he's nearly a quarter century younger than the old man. We'd refer you to the aforementioned Elvis Found Alive for reference.
Also, fueling the nostalgia is a steady flood of Elvis cruises, Elvis impressionists, Elvis album reissues, and the ongoing popularity of an Elvis-intensive Broadway hit, Million Dollar Quartet, and it's enough to make one convinced that Elvis is still with us, at least in spirit if not in glamorously clad body.
Long live the King!