THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
by Lea Frydman
We all remember the day John F Kennedy was shot! But where were you the day Elvis died?
August 16, 1977 was a day that, much like the day that President Kennedy was assassinated, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news - Elvis was dead. President, Jimmy Carter's message to the nation was; "With Elvis Presley a part of our country died as well." Others said that the American Dream died with Elvis. There is no doubt that when the King of Rock n Roll died; music and the world would never be the same again.
Just after 2p.m. Tuesday, August 16, 1977, Ginger Alden found Elvis, face down, unconscious, on the floor in the bathroom at Graceland. Clad only in blue top and yellow pyjamas bottoms. Elvis was crouched over his face and tongue dark and bloated.
By 3:30pm Elvis had been pronounced dead after frantic ambulance ride to Baptist Memorial Hospital where an unprecedented number of specialists had battled to save his life. The official verdict was death by heart failure.
Dr. Nichopoulous rode in the ambulance back to Graceland to tell Vernon that Elvis was dead. Joe Esposito was going to announce the death, but was to overcome with grief. Half an hour later, on the steps of Graceland a grief stricken Vernon announced to the world; "My son, Elvis is dead..."
Within minutes of Vernon's Presley's announcement the news rocketed around the world. The Memphis Press Scimitar announced, LONELY LIFE ENDS ON ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD.
The French headlines read: L'ADIEU A ELVIS!
The British front-page said: KING ELVIS DEAD AT 42 AND ALONE.
The Soviet newspaper PRAVDA ran a full-page message: ELVIS IS DEAD. THE USA HAS GIVEN US THREE CULTURAL PHENOMENONS, MICKEY MOUSE, COKE A COLA AND ELVIS PRESLEY.
In Australia, the front page of The Herald ran ONE HOUR BATTLE FAILS. KING ELVIS DIES.
Ex-president, Richard Nixon asked Americans fly their flags at half-mast. In Tupelo Elvis' birthplace the mayor declared, August 16 an official day of mourning for all time. RCA claimed that they sold 400 million Elvis Presley records to distraught fans.
Outside Graceland pandemonium reigned with 300 women and children requiring medical attention, and from around the world over 80,000 fans began the pilgrimage to Graceland forcing a near hysterical Vernon Presley to consent to a public viewing of the body the next day. Dressed in a cream colored suit, white tie and pale blue shirt, wearing a diamond and gold TBC ring, Elvis lay in state in his heavy copper coffin.
Thousands of devoted Elvis fans were allowed the privilege to offer their last farewell to their idol. For hours they made their way up to the Graceland Mansion to file one by one passed the Elvis lying in state. Many fans collapsed at the sight of their hero.
Thursday, August 18, the funeral procession was 18 cars Long.
Celebrities, such as, Ann-Margaret with husband Roger Smith and George Hamilton attending the funeral service, as did Colonel Tom Parker. Jackie Kahane gave the eulogy.
Elvis' final resting place. The wording can be found below.
Two years later, on June 26, 1979, Vernon Presley died of a broken heart.
Six hundred thousand people make the pilgrimage to Graceland each year to pay tribute to the king of rock n roll.
The last picture of
Elvistaken on August 15, 1977.
Graphic sets and design © 2002 The Runaway Bride.
"Elvis", "Elvis Presley"
and"Graceland"................. are Registered Trademarks of
Elvis PresleyEnterprises,Inc. © 1996 E.P.E.,
The wav file is "Statute of a King" by Roger McDowell and is for your listening pleasure. Copyrights belong to the artist.