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Elvis 31 Years Later

Elvis 31 Years Later: As the 31st Anniversary has now passed, like a lot of fans on the 16th August, I sat back for a few minutes and took stock of the changes that have occurred over the past 31 years. Some good, some bad, a number of us would have strong opinions on whether they have been for the better. In most cases this world of ours has not stood still and one wonders what Elvis himself would have thought of the changes. A great deal of change has occurred in the places Elvis loved and visited throughout his career. One also wonders what he would have thought about trends that has taken place in music and also movies/ television during these years. It would be nice, if we lived in a place were time stood still and things did not change, but this is not practical and sadly the Las Vegas and Memphis of 31 years ago when Elvis left us, is a far different place today. Indeed, on my many trips to both of these places, I have noticed some dramatic changes to there landscapes. On my first trip in early 1984, I had the privilege of seeing places that had seen only minor change in the seven- (7) years since Elvis’ passing.

On that first visit to Las Vegas, not much had changed in the landscape of the Strip & Down Town to the scenes that were shown in Viva Las Vegas. I had the joy of seeing the old facard of The Golden Nugget and those great old down town casino’s as well as the not to much changed strip with those great resort casinos such as the original Sahara, Flamingo & The Aladdin. Sadly only the original facard of The Flamingo remains. It was a joy to also see the location of one of my favourite scenes from Viva Las Vegas, taken by The Flamingo Pool when Elvis sang to Ann Margaret. Unfortunately the pool is long gone after a great deal of renovations to the resort. The Las Vegas of today with its mega resorts is a far cry from the Las Vegas when Elvis performed there. The Elvis connection there is sadly being eroded, with EPE’s new owner looking to change that and give it a new Elvis presence; which really needed to happen a lot sooner.

Memphis also has undertaken a great amount of change and sadly a great deal of the Elvis places of interest have been pulled down and no longer remain today. Places like Ellis and Cook Auditoriums, American Sound Studios, Baptist Memorial Hospital and more recently Libertyland just to name a few spots no longer exist and even the more recent Elvis Presley’s Memphis is gone as is the restuarant that replaced it. Graceland and it’s Plaza have undergone significant change in the last 20 odd years, and rumour is that Plaza will once again change with EPE’s new owner working on a new centre and resort. The original tour of Graceland 20 years ago has also seen change to the rooms at Graceland, back closer to its decorations when Priscilla lived there. I have fond memories of sitting in a little bar where Graceland Plaza now sits and watching a video of the arrival of the Lisa Marie Aircraft back to it’s present location on my first trip there. Sadly they are becoming distant memories.

Tupelo also has undertaken change to the Elvis Birthplace Centre and it’s other Elvis sites.

One location that has not seen a lot of change is the New Orleans French Quarter, even after the battering of Hurricane Katrina, it still remains there the same as it was when Elvis was alive, even though a large portion of it’s outer suburbs built over the past 30 years no longer exist.

Last but not least, the one constant in all of this is Elvis and his music, following his untimely death on August 16, 1977 people asked how long would he be remembered as we head towards the 32nd Anniversary proudly we can say his memory and legacy has continued thanks to the millions of people that his music and movies have touched. It is an indication of the job that all of us have done to make sure that he is remembered and I think we can all be proud of this. Unfortunately we the Elvis Fan base are growing older and we need to do more in the way we promote the Legacy of Elvis especially to the younger generation to ensure his memory and legacy continues. We all owe Elvis that much for the joy he has given us.

So as we head towards this 32nd Anniversary, let’s all pledge to get out there and do our bit in promoting the King. Let Elvis fans unite and let’s make this a year of celebration that will make people aware of our commitment to his legacy. Be proud to show you’re an Elvis Fan and also belong to our club.

Lets Keep The Memory Alive

Jim

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