Saturday, February 8, 2014

360 Vintage Vegas: Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley virtually invented celebrity, as we know it.  Unfortunately, he also became its first victim.  Imagine being a shy mama’s boy who never matured past his late teens to early 20s because, at a time when most people are learning who they are from their mistakes, everyone around Elvis told him he was a genius.  He was encouraged to not let people change him, go with your instincts.  Elvis Presley not only became Las Vegas biggest draw but changed the face of music and pop culture forever.  Unfortunately his memory has become bastardized by the myriad of performers who impersonate his talent during the darkest times of his life. While most don’t do this with malicious intent, fat Elvis has become a common caricature in Vegas representing one of the most amazing, iconic performers of all time. 

There will never be another Elvis Presley the same way you can’t lose your virginity twice.  Elvis invented, inadvertently, modern day celebrity.  Artists of the time and over the years have expressed how important Elvis Presley was in their lives.  Bob Dylan said listing to Elvis for the 1st time was like busting out for jail.  John Lennon said before Elvis Presley, there was nothing.  The fact is Elvis Presley changed everything.  A month before I began writing the piece, Elvis was nothing more than a curiosity to me.  One throwaway visit to Graceland during a weekend visit to Memphis that I thought would be nothing more than a “I’ve been to Graceland” sparked a curiosity that not only inspired me to write this piece but to explore far more about Elvis life and career than I would ever need for a 360 Vintage Vegas segment.  In short, despite all the kitch you have come to know, check out Graceland if you get the chance.  It might just change your perspective of the life and legacy of Elvis Aron Presley.

If you are interested in learning more about Elvis Presley, we would recommend Peter Guralnick's books Last Train to Memphis: the Rise of Elvis Presley & Careless Love: The unmaking of Elvis Presley.