70th birthday: what if?
years old is a fine age to reach. When Elvis was born in 1935
the average life expectancy for men was only 60 years. Elvis’
grandmother Octavia died in that same year and Elvis was,
of course, heartbroken when his mother Gladys died aged 46.
Both of Elvis’ uncles Travis & Johnny Smith, who worked as
gate guards at Graceland, also died in their forties. Elvis
said to friends that they would never see him as an old man.
Elvis lived would he still be performing? Perhaps, like his
colleagues, he would be recording big-selling duets albums.
You can imagine Elvis and Willie Nelson (seventy in 2003)
touching fan’s emotions with their duet of ‘Always on My Mind’.
Perhaps Elvis could have finally recorded two of his favourites
- ‘I Walk the Line’ & ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ - with his old
friend Johnny Cash (70 in 2002). With a new manager and The
Colonel (70 in 1979) and publishers Hill & Range (Julian Aberbach
70 in 1979) at last out of the way Elvis could have finally
got hold of some really creative material.
a new RCA/BMG contract, requiring only one new CD release
every 2 years, Elvis could also have delivered some quality
recordings. In 1991 Elvis would have celebrated the 20th anniversary
of his original ‘Elvis Country’ LP with an astounding follow-up,
performing his favourite new country songs. The new ‘Country
album’ called ‘Heaven Help My Heart’ includes performances
with Wynona Judd on the title track - and an old score is
settled by a surprise collaboration with “rival” Garth Brooks.
radio favourite from the CD is Elvis’ duet with k.d.lang on
Roy Orbison’s ‘Blue Bayou’. This was Elvis’ idea in remembrance
of Roy Orbison who had sadly died in 1988 aged 52, (he would
have been 70 in 2006). In 1993 the CD ‘The Lord Will Make
a Way – Elvis Gospel’ is also a big seller, although not a
great chart success. This time Elvis was moved to record another
Gospel CD by the death of composer Thomas A. Dorsey, aged
94, in January 1993. A favourite of Elvis’, Dorsey’s compositions
include ‘Peace in The Valley’ and ‘Take My Hand, Precious
this new CD Elvis reunites with The Jordanaires and The Imperials
for the first time since 1966 to record some of his favourite
gospel songs. Highlights are Elvis’ versions of Dorsey’s ‘The
Lord Will Make a Way’ and the rockin’ ‘It's a Highway to Heaven’.
1996 would have been another creative bench-mark for Elvis
with the 40th anniversary celebration of the release of Heartbreak
new CD called ‘Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Blues’ features 20
astounding classic Blues tracks. The hit of the album is the
title track but this time it is performed in a totally new
dirty-blues style with Elvis being joined by B.B King (70
in 1995) on guitar. Standout track is B.B King’s ‘Everyday
I Have the Blues’.
“performance of the decade” is the surprise concert in Memphis
when Elvis joins B.B. King on stage at his newly opened Blues
Club on Beale Street performing ten of the best songs from
the CD. However the highlight of the night is when both Elvis
and B.B King are totally surprised by the amazingly sprightly
Rufus Thomas (70 in 1987) jumping on stage to join them. The
three Memphis friends jam together on ‘Bear Cat/Hound Dog’
before stunning the crowd with a rousing ‘Walkin’ the Dog’
as the encore. Like all great Elvis jams the event, unbelievably,
is not recorded on tape!
the planned studio recordings with Jerry Lee Lewis (70 in
Sept 2005) don’t materialise because Jerry Lee never shows
up, BMG do manage to record the ‘40th Anniversary’ of the
Million Dollar Quartet. Filmed for a TV special Johnny Cash,
Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins (died aged 65 in 1998) and Elvis all
gather at Sam Phillip’s Sun Studios on December 4th 1996 for
an emotional reunion.
sadly lacking the spark of the original session the sound
of these old rockers playing music together just for fun is
very touching experience. Released in 1997 the best track
is their version of ‘Save the Last Dance for Me.’ However
Elvis’ crowning glory for the new millennium is his 2004 ‘50th
Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ CD. Elvis’ enthusiastic recordings
silence all his critics and provide him with yet another record-breaking
number 1 single.
out of nowhere Elvis’ version of the INXS stadium shaker ‘I
Need You Tonight’ becomes his fortieth number 1 single! (The
Chemical Brothers’ dance-remix is also a worldwide #1 smash.)
While the only ‘oldie’ Elvis revamps for the CD is ‘When It
Rains, It Really Pours’ in the memory of the recently deceased
Sam Phillips (died in 2003 aged 80), the album does feature
collaborations with Chuck Berry (70 in 1996) & Bo Diddley
(70 in 1998).
Elvis’ personal life during the 1990s he is shocked by Lisa
Marie’s interest in Michael Jackson - but luckily manages
to talk her out of marriage. Elvis is much happier when actor
Nic Cage becomes her love interest. Elvis was always an admirer
of Nic Cage’s acting ever since he saw Cage’s take on ‘The
King’ in the fabulous David Lynch movie ‘Wild at Heart’.
2005 Elvis is working on an eagerly awaited new CD with Lisa
Marie. BMG has announced the working title as ‘Elvis & Lisa
- Don’t Cry Daddy.’ Hopefully the often bootlegged duet finally
gets to be professionally recorded in the studio. But sadly,
I’m just dreaming sweet dreams. Elvis burned twice as bright
as any other star and, leaving us in 1977, he lived far too
short a life. Happy Birthday Elvis wherever you are.
Tribute, Source: EIN)