By Betsy Thorpe
I clearly remember the moment I learned that Elvis had died. I was in Austin Texas in the bedrooom of my good friend Justine Petela. I was admiring some fabric she had brought back from a recent trip to Guatemala, when we heard the news on the radio. The immediate sadness we felt surprised us both.
Today on the anniversary of “The King’s” death I asked several people what they were doing when they learned of Elvis Presley’s passing.
President Of The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame
“I was managing a Shopper’s Guide (our family business) in Appleton, Wisconsin, when a salesman’s wife called her husband and informed him of Elvis’ death. She heard it on the radio. None of the 20 employees there could believe it.”
In 1977 Timmers was the lead guitar player in a part time rock band in central Wisconsin ( in the Green Bay area). He later “long-distanced dated” Kay Wheeler, the president of Elvis’ first official fan club. Today he is the president of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame.
“I was driving home from my job as a seamstress at White Stage Women’s Apparel in Murfreesboro, when I heard on the radio that Elvis was dead. It upset me so bad that instead of going home I went to the auto shop where my husband was working so he could drive me home. I was shocked.”
“I was out of town on a business trip, in Prineville (thats in central Oregon) I must have been on my way home when I heard that Elvis had died because I don’t remember talking to anyone about it until I got home. It was sad that he died, in fact it still makes me sad.”
On November 27, 1976 (9 months before his death) Elvis performed at Eugene Oregon’s MacArthur Court. Mrs. Cross attended the sold out concert with her husband, two sons and a friend. The cost of a ticket to see Elvis Presley perform in 1976 was ten dollars.
“I was really young when Elvis died, I was outside when I heard and went and found for my sister Jennifer, and told her we needed to get home to mamma. My mother really loved Elvis and she was really upset. We set with her and tried to calm her down. I sure remember that day.”
Years later, against the wishes of her jealous husband Laura’s mother “snuck away to Memphis for a day, to see Graceland and visit Elvis’ grave. Me and my sister covered for her so daddy wouldn’t know where she went.”
“I was home from college when Elvis died. My father was a physician and I remember him saying that Elvis’ doctor should be held accountable in part for his death. I was a big Elvis fan in 1977 and I must say that I still am. He changed American music and his influence on popular culture is still evident today.”
Ms. Jackson is currently researching the impact early Rock and Roll made on Southern culture and contemporary religious music.
“I was at an office party with my husband Jack when we learned that Elvis had died. Jack was the administrator of a medical facility in Little Rock. I don’t remember why there was a party that day, but I do remember that all we talked about that afternoon was Elvis and his music. It was a very sad day.”
In the late 1950’s Mrs. Spence atteneded high school in Memphis Tennessee and she had the unique pleasure of meeting Elvis Presely – twice.