It’s hard to imagine, but if he had lived, Elvis Aron Presley would be 74 on Thursday.
I work in a newsroom where most of my colleagues know the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as only a historical figure.
I was working at a radio station in Monroe on the day Elvis died. Somebody had locked up the room where all the records were kept and we only had a copy of one of Elvis’ gospel albums, "His Hand in Mine." I played the whole thing a couple of times.
I went to the last Elvis concert in the old Omni. Somebody gave me a ticket that was actually behind the stage. Turns out that was not too bad because Elvis was turned around looking at the band a good bit.
That last concert is my lingering mental snapshot of Elvis. He was not in good shape and slurred the lyrics he could remember.
That memory tarnishes my imaginary vision of Elvis at 74. Would he have changed his ways? They say that age 50 is the new 30. Does that mean 74 is the new 54?
At age 74, Elvis would have been a year older than James Brown was when he died. Until he got sick, James still had the fancy footwork that had been his trademark for all those years.
Would the king still be wearing the jumpsuits? Would he still toss sweaty scarves into the audience? The other thing I remember is that there were a lot of older women fawning over Elvis at his last Omni show. I just can’t imagine a group of gals in their 80s screaming over a 74-year-old man.
Would he have patched things up with Priscilla? Of course, he might not recognize her after that last batch of cosmetic work. Would he have opted for someone else, like Ann-Margret, who is now 67? (which I guess is the new 47.)
I worked with a woman one time who converted a complete room in her house to a shrine to Elvis. There were pictures, statues, albums, ticket stubs and souvenirs on every available surface. I wonder if she still has it decorated that way.
But, like him or not, Elvis made an incredible impact on us. He has been dead for 31 years and folks are still flocking to his home at Graceland. He has made more money in the afterlife than he did when he was gyrating among us.
You can drive through just about any town big enough to have a blinker light and see a sign advertising somebody who is an Elvis impersonator. There’s just something about a guy who is willing to grow a set of lamb chop sideburns, dye his hair black and wear a jumpsuit.
You’ll occasionally see a group of guys trying to imitate The Beatles. Once in a while somebody might do a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr., but for every one of those there are a dozen or more Elvis wannabes.
Years ago, I went to that little shotgun house in Tupelo, Miss., where Elvis was born. I don’t guess anybody who was around 74 years ago could have imagined that a hometown lad would change the entertainment world.
Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423.