When I was young it was a well known fact that I shared a birthday with 'The King'. I heard it all the time. You were born on Elvis Presley's birthday. This little fact was common knowledge in the small midwest town where I was raised. Complete strangers would bring up the fact that Elvis and I were born on the same day. It was a very significant date to this town where 'cow tipping' was actually a weekend event for the local teenagers. (I know you think I jest, but it's true. Even my own uncles were known to get drunk and go tip cows.) It was a shock to me after we moved to the east coast that not everyone knew Elvis' birthday. I actually had to tell people this little jewel when the subject of my birthday came up, usually with some response like 'Really, I had no idea when he was born'. Not to mention 'You can really tip a cow?' Oh yes, you most certainly can really tip a cow. Just need to be extremely careful - my uncles once, in a state of extreme drunkeness, tried to tip a bull - with very bad results I'm afraid.
In 1976 my father was a DJ at the local radio station that was sponsoring what would be Elvis Presley's last tour in Ohio. My father got me two tickets for the show. He said that it would only be right to give me his 'promotional seats' since this is the man who shared my birth date. I chose one of my aunts to go with me. She, who had never tipped a cow in her life, was 18 and thrilled to be the one I chose. I had 5 uncles and 2 aunts who were all trying desperately, with different creative tactics, to convince, cajole and bribe me into taking them. It finally came down to my aunt throwing herself dramatically across my bed, pulling out her hair and saying that if she didn't get to see Elvis in concert then life would not be worth living. I melted under the pressure of her suicidal proposals; the many ways she might employ to do herself in. Most to do with committing Hari Kari with a myriad of blunt kitchen objects or possibly throwing herself from a moving vehicle. The females of my family have always had a flair for the dramatic and this was one of the greatest performances to date. She still re-enacts it from time to time during family get togethers as my uncles scowl at how she cheated them out of their chance to see The King perform live.
So that is how I came to be sitting in the 8th row, front and center at my first concert watching The King perform - as women hurled underwear and bras over my head at the stage. At one point a pair of panties landed right on my head. I picked them off with two fingers, they were the size of a small house, and handed them to my aunt, who, with a shrug, finished their trip to the stage. 'God, I hope he doesn't think those are mine' she giggled as she cast them over her head right at the floor in front of him.
It was a remarkable night for me. I have often been asked since then if it was 'Skinny Elvis' I saw or 'Fat Elvis'? It was, unfortunately, Fat Elvis. Not the Elvis that my aunt had been expecting when she swore herself to death by lethal spooning; she just sat, jaw dropped as Fat Elvis took to the stage and kept pinching my arm saying, 'What the hell happened to him?' I could only respond 'I don't know, but he sure does sweat a lot.'
Still - I got to see Elvis perform live and it was an incredible experience.
He died less than a year later at Graceland on August 16, 1977.
Here he is in better days, singing one of my favorite Elvis songs.
My God. He was beautiful.
Happy Musical Monday to you all.
And here's to first concerts. The ones we never forget.
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