World Events in the News

150,000 at Elvis burial. Pin-up tribute

The News - 17 August 1977

Adelaide; News Limited

Newspaper, 510 x 410 mm

Location : State Library of South Australia - view catalogue entry

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The “King of rock’n’roll”, Elvis Presley, died on 16 August 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee, aged 42. His body was discovered in a bathroom at his Graceland mansion and an autopsy revealed that Presley had died of a heart attack. Some fans, however, believe that Elvis is still alive.

Presley paid US$4 to make his first recording “That’s when your heartaches begin” in the summer of 1953 at Sun Studios Recording Service in Memphis. He rose to prominence in the mid 1950s with his new type of music that blended African-American music, such as blues and gospel, and white country music. His physical stage shows with hip thrusting and grinding, and youthful energy, added to his appeal. Many American teenagers of the 1950s felt restricted by what they saw as a bland society that expected conformity and were drawn to Elvis’s rebellious nature. The first riot at an Elvis performance happened in Jacksonville, Florida, on 13 May 1955. It was not the last.

The single “Heartbreak Hotel” was Elvis’s first gold record. It was released on 27 January 1956 and was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart for eight weeks. It is estimated that Elvis has sold more that 1 billion records worldwide, and 149 of his songs appeared the Billboard chart. Presley created a musical revolution — John Lennon once said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

From the time of his divorce from Priscilla Beaulieu in 1973, reports of Presley’s fluctuating weight, health problems and dependency on prescription drugs increased. When he died, Presley left everything to his only child, Lisa Marie. The Washington Post reported that fans gathered outside Graceland and the Baptist Memorial Hospital where Elvis was pronounced dead. Radio Luxembourg, Europe’s most popular pop radio station, suspended regular broadcasting to play Elvis’s music non-stop. In Adelaide a memorial service was held on 22 August with a reported 11,000 people attending. On 26 November 1982 a memorial to Elvis was officially unveiled in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The ironwork cupola was primarily funded by donation from the Sound of Elvis Remembrance Society of South Australia.

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