Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RIP: Elvis Presley - January 8, 1935/August 16, 1977

The center of life for me in a small town in Indiana in the mid-fifties was often the jukebox at Pete's Restaurant up on Main Street. The mesmerizing swirls of soft Wurlitzer colors ... the faithful mechanism that slid back and forth, stopping at your selected five cents and three minutes worth of Elvis Presley heaven ... removing it from the crowded row of vertical 45s and moving it to horizontal and laying it gently and precisely on the turntable.

I had a job mopping the floor of Pete's after its 10pm closing so that I could have, for an hour or so, the jukebox all to myself. I knew how to turn the volume to blast; it seemed a perfect antidote for all the hormones crashing around within me ... not that I knew what it was that was making my blood run fast and me hyper-active.
I have thanked fate for rock-n-roll every day of my life since those I first felt it. You can't imagine how much less boring life was once you'd heard Elvis Presley, Little Richard, or Jerry Lee Lewis.
In the Army I was sent to Fort Hood, Texas, in early 1959. It so happened that Elvis was also there but, according to rumor, was supposed to leave for Germany a couple days after I got there. Still, by chance, I was marching with my company one cold morning. Don't remember where we were going or why. Probably nowhere and for no reason -- such was the Army. Parked along the pavement ahead was a white Cadillac. As we neared the place someone said it was the Dental Clinic, and, sure enough, no less than Elvis Presley and a retinue of three or four others came out of the clinic, got into the Cadillac and drove off. I was a little disappointed that the Cadillac was white, not pink. And he did leave for Germany soon after.
Gave me something to write home about.

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