They were born on the same date, the same month, twelve years apart. It could be just a coincidence that two of the most important cultural figures of the last hundred years share the same birthday, but we like to think it has to be a deliberate plan of the gods to make January 8th the birthday of Elvis Presley and David Bowie. This year at Life Elsewhere, we focus in on the man who dared to wear makeup and flashy clothes while still only eighteen-years-old and a truck driver – Elvis. Two favorite guests join the show to share their thoughts on The King. First up, frequently referred to as a cult artist, singer-songwriter and all-around nice guy, Ronny Elliott recalls being fourteen when he met and took photos of Elvis in rural Florida. Ronny was an affirmed fan after he first heard Elvis on the radio. He persuaded his mother to drive before daylight to where he believed Elvis was filming on location. A pink Cadillac with Tennessee plates, parked outside of an unassuming house told Ronny his hunch was right, they were in the place. Elvis suddenly strolled out and up to his fan and began nonchalantly chatting. Ronny insists the star “had an amazing aura as he almost seems to float, not walk toward me”. The young fan told his idol about how neighborhood kids had made fun of his adulation of the Memphis rocker. Elvis quietly leaned in close and told Ronny he could help him with his problem, “Listen, kid,” Elvis said, as he made a few chopping movements with his hands, “I’ll teach you Karate!” All these years later, Ronny Elliott is starry-eyed as he fondly remembers the softly spoken and seemingly shy Elvis behave like a comforting big brother. You’ll be touched by Ronny’s memories and amazed at his photos, shown above.
By 1968 Elvis Presley was the King of Rock `n’ Roll, and for many, a has been. Rock music had moved beyond and transcended him. He spent his post-army years making movies and movie soundtracks of lessening quality with each passing one. Gillian Gaar’s “Return of the King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback” spotlights Presley’s December 1968 “Comeback Special” that revitalized Elvis and his career for a brief few years until Elvis fell back into old habits and relied on management that increasingly took for granted Elvis’ creative needs, and an entourage of yes men. Gaar shares inside stories about the comeback special from her meticulously researched and elegantly written book based on interviews with colleagues, friends, fans, and observers of The King.
The photos of Elvis Presley and Ronny Elliott are the copyright of Ronny Elliott.
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