Fans of the King are all shook up

THURSDAY sees the 30th anniversary of Elvis's death , and in Suffolk and across the Atlantic there will be parties aplenty. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING asks how our county will remember the King - and finds a new generation are discovering his music.

By Tracey Sparling

THURSDAY sees the 30th anniversary of Elvis's death , and in Suffolk and across the Atlantic there will be parties aplenty. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING asks how our county will remember the King - and finds a new generation are discovering his music.

KNOWN the world over by his first name, Elvis is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th century pop music.

From the shake of his hips, to his blue suede shoes, and the curl of his lip, his songs and personality flowed together to create an icon.

Many people remember where they were, when they heard Elvis had died of a heart attack at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977 at the age of just 42. An autopsy detected 14 different drugs in his bloodstream, and to this day his image remains somewhat tainted by that sad end.

Yet despite the premature ending to his famous story, the King still holds an enduring appeal. There are an incredible 500 plus official fan clubs celebrating his life and legacy across 45 different countries.

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Long time fan Sandra Cotterell from Ipswich said: “He is my one-time idol, what else can I say!

“In all these years Elvis still stays number one with his thousands of fans all over the world.

“I work for Ipswich Hospital Radio and most weeks we get requests for Elvis songs which shows how popular he still is.

“My all-time favourite is In the Ghetto but to a true fan any song he ever sang is a favourite.

“My colleagues at Hospital Radio joke with me every week and call him the 'Burger King' but how I wish he was here today - even if it was to be working in some burger place, so long as he was swinging his hips and singing his songs.”

Many fans are looking forward to Elvis: The 30th Anniversary Concert which takes place in Memphis, Tennessee on August 16, and The Elvis For Everyone fan club's Essex and Suffolk branch which will hold a 30th anniversary weekender on September 28, 29 and 30. Organiser Mark Kent said there would be entertainment from Doug Church The Voice Of Elvis, Jesse Aron (both from The USA), Kirk The Ambassador Of Rock & Roll, Miss Rock & Roll (Lisa Marie)and more at Martello Caravan Park, Walton On The Naze. There is also a fan club called Elvis Remembered, based in Bury St Edmunds.

The Cock & Pye in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich hosted a Making Eyes at Elvis music event on August 2, and lTop of Form

eading Elvis impersonator Paul Lillie and his 12-piece band A Little Less Conversation performed in Viva Las Vegas at Kentwell Hall on Friday .

Paul, formerly of Bury St Edmunds, said the enduring appeal of the King is now spreading to a new generation. The former Bury St Edmunds resident said: “There is definitely a younger audience, which I've noticed over the past five years or so. It seems Elvis is being discovered by a new generation, especially since the re-issue of his hit A Little Less Conversation (2002) which is targeted at a younger audience.

“The 1970s period which was once the butt of jokes, seems to have been reappraised and now people realise the level of good music which came out of it.”

He added: “Elvis is a true original, a one-off really. He was so instrumental in the development of popular music, such a seminal figure. He had that personality as well as the music and voice. I think he is an icon like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe and his following has almost reached religious proportions.”

Paul who has been 'Elvis' for ten years and toured internationally including dates in China and Germany, said: “I started doing it almost out of necessity - I was doing my original material and the tribute work supplemented my income. I'd also had a longstanding interest in Elvis since I was a child.

“I play the guitar and see myself as an integral part of the band rather than somebody standing at the front.”

Patrick Phillips the owner of Kentwell grew up with the Elvis phenomenon. He shared a flat in the late 1950s with an Elvis lookalike, and he and his wife have enjoyed Elvis's music ever since.

Paul revealed he restrains his outfits to just three costumes. He said: “There is a bit of a cult for spending thousands of pounds on authentic American costumes but I feel it's the performance that really counts. I prefer to have a few well tailored costumes than spend a fortune on studs and jewellery.”


Are you Suffolk's biggest Elvis fan? Ring the features desk today on 01473 324798.

Or can you do a good impression of the king? We want to see you as Elvis - e-mail us a video of yourself performing or send a disk.

N TV channel TCM is also showing a 30th anniversary tribute from August 16 to 26.


Double CD Elvis The King, was released on Monday . The same day, Heartbreak Hotel was reissued as a single, followed by Suspicious Minds on Thursday . Over the coming weeks, 16 more of Elvis' greatest songs will be re-released. Who knows, Elvis may reach the top of the charts once again.

Born: Born in the Mississippi backwaters on January 8, 1935, to a poorly paid truck driver dad and seamstress mother, Elvis Aaron Presley didn't exactly have the best start in life.

twin brother Jessie Garon was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child.

The family moved to Memphis , Tennessee in 1948.


Influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager.

Career: In 1954, he began his singing career in Memphis. By 1956, he was an international sensation.

He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas.

Elvis sold more than a billion records, more than any other artist, with hits including Love Me Tender, Heartbreak Hotel and Suspicious Minds. At the time of his death in 1977, he was the second biggest selling recording artist of all time, after Bing Crosby.

He also served in the US Army.


“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess.”

-Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.

“Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes.”

-Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.

“When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...”

-From his acceptance speech for the 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Award.

“The first time that I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn't know what all the yelling was about. I didn't realize that my body was moving. It's a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said 'What'd I do? What'd I do?' And he said “Whatever it is, go back and do it again'.”

-From a 1972 taped interview used in MGM's documentary Elvis on Tour.

By Hannah Stephenson

JERRY Schilling saw rock and roll legend Elvis Presley at his best and at his worst during their 23-year friendship.

Jerry, who went on to become a film editor and producer, and manager of Billy Joel, The Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis, was a pall-bearer at Elvis's funeral and continues to be good friends with the star's ex-wife Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and her daughter Lisa Marie.

They met at a touch football game when Jerry was just 12 and Elvis was a 19-year-old quarterback who had just released his first record, That's All Right. Elvis didn't forget the kid who played good football when his musical career took off.

Jerry ditched college and a teaching career, to work for Elvis, firstly as a bodyguard and later as his main PR man.

He moved into the megastar's home, to Bel Air and later Graceland, which has long been a shrine to fans. "Graceland was the first real home I felt comfortable in," Jerry said. "Some people might perceive it as just a rock 'n' roll hang-out with all-night parties going on all the time, but it was actually a very peaceful, wonderful place and I felt so safe there. It was like family."

Elvis would arrange late night private visits to a local funfair and hire a cinema so they could accompany him to his favourite films in private, and they would watch until dawn.

"The pills he took were only Band-Aids. What was sucking the life out of Elvis Presley was creative disappointment," said Jerry.

"He wasn't a druggie. He just had so many disappointments. People didn't take him seriously when he wanted to challenge things."

Jerry was tour manager for the Beach Boys on that fateful day in August 1977, when a friend rang to tell him Elvis had died. He knew life would never be the same again.

He said: "A huge part of Elvis's legacy became clear to me on the ride to the cemetery. Before Elvis and his music, there was nothing that could have brought all these different people from different walks of life together."


Me And A Guy Named Elvis, by Jerry Schilling with Chuck Crisafulli, is published by Michael Joseph, priced £18.99.

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