August 16th 1977

Published by: AlanP on 9th Aug 2017 | View all blogs by AlanP

There are some events that stick in the mind so that we all know where we were when we heard the news about them. For me one such occurred on 16th August 1977 I was in my Volkwagen Beetle heading towards Boreham in Essex to collect Julie and see if I could move myself out of the friend zone. I had reason to be hopeful.

On the radio came the news that Elvis Presley had died. I had to pull over for a while and was late. I was forgiven.

There have been others who might have been more significant and his later career wasn't quite so rebellious as his youth. People will no doubt argue who had the most influence. Feel free to debate that issue, that's why there is a comments section. But he was one of the first movers and shakers (fully intended pun) along with Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, etc. I was born too late to appreciate what was going on except in retrospect, but he is one of the greats. I suspect there will still be an Elvis impersonation industry a hundred years from now.

His music and his moves shook up a whole generation. The first time I saw Joseph, when Pharaoh leapt out in white leather and spangles the joke was immediately obvious - he was one of those people that never needed introduction.

Did you know that Elvis was Suzi Quatro's hero? He is why she became what she became. And for Leather Tuscadero, if for no other reason, he will always be the King to me.

If you are on a PC that will play music follow this link and hear what Suzi thinks about it all:



  • RichardB
    by RichardB 7 months ago
    I was never much of an Elvis fan. My image of him suffered from my having come to musical awareness in the sixties, when he was a recluse who never performed in public churning out a stream of mediocre production line films and equally mediocre records. The great early rock'n'roll stuff was nearly a decade old, and when you're fourteen or so a decade old is ancient history.

    But that doesn't negate anything you've said. Read up on almost any of the people who were making the music I did like back then, who were all at that impressionable age when Elvis broke, and you'll find that he was their biggest inspiration. His influence was massive, incalculable. Bill Haley was the fuse, Elvis Presley the explosion.

    And let's not forget: when it comes right down to it, by God the man could sing.

    I rather liked Suzi Quatro's tribute too. Elvis couldn't be there to join in, but the Jordanaires were. A nice touch.
  • Yo
    by Yo 7 months ago
    My mother was a big Elvis fan (still is!) and was in bed heavily pregnant with my brother at the time. I was 10 years old and in my bedroom listening to Radio Luxembourg when the news came through. My mum thought I was joking at first until I took the radio into her; she cried buckets! Thankfully, as I'd always wanted a brother, it was up to me to name him when he came along in September. Left to my mother, it would've been no contest.

    I can't say his death upset me, but it hit home what an impact the guy had.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 7 months ago
    I never appreciated Elvis until later, once I got into my 30s. Before that, he seemed a parody of himself to me - I suppose it was the endless repeats of tacky films set in Acapulco on TV and the grotesque rhinestone jumpsuits. That summer, I'd rejected mainstream music and favoured anything loud and subversive, which is what I guess Elvis had been originally.

    I still watched TOTP, though, and was relieved when 'Way Down' replaced the ghastly 'Floaters' as No. !.
  • Sandra
    by Sandra 7 months ago
    Yup, I was ~4 months oregnant with no.3 when I heard he'd died. A sad, moping about useless day.
    And a big fan of the early stuff, though I could only ever afford the 78s (still have them too!) and not the LPs. Love for him was revived by watching a New Year's Eve programme (late 90s, him in a leather jacket) Just him and his voice.
  • Berks
    by Berks 7 months ago
    Being slightly younger (sorry! lol) mine was 24th November 1991. I was 14 eating my breakfast before school when I heard Freddie Mercury had died. He was my musical hero at the time, and i remember looking out the window at dark grey clouds. It was a wholly appropriate representation of my emotion as the rain began to patter on the window.
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 7 months ago
    I don't remember dates very well, but Freddie Mercury - I was in the lab at work, probably counting colonies or inoculating broth bottles or something...Those were the days when we were allowed to have the radio on in the lab, and when the news broke, I sat on that high stool in my lab coat and cried...
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 7 months ago
    Actually, I do remember Elvis dying, too. But to my ten-year old mind, he was just a pop star in a spangly costume like so many others at that time. (Glam rock!) It was later I think I appreciated his music.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 7 months ago
    Glam Rock ??!?
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 7 months ago
    Oh yes, Spi, Elvis was subversive all right when he started out. A white boy from Mississippi singing like a black man? Appalling, unthinkable. And those hip movements...

    Re the later posts, my sad day was when Jimi Hendrix died: such a silly way to go, such a waste. And when Jim Morrison followed the next year (though in my memory they seem to come together) I started to wonder who'd be next. The day the music died...
  • Hil
    by Hil 7 months ago
    Elvis. I knew nothing about music as a teenager (still don't, really), but I was in Paris, waiting for A level results, with an American boy. I think he noticed the news from TVs in shop windows... It was only because I was with him that I realised what an 'event' this was. What a sheltered life I led.
  • Giselle
    by Giselle 7 months ago
    Like Hil, I was also in Paris, visiting family, when Elvis died, and though I didn't know him at the time (I was too young), the news struck me because it was important enough to have been translated into English on French radio. Thanks to that, I have a very clear recollection of that morning's breakfast: the kitchen, dishes, silverware and all, which I most probably wouldn't have had that announcement not been. I've not heard an English news announcement on the French radio since.
  • BellaM
    by BellaM 7 months ago
    I liked Elvis but the news wasn't particularly shattering. Then again, I was only 8. My sad day wasn't for music; it was when Ayrton Senna died. The death that sticks in my mind most music-wise is Amy Winehouse - and that is because she was given at least as much space in the papers as the Breivik murders.
  • Caducean Whisks
    by Caducean Whisks 7 months ago
    I was a bit too young for Elvis's music to have much impact, although I came to appreciate his marvellous rich voice, years later. Especially when he sang gospel or spirituals. Such lung capacity he had.
    I'd just left school and was commuting to my first Proper Job. The newspaper billboard at the station said, 'The King is Dead' and I knew instantly they meant Elvis. Yes, I was shocked.
    I also remember clearly, hearing the news of Princess Diana - another anniversary coming up. Sunday morning lie in, phone rings. Friend asks me if I've heard the news. No. She told me Diana was dead. My first thought was suicide. She hadn't been very happy.
  • Hilly
    by Hilly 7 months ago
    December 8th 1980. John Lennon. That was the one for me. Shocked and appalled and pretty unbelieving. I remember where I was.
    Elvis? I can't recall particularly well. We only had an old Roberts radio at home and Mum listened to classical music. It was quiet in our house.
    Diana? Working in a pub that morning. The irreverent manager was already making up stupid little memes about the 'accident'. It was awful.
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 7 months ago
    Alan - glam rock...when folks wore spangly lycra and sequinned jumpsuits? Gary Glitter...Slade...Queen in the early days...
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 7 months ago
    Squidge. Sorry, I know what glam rock is. You should have seen Jon Anderson out in front of Yes in 1974. I just didn't automatically associate Elvis with it.
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 7 months ago
    I was on an early shift the day after Princess Diana died, and the first I knew of it was when a nurse coming off night duty got on my bus. 'Have you heard the dreadful news?' she said, obviously shocked. 'Princess Diana's dead.'

    Later on, when I was on my break in the garage canteen, one of the more intelligent and articulate of my fellow drivers said, rather slowly and carefully 'I don't know... Call me cynical if you like, but I can't help thinking how convenient this is for certain people.' Yes, that soon after.
  • mike
    by mike 7 months ago
    I got a DVD of 'Jailhouse Rock' a few days ago. The film seems so innocent now. I
    Elvis Presley rather resembles the statue of a Greek God on display in my living room. I think the statue is a copy of Hermes that had been sculptured by Praxalites,
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 7 months ago
    Talking of Elvis, guys that work down the chip shop and deaths of musical heroes, one of the saddest for me was Kirsty MacColl who was mown down by a powerboat while diving with her family, Christmas 2000.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 7 months ago
    That was extremely sad, not least in the way the man responsible was able to dodge justice. The band I was in back then had 'Chip Shop' on our set list. Loved her version of New England as well.

    @Richard - there was a film out at that very time called 'Conspiracy Theory'. Some acquaintances were at the cinema ticket desk within a day or two of it happening trying to decide which film to see, and one said to the staffmember 'what's Conspiracy Theory'? He leaned forward, looked suspiciously from side to side and said 'some people think it wasn't an accident'.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 7 months ago
    ... anyone who can rhyme 'smarty' with 'karate' and (almost) keep a straight face does it for me. She had wit and humour as well as talent in bucketloads.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 7 months ago
    When New England gets a good reception live, Billy Bragg still says 'thanks to the Kirsty McColl fans'
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 7 months ago
    Kirsty's death was the sadder for me because I had only just, and very belatedly, realised how good she was after seeing her last ever TV appearance on Jools Holland.

    'I fell out of favour with heaven somewhere
    and I'm here for the hell of it now.'

    'Now it isn't in my nature to ever pick a winner
    I always pick a bastard who would have me for his dinner.'


    OFP has saved me the trouble of expressing my indignation about her appalling death.
  • AlanP
    by AlanP 7 months ago
    On the subject of Kirsty MacColl:

    Agree entirely.
  • KallieRosa
    by KallieRosa 7 months ago
    I'm still shocked by Chester Bennington's death, I don't think it has sunk in yet, it just doesn't feel real and I get really strange feelings whenever a Linkin Park song comes on, on my Ipod or on the music channels now. It was so unexpected and out of the blue. Other celebrities for me would be Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy. And lastly, even though I was only little at the time when they happened Kurt Cobain and Selena.

    When I was a little girl I went through a huge Elvis phase where I absolutely adored him and also Dolly Parton and Frank Sinatra and would only watch movies like Grease, Summer Holiday, Elvis movies, Marilyn Monroe movies.. Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall etc.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 7 months ago
    I often wonder what would have become of Heath Ledger. A huge talent ...
  • mike
    by mike 7 months ago
    I was far too young for their deaths to have made much impact, but the Kennedys and Marylin Munroe come to mind as much as the pop singers. The big group I recall is the Pink Floyd and one of their members died,
  • John Taylor
    by John Taylor 7 months ago
    Yes, shocking deaths of complete strangers who feel as if they are part of your DNA. I've had a few. Sandy Denny was the first. Her voice was the voice of my bed-sit years, and still moves me immensely. It was all the more shocking because I'd seen her, very much alive, in her solo show just weeks before, as well as a couple of times with Fairport Convention. And it all seemed so senseless: she fell downstairs and had a brain haemorrhage, and she had a small baby at the time. I felt the same way about Kirsty McColl. John Lennon's death affected me weirdly, because I was living in a community in Scotland with no TV or radio, and we always got the papers a couple of days late. I got the reflection before the news.
  • mike
    by mike 7 months ago
    Of course Carol King is not dead. Last week i saw' Beautiful- the Carol King musical. The production is now on tour and might be staged at a theatre near you. It had been one of the most popular London shows. There are impersonations of the groups of the time - including the Walker Brothers.
  • mike
    by mike 7 months ago
    I saw the Proms production of Oklahoma on TV on friday night. I thought it very good. I wonder if there is any connection between Oklahoma and the musical with Bob Dylan songs?
    Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Petterson also turned up on the proms. Perhaps Elvis Presley will feature?
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