When people ask me “What was the first concert you attended?”, I always smile and say “Uncle Elvis, of course.”
The picture above is from his Charleston WV concert on 24 Jul 1976. We had the most random seats. Ma was sitting with (I cannot remember who) off by themselves. Dad and I were “together” as in: I was in a seat and he was in the seat directly behind me. So, it was almost like seeing Elvis by myself at seven years old. I was between two older women who competed over my attention (each bought me a soda, a snack, let me look through their binoculars, etc).
He sang and my heart thrilled at the occasion. His music lifted me up and allowed me the ability to see the world through musical eyes. To this day, I love him, his music, his movies.
A little over a year after that Charleston concert, he would die of a heart attack, brought on by his drug addiction, at his home in Graceland. My parents did not want me to sit in front of the TV to listen to the details as they were first coming out. I remember sneaking into the next room over to listen as they watched the reports. I cried.
So, why do I call him “Uncle Elvis”? Well, that is a story in and of itself. I attended Scarbro Elementary School in Fayette County WV at the time of the concert. When we returned home from the concert, I was high on entertainment. My thought process must have been along the lines of: I want to be a part of that life. I am a good kid. I bet Elvis would like me. Heck, I KNOW he would like me. I bet he would adopt me if I asked. Well, I love Ma and Daddy, so adoption would be out of it. But he could be my uncle. I know he would like to be my uncle. Well, no one knows any better. Elvis is now my uncle.
And with the power of confidence, you can own the world. NOPE…I was laughed right off of the playground. There was no one at Scarbro Elementary who believed that line of bull. UNTIL… Ma got the pictures developed at the photo mat that used to be in the parking lot of the old Raleigh Mall (right around Stone N Thomas’ entrance). And I asked if I could take one to school with me to show my friends. And so, even though I am NOT in this photo, I showed the kids and told them:”See, I have pictures, this proves he is my uncle.” I was hit with a line of questioning: Who’s brother is he? My Dad’s. Why does no one know about it in the neighborhood? Easy, Dad isn’t famous like Elvis and he keeps it low key, he doesn’t want anyone to know. And, with photo (not so) evidence and not breaking under the grilling I took – I was able to convince my classmates that yes, Elvis was my uncle. And the next day, just like Doug the Dog, a squirrel came along and my attention shifted and never returned…until…
The Jones kid I went to school with went home and told her parents. Her dad was friends with Daddy. Mr Jones mentioned to Daddy at the post office, “I never knew you were related to Elvis.” “Whaaat?”
I was punished for that one. In retrospect I get it. But holy hell was I mad at the Jones kid. It might have come to fisticuffs at some point. But that is another story.
Happy Birthday in Heaven Uncle Elvis (or maybe Omaha, I hear they have sightings of you on the rare occasion). We sure do miss you down here.
Newspaper Clippings Involving The Charleston Concert:
Misc Elvis Articles: