Elvis Presley would’ve turned 81 this January 8! Whatever your opinion of Elvis and his music, he had a profound impact on popular culture and remains the second-best-selling departed celebrity of all time (behind Michael Jackson).
Here are four ways to remember The King on his birthday:
1. Get yourself an Elvis collectible.
Our South Lamar store in Austin, Texas, recently bought a pretty special Elvis item:
Elvis Presley photo, signed
An oversized, professionally matted and framed triptych of Elvis photographs, of which the center photo is signed by Elvis Presley! $1,500. Contact the Buy Guy to purchase this item.
2. Play an Elvis album.
In just over two decades, Elvis recorded more than fifty albums. Elvis’ Golden Records, from 1958, was the first album I ever owned. I wore it out! Like so many of my peers, I ignored the advice of one of the album’s songs, “Don’t Be Cruel,” and pushed Elvis aside for The Beatles, but I never really stopped loving “Teddy Bear,” Hound Dog,” “All Shook Up” and the other early classics. Another fine album choice would be The Sun Sessions, which collects the mid-fifties recordings made back in Memphis at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio—the Elvis Holy Grail recordings.
If you don’t happen to have any Elvis on vinyl or disc, I just might know where you can find some!
3. Watch an Elvis movie.
Even greater than his desire to be a famous singer was Elvis’s dream of being a respected actor. Respected? Well…but he did star in quite a few entertaining movies. Elvis paired up with Ann-Margret in 1964 for the glitzy gem Viva Las Vegas. I first knew my youngest daughter was a good mimic when, after watching this movie at the age of six, she not only impersonated Elvis singing the title song, with all the warbles and smirks, but also got Ann-Margret’s showy dance moves down. A bit lower-key is Elvis’ own favorite of his roles, King Creole, from 1958. I like it for its New Orleans setting and for the Leiber-Stoller songs “King Creole” and “Trouble.” Another King Creole soundtrack song, “Hard-Headed Woman,” hit the #1 pop spot. Or you could see Elvis in an informal, living room-style jam session with his original guitarist Scotty Moore and original drummer D.J. Fontana in the ’68 Comeback Special.
There’s a place I know of where you may be able to find some favorite Elvis movies…
4. Read a book about Elvis.
Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis (1994) and Careless Love (1999) are the best way to find out all about The King. This two-volume bio tells a fascinating story even if you aren’t an Elvis fan, because Peter Guralnick is the best music biographer out there. (Also check out his bio of Sam Cooke, Dream Boogie) The books are chock-full of improbable tales of success and failure, obsession and some really weird behavior—but Guralnick sorts it all out and reports it with a level head, unlike some other Elvis biographers who have glorified him unreservedly or trashed him mercilessly. Peter Guralnick’s bio of Sam Phillips, which also includes a hunk-a, hunk-a Elvis lore, was published in November.
Many other authors have written about Elvis Presley, and we get a lotta those at HPB, too.
If you’re not especially into Elvis…
The South Lamar store also got some other cool music memorabilia you may find appealing:
- Silk handkerchief belonging to ill-fated rocker Buddy Holly–$750
- Signed and framed 8×10 photograph of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson–$150
- 2002 tour Western shirt of The Who’s bassist John Entwhistle, who died in Las Vegas the night before the tour was to start–$300
- Signed 8×10 photograph of Country music legend Ernest Tubb, housed in an original frame made of fencepost and barbed wire–$175
- Signed photos of Hank Snow ($40), Roy Acuff ($40), Mel Tillis ($25), John Denver ($50), Jimmy Buffett (with backstage pass–$60)
If you’re interested in buying the Elvis photo set, or any of the other featured music memorabilia, contact The Buy Guy: firstname.lastname@example.org.