August 16, 2005


28 years ago Elvis died. August 16th isn't a date I keep in my head, but I was driving in my car, listening to the 50s channel and they were playing Elvis's Sun recordings and saying it's been 28 years. They played "Mystery Train." Very beautiful on a summer night.

I got to thinking about that night 28 years ago. I had gone to bed early and was listening to the radio and heard that Elvis had died. I got up and got dressed and came out into the living room to say "Elvis died!" They looked at me like they thought I was stupid and said who cares?

And I just thought you make me so lonely... I could die.


BeckyJ said...

I was 16 and visiting cousins in upstate NY. We were watching TV after dinner when they announced it.

Doug said...

I have some very good friends who just happen to be twins born August 14th, 1977. Their mother has always told them that Elvis died because he knew he couldn't keep living in a world where the two of them existed simultaneously.

Try that one on for size - your parents blaming you for The King's death!

Brendan said...

If I'm not mistaken, a rather bloated Elvis made an appearance at Madison's Coliseum a few months before his demise. Frankly, my parents were more rattled by Bing Crosby's death that year.

Rick said...

its my birthday!

chuck b. said...

I was almost 8. I remember it seemed like the biggest news story EVER. Before that, it was Patty Hearst. And after that, it was John Lennon.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

My experience was somewhat different: click here.

ziemer said...

sorry, ann, but as far as i'm concerned, "who cares?" is the appropriate response.

but the day jerry lee lewis dies, i will begin blaming myself for never having seen him perform live. and i will continue to do that until i die.

because i had opportunities to do so before he became ill, and i did not avail myself of them.

ziemer said...

on a lighter note, i must add that this post reminds me of a spoof that national lampoon once did on the "where were you when you heard jfk died?" ritual.

they did mock responses, asking people "where you were when thurman munson died?"

for you young cats, thurman munson was the catcher for the new york yankees in the 70s. he died in a plane crash in august 1979.

the responses were all satires of the sorts of responses that people give to the jfk question.

but the only one i actually remember, though, was the one they attributed to george steinbrenner. instead of saying, i was sittting at the ... when ... came up and .... the entirety of the resopnse for him was : "I didn't do it."


Countertop said...

I was 8 years old and playing a pickup game of baseball in Rockaway with some friends when Thurman Munson died. He and Gregg Nettles were by far my favorite Yankees and as a little kid brought the dream of major league magic to my imagination. That 1970s Yankee Dynasty died in that plane crash. They went on to one more World Series where tommy Lasorda and Fernando Valenzuala clobbered them. It would be almost two decades before the Yankees tasted success again.

For me, baseball has never been the same.

As for Elvis, I came downstairs to the TV room to witness my mother crying. I asked what was wrong and she said Elvis died. As a girl growing up with him, he had shaped her life. His death was a shock to her.

ziemer said...

i was taking a shower, and my twin sister ran into the bathroom and yelled out, "thurman munson is dead."

it was the most traumatic event of my life, save for the death of my own father.

as for elvis, i was playing cards with a friend, and it came over the tv. we couldn't have cared less.

ziemer said...

you sure have it right when you say baseball's never been the same, countertop.

i can name the entire lineup for the yankees in the late 70s.

i would be hard-pressed to name a single player today.

those were the days

munson and nettles

bucky dent at short
willie randolph at second
chris chamblis at first
lou pinella in left
reggie jackson in right
bobby mercer or (i think it was doc rivers) in center, depending on the year

and ron guidry the best starter in the game; and goose gossage the best closer.

and they had another starter who was very irascible, but his name escapes me.

and remember, as they were winning the 77 series, people were basically burning the bronx to the ground, and they would show the fires burning around the city during slow points of the games?

wasn't that a time.

Dirty Harry said...

I'd completely forgotten. My thoughts are here:

Elizabeth said...


Where's the love? Jerry Lee cared when Elvis died, I betcha.

I'm going to bridge the gap by listening to my copy of Elvis and Jerry Lee singing "Why Don't We Have a Little Talk with Jesus."

TC said...

Forget about the bloated version; remember the lean and mean in his black leather, making them Beatle boys look like girls.

And Zeimer? Stay away from Thurman. The Captain WAS Elvis in Pinstripes. Reggie was just Jerry Lee: i.e: some clown screwing around. "countertop" got it right: an entire team died that night.

And don't act like a Yankee fan. A boy of the Bronx would list Sparky before Goose. Gossage was insurance. Sparky made Tug McGraw look small.

And a fan would never snob out about the Zoo Crew as being the be-all lineup. They were roaringly nuts, for sure. Which, as you semi-noted, the city needed then, since it seemed between the power out and Son of Sam, we were all doomed to burn or get blown away.

But if you are "hard pressed" to remember the guys that made the run post 9-One-One, then you are a tool, fool. They did just as much--maybe more--as Guliani to make NYC say "it's gonna be okay."

They had damn near no business being there, and they went to the end of Game Seven. You are "hard pressed" to remember that squad.

Climb off the bandwagon, skippy.

Charlie Eklund said...

As John Lennon said upon hearing of the King's death, "Elvis died when he went into the army".

Listening to Elvis' pre-army stuff and that which he recorded, and filmed, once he got out, I have to agree with Lennon...who died when he moved to New York.

Kaje said...

Elvis is dead ?!?!?

(I know it was lame, but someone had to say it)

EddieP said...

When the announcement came that FDR had died, I was at my friend Ed Travis' house and we were listening to Captain Midnight on the radio. No TV then. It was around 5:15 PM when it was announced. It was a real shock, even to 10 year old boys. We'd never known a different president.

We had just gotten our Secret Decoder Rings in the mail. Believe they cost 2 Wheaties box tops and 25 cents. We put them away and I went home to my parents who were glued to the old Zenith.

When Elvis died, I have no idea where I was.

Ann Althouse said...

Eddie P: My mother told a very similar story. The experience of being quite old and still knowing only one President was unique, more like the feeling of having a king, I would think. (Not intended as a reference to Elvis being "king," something kids my age scoffed at in the 60s. It used to bug us that the Beatles would say Elvis is still the king.)

ziemer said...

i was ten years old, TC, and my favorite team won the world series for the first time.

it was the best of times.

and i'm sorry, but elvis' death just didn't mean anything at the time.

ziemer said...

and tc, i think you missed the point.

i'm not hard pressed to name the entire squad of the yankees now.

i'm hardpressed to name a single person in the entire major leagues.

as important as baseball was to me in the 70s, i just lost interest over the years.

h said...

I was in the Army, and a cold-hearted buddy burst into my office with a big smile on his face and yelled "Presley's dead!!" I must say, the shock wore off soon, because only a few weeks before I had seen pictures of him as he looked near the end. That face, horribly-swollen with fat and retained fluid. I had said to myself at the time, "he's not long for this world."

ronin1516 said...

I was 7 years old, living in bumf*** India, when I heard the news about the King's death on All India radio. I was a fan, even then, and I remember being sad about it. Tried to talk to my mom, but she scolded me for "trying to act all high-n-mighty, like you were an American, and that your dad was wrong to send you to that St Edmunds College place, where the damn catholic teachers make you forget that you are an Indian, not an American"!!!!! And now I am listening to Dwight yoakum sing "Suspicious Minds"!!!

amba said...

Sounds like you were in the wrong house, in some ways, anyway.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: Yeah. Too bad when I was young, I tried to adjust after negative feedback like that. If I could have blogged then....

SteveR said...

On a road trip during summer break from college, with a buddy and heard it on the radio just outside Casper, Wyoming. Not a big deal to someone my age, I was much more affected by John Lennon's death especially the way it happened. I quickly started comtemplating Physical Chemistry and Igneous Petrology and the prospects for girls that fall.

Randy Cadenhead said...

Elvis is NOT dead. I didn't believe it when I heard that afternood pulling into my driveway, I still don't and I never will. Long live the King.

Kory O said...

A good friend of mine will never forgive him for dying on her 8th birthday and wrecking her party. ;)

There were only two pictures my immigrant Grandma had up in her apartment. One was JFK and the other was Elvis back in his skinny days. Mom said she had a crush on him from when he first started out. She had to have been his oldest fan.

Gina said...

It was back in 1978 in august and it was in the late evening when I was driving home when I heard them say on the radio that Elvis was dead , no I didnt want to believe it at first , ( hopeing it was one of those gags but it was true ... i was only 20 yrs old at the time so counting back it has been that long ...

Charles Malik said...

This might sound a bit odd, but I used to date things in my mind by Elvis' death. In my youth, the death of Elvis was the end of an era.

Christopher Largen said...

A hunka-hunka burnin' JUNK.

AncientGardeners said...

I liked the comments on Elvis. I was so moved by his music and life story that I wrote a song about him. 'Elvis is not dead' it's at if you want to listen (free preview). Elvis may have gone to the great gig in the sky but he had real soul, he moved people! That's what I remember, and that's the joy of music:

'He hasn't gone for very long, just to change the strings on his guitar'.

Best wishes from one of 'The Ancient Gardeners'.

Václav Patrik Šulik said...

I got my first speeding ticket that day. I was in shock and actually passed a State Patrol car on the Beltway.

But I wasn't in shock about the death of Elvis -- I wasn't aware of it at that point.

I had gone to pick up my girlfriend and her next door neighbor had killed his mother, then committed suicide and tried to burn the place down.

I remember it was Elvis' D-day because we watched TV that night trying to find out about the neighbor, but it was all Elvis.

Weird Day...