Amino acids, break it down
August 7, 2010 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Do you remember where you were on August 16th, '77? (Educational film, Country Public Broadcasting System, 2:58. NSFW because of Science.)

The Country Public Broadcasting System is a concern of Hard n'Phirm (previously.) Further educational shorts:
Trace Elements
El Corazon

The animator, Divya Srinivasan, has made numerous music videos, particularly for They Might Be Giants ("Damn Good Times").
posted by Countess Elena (87 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Digging out flood mud.
posted by eegphalanges at 3:36 PM on August 7, 2010

My first memory, as far back as I can remember, was watching Elvis's funeral on television. I was barely four at the time, but I remember it vividly. The flowers, the people, the procession.
posted by ColdChef at 3:36 PM on August 7, 2010

Yep, celebrating my Dad's birthday.
posted by HopperFan at 3:42 PM on August 7, 2010

I was 11. No one in my family was an Elvia fan, but my friend's mom had a velvet painting of The King in her dressing room off of the master bedroom. My friend and I filed up the stairs to solemnly gaze at the picture, while it/he was overlooking the piles of discarded polyester peignoirs draped across the ottoman, the dresser and the floor.

Then we went out and swam in the pool. I think we also ate popsicles.
posted by jeanmari at 3:42 PM on August 7, 2010 [7 favorites]

Then we went out and swam in the pool. I think we also ate popsicles.

The King would approve.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2010

Any song with the word "trochar" is A-OK in my book. Viva Hard n' Phirm!
posted by inturnaround at 3:46 PM on August 7, 2010

This video made a big impression on me because, when I was little, one of my grandmothers was very into the 1980s conspiracy theory that Elvis faked his death and went to Avalon to sleep until the country needed him. Or to the Burger King in Vicksburg, Mississippi -- I don't know if she claimed to have seen an Elvoid man there, or if it was a story from someone else that she repeated vividly, but I recall she made much of it. Since she didn't own many books, I ended up reading her books about Elvis when I visited, and the particular details of his death, and subsequent funerary rites, frightened me. (I remember wondering if I too might suddenly die in the bathroom -- could it happen to my mom? My dad?)
posted by Countess Elena at 3:54 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

In my mother's womb....HAIL TO THE KING BABY!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:03 PM on August 7, 2010

Age 13. Was hanging out with my best friend that day. We heard the news on my clock radio as we were getting ready to go, yes, to the mall.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:25 PM on August 7, 2010

Heard it on the car radio sitting in the parking lot at Ralph's grocery store, Tustin, CA, Olds Vista Cruiser.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:25 PM on August 7, 2010

I was in Iowa visiting my (ex) fiance and his family.

Not an Elvis fan.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:26 PM on August 7, 2010

I was 6, in Italy with my mother meeting my great-grandmother. As we walked to the car in the rain I remember my mother sadly stating "Elvis died." Even at 6, I was kind of saddened.
posted by jonmc at 4:35 PM on August 7, 2010

I was nine. My family were all Beatles fans, so I had no idea who Elvis was.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was working as an NTE at the post office terminal with a mail handler who I had just sussed out as a Basque--he was being cagy about admitting it until I told him enough that he could tell I knew about Basques. (And I was the first non-Basque in his experience to ever notice what his heavy on the X's surname meant--a fact I found sad.)

Anyway, he told me. He had the most amazing eyes--they were white-blue like a wolf's and I will remember thinking that about those eyes when he told me as I had never consciously noticed them before. I can't remember his name anymore but I will never forget those eyes.

And it was like when Jack Kennedy got shot--I will always remember where I was. I had just bought the Sun Sessions and even though I was old enough to remember when he was first on Ed Sullivan, that was a revelation. It was like when Kennedy got shot or John Lennon, for that matter. I will no doubt feel the same way when Bob, Keith, Merle, Mick, Paul or Ringo join the supergroup way up yonder--profoundly sad, knowing that an epoch had ended. I suppose there are those here who will feel the same way about Lady Ga Ga when her time comes. Or John Tesh, for that matter.
posted by y2karl at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

That Holes clip made my day!!
posted by quazichimp at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2010

Too soon.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2010

We might have owned one Elvis album, while growing up at our home. We never played it.

I was near Missoula Montana having a running race with a nice chap from England.
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:48 PM on August 7, 2010

Do I remember where I was? Why, yes, I was in Memphis, TN.

Around here, you need to make sure what sort of crowd you find yourself in before revealing your opinion regarding local observance of the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Some refer to the week-long reflection as "Elvis Death Week." Suffice it to say that's a good way to get your ass kicked if you're not careful.
posted by grimjeer at 4:49 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was three, in Cuba, it didn't register.
posted by oddman at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2010

8/16/77? Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, MC5, the Ramones, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars...
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

August 16, 1977?

I walked into my grandfather's house (we were back east, visiting relatives) and my brother was sitting in the living room with a bunch of other people. He looked up at me and smiled and said, "Happy birthday sack! The King just died!" (Knowing of this thing that I had about 'nuthin' ever happens on my birthday, dammit.")

"What? You mean Elvis?!Holy shi-how?"

"He OD'ed sittin' on a toilet!"

"You're kidding!"

"Nope! Rather poetic, huh?" Then he chucked a present my way.
posted by Relay at 5:01 PM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yes, I was at the home of the woman down the street from us who took care of my sister and me during the summer, and before and after school. She had 3 kids around my and my sister's ages (5 thru 7).

Her kids were inconsolable. I was more like. "Huh. Elvis can die??"
posted by contessa at 5:01 PM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't remember the exact day (a 5 year old in the midst of summer in Queens, NY, I imagine I was playing, stickball or riding my Big Wheel or chilling down in the spray of an opened fire hydrant), but I remember the week after his death my big brother picked up anElvis tribute shirt with his birthdate and death date on it and wore it for the next 2 weeks straight (he still has it, too).

Though I do remember the big NYC blackout exactly a month prior with crystal clarity

I will also tell you this: when I found out that he died on the toilet, I was afraid to poop for weeks.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:04 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I suppose there are those here who will feel the same way about Lady Ga Ga when her time comes.

Perhaps, but hopefully the hospital staff will have the foresight to reinforce their helmets and add extra padding to the walls.
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was 4. I remember nothing. In fact, my earliest memories of Elvis were "that guy people keep using in their fake Enquirer headlines--I wonder who he is".
posted by DU at 5:06 PM on August 7, 2010

I don't remember it, because I was born 9 months and 5 days later.
posted by contrarian at 5:08 PM on August 7, 2010

That decomposing pig is hypnotic.
posted by biddeford at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2010

In the video, I mean, not Elvis himself.
posted by biddeford at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was watching TV, and they interrupted my show to announce it, and then my mum (a huge Elvis fan) came home and I had to break the news to her. I was pretty shocked about it, since his was the first death of someone I "knew" and was old enough to really be able to process.

A quarter-century later, I got married on August 16. And now my beloved and I have a built-in media reminder for our anniversary! Thanks Elvis!
posted by biscotti at 5:28 PM on August 7, 2010

Have no memory of it. I was ten, not all that into music, my family was definitely not.

Christ, I'm older than jonmc.
posted by maxwelton at 5:30 PM on August 7, 2010

I was 9. I remember hearing the news, and then non-stop Elvis songs on radio.

My husband was 10, and he remembers hearing the news over the radio while he was out on the tractor with his dad. When they finished for the day, they ran into the house and laughing told his mom "Hey, your boyfriend died!" She was devastated and they felt really bad for being so insensitive.
posted by amyms at 5:30 PM on August 7, 2010

I was in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area on a backpacking trip with a group from summer camp. We had basically no communication with the outside world, so we didn't hear about it until a couple of days later when the bus arrived to pick us up at the trailhead. The first thing the camp director told us was that Elvis had died. Although I appreciate his place in music history he was really before my time, so it didn't affect me that much; however, my uncle was a big fan and had already gotten tickets to see him August 26 in Asheville, NC. I think he later had them framed.
posted by TedW at 5:55 PM on August 7, 2010

Ten years old and it didn't faze me much. A high-school friend of my older siblings had passed away a few months earlier and that pretty much was the talk of the day. Funny, his last name was King, a coincidence I only just now noticed.

In June of that year, my parents divorced. Then the Star Wars thing.

So not a lot of spare attention floating around for Mr. Presley.
posted by darkstar at 5:56 PM on August 7, 2010

15. Remember it well. Asked my mom about the king and she went into an anti-drug and drinking spiel and how it probably killed such a talent so young. My best friend's mom would have left her husband and three kids for a night with the King. She was devastated. Literally took her weeks to get out of the house and not wear black. Her son and I went to the woods that summer night and smoked one of those funny cigarettes, downed an eight pack of Miller High Life ponies and thought what a strange world it was in which we lived.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:56 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was in my early 20s, and I don't even remember him dying. I never understood (still don't) why Elvis was called "The King."

But I can tell you exactly where I was and how I felt upon hearing of John Lennon's assassination just a few short years later. Now that was tragic.
posted by zagyzebra at 5:59 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was working third shift at a factory job and was trying to sleep during a blazingly hot August day in my tiny, stuffy south-facing room in a student rooming house. My brother called and woke me up to tell me. I mumbled something and hung up and tried to get back to sleep. It wasn't until later that night at work when other people were talking about it that I remembered the phone call and realized what had happened.
posted by marsha56 at 6:03 PM on August 7, 2010

And yeah, I agree with zagyzebra that John Lennon's assassination was much more shocking and sad and for me, remains so to this day.
posted by marsha56 at 6:05 PM on August 7, 2010

I was working as a sailing instructor at a summer camp in upstate NY. I had spent the night before jamming different songs and arguing about rock and roll with a younger counselor. I broke out an Elvis tune by way of defining our terms, but the punk disparaged the King as a meaningless has-been. I took umbrage and our hootenanny ended in acrimony.

As I walked to breakfast the following morning, the kid yelled at me from across the field.

"Hey, your hero died last night, man! Hah, hah!"

It was very weird coincidence.
posted by bonefish at 6:06 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I never understood (still don't) why Elvis was called "The King."

Probably won't convince you, but here.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:21 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was -13 at the time. It was a good year.
posted by WhitenoisE at 6:21 PM on August 7, 2010

I had just moved to Boston, a young man of 20 years, full of eager anticipation at the prospect of new and unexplored avenues and cultural riches that life in a real city held in store for me. Elvis didn't mean a lot to me then, at least, not consciously. I knew him mostly as the former idol of one of my sisters, who was 10 years older than me. He had been her rock star. Anyway, in 1977 my musical sights were aimed way more in the direction of The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Kakraba Lobi and Captain Beefheart. I guess Elvis seemed to me then like a relic of some largely irrelevant past, and it certainly didn't help that he'd, well, grown fat and wore really corny outfits. Still, i was sad when he died.

It wasn't until decades later that I really listened, with an open mind and free of earlier biases, to Presley's earliest recorded sides, which I realized were absolutely wonderful and full of an amazing depth and breadth of vocal expression. I highly recommend the Sun Sessions CD.

Rewind twenty years further back, to 1957, which was the year Elvis' "All Shook Up" went to number one. The day it happened to do that just happened to be my birthday, and for a recent Challenge at Mefi Music (cover the song that was number one on the day you were born) I, um, covered it. So, to Elvis up in heaven, floating around among the clouds and hanging out with (I like to imagine) Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley and John Lennon, I humbly offer up my version of All Shook Up.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite] and the blokes were about halfway through our North American tour, Cleveland or Pittsburgh I think it was, you know, one of those ole rusty bleedin' wanker towns like that. Me and the boys are tryin' to sleep off the night of rockin', drinkin', funkin', drinkin' , fuckin' and snortin' shit up our faces, and Shaggy, our manager, walks to the back of the bus and says to us, "the King is dead." And he's cryin' like a wee bird, And we're like "fuck off, Shaggy, stop messin' about, there ain't no bleedin' King..." And he gets angry and tells us "No stupid Cunts...THE KING, ELVIS. ELVIS, ELVIS, he's gone and taken too many pills and he fuckin' completely fuckin' DEAD!!"

That night, we played Love Me Tender, for KING Elvis, and I improvised a 27 minute guitar solo and I'm pretty sure his ghost appeared, once or twice and winked at me, ole King fatty. May he Rest In Peace. None of our groupie birds would shag us that night, you'd think it was the end of the bleedin' world or somethin'.....
posted by Skygazer at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or one a little more obvious.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2010

I was six, I remember my brothers running in to tell my mom and she said "I didn't like him anyway."
posted by double bubble at 6:25 PM on August 7, 2010

sitting at a bar in reynoldsburg, ohio. the television behind the bar was on with the sound turned down. clips of elvis elvis elvis. 'what the hell with all the elvis?' i said. 'did he die or something?'

whoops. he did.

about a year later, around midnight, my phone rang. my friend judy, who was madly desperately hopelessly in love with the king, was on the other end. 'i don't know if you're listening to the radio,' she said, and of course, i wasn't because it was midnight & i'd been sleeping. 'well, they're talking about how elvis really didn't die; that he just wanted to get away from the constant press & escape the celebrity. they're saying someone actually saw him in a burger king in michigan! and then tentatively, but full of hope: do you think it could be true? do you think he's still alive?' pause. 'for your sake i hope he is,' i said. 'but i think they're full of shit, and i think i'm going back to sleep. goodnight.'
posted by msconduct at 6:25 PM on August 7, 2010

I was nine. I remember hearing about Elvis dying, and being surprised because he didn't really seem old enough to die.

But mostly, the summer of 1977 was all Star Wars, all the time.
posted by ambrosia at 6:25 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

they're saying someone actually saw him in a burger king in michigan!

right on stadium drive in kalamazoo - he even introduced himself as elvis - then the men in the nice white coats drove him up oakland to third hill and that was that

oh, and jerry lee lewis was, is, and always will be the king

disbelievers should listen to live at the star club, 1964, before they form a final opinion
posted by pyramid termite at 6:38 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was taking a nap after work in my college's dining hall and woke up to the news on the radio. I recall not being particularly saddened and my life went on.
posted by tommasz at 6:40 PM on August 7, 2010

A rockabilly record collector I knew, when he heard the news, went out and bid top dollar on every Elvis Sun 78 in every auction list he could lay his hands on. He amassed an enormous number of them in a matter of hours and, as they appreciated more than ten fold in value in a matter of days, realized quite a profit.
posted by y2karl at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2010

I can't believe how many of you were alive much less sentient. I was two years from being a young fetus in August '77.
posted by dame at 7:07 PM on August 7, 2010

I wasn't born yet. My similar moment came years later, when on my way to the store with headphones in my ears, I found out that Kurt Cobain had died.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:07 PM on August 7, 2010

I was one. I was probably toddlin'.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:20 PM on August 7, 2010

That was great.

I'm glad I watched it while eating a chicken mole burrito.

Maybe there should be a NSWE (Not Safe While Eating) tag?
posted by Skygazer at 7:24 PM on August 7, 2010

I mean the Amino Acids video, of course...
posted by Skygazer at 7:25 PM on August 7, 2010

I was 13. I was probably on holiday somewhere in England. Elvis' death didn't even register on my seismograph. Never loved the Beatles either. For me, 1977 was all about The Motors, Graham Parker and the Rumour and Star Wars.

Also, I think I had my first date that year. With a girl called Leslie Bacon. My second date was with Diane Kidney. Go figure.
posted by unSane at 7:26 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My friend loved Elvis. When I got to her house her mother pulled me aside and, had me promise to not say a peep because she didn't want to ruin her daughters birthday party.
posted by squeak at 7:37 PM on August 7, 2010

Working for the wacky Morning Radio Personality in suburban L.A. and I was driving home from the station when I heard the news so my first thought was "THAT's what we're going to be talking about tomorrow morning... I hope the Program Director has all the Elvis records in easy reach when we get in."
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:48 PM on August 7, 2010

It was a Tuesday. Elvis died around 2:30. I was at home when my dad and I heard the news that the King had died. My mom was still at work. We picked her up from work at her usual quitting time and told her the news. She refused to believe it even after we got home and the news was all over the TV. She went into a state of numb shock and sat staring at the TV long into the night. Needless to say, my mom was an obsessive Elvis fan.
posted by blucevalo at 8:08 PM on August 7, 2010

I'm actually pleasantly surprised that so many people here had an answer to the question. Personally, I wasn't thought of yet, but when I was growing up, Elvis being dead was a technicality; his music was everywhere, and he was a hometown boy. Elvis has died, Elvis is risen; in a few hundred years, probably there will be people who add, "Elvis will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end."

I myself had the flashbulb moment when Jim Henson died. When I heard it on NPR, it was like I'd lost my favorite uncle, and I had to run off and not be seen crying. When Kurt Cobain killed himself, I had already seen it coming, due to his OD, and was surprised his family hadn't. (Of course, now I know a lot more about that family.)
posted by Countess Elena at 8:13 PM on August 7, 2010

I was almost four months old. If my mother is to be believed, I was speaking in full sentences and walking around the house at that point. Although I am sure that I cared as much about Elvis then as I do now.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:06 PM on August 7, 2010

Elvis died when he joined the army.
posted by philip-random at 11:03 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

John Lennon said that.
posted by philip-random at 11:03 PM on August 7, 2010

I was in high school. My decade plus older brothers and sisters devastated. My brother saying to me "there will never be another Elvis", and me thinking, "you mean the fat guy in the white suit???? What?" Many years later, after my brother's death from cancer, picking up Elvis to feel a connection with my brother. I have never fallen so hard for someone's music. I was solid Elvis for about a year and nearly danced myself to oblivion. Such joy.

I'm a painter, so I painted several portraits of him; when I show the works publicly, I've had people from a huge number of cultures connect with the portrait---everyone recognizes the face. Just about every day his name gets mentioned in some context in the media. He's still the highest earning dead celebrity, displaced occasionally by Cobain or Michael Jackson, but he returns to near the top after all these years. American Idol bought the Elvis estate. It's really something. My nineteen year old students---half of the class is heavy on Elvis.

I have friends who sneer at Elvis when I send them his music, and yet their heros are Lennon or Jagger or Richards, Costello, Springsteen, Gibbons or Bono Vox--- all of them Elvis devotees. Ironic.
posted by effluvia at 11:28 PM on August 7, 2010

Driving to my grandparents house. I was 7. A day or two later I remember seeing the newspaper that my grandfather bought specifically because of the event.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:32 PM on August 7, 2010

Archetypically, in their wedding photo at least, my dad was Elvis and my mom was Marilyn Monroe. What with the town washing away in the Johnstown flood, taking my father's worldly livelihood with it, then Elvis dying--it was sad to lose many Dad so many times in one incarnation. Mom stripped off her Marilyn skin years before. What formless form, what Holy Spirit, could take his place?

This smells like Jack Womack Elvissey flashback, which I'm pretty damned sure I read once, but it was actually my life.
posted by eegphalanges at 11:48 PM on August 7, 2010

Thirteen, living at the time at a group home for troubled teens somewhere in the small-town Midwest. (Long story.) The house parents, post-hippies that hadn't lost their desire to make a difference, were shocked and stunned; the kids, all around my age mostly, were indifferent. Me, I'd seen bits of his movies, but didn't appreciate his musical contributions.

That came later, particularly after I'd moved to Memphis as an adult. It was a real revelation to find out what Elvis really meant--what he'd accomplished, while Jim Crow was still powerful in the South, to jump over the wall between black and white culture in Tennessee and tell people what some of them maybe had already started to realize in their heart of hearts: how little difference there was between them. All it took was one guy, one song, on one radio station, to start them rushing toward each other.

And then, of course, all the stuff that came later, all the grotesque self-caricatures that everybody likes to poke fun at. Because he was a kid from the sticks (and, later, the projects) that never quite managed to get a grip on all the world had to offer him. But, no matter what his sins or shortcomings, what he gave us so far outweighs that that it's not worth mentioning. I've read that Elvis would go down to Beale Street, and buy the sort of clothes that only colored people would wear, and wear them to his high school. And the bullies would beat the crap out of him for dressing "colored." And he'd come back to school the next day, dressed the same way.

From Galway to Graceland (Richard Thompson). Ave atque vale, rex.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:51 PM on August 7, 2010

Yeah, I was Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
posted by signalnine at 12:01 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Funny thing -- August 16th, 1977 happens to be the day I was born. My mother occasionally recalls that as she woke up after a long and arduous night of labor/delivery, nurses around the hospital were sobbing, and one whispered to her tearfully: "The King is dead!"

I like to think it was an omen.
posted by verb at 12:02 AM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I had just turned 9. It was my dad's birthday (Hello, HopperFan!). Just adding to the anecdata. My parents and I weren't really fans, but my best friend at the time and her mom were. The difference in how our households reacted was kind of amazing. I recall that my friend's household set up some sort of shrine.

I remember more clearly what happened and how I felt when Harry Chapin and John Lennon died, but couldn't tell you the dates. Similarly with Michael Hedges.

I think the difference is that I was a Beatles fan from before I could remember thanks to my aunt's 45 collection that I was giving to play on my very first bright red record player, a Harry Chapin fan thanks to my dad and getting to see the man perform live when I was about 9 years old or so, and a Michael Hedges fan thanks again to my dad and from getting to see him live in a lovely small bar annually over the course of about 5 years or so. For the first 2 or 3 years of that, I took my Mom and Dad as their Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts because he would usually be in the area somewhere in between and my parents loved it.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:35 AM on August 8, 2010

I was ten or eleven, babysitting a pair of kids just a couple years younger than I. This was my regular babysitting gig, and sometimes I changed the clocks forward to get little Natalie and Noel to bed early so I could cull the weed their parents grew or have some time alone to make out with my 7th-grade boyfriend.

I was alone and bored, watching Natalie and Noel's mom's tv, when I saw on the news that Elvis died. I wasn't too sure who he was, but it seemed really important.
posted by goofyfoot at 2:18 AM on August 8, 2010

I was in the lounge at art school and one of classmates mentioned hearing it on the radio. Several years later, I met a doctor who was on duty in the emergency room when they brought Elvis in. He confirmed that Elvis was in fact, truly dead.
posted by Mcable at 6:36 AM on August 8, 2010

It must have been the age group, but I was yet another 13 year old who doesn't even remember hearing about it.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2010

I was almost 5, and have no memory of the event at all. My dad listened to country music and my mom had been a Beatles fan, so if they thought anything about Elvis' death, they didn't say.

Some refer to the week-long reflection as "Elvis Death Week." Suffice it to say that's a good way to get your ass kicked if you're not careful.

See, I always call it that and thought that's what everyone else did. But I'm not a native, and I don't really run with any hard core Elvis fans.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:31 AM on August 8, 2010

. . .the 1980s conspiracy theory that Elvis faked his death and went to Avalon to sleep until the country needed him . . .

Somebody (Neil Gaiman?) please write this story. There is something so authentically American about it in its goofiness and beauty.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, 1977 was the year I started doing a lot of, um, chemical experimentation. The haze didn't clear until 1980. I do recall December 8, 1980 very clearly, though I wish I didn't.
posted by Splunge at 8:54 AM on August 8, 2010

Sandlot football practice.
Someone drove by in a car yelling "Elvis is dead!!! Elvis is dead!!!"
posted by PHINC at 9:38 AM on August 8, 2010

I think I've told this story before, but I was 16 and working at my grandfather's furniture store. An older, laconic dock worker came up to me when I was assembling dinette sets and said "Hey, did you hear Elvis died?" I stood up, folded my arms, and said "Okay Bill, what's the punchline?"
posted by yhbc at 9:44 AM on August 8, 2010

Speaking of December-8, 1980, I was tripping on acid when I heard John Lennon had been killed. And then I dropped some more. And then I dropped some more. Some perverse part of my felt it was the thing to do. The weird part is it got me listening to lots of Brian Eno and Talking Heads whilst getting a serious HATE on for all the radio programmers who couldn't seem to find a single decent Beatles song to play, just kept ramming the soppy stuff from Lennon's most recent album down our collective throats (ear canals?). I still hate that album, deeply.

As for Elvis, I was 18 and had no love for him (hangover from the mom next door when I was 12-13 who would ONLY listen to him). So my first thought, (while driving eastbound on the Upper Levels Highway, North Vancouver, just passing Lonsdale Ave, on my way to Simon Fraser University to see if I could wrangle my way into their film program without having to do a year of arbitrary pre-requisites) was, "Shit! Now we're going to hear nothing but awful Elvis shit for the next week or two." I was wrong. The awful Elvis shit got played for months.

But I don't mind him so much now, a few songs anyway. Hard to argue with If I can dream.

From the wiki page:

Brown was asked to write a song to replace "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as the grand finale on NBC's "Elvis" (June 20-23, 1968). He wrote "If I Can Dream," and when Presley heard it he proclaimed "I'm never going to sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another picture I don't believe in."[citation needed]
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on August 8, 2010

I was six years old, and was in the car with my mother and grandparents, driving back to our farm from a day at Opryland. We hear the news on the radio, and everyone got really upset. Mom and my uncle had seen him play in Nashville a couple of years before. My grandmother said we were distantly related to the Presleys (We had a really big extended Appalachian family and she seemed to know all of the ins and outs) and, when we got home, made arrangements to send flowers to Graceland.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:52 AM on August 8, 2010

I grew up listening to my older siblings' Elvis records and hold him in some reverence for youthful nostalgia, for his prodigious talent, and for the seminal role he played in rock musical history.

I don't remember what I was doing when I heard about his death ...but later that week, when I was tending bar, it was an all Elvis jukebox for the night and it was pretty interesting to hear everyone's experiences with Elvis - just as it's fun to hear people's thoughts here. He is a pop cultural icon that is part of the heritage of the last 60 years.

For me, his death was a "wow, he is too young to die" moment, but not a total shock the way it was with Joplin, Hendrix, or Lennon. While still a talent, a bloated, unhealthy Elvis had largely been relegated to the irrelevance of over-hyped Las Vegas extravaganzas; only a vestigial trace of the raw, exciting energy of the young performer remained. There wasn't the same sense of promise having been snuffed out as there was with Joplin or Hendrix; or with Lennon, who was going through a rebirth. For all but the diehard fans, Presley was on a sad decline. But who knows what he might have added to music over time had he lived.

My sisters still talk about how exciting it was to have him burst on the scene and the raw force of his first TV appearances - there was nothing else like it in what was still a young media at the time. You can get a sense of the early Elvis in these clips:
Elvis Presley performing Hound Dog on the Milton Berle Show - June 5 1956
1956-57 Ed Sullivan appearances
Love Me Tender
Ready Teddy
Don't Be Cruel
Peace in the Valley
Too Much
posted by madamjujujive at 10:46 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

viral phenoonnia
in Tawas Michigan
posted by clavdivs at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2010

I was a mere six days old. So I presume that – much like Elvis, I suppose – I was busy being fed fat and protein, shitting myself and then passing out.
posted by Len at 1:55 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was almost 4. I don't remember it. My one-month-old sister was more fascinating to me, I'm guessing.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2010

I was 36, married and kids'n'all. I didnt notice it much.

I do remember John Lennon saying that Elvis died when he joined the army, though.
posted by jan murray at 7:17 PM on August 8, 2010

I'll always remember what I was doing on that day, even though I don't have any recollection of it. No, not a 70s drug haze, I was just busy being born.

Every year on my birthday, I turn on the radio and they kindly tell me how old I am and play a bunch of elvis.
posted by cotterpin at 3:58 AM on August 9, 2010

Elvis died when he joined the army.
John Lennon said that.

Well, some say Lennon died when he and Yoko moved into the Dakota and he became a self-proclaimed "househusband". But when his 'comeback' album "Double Fantasy" was released, the only song on it I really LOVED was "Watching the Wheels", which explained it all to me (and which ironically became the Lennon song I could most relate to as I went through periods of 'down time').

verb and cotterpin, I'm surprised I'd never seen either of you mention that you were born on the day Elvis died before. Because of all the times I've bored this forum reminding them that I was born the day James Dean died. (Oops, there I go again) Okay then, who here was born on December 8, 1980? November 22, 1963? (I have mentioned that was the day my family moved to the San Fernando Valley, so, double traumatic) April 4, 1968? Or June 5, same year? Howsabout some good news days like July 20, 1969 (First Man on Moon) or... or... dammit, do I have to go back to VJ Day? (And which one, August 15th or September 2nd?)
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:18 PM on August 10, 2010

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