Memorable Moment in Music: "Ladies & gentlemen, Elvis has left the building"
[last picture ever taken of Elvis, 12:28am, Aug 16, 1977]
Tomorrow marks thirty years since the memorable (and sad) moment in music when Elvis Presley was found dead in his Graceland bathroom at the age of 42, the day before he was to start a new tour. For years he had been sadly deteriorating from the fresh faced, doe-eyed, swivel-hipped innocent of the Fifties, all enlisting for the Army and being photographed in his tightie-whiteys; so average, so loveable.
In recent years his music was swirling to new heights of camp (albeit, camp that I absolutely adore - "I'm just a hunk-a hunk of burning love?" That opening drumbeat? "The flames are now lickin' my body?" Fantastic):
(pretty sure that's like an early music video; studio cut, live images)
By 1977, Elvis was in really bad shape, and that ferocious swagger and cocky snarl you see above in the glitz and glimmer was all but gone. It was a feat just to get him through every show, propped up on bloated legs by a combination of amphetamines, barbiturates, and sequined bell-bottoms. Guralnick writes in his 2000 book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, "There was no longer any pretense of keeping up appearances... The idea was simply to get Elvis out onstage and keep him upright for the hour he was scheduled to perform." His final concert would be the night of June 26, 1977 in Indianapolis.
The last recording Elvis made was a vocal overdub on "He'll Have To Go" done on October 31st, 1976 in the "Jungle Room" at his home at Graceland. The last song Elvis performed in private was a rendition of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," done on his piano in Graceland hours before his death. [ref]
The morning of August 16th, his fiance Ginger Alden found Elvis dead in his Graceland bathroom with fourteen drugs detectable in his system, ten in "significant quantity." According to the medical examiner, Elvis had stumbled or crawled several feet before dying. What a sad ending to such an amazing, epic life that gave us some of my favorite music ever. No one can cast a bigger cultural shadow than The King. Through a combination of musical virtuosity, that irreplaceable voice, and something in the DNA of our culture - the fabric of my musical knowledge - he was without equal. Elvis is just Elvis.
VIDEO: BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, FINAL CONCERT
Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, IN
June 26, 1977 - Final concert [review]
2001 Space Odyssey theme (opening) / C.C. Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
You Gave Me A Mountain
O Sole Mio/It's Now Or Never
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
I Can't Stop Loving You
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Introduction of band members
Early Morning Rain
What'd I Say
Johnny B. Goode
Larry London drum solo
Jerry Sheff bass solo
Tony Brown piano solo
I Really Don't Want To Know
Bobby Ogdin Electric Clavinet Solo
Jazzing in Vegas
Can't Help Falling In Love
Closing vamp / "Elvis has left the building"
ZIP: ELVIS' LAST CONCERT
I found myself at bit melancholy at watching a few more videos of the Elvis from the Seventies, starting with when he actually looked kinda hot in that white jumpsuit (ha! never thought I'd say that):
ELVIS: IN THE GHETTO (1970)
ELVIS: ALWAYS ON MY MIND, NOV 1, 1972
Some extras because I absolutely love this song and never tire of it:
Always On My Mind - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
[bonus track, Jacksonville City Nights. 99% sure this is a duet with Norah Jones]
Always On My Mind (live on NPR) - Iron & Wine/Calexico
ELVIS: UNCHAINED MELODY, JUNE 21, 1977
"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building."