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E Is for ElvisThe Elvis Presley Alphabet A Parody
By Jennie Ivey W. Calvin Dickinson Lisa W. Rand
RUTLEDGE HILL PRESSCopyright © 2007 Jennie Ivey
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Is for All Shook Up
Before Elvis, there was nothing. -John Lennon
On the evening of July 7, 1954, Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips played a record called "That's All Right" by an unknown nineteen-year-old singer named Elvis Presley.
The phones at radio station WHBQ began ringing. Listeners didn't know-or care-if the singer was black or white. They weren't sure what kind of music he was performing. They just knew that they liked what they'd heard.
When Elvis Presley burst onto the scene, rock and roll was born. Rock and roll wasn't just about music, though. It was about clothes. It was about hairstyles. It was about a different way of thinking, moving, and behaving. And those new ways caused America, and much of the rest of the world, to forever become all shook up.
B Is for Beale Street
People ask me why Elvis sounded black. I tell 'em how he would listen to WDIA, which was the first black radio station. And who knows what he heard down on Beale Street? -Billy Smith, Elvis's cousin
Beale Street was Elvis's favorite Memphis hangout when he was in high school. In the lively black neighborhood where the blues had been invented, he spent hours on end listening to and learning to imitate black musicians.
Elvis's favorite store, Lansky Brothers Clothiers, was on Beale Street. He would press his face to their picture window and dream of the day when he might be able to afford the flashy outfits featured there.
Elvis recorded his first hit songs at Sun Studios near Beale Street. Sam Phillips, the white man who owned Sun, operated his business so that black musicians could have a place in Memphis to record their music.
C Is for "Colonel" Tom Parker
If Colonel Parker made Elvis Presley, then why didn't he make another one? -Ricky Stanley, Elvis's stepbrother
"Colonel" Tom Parker wasn't really a colonel; he was an illegal immigrant who first made his living as a carnival worker and a dogcatcher. Then he became a talent agent for country singers.
The first time Parker saw Elvis perform, he knew the young singer was his ticket to wealth. Parker became Elvis's manager and persuaded him to leave Sun Records and sign with RCA.
Parker spent the next twenty years managing Elvis's career. Thanks in part to his efforts, Elvis became one of the biggest superstars in history. But many people believe that Parker put his own desire for fame and money above concerns about Elvis's well-being. Some critics even claim that Parker was partially to blame for Elvis's unhappiness and early death.
D Is for Death Day
When visiting Elvis's grave you should arrive before 7:30 a.m. to avoid long lines. Also, never go on the anniversary of his death or you will encounter a mob. -Unnamed Elvis fan, Internet chat room
On August 16, 1977, Elvis was found dead in his bathroom at Graceland. He was forty-two years old. The official cause of death was listed as cardiac arrhythmia, but there were also vast quantities of prescription drugs found in his body.
In the years following Elvis's death, tens of thousands of grieving fans flooded Memphis during the third week of August to honor his memory. August 16 soon came to be known as "Death Day" and the week that precedes it as "Elvis Week."
The highlight of the week is the candlelight vigil. Fans lining the street in front of Graceland are given candles lit from the eternal flame in the Meditation Garden, where Elvis is buried. They reverently file past his grave and often leave flowers, teddy bears, or other gifts to show their adoration.
E Is for Ed Sullivan
I want to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy. -Ed Sullivan
Elvis appeared on several different television shows in the mid-1950s, including Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey's Stage Show, The Milton Berle Show, and The Steve Allen Show.
But it was his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 that made Elvis a superstar. Though Sullivan had once sworn that he would never allow Elvis on his show, he changed his mind once he realized how many advertising dollars Elvis could generate. But he insisted that Elvis be filmed from the waist up so that viewers wouldn't be offended by the singer's swiveling hips.
Sullivan paid Elvis $50,000 for three television appearances, far more than he had ever paid any other performer. More than 50 million viewers watched those three shows.
F Is for Friends
It was something about Elvis's innocence we were all trying to protect. 700,000 visitors tour Elvis's home each year, making it the second-most-visited house in the United States. Only the White House is more popular.
Excerpted from E Is for Elvis by Jennie Ivey W. Calvin Dickinson Lisa W. Rand Copyright © 2007 by Jennie Ivey. Excerpted by permission.
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