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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I’m too young to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. His first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show, in 1956, was seven years before I was born. And I was only about 6 when his career last drew any serious attention in the late 1960s. But as a lifelong music fan, and a journalist who has written professionally about the recording industry, I am keenly aware of Elvis’ influence and of how virtually all popular music made during the past 50 years can be traced back to him.

And, of course, I remember where I was when I learned about his death 30 years ago today. I was just shy of my 14th birthday and was spending the summer at a camp a couple of hours of north of Toronto. We were on a field trip that day in the bustling metropolis of Gravenurst, Ontario (population: one horse), and as we got back on the bus after seeing a movie, the driver was listening to a report about Elvis’ demise on a portable radio that was standing on the dashboard.

I remember that I wasn’t particularly saddened by the news, but I also remember understanding, immediately, the gravity of what had happened -- and what The King’s passing would mean to his fans, to the music world and to society as a whole.

In the years afterward, there would be other deaths at too young an age among some of music’s giants – John Lennon and Jerry Garcia chief among them – but none would have quite the impact of Elvis’ passing at age 42 on Aug. 16, 1977. And I doubt that any future celebrity death will cut to the bone quite the way Elvis’ did.

That is, most certainly, a testament to who Elvis Presley was and to what his talents meant to his fans, to the music world and to society as a whole.



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