On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead lying on the floor in his bathroom by his girlfriend Ginger Alden. He’d been sitting on the toilet reading The Scientific Search for Jesus. He died of heart failure at the age of 42.
The king of rock and roll dead at 42! I was 19 at the time and working at HMV Records, the largest record store outside of London. I wasn’t important, in fact as well as making the tea, I worked the shrink-wrapping machine that all records were covered in before going out in the racks. This was well before the days of CDs. Our stock consisted of vinyl, cassettes, and eight-track cartridges.
I didn’t know of Presley’s demise until I arrived for work that morning. I was in shock, as was everyone else - except the boss. He saw a huge marketing opportunity. All the rival shops would soon sell out of everything Elvis, as would we. So, here’s the plan: Cossar and a mate can get on a train to London (just over 200 miles away) and go to RCA Records, and buy as many Elvis Presley records as you can fit into a black cab taxi. Bring them back on the train and HMV will be the only shop in the north of England with any Elvis records for sale.
He was right.
I was terrified. Not only was I being forced to travel to London (which I’d never visited before), but I had over £500 in cash tucked away in my jeans! I’d never seen so much cash. What if I was mugged? Or murdered? What if I lost the cash on the train?
But enough about me. Elvis was dead.
I can’t think of another performer who has been the subject of so much posthumous attention, so many urban myths, and so many tales. Everything that needs to be written about Elvis has already been written. So it just leaves me to leave you with some facts about Elvis you might not know.
Like, did you know:
His first record for RCA, "Heartbreak Hotel", was also his first US No.1.
He starred in 31 films.
Elvis holds the record for the most entries on the US Hot 100 chart with 154.
Elvis became the first rock 'n' roll artist to be honoured by the US Postal Service with a stamp.
In 1960, after completing his military service and flying back to America, he stepped on British soil for the first and only time in his life when the plane carrying him stopped for refueling at Prestwick Airport, Scotland.
Elvis Presley was a big Monty Python fan. His favourite film was The Holy Grail. It was in his video recorder when he died.
In Switzerland it is illegal to cut a front lawn while dressed as Elvis Presley.
In 1977 there were 170 Elvis impersonators. By 2002 there were 85,000. At that rate of growth, by 2019 a third of the world's population will be Elvis impersonators.