The day Elvis died in 1977

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The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby SKradiophile » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:23 pm

Question-were any of you on air or at the station on that day? There must be anecdotes about that and we know, there had to have been mad scrambles to deal with that.
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby Richard Skelly » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:35 pm

My tv was broken at the time. So I mourned by the radio. Over the years, however, I've heard media analysts comment that most major networks were caught flat-footed without proper feeds as the crowds of mourners ballooned outside Graceland and the nation grieved. Some have said compensating for that gaffe has inexorably led to the current overly-obsessive "celebrity culture" that arguably goes a long way to explaining why the current occupant of the White House resides at that address.

A couple of Saturdays ago, Coast to Coast AM featured Steven Ubaney who has written a book positing that Elvis was murdered. At first I rolled my eyes. Must confess Ubaney brought up a lot of inconsistencies in the timeline--for example, Elvis apparently signing for a courier delivery at a time when authorities deemed he was dead--and the pajamas-around-the-ankles pose of the corpse. According to Ubaney, the PJs pose is a favourite of mob hits where extra humiliation is accorded the victim. Elvis's enthusiasm to be a "deputized" drug agent, something President Nixon accorded him, resulted in him being a witness for pending criminal trials...a possible motive for rubbing him out. He also claimed Colonel Tom Parker was so indebted to the mob that he was shopping Elvis's contract in hopes of raising quick cash. Most importantly, Ubaney asserted Graceland was virtually empty that day as many staff and hangers on had decamped for Portland, Maine where Elvis was scheduled to start the next leg of his tour later that week.

All in all, a provocative two hours...substitute-hosted by Coast's Canadian contributor, Toronto-based Richard Syrett. I came away saddened that, if the Parker claim is true, no takers emerged to quickly buy Elvis's management contract and start setting things right for The King. In all likelihood, the cumulative effects of obesity, chronic constipation, insomnia, terrible diet and prescription drugs were what did Elvis in. Unlikely those afflictions could have been reversed on a dime. Elvis's mother died relatively young so perhaps there was also a genetic predisposition to early death.

Can't help but wonder, though, if a super-Presley fan like Bruce Allen could have set up a financing syndicate to buy the contract, how different history might have been. Imagine Elvis realizing he finally had a manager who really cared about him and his music. I dimly remember that Bruce and one or two members of Bachman Turner Overdrive actually met Elvis, possibly in Las Vegas or Palm Springs. Elvis was such a fan of Taking Care Of Business that it inspired him to have belt buckles and other paraphernalia inscribed with TCOB, an acronym of the song's title.

RIP Elvis Presley.
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby paterson » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:21 pm

SKradiophile, I was fresh out of college and was working at 580/CKPR radio in Thunder Bay Ont. I had been at the station for about 3.5 months. The news broke regarding Elvis' death around 5pm. I was the announcer on the evening show from 6 to 10pm; the station was A/C to 3 in the afternoon and top 40 after 3 to 6am.

The station stayed with our regular format but we did play a few Elvis songs per hour early in my show, and featured some news actualities during the program as more reaction and information became available. Around 6:45 the station's program director called me on "the hot line|". His name was Ray Dee, a good guy and a huge Elvis fan; in fact his nickname around the station was Elvis. Ray was out of town but within range of the stations's coverage area.

Ray had only heard a rumour that the king was gone and gave me a call. He was thunderstruck when I told him that it was true; he couldn't believe it. Much later in the evening we ran the excellent CHUM music documentary The Elvis Presley Story which was originally featured on the station late 1975 or early 1976. We still had the tapes and decided to run the program again. I believe it was featured again the following weekend on Saturday evening.

That's about all I remember. I had a fair number of calls early in the evening again from people just hearing about the news and naturally some were upset, mostly folks that grew up with Elvis in the 50's thru to the early 1970's. The younger teen audience didn't react all that much.
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby Tom Jeffries » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:43 pm

41 Years does flash by, does it not.

I was in Victoria, with my Wife, on vacation from CFTR.

I was NOT an Elvis Fan. I was a Beatle person. I only liked about 5 of his songs. My favourite "Marie's The Name".

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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:19 pm

..and I was on vacation too, in Calgary, on a couple of weeks off from my station in Winnipeg, CFRW.
Although the signal was weaker than the local sticks, I tuned in to Edmonton for the excellent story coverage and music from CHED.
Alberta was Moffatt Broadcasting territory back then; CKXL in Calgary and the aforementioned CHED in Edmonton. They owned the contemporary music side of those markets.
As for the music question?
His unpolished early Sun recordings were the most honest and exciting; That’s Alright Mama springs to mind.
"You don't know man! I was in radio man! I've seen things you wouldn't believe!"
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby pave » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:13 am

I was pulling afternoon drive at CFCN in Calgary when the word came in around 2:30 or 3:00.
We immediately went All Elvis - All the time. We had the records and our staff was pulling copy for us throughout the day.
Although I wasn't a particularly supportive aficianado before, by the end of the day, I had become an impressed and admiring Elvis Fan.
I'm pretty sure I didn't suffer because of it - even as I started describing myself as "A hunka hunka burnin' love."
I got past that, too.
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby jon » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:40 pm

Hard to be sure, as I was the first kid in my class listening to Top 40 radio, but even though I started two years before The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan and certainly knew how big Elvis had been in the 1950s, The Beatles made Elvis seem unimportant to me.

Kids in my class aligned themselves with The Dave Clark Five or The Beatles, kind of like The Mods and The Rockers in England. I remember being shocked that the kid next door, who was 5 years older, didn't particularly like British Invasion music, but remained an "Elvis is King" devotee.

In the late 1960s, I had a renewed respect for Elvis thanks to his best friend, George the DJ, giving Elvis a boot in the rear and songs like "Kentucky Rain" and "In the Ghetto" being the result. But it is really only recently, as I dove deep in the '50s, thanks to Sirius/XM, that I really understood the greatness of Elvis.
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Re: The day Elvis died in 1977

Postby Joe Leary » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:05 pm

I remember this day well as it was another occasion to be in radio when an icon dies and the chaotic aftermath. I was a young buck working at CKDA in Victoria that day; our Program Director Bob Morris was on the mid-day show and I was working in the music library. When the news broke I was actually hanging out in the studio with BoMo (our affectionate term for Bob Morris) when JJ Richards blasts into the control room and tells us that he needs to go live because Elvis has died. Bob tells me immediately to go and pull all the Elvis carts from the library and bring them into the studio. He went solid Elvis and we had BN news clips of network reporters and some amazing audio of people outside of Graceland and the hospital just losing it because The King had died. After I brought all the Elvis carts into the 'DA control room, I had to go and cash my meager paycheque before the bank closed and I remember mentioning to the teller the news about Elvis and she blurted it out to another employee and next thing you know there was this buzz going through the bank - just that feeling of immediacy was something else because in 1977 if you weren't around a radio or a TV you would not have known the news until you got home.
It's one of those memories indelibly etched and I'll never forget what it was like to see radio pros in action when 'breaking news' occurs!
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