All Shook Up
Ace's 25 year Elvis post-mortem

No Heroes
By Chris Offutt,
author and Kentucky native

My relationship with the music of Elvis is limited by the fact that my parents would not allow his records in my house. My mother didn't like Elvis because of his looks-she said he looked like the greasy corner boys she was warned to stay away from in Lexington during the 1950s. My father called him "Elwood Pretzel" and said Elvis couldn't sing.

For a very brief time there was a used book and record store in Morehead while I was attending college. I was in the store wearing full punk rock regalia and thumbing through the collected volume of Emily Dickinson. The shop phone rang. The owner answered, listened, and hung up. He announced with damp eyes: Elvis is dead. I bought the poetry book and went home and listened to The Clash.

Young Entrepreneurial Memories
By Tom Leach, WLAP AM.

I was born in 1961, so I really don't have any memories of the classic Elvis, but his impact as an icon and his impact musically is certainly undeniable.

My only real connection to the Elvis legend was the concert he was scheduled to perform in Rupp Arena the year he died. I had a friend whose aunt wanted 30 tickets for an Elvis party and each person could only purchase 10, so she paid three of us 16-year-olds to stand in line and buy the tickets. We arrived around 7 o'clock on Saturday night and tickets went on sale the next day around noon, as I recall. We set up came on the concrete near High Street (the tickets were to be sold at booths approximately where fans now enter Rupp Arena after walking through the concourse). By the next morning, the line stretched down High Street to what was then Patterson Street, down Patterson, down Vine and up Broadway to almost make a complete circle and I don't think anyone in the line slept a wink that night. I got my money and I'm not sure if my friend's aunt kept the tickets or got a refund.

Never forget the First
By Linda Scott DeRosier,
author and Kentucky native

Where was I when Elvis died? I couldn't tell you where or even when-not the day, not the month, not even the year. I don't have any memory of Elvis's death. By the time he died it was over between Elvis and me. I'd gone on to relationships, deeper relationships, with fellows who wrote their own lyrics-those more worthy of my cultivated attention, you understand-Dylan, f'r instance, and John Lennon.

Elvis never was much fit for a thinking woman. During the late 60s/early 70s, when I was so enamored of myself purely as a thinking being, I couldn't give the King the time of day. Then the poor devil got that anti-drug Marshall's badge from some president I despised. Admittedly, those were the years when I despised presidents of any stripe so it could have been Nixon or Johnson playing old scratch. Once he was commissioned Drug Warrior #1, all I had for Elvis was a sneer. I'm sure he suffered from my disdain for he was already caught in the downward spiral that ended with his death...whenever that was.

Earlier, however, during our brief love affair, Elvis inhabited my whole heart. He did! He was my man, that snurly, swivel-hipped devil. God, I adored him. I loved Elvis Presley in the way only a fifteen-year-old never-been-in-love-before could love-a devotion that lasted for what was a long time back then. (Fifteen to eighteen seems a very long time until you're 40, or 50; now, past 60, I call it brief.)

It was not as if I hadn't thought myself in love before. But, with Elvis? With Elvis, it was the real thing. Folks like Lefty Frizell, Carl Smith, and Faron Young...well, Elvis blew them right off my young brainpan. From moment the first strains of "Since my baby left me..." hit my hammer-anvil-and-stirrup to the first glimpse of the above-the-belt half of my beloved in action on that black and white TV in the basement of Derrianna Hall at Pikeville College...I was his.

Okay, so I spent the next twenty years or so denying the relationship and I know Elvis suffered for it. He never figured out how to win me back so he tried to act as if it didn't matter. That's what all those drugs were about, you know. Couldn't let himself admit he'd lost me. No matter how many lacy underthings got flung at his feet, Elvis knew I was out there somewhere turning up my nose at him, as well as the loyal legions who couldn't kick their E-habit. He never got over me though and now that I'm old enough to see it a little more clearly I understand that I never really got over him either.

Nope. The E-man changed me, loosened me up and got me ready for Lennon and the like. Had it not been for Elvis taking my virginity, I'd never have known the loving-the transcendence, if you will-of Dylan, Springsteen, Janis Ian, Pink Floyd, The Indigo Girls, Dire Straits, Tracy Chapman, and many others who have come and stayed, or gone then returned to my life. Took me a long time to figure out that loving didn't have to mean choosing between sticking forever in one place-or with one person-or leaving, also forever. Elvis was my first and though we were disaffected for a time he's back with me now.

i And another little hungry mouth to feed
By Marvin Bartlett,
WDKY News Anchor

When Elvis died, I was sweeping the floor at the drugstore where I worked after school in Grafton, West Virginia. I heard a bulletin on the radio and told my manager. She clutched her heart and I thought she was going to faint.

She turned the radio up and all activity seemed to stop in the store. It wasn't a big deal to me, but I could tell she was affected deeply. That's why I remember it so vividly. After she got over the shock, she went two doors down to the McCrory's five and dime store and bought a vinyl Elvis record and a couple of 8-track tapes. She played them throughout the store the rest of the summer.

Thankfully, I only worked about 10 hours a week. It's difficult to sweep with gusto when you're hearing about another little hungry child born in the ghetto.

Famous People
By Ed McClanahan, author

Thus I arrived at my present sorry state, drumming my thumbs against the tabletop with inebrious, a-rhythmical abandon, while on the bandstand just above me Little Enis, his feet planted in that classic Presley straddle, his groin thrusting like the machine-tooled private parts of the Great Fucking Wheel, his left leg jiggling spasmodically inside his pants as if he really was a-eetchin' lak a bug on a fuzzy tree, tore like a man possessed into Elvis' repertoire, segueing out of "All Shook Up" straight into "Hound Dog," then laying back ever so slightly with "Teddy Bear" (the lively lovelies of the Palms squealed like bobby-soxers over that one-because, as I overheard one of them sigh when Enis purled "Run yo' fangers th'oo mah hair an' cuddle up real tight!" and hove a lusty dry-hump in her direction, "I could cuddle that sweet thing to death!"), then cranking it up again with "Blue Suede Shoes" and, for variety, Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" and Fats Domino's "Kansas City," then tying off the set with a "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" so mellow and lachrymose that Colonel Parker would have shed a tear in his Hadacol if he'd been there to hear it. Reprinted with Ed's blessing and permission from Famous People I Have Known.

To live is to fly, both low and high,
By Rhonda Reeves,
editor/publisher, Ace Weekly

Harry Crews says the best thing about Antabuse is, "you only have to make one decision a day." Musically, in the 60s, there was one choice to be made, and all others followed: were you an Elvis man or Beatles?

I was, and remain Elvis.

Especially 60s-comeback Elvis, and to some extent even Vegas Elvis, in an extravagantly camp way.

I started my writing career as a music critic, and childhood idols like Elvis gave me a foundation.

I was at my grandmother's house when he died. I was spreading dish towels on my Uncle Don's 442 Oldsmobile, in preparation of drying beans there-when she arrived with the news and a cold Pepsi to ease the blow.

We had tickets for the upcoming Elvis show at Rupp Arena, and now he hadn't lived to see it.

I was beside myself.

Then I called my mom to come get me (itself an unusual occurrence in the summer, which I always spent with my grandparents, whose company I infinitely preferred to that of my parents). But for that one day, I was an adolescent girl who needed my mother.

I went home with her without argument, then went into my room, and turned on the radio (all Elvis, all the time, of course, for many days to come).

I laid down on the bed and found a new memory and new tears for every song. Kentucky Rain. In the Ghetto. Memories. Suspicious Minds (which I always fantasized would be a cool song to walk down the aisle to, "Caught in a trap...I can't walk out now...).

My mom came in and curled herself around me. She cried too.

It sank in slowly: we were never, ever going to see Elvis. And to an adolescent girl and a grown woman in a small town in southeastern Kentucky, for at least a few days, that seemed to rise to the level of tragedy.

Years later, she and I went to Graceland. Mostly, by then, for what she might call "a hoot."

Years after that I saw one of Elvis's cars in a car show in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was emblazoned with his trademark lightning bolt, and the "TCB" (taking care of business) logo.

Later, when Irony caught on, I learned to describe my Elvis feelings with the appropriate deprecatory detachment and the requisite sly nudge and accompanying hair flip.

Still, the most important thing I learned from his death was that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER wait too long to see a legend, because they might die.

I went to see Johnny Cash (in 1995), with a fever of 102, because I was afraid I might never get another chance. I'm not so sure I saw the same show everybody else did. But I'm glad I went.

Years later I saw Townes Van Zandt in a November, and he died the following January.

The first person I called was Texas singer-songwriter Dale Watson who'd just been on a European tour with him.

We talked about the last songs we'd each heard Townes sing.

I told him I'd made the show, arriving late, and had been intensely motivated by the fact that death had cheated me out of seeing Elvis about 20 years earlier, and knowing Townes's penchant for the hard life, I'd figured time was short.

Dale knew what I meant.

He said it was a good lesson I'd learned, and better younger than later.

All I know is, if I could get anybody to go along with it, I would definitely have my own Memphis Mafia. Mostly, they would accompany me everywhere-making sure, at all times, that a ready supply of bacon is never more than an arm's length away.