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Elvis record sales skyrocket following his death (1977)

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Remembering Elvis - 1935-1977

Fans flock to stores to buy Elvis records, dramatic sales increase

by Jeff Collins – Van Nuys Valley News (California) August 17, 1977

Record stores in the Los Angeles area reported a dramatic increase in sales of Elvis Presley records Tuesday night. Salespersons at Tower Record stores in Hollywood and Westwood said they had sold 55 to 65 more Elvis records than usual.

The largest demand was for the singer’s greatest hit records and movie soundtracks, although requests for Moody Blue, his most recent record were also up.

One customer at Tower Records, Hollywood, bought the entire catalog of Presley records — 31 different releases.

The Licorice Pizza in Hollywood also reported sales up. The store keeps a minimal number of his records in stock and was unable to satisfy many customer demands.

Nick DeBenedetto, a salesman, said Presley records haven’t been selling well recently, but added that the store sent out a rush order earlier in the evening.

Elvis Presley - moody Blue

Jamie McGovern, a clerk at Tower, Hollywood, said that his store would increase its stock threefold at the earliest opportunity.

“People haven’t had time to realize what has happened, and probably even more requests for his records will be made in the next couple of days,” McGovern said.

Terry Schmitgal, Tower, Westwood’s night manager, speculated that the run on Presley records is occurring because people think the old releases will go out of print and become rare.

Schmitgal said however, that it is highly unlikely that this will happen.

“No Elvis albums have ever been in cut-outs,” he said. He explained that a record is in “cut-outs” when sales lag far behind production and must be sold at drastically cut prices.

“I don’t expect that the Elvis albums will be rare in the near future, not for at least two or three years,” Schmitgal said.

Among the most popularly requested Presley albums are Blue Hawaii and Speedway, both movie soundtracks.

Billboard Oct 9, 1961 Elvis


Death claims Elvis

King of rock suffers heart failure at 42

Memphis — Elvis Presley, the gyrating king of rock n’ roll who forever changed the face of music two decades ago when he growled “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog,” died at his mansion Tuesday of an “erratic heartbeat.”

The 42-year-old singer — “Elvis the pelvis” when he burst upon the world in the mid-1950s — died face down on the floor of a bathroom at his Graceland mansion.

He was found there by his road manager, Joe Esposito, at 2:30 pm, but Shelby County medical examiner Dr Jerry Francisco said Presley may have been dead since 9 am.

Francisco told newsmen after an autopsy that Presley died of “cardiac arrythmia,” which he described as a severely irregular heartbeat. He said it was brought about by “undetermined causes.”

Both Francisco and Dr George Nichopoulos, Presley’s personal physician, said there was “no evidence of any illegal drug use.”

Efforts to revive Presley were abandoned at Baptist Hospital at 3:30 pm.

Remember Me Elvis The King magazine cover 1977

News of Elvis’ death

Rumors of his death raced from coast to coast. When it was confirmed, the mourning began.

Radio stations throughout the world played the king’s music. Politicians and entertainers eulogized him. Record shops, which in his 22 years of recording sold 400 million Elvis Presley albums, were jammed.

Presley brought rock n’ roll to the world with “Hound Dog,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” Teen-agers went into a frenzy and adults, seeing his long shiny hair, sideburns, hooded eyes, and most of all his grinding hips, went into shock.

He was, as Gov Cliff Finch of his home state of Mississippi said, the “personification of the American Dream.” He rose from poverty to incredible wealth.

But one of his best friends, singer Pat Boone, said he lives as a “haunted man… an exile” afraid to fly, afraid of the massive and frantic demonstrations that greeted his every public appearance right up until the last. He lived in seclusion, appearing only on his concert tours.

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Billboard Jun 29, 1963 Elvis

Cause of death

Francisco said at a news conference that “there was severe cardiovascular disease present. He had a history of mild hypertension and some coronary artery disease. These two diseases may be responsible for the cardiac arrythmia. But the precise cause was not determined. Basically it was a natural death.”

“The precise cause of death may never be discovered,” he said.

“There certainly were some drugs being given for the medical condition that was present. There was no evidence of cocaine use.”

Nichopoulos said Presley was “using medicine for his blood pressure, several different kinds, and for the colon problem that he had.”

“I arrived at the mansion about 2:30 pm,” said Nichopoulos, “the time ambulance was leaving his house. I am sure he was dead at that time.”

“He was lying on his face on the floor. The people in the house with him were asleep and were not aware that anything abnormal had transpired.”

He said Presley went to a dentist Monday night “to have work done on several teeth. He came back home and played raquet ball from 4 until 5:30 am and went to bed about 6 am.”

Presley so shocked the nation’s parents with his gyrations when he first appeared on television that the second time he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show the camera never showed him below the belt.

Presley had been fighting a weight problem and various ailments — primarily described as fatigue from his intense tour schedules — for several years. He was in Baptist Hospital as late as April, suffering from intestinal flu and fatigue.

His minions — and his generosity with them — were legend. On at least several occasions he gave brand new Cadillacs to individuals whose courtesy struck his fancy, or to whom he feared he may have been unkind.

A few weeks ago, a Soviet newspaper carried a feature lamenting Elvis’ ill-treatment at the hands of the capitalists. It said he had been chewed up and discarded, a pauper.

Presley had finished a tour a little more than a week ago and was scheduled to begin another later this month, appearing first in Memphis.

Elvis with fans in Hawai’i (1961)

Photo from We Go Jam: Celebrating Our Music, Our Soundscape, Our Hawai’i, by John Titchen, 1961, via the National Endowment for the Humanities

Elvis with fans in Hawaii 1961


Reactions to Elvis’ death (1977)

‘Great entertainer lost’ — Dick Clark

Dick Clark, who chronicled the career of Elvis Presley through his American Bandstand television show, said Tuesday that Presley “was a giant who will be missed by many of us.”

“The world has lost a great entertainer,” Clark said from the Aladin Hotel. “The music industry has lost one of its greatest innovators. The history of music could not possibly be written without taking note Elvis’ powerful influences in its development.”

Older Elvis Presley - 1970s

Pat Boone stunned by news of Elvis’ death

Pat Boone and Elvis Presley rose to stardom during the 1950s at the same time, but Boone, with his clean-cut looks and white buck shoes, was set apart by Presley who skyrocketed to success with the look of the rebel.

Boone was stunned when he heard the news that Presley died in Memphis of an apparent heart attack at the age of 42.

“The void he will leave is impossible to gauge,” said Boone. “The one thing I regret is that he never made his tour of Europe and the Orient because of his fear of flying, which would have made him a world-wide success all over again.”

Elvis turned Cher on when she was just 11

Entertainer Cher Bono Allman said she first realized the power of a performer when she saw Elvis Presley on stage.

“The first concert I ever attended was an Elvis Presley concert when I was 11-years-old,” she said Monday after learning of Presley’s death. “Even at that age, he made me realize the tremendous effect a performer could have on an audience.

“It’s an incredible tragedy. His passing will leave a big void in all our lives.”


A view of Elvis…

The writer was six years old when Elvis Presley began making his presence felt in the world of music. Now, at 27, he reflects on the man who became known as the king of rock and roll.

By Michael Coates

I am what many persons would consider an Elvis freak, but I’m not a fanatic. Not one of those who shrieked and hollered back in the 1950s when he first made the quantum leap from obscure truck driver to star. I’m not old enough to have participated in them.

And I’m not one of those who nowadays would go to any length or any expense to see Elvis in Las Vegas. I’ve never even belonged to fan club hordes.

But for 20 years I’ve been a good solid fan, first in appreciation of his talents — and he definitely had talent — and then in appreciation of his role in the evolution of rock and roll. He became a legend quickly, and I believe in legends. Others admired sports personalities. I chose Elvis.

Elvis with a little girl in 1962

Over the years, I’ve purchased close to 25 Elvis albums, which may seem like a lot, but they’re only a small part of the dozens and dozens available. One of my prize possessions is an original copy of Elvis’ Golden Records, Vol 1. It’s about 20 years old, easily the oldest record in my collection.

For me at least, when Elvis was at his best, there was no one anywhere who could top him, whether it be the tinny, primitive sound of his early material like “Jail House Rock” or a definitely matured ballad like “Kentucky Rain” in the early ’70s.

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I’ve never been blind to his artistic weaknesses. I know that most of his material during the 1960s, when he did virtually nothing but movies and soundtracks, wasn’t worth much. It was lightweight junk which had no feeling.

I know too, from firsthand observation, that in the last couple years, Elvis didn’t put much of himself into his concerts.

I saw him in 1971 in his first Los Angeles performance in nine years. He was great. He seemed to get his energy from the crowd and he gave it back with true feeling in his material.

I saw him again in 1973 or ’74, and he was bad — so bad that many persons walked out before he finished. He didn’t seem to care about his music or his performance. He sang his songs perfunctorily and went through some listless motions.

But still he filled a void, drawing huge audiences and pleasing thousands, so he couldn’t be termed a has-been even at his worst.

In the end, though, it isn’t really his performances of the past decade which will mark his place in history. It’s his image as a pioneer. While he wasn’t the earliest rock and roller, he became its most visible figure, it’s biggest symbol. His appearance and his gyrations outraged parents back then and delighted the teens who identified with his seeming defiance of the norms.

The music was raw and hard, and he sold millions. And he influenced many, many later figures — including the Beatles, who many times acknowledges their debt to his sound and style.

Interestingly, his private image — whatever vices he may have had — was not crude or coarse. He amazed people with his charm and good manners.

He was and is a legend. There are other legends. But he was one of a kind.

I guess I am an Elvis freak, at that, and I’m not ashamed of it.

Remembering Elvis - 1935-1977


A look back at his career: Elvis Presley’s life from 1958-1960

In 1958, Uncle Sam sent greetings to the No. 1 idol of American teenagers, and Elvis Presley, superstar, became Elvis Presley, Army private. ”

On March 24, 1958, Elvis raised his right hand and was sworn into the United States Army. The next day, James Peterson at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, made enemies around the country by cutting off Elvis’ sideburns and locks.

After eight weeks at Ft. Hood, Texas, Pvt. Presley got a week’s leave at home. Then it was eight weeks back at Ft. Hood for armor training.

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Elvis was still king. He had earned the admiration of thousands by going into the Army and insisting upon being treated like any other recruit. Then his world came crashing down around him with the death of his mother on Aug. 14, 1958.

From the time that Gladys Presley taught her son to be polite and say “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” to older people, Elvis had doted on his mother, and she, in turn, had pampered him. Now she was dead of a heart attack, and Elvis rushed home. On his mother’s grave, he had engraved, “She was the sunshine of our house.”

With an Army band playing “All Shook Up,” Elvis was shipped off to duty in Germany with other GIs in September 1958. Elvis worked in the motor pool in Germany and got his stripes as a sergeant.

Elvis Presley in the Army - 1958 to 1960 (1)

Another event as important to Elvis as making sergeant was meeting the daughter of an Army colonel. She was a 14-year-old dark brunette named Priscilla Beaulieu. She was to become his wife in 1967.

But while Elvis was away, his fans had not forgotten him. When he returned in March 1960, hordes of fans picked up the love affair where it had ended in ’58 and immediately began buying his new records and swooning to his appearances.

He appeared on a Frank Sinatra television special, and then took off for Hollywood to make the movie “G.I. Blues.” It grossed $4.3 million.

Elvis Presley’s life from 1960-1968

Elvis’ comeback set the stage for the early ’60s. He continued with a string of successful movies and songs. Yet Elvis had changed his image — from brash, young rebel to a relaxed crooner of ballads.

The fan magazines linked him with every Hollywood starlet from Ann-Margret to Shelley Fabares. But from 1960 the girl whom Elvis met in Germany lived in Memphis at Graceland with Elvis’ father and stepmother, Dee Elliott, as chaperons. Priscilla went to Immaculate Conception High School.

His career began to lag, however, after the initial sprint following his return to the US. From 1962 to 1969, Elvis, fighting the battle of the bulge, made no public appearances. And from the spring of ’62 to late ’69, none of his records made it to No. 1. Fewer movies were made.

In 1967, he surprised his fans by marrying Priscilla on May 1 in Las Vegas. Nine months later, the couple’s only child, Lisa Marie, was born.

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Elvis Presley’s life from 1969-1977

With the gain of more weight and the loss of his boyish looks, Elvis’ box office draw began to drop. Stories began surfacing about Elvis’ displays of temper and his long periods of reclusion at Graceland.

Then in the late ’60s, Elvis found Las Vegas was the answer. It marked the return of Elvis of the ’50s — rocking, stomping and twisting.

The King was back and on tour again. And he was playing to packed houses from Texas to Boston. But there was trouble at Graceland. Priscilla moved out in 1972. She left Elvis, it is said, for Hawaiian karate instructor Mike Stone. And in 1974, the marriage that broke thousands of women’s hearts ended in divorce.

Although Elvis continued his annual national tours, fans complained of his added weight and his seeming lack of interest in his performances.

In 1975, Elvis reached 40, and most of America felt a little older. With this milestone, Elvis also began a period of “mystery” ailments that interrupted his tours and placed him in the hospital.

Yet when he appeared, his fans still stood in line to see the King… until his death August 16, 1977.

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