On August 16, 1977, the world mourned the loss of one of the greatest exponents of American and world music, Elvis Aaron Presley.
Today, his legacy is still very present, which was why Graceland was getting ready to welcome thousands of fans – who come from all over the world – to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the death of the King of Rock and Roll.
The grand event, known as “Elvis Week”, takes place from August 9 to August 17 at all Graceland facilities (The Graceland Mansion, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, The Guest House at Graceland, and The Graceland Exhibition Centre).
It will feature appearances by celebrities including Priscilla Presley and musicians, live concerts, “The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest,” conversations on Elvis, meet and greet opportunities, fan events, parties, movies and special bus excursions around Memphis and to Tupelo.
This year, the following Elvis tribute artistes made it to the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artiste Contest Final Round in Memphis on Friday, August 12: Brooke Wright, Bruno Nesci, Radney Pennington, Cote Deonath, Michael Chambliss, Victor Trevino Jr., Tim E. Hendry, Matt Stone, Sylvain Leduc and last but not least Jimmy Holmes.
The famous Candlelight Vigil and the annual Elvis Presley 5K Run are also a fundamental piece of “Elvis Week”.
The Candlelight Vigil started with the traditional opening ceremony on Sunday, August 14, at 8.:30 pm at Graceland’s front gate, and ended at dawn the next day. This free event usually lasts all night and allows people to walk up the driveway to Elvis’ gravesite and back down carrying a candle in quiet remembrance and the year 2022, people in US and elsewhere in the world are less wary as before pertaining to the coronavirus that created havoc in the last two years.
For us in Malaysia, a popular music joint Ol Skool in PJ, Kuala Lumpur is holding an Elvis show involving Elvis tribute artistes in KL and Penang. I am not sure if any of Sarawak ETAs are in joining.
Our communication channel for the Elvis Presley Fan Club Sarawak (EPFCS) is on but many are lying low and still mourning the loss of our three ETAs who departed last year. Our deceased brothers in 2021 were Eskandar Eyaw (Sarawak EP titleholder 1965), Albert Blassan and our club president Ges Barundang (EP of Kuching 2002) better known as Elges departed in September. It is for this reason that perhaps three others may be featured this Saturday (Aug 20) in the popular joint. They comprised twice Sarawak EP title holder Wilfred Vincent Ragam (1964 and 1966), Marveyne Tajem and our youngest club member Adrian David Jr. All these three are not newcomers to Ol Skool.
Our last trip together to KL and performed at the music joint was in 2016. Two years before the pandemic they still held the show but did not include any Sarawak ETAs. So this year I am happy that EP show is on again.
In other Elvis-crazy countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea, I believe they also joined the ball rolling in their celebrations. These include Eddie Mesa, the Philippines EP, 80, plus Rain, the EP of South Korea (his real name is Jung Ji-hoon), 29, and Elvisoot Thungarat of Thailand in his late 60s as well as new EP imitator Toiyibee who went to Graceland the same year as Elges did (2004).
Elvisoot has a canny resemblance to the King himself plus a voice that is also close to our Idol’s. When I met him on my 23rd birthday in 1977 in Bangkok (at the Elvis Presley Club of Thailand) he spoke in broken English. He gave me his album in cassette form that I still keep somewhere.
For our local ETAs, we didn’t get to meet during this 45th death anniversary of our idol. Our club is still alive but we only meet virtually via WhatsApp and Telegram and are still partly affected by the pandemic despite the country having moved into the endemic stage.
When we met recently, there were only three of us and we just had a brief rendezvous. It was unlike our previous meetings prior to the pandemic where we used to meet at music joints and enjoyed singing our favourite numbers attributed to our idol the King.
Those were the days when Elges and Eskandar were still around. We really miss their presence and the dreaded coronavirus has added up to the misery and almost killed our club.
Nevertheless, our new president Azmi Jahidin @ Elaz, is adamant that EPFCS will remain strong and active. He has our solid support.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.