Elvis is Dead
By Garland Davis
It was August 1977. I was the Assistant Commissary Store Officer at the Pearl Harbor Commissary Store. I remember it well. I was on the loading dock with an inspector from the base fire department. The motor of a cardboard compactor had short circuited and set the contents of the compactor on fire. The inspector was verifying this for his report. I was standing on the dock when an SH3 came out of the Receiving Department Office and said, “Chief, Elvis is dead.”
Elvis is dead. The words were wrong somehow. Some third world president is dead, some rock star overdosed, a blind man was killed by a hit and run driver. For some reason all that seemed to make more sense than Elvis is dead.
“The radio said that he had a heart attack.” Said the girl with the bad news.
Elvis had a heart attack? No way. Elvis couldn’t have a heart attack. He was just too young. Hell, he was only nine years older than me. I was in the seventh grade when I became aware of Elvis and his music. I remember begging my father to let me watch the Ed Sullivan show to see Elvis. My dad gave in and let me watch it. His idea of the perfect music was solidified with the Carter Family, Earl Scruggs and bluegrass.
I always intended to go see Elvis in person someday. I never made it. Me and him didn’t live on the same continents for so many years. I have seen all his movies and I have a set of vinyl records that purports to be everything he recorded.
Elvis was forty-two and had a heart attack. I was thirty three. But if Elvis was forty-two and old enough to die, what did that say about me and the generation his music had captured. Was Elvis dying a portent for me. I worried about it for a time but the Orient called and I got on with life in Westpac.
Last August sixteenth was the fortieth anniversary of Elvis’ death.
Elvis died forty years ago and I feel like shit today/