I have a complicated relationship with the king of rock and roll. Being born in 1954 I missed his early career. For the most part I was far more interested in TV and the movies growing. Music didn't really have much of an impact with me until the ealry 1970's. With a few exceptions the music I liked was the music being made at that time. I didn't have much interest in old music. So I didn't appreciate Elvis Presley until he was dead. It wasn't until he became a myth following his death that his true impact was revealed.
He was the American Dream in all it's glory. A young man becomes a rebel and through that a huge success. Then he goes in the army and the rebel becomes a Hollywood icon churring out a series of forgettable. Then Elvis returns to the stage and has a second musical career a s beloved entertainer. He slowly subcumbs to the escesses of the era and his own fame and power ends up killing him. Death comes on a toilet in his mansion. The story of Elvis is the story of America great promise gone to the shitter.
Anyway that was my take on Elvis Presley. Then came the middle to end of the 1980's when the whole Elvis is alive myth swept the country. He was stopped inside a Burger King in rural Michigan and it just touched off this bizzare media frenzy. At the time I was working at a Val's Hall a used record store in Oak Park Il.
At the back of the store we had an old unused bathroom next to where I did a lot of my work. I like fountians and thought it would be neat to have some kind of shrine with a fountian. Maybe some colored lights try and give the space a kind of tiki lounge feel.
So this whole Elvis is alive fever gripped the nation I thought to myself Elvis would be the perfect theme for my shrine. We took the bathroom and; photos, clippings, recotds and other music memoribila, a fountian, some colored lights and some gorgeous blue sparkle fabric and created my homage to Elvis Presley the king of rock and roll. Build a shrine and they will come?
The pilgims did come to pay their respects to Elvis and came away feeling very happy for having had had the experience. In the wake of the fans came the press and television. One year on his birthday we were live on the local CBS news. The public tv show Wild Chicago came out and filmed a segment. It was all a big help for a local business competing in the age of consolidation of retail and the transition from vinyl to cd.
Val's has since moved and they are today still doing business on Harrison St. in Oak Park. The Elvis shirine has made the trip and lives on in another bathroom.