Elvis Week Day 7: Remembering the King – Elvis Presley

By Jon Waterhouse

We’ve heard the old adage “time flies when you’re having fun.” Yet Tom Brown, host of yesterday’s sold-out Conversations on Elvis, proved there’s a reason we’re still saying it.

Elvis' co-star in "Kissin' Cousins" Cynthia Pepper speaks at the Elvis Week Main Stage on August 15, 2014.

Elvis’ co-star in “Kissin’ Cousins” Cynthia Pepper speaks at the Elvis Week Main Stage on August 15, 2014.

Elvis Week’s ace host has the ability to make three hours feel like 15 minutes. Time breezed by as he chatted with Elvis’s “Kissing Cousins” co-star Cynthia Pepper; Joe Moscheo and Terry Blackwood of The Imperials; Elvis’s conductor Joe Guercio; and Priscilla Presley.

Priscilla Presley speaks at Conversations on Elvis on August 16, 2014.

Priscilla Presley speaks at Conversations on Elvis on August 16, 2014.

Presley’s appearance proved to be the grand finale. Although Brown joked about trying to get Presley to reprise her role on the new version of the TV series “Dallas,” she did reveal several projects she has completed and in the hopper.

Fans were treated to larger-than-life images on the big screen taken from her new book “Shades of Elvis,” featuring the photographs of Christopher Ameruoso. In the book, pop culture stars from Cher and Adam Lambert to Tom Jones and Elton John are featured wearing Elvis’s actual sunglasses.

Priscilla Presley talks about her new book "Shades of Elvis" during the Conversations on Elvis on August 15, 2014.

Priscilla Presley talks about her new book “Shades of Elvis” during the Conversations on Elvis on August 15, 2014.

For those who would’ve never imagined Priscilla singing onstage, she explained she’s doing just that in a special stage production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” this holiday season in Manchester, England. Presley plays the Wicked Queen, and she even croons a bar or two from the Elvis classic “Trouble.”

Tom Brown invites Goe Guercio back on stage to lead the crowd in "Can't Help Falling In Love."

Tom Brown invites Goe Guercio back on stage to lead the crowd in “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

Closing out Conversations on Elvis, Brown invited Joe Guercio back on stage to conduct the audience in a sing-along rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”


Q&A WITH CYNTHIA PEPPER

Cynthia Pepper starred alongside Elvis in the 1964 film "Kissin' Cousins."

Cynthia Pepper starred alongside Elvis in the 1964 film “Kissin’ Cousins.”

Q.: How did Elvis break the ice when you two worked together?

A.: Well, when I first met him he actually had roses in my dressing room. He didn’t know me, but he had asked for me to be in the picture. I thought, “Elvis has a crush on me!” But that’s not what happened. He gave all of his leading ladies roses. And it was that day I walked down the dressing room stairs, and there he was as the bottom of the stairs with the assistant director. The assistant director introduced us. He said, “Elvis this is Cynthia Pepper. She’s playing Midge Riley.” I put my hand out and he said, “Don’t give me that hand. I want a hug.” When someone does that, it just melts the ice and makes you feel comfortable. I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck, and he really was one of us.

Cynthia Pepper alongside Elvis Presley in "Kissin' Cousins."

Cynthia Pepper alongside Elvis Presley in “Kissin’ Cousins.”

Q.: He was one of us, but he was Elvis. What sort of qualities did you notice that made him so special?

A.: I think because he was down to earth his fans relate to him. He wasn’t untouchable. If you were to meet him at the time, you knew that he may stop and talk to you. And that’s what people love. I see that in the fans. They’re down-to-earth people who love him. They see a reflection.

Q.: When you come to an event like Elvis Week, what surprises you the most?

A.: I’m  surprised at how many people are still here after all of these years. It’s going to be huge again next year.

Q.: Do you remember where you were on August 16, 1977?

A.: I was in San Francisco with my then-husband, my son and another couple. We were driving on the freeway and it was on the news. We were like, “What did they say?” And they repeated it on the news. I couldn’t believe it. …We had no idea of the extent of his health. It gave me chills. I was shocked. But I think things happen for a reason and it was his time. He was supposed to be Elvis Presley, then it was his time, and he’s still going on and on. And he always will.


ELVIS FAN SPOTLIGHT

Fan Spotlight

These two Elvis fans met online and traveled from across the globe to meet at Elvis Week 2014.

Selina Taylor and Elizabeth Savage are tangible proof how the power of Elvis crosses cultures. Although they’re from opposite sides of the world, they built an online friendship centered around their mutual love for Elvis, and met in Memphis to experience Elvis Week 2014 together.

Selina Taylor
North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Q.: What was your first impression stepping onto the grounds at Graceland during Elvis Week?

A.: The first time I saw Graceland I just lost it. I was crying, because I had never seen anything so beautiful. I’ve loved Elvis ever since I can remember. I’ve been waiting for this for 17 years. It was the best thing ever to come to Memphis and see everything. It took my breath away. I feel like it brought me closer to Elvis as a person. It’s hard to explain.

Q.: What have you enjoyed most about Elvis Week?

A.: To be so close to people who appreciate and love him the same way I do. Way back home people say, “Why do you like Elvis? You’re way too young.” And people here understand. It’s really nice to be here.

Q.: What do you hope to take from this visit?

A.: All of the feelings and impressions I got while I was here. Of course, meeting people who were around him when he was alive like George Klein and Jerry Schilling is just amazing and the ultimate moment for a fan. They can share their stories with those who miss him.

Elizabeth Savage
Atlanta, Ga.

Q.: How did you two meet?

A.: We have a fan club, and it’s called Elvis Instagirls. We all met on Instagram, so we started a fan club. I’m the president and Selina is the vice president. There’s a really big community of Elvis fans who post pictures of him and little clips on Instagram. We all really get Elvis and get each other. …Our fan club is international. I live in Atlanta and Selina lives in Germany. We have members in Canada, Florida, Arizona and Sweden.

Q.: What was it like being with Selina the first time she saw Graceland?

A.: She was the ultimate. …She cried in a pretty way and got really excited. Everyone who was around her was excited for her. We posted a video of it on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Graceland saw it and was commenting about it. And everyone who commented about it said it made them cry, because it was so authentic.

Q.: What are you looking forward to the most at Elvis Week?

A.: I was really looking forward to Conversations on Elvis. It [was] exciting to hear Priscilla speak, because I really respect her. The groundbreaking [was exciting], because I’m pumped about The Guest House at Graceland. I really get excited about all of it. I don’t know if there is anything I’ve looked forward to more than anything else, except for Selina seeing Graceland for the first time.


CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

Thousands of Elvis fans gathered outside of the gates of Graceland for the 2014 Candlelight Vigil.

Thousands of Elvis fans gathered outside of the gates of Graceland for the 2014 Candlelight Vigil.

A true cultural anomaly, last night’s Candlelight Vigil simply defies description. Thousands upon thousands of Elvis fans lined Elvis Presley Boulevard, some creating artistic tributes to the king right on the asphalt.

The fan club Elvis Country started the annual Candlelight Vigil in 1978.

The fan club Elvis Country started the annual Candlelight Vigil in 1978.

Representatives of the Elvis Country Fan Club, the group that started the Vigil 36 years ago, led the ceremony by addressing the crowd through poetry and dedications. As this year’s theme song, “Anyone (Could Fall in Love Wit You),” played over the loudspeaker, those words rang true. Thousands of fans listened in quite respect.

With candles in hand, a seemingly endless throng of visitors walked Graceland’s driveway to Meditation Garden to pay tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. No matter how many photos or videos you see of the Candlelight Vigil, nothing can compare to witnessing this mesmerizing event in person.

Fans all ages lit a candle in quiet remembrance of Elvis Presley.

Fans of all ages lit a candle in quiet remembrance of Elvis Presley.

Here are some descriptions in the words of fans:

“To me the Candlelight Vigil is an emotional remembrance of a time when people’s lives were changed. We’re all recalling that feeling and energy Elvis gave us when he changed our lives. It’s a time to remember all the good things Elvis brought out in us, the love, the memories and the music. It’s a feeling in time that can’t be replaced.” – Michael Holbrook, Atlanta, Ga.

“There’s really nothing like seeing all of the people and all of those candles glowing. Each year that moment gives you chills. And after our broadcast is done things begin to wind down to a certain level, and it’s still going on into the night. When everything does wind down and you step onto Elvis Presley Boulevard, you see all of the tributes, and you still see thousands of people with candles at 2 a.m. in the morning. That says it all.” – Elvis Radio’s Argo, Memphis, Tenn.

“It’s just an incredible way to remember the legacy of Elvis Presley. After 37 years, it’s so awesome that people still honor his memory to this day.” – Tammie Jackson, Lexington, Ky.


Also, be sure to check out Memphis Jones talk with Elvis’ fellow musicians and friends, plus see Candlelight Vigil from a fan’s perspective. See below or check out more photos, videos and blogs by visiting ElvisWeek.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *