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My Elvis obsession: One young man's lifelong connection to the King

Elvis in 1972, during the bedazzled jumpsuit era
Elvis in 1972, during the bedazzled jumpsuit era AP archives

I vividly recall my first-ever argument with my future wife, Diana .

It came in August of 1993, which was a month after we started dating.

One of the cable stations was having Elvis week and showing old Elvis Presley films. She wanted to go out one night and I told her I didn’t want to because I wanted to watch the movies. She thought it was just an excuse not to go out with her.

At the time she had no idea what Elvis meant to me.

Now, after nearly 20 years of marriage that has included my own Elvis bathroom courtesy of her later that same year, numerous trips to Graceland, an Elvis room at our house, getting remarried by Elvis at our 10-year wedding anniversary at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and dancing to Love Me Tender, she truly knows that I’ve never used Elvis as an excuse for anything.

I still can remember in exquisite detail the day he died nearly 39 years ago. I was 7, and I heard about his death on the evening news after coming in from playing on a hot Richardson day.

Elvis is still the King to me. And, I suspect the Texas’ Tribute to Elvis at Southfork Ranch — Friday through Sunday — will be further proof I’m far from alone.

The three-day event will include shows, guest speakers and, of course, performances by tribute artists. It’ll be the first of its kind in the area, which is past due, considering the impact Elvis had in Texas.

Whether it was from the time he was driving with Scotty Moore and Bill Black to small Texas towns when he was just starting out, his crazy 1956 appearance at the Cotton Bowl, his final trip to Fort Worth in 1976 or his last concert in the state (in Austin in 1977), Elvis had a huge impact in the Lone Star State.

I know he did on me.

Childhood fan

I can’t remember exactly why I liked Elvis as a 5-year-old, but I know I did. I may have been the only kid who had a poster of his Hawaii concert on my wall. Or did Elvis impersonations with a buddy for family members.

Maybe it was because my grandma told me how good Elvis was to his mother. She would know, because we always used to visit his birthplace when we visited my grandparents in Mississippi.

Maybe it was because I just thought he was cool, while my older brothers were listening to Hendrix and Zeppelin.

It didn’t matter to me that other people didn’t like Elvis. I wore that. I wore it in college at Texas A&M. There weren’t a lot of Aggies in the late 1980s and early 1990s who brought their Elvis CD collection to College Station. This one did.

My roommate Jason would play Don’t Cry Daddy, which happens to make me sad, just to see my reaction. Twisted? Certainly. But I also remember that he told me he was impressed that I stuck to my Elvis roots in a town where Garth Brooks was considered king. Not a chance.

An Elvis song for every mood

My wife has fully embraced my Elvis-ness, and she now laughs because our first argument is a funny story. She endures Elvis Radio on Sirius/XM Channel 19 even though she still doesn’t know all the songs.

I got Sirius once they started an Elvis station and was fortunate enough to be in the radio booth on the grounds of Graceland last January.

She has her favorite movies, with her preference being the ones with race cars. I like them all, even the ones that may or may not be Oscar-worthy.

She booked an Elvis tribute artist for my 40th birthday. She planned the party we had when I outlived Elvis. We had some delicious fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

She was the one who sewed my Elvis karate outfit together and went to that same party as Miss Tennessee, who just happens to be Linda Thompson. Linda, not Diana, will be at Southfork for the event, too.

Is it strange that a grown man has a collection of Elvis action figures? I don’t think so.

Is it strange that I got nervous talking to Thompson or road manager/bodyguard/friend Joe Esposito or hair stylist Larry Geller or disc jockey George Klein? If you don’t know who those people are, you’ve probably quit reading by now anyway.

No, Elvis has always been part of my life. When I need a pick me up I go for Promised Land, where Elvis is almost a rapper. When I think of my dad, I go with Don’t Cry Daddy, even though the lyrics are about a mom.

When I drive on a Sunday morning, it’s Elvis gospel that makes me think of my grandma, who was the most wonderful grandmother a kid could have. When I think of how lucky I am to have my wife, I’ll go to Love Me Tender, which I sang to her as we danced to our first song at our wedding.

A wedding that could have been put into motion because of an argument we had more than three years earlier — when she thought I was trying to ditch her for no good reason.

No, Elvis was then and still is now, a very good reason to decide to skip a night out on the town.

After all, he is the King.

Texas’ Tribute

to Elvis

A three-day festival that includes conversations about Elvis, a tribute-artist contest and headliner shows.

  • Friday through Sunday
  • Southfork Ranch, 3700 Hogge Drive, Parker
  • $215 adults for three-day package ($115 children); $95 single day ($50 children); only available at venue
  • texaselvisfestival.com
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