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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Elvis Presley - By The Numbers

I have always had a bit of a fascination with numbers.

Yeah, yeah...I know.  The person who absolutely hated math to the point where I almost flunked out of it in high school having a fascination with numbers.  Seems a bit ironic, doesn't it?

The truth of the matter is that when I'm not required to add them up, divide them up, or find the square root of them, I'm perfectly okay with numbers.

Without numbers, you wouldn't know how to tell time, or how warm it is going to be outside, or even what date it is.

(It's January 8, by the way.  Just so you know.)

Numbers can also be used to make bullet points in certain documents.  You can use numbers to make a list, or to put something in order, or to emphasize a fact.

Numbers are great things to use.

In fact, I think that for today's blog entry, I'm going to start off by naming the subject of the blog, and then using a few numbers to talk about some of the accomplishments that he made, as well as some personal tidbits about his life and times.

Our blog subject for today is the one and only, Elvis Presley.  And, going from the first number I will be posting, you'll see why I decided to do today's blog on him.

77 - The age that Elvis Presley would be today had he lived.  He was born seventy-seven years ago today on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.

42 - The age that Elvis Presley was when he passed away on August 16, 1977, from cardiac arrest.  Although it was well known that Presley was suffering from serious health issues at least three years prior, it has been said that these health issues were linked to a prescription drug addiction.

80,000 - The estimated number of people who stood outside of Graceland (Elvis' home) on August 18, 1977, when Elvis' funeral took place.

1956 - The year Elvis Presley first had a single chart on Billboard.  That single was "Heartbreak Hotel", and it coincidentally became Elvis' first number one single.

18 - The amount of #1 hits that Elvis Presley had during his career on the Billboard Top 100 Charts, setting a record for the musical artist with the most Billboard #1 hits of all time.  The record remained for years until Mariah Carey tied it in 2008 with 'Touch My Body'.

37 - The number of Top 10 hits that Elvis Presley had during his career. 

1 - The number of wives he had (he was married to Priscilla Beaulieu from 1967-1973), as well as the number of children he had (daughter Lisa Marie was born in February 1968).

1982 - The year Graceland was opened up to the public.  It is now the second most visited house in all of America, being declared a historical landmark in 2006.

2002 - A remixed version of the song 'A Little Less Conversation' was released this year, making it one of the last singles that Elvis Presley would have on the pop charts, released 25 years after his death!

33 - The number of feature films Elvis Presley would appear in during his lifetime.  Most of these films were released during the 1960s.

14 - The number of Grammy Awards that Elvis Presley was nominated for.  He eventually ended up winning three.

36 - The age Elvis Presley was when he won the Lifetime Achievement Award in Grammy form in 1971.

1.5 BILLION - The estimated worldwide viewing audience watching his 'Aloha From Hawaii' concert, the first concert to be transmitted globally via satellite.

That's quite a lot of numbers, isn't it?  But those numbers were significant for Elvis Presley.  Some numbers had happy, successful meanings to them, while others were a sad reminder of someone dying far too young.

There's one final number that I wish to share with you though, and it links to the song I've chosen for the Sunday Jukebox for this week.

1972 - The year that Elvis Presley scored his FINAL Top 10 hit on the Billboard Music Charts.

And, just what was this hit?

ARTIST:  Elvis Presley
SONG:  Burning Love
ALBUM:  Burning Love And Hits From His Movies, Volume 2
DATE RELEASED:  August 1, 1972

Now, the song Burning Love came at a time in which Elvis Presley was undergoing a bit of a renaissance in his career.

As most of us know, Elvis Presley took over the world by storm when his music began charting in 1956.  During the late 1950s, Elvis' music stood out amongst the crowd, and he made young women drool with anticipation over what he would do next.

Mind you, other singers have had fans fall in love with them at first sight.  The Beatles, Shaun Cassidy, The New Kids On The Block, The Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, and Justin Bieber are prime examples of this.

But Presley did it first.  And, Presley's attitude and performances and gyrating hips caused quite a commotion when he first showed off his act.  In fact, his performance on the Milton Berle show caused quite the controversy when people complained that Elvis and his pelvis were inappropriate for television.

If only they knew what would eventually pass as 'wholesome' television just fifty-six years later...

...but, anyway, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Elvis was the 'it-boy' of popular music, and between his singles and his movies, he was definitely a household name.  But by the mid 1960s, his popularity was starting to dwindle, and the well of creative genius was going dry.  While the late 1960s brought Elvis a wife and a child, creatively, he was almost at the point of hitting rock bottom.  He went several years without scoring a top 10 hit, and he was beginning to get jaded with the whole idea of music.

So, Elvis decided to try his hand on something that he hadn't done since 1960.

A national television special.

Through the encouragement of his long-standing agent Colonel Tom Parker, Presley agreed to film a television special for NBC to air during the 1968 Christmas season.  That special would eventually air on December 3, 1968, and was simply titled Elvis (though over time, it would have the subtitle of Elvis:  The '68 Comeback Special.  The show was NBC's highest rated show of that season, and it attracted a huge audience (reportedly 42% of the total viewing audience watched the Elvis Comeback Special when it first aired).

It also did wonders for his music career, as he was back on the charts with his highest charting singles in all the late 1960s.  The resulting soundtrack album made it to the Top 10 Album charts in 1969.

And this leads us to 'Burning Love'.  Elvis' last top 10 hit.  Peaking at #2, being held off by Chuck Berry's single 'My Ding-A-Ling'.


Here's a bit of a stunner for all of you.  Despite the fact that Burning Love was a huge hit for Presley, Presley himself wasn't keen on the song.  According to the 1982 biography, 'Elvis: The Illustrated Record', Elvis didn't feel comfortable performing the song at all.  Nevertheless, the song received huge airplay, and was one of the songs featured in the 1972 concert film 'Elvis On Tour'.  It was also prominently featured during Elvis' 'Aloha From Hawaii' concert of 1973.  It is also one of Elvis' final rock songs ever released (as during the 1970s, Elvis had mostly released ballads).

And, why did I decide to feature this song, when there were so many to choose from?  Two reasons.  First, it's probably one of my personal all-time favourite Elvis songs.  At least on my top five list.

And secondly?  This song is also tied into tomorrow's Monday Matinee.

You'll just have to wait until tomorrow to figure out what that movie is.  But here's one hint for you to chew on.  This particular movie celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

See if you can figure it out before tomorrow.  :)

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