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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 16, 1977

It's time for another Tuesday Timeline entry, and I think for this one, it'll be a date that most of you will remember quite well.

I won't though.  I wasn't born yet.

Before we get into that though, let's see what else happened on August 16.

1780 - American troops defeat the British in South Carolina during the Battle of Camden

1812 - American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit to the British Army during the War of 1812

1841 - When President John Tyler vetoes the bill that would re-establish the Second Bank of the United States, members of the Whig Party riot outside of the White House

1858 - The transatlantic telegraph cable is inaugurated by President James Buchanan when he sends a message to Queen Victoria

1896 - The Klondike Gold Rush begins

1916 - American race car driver Iggy Katona (d. 2003) is born in Toledo, Ohio

1920 - Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit on the head by a fastball pitched by New York Yankees player Carl Mays; Chapman succumbs to his injuries the following day

1924 - Actor Fess Parker (d. 2010) is born in Fort Worth, Texas

1927 - The Dole Air Race is held where pilots had to fly from California to Hawaii - six of the eight planes that entered the race crashed or went missing

1928 - Singer Eydie Gorme (d. 2013) is born in Manhattan, New York

1930 - Football player/sportscaster Frank Gifford (d. 2015) is born in Santa Monica, California; also born on this date was actor Robert Culp (d. 2010)

1945 - An assassination attempt is made on Kantaro Suzuki, the Prime Minister of Japan

1948 - Baseball player Babe Ruth dies at the age of 53

1954 - Sports Illustrated releases its first issue

1956 - Actor Bela Lugosi passes away at the age of 73

1960 - A trio of records are broken by Joseph Kittinger when he parachutes from a balloon over New Mexico; highest speed reached by a human without an aircraft, high-altitude jump, and free fall - the records would remain unbroken until 2012

1963 - Voice actress Christine Cavanaugh (d. 2014) is born in Layton, Utah

1964 - General Nguyenm Khanh becomes President of South Vietnam following the removal of Duong Van Minh as a result of a coup d'état

1987 - Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes after takeoff in Detroit, Michigan, killing two on the ground and all but one of the 155 passengers aboard

1989 - The Toronto Stock Exchange is forced to close after a geomagnetic storm caused by a solar flare causes the electronic systems to fail

2005 - Animator/voice actor Joe Ranft dies in a car accident at the age of 45

2013 - 61 people are killed and another 59 declared missing after the St. Thomas Aquinas ferry collides with a cargo ship and sinks in the Philippines

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces turning one whole year older; Ann Blyth, Julie Newmar, John Standing, Suzanne Farrell, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Hay, Bill Spooner, Stockwell Day, Kathie Lee Gifford, James Cameron, Tim Farriss, Laura Innes, Angela Bassett, Madonna, Timothy Hutton, Steve Carell, Ulrika Jonsson, Rulon Gardner, Emily Robison, George Stroumboulopoulos, Damian Jackson, Vanessa Carlton, Cam Gigandet, Cristin Milloti, and Greyson Chance.

Okay, so what's the date we're going back to this week?

Hmmm...August 16, 1977.  That was 39 years ago, so obviously a date that I missed.  But in the world of music, it was a very sad day.

I'll tell you something...being born in 1981 meant that I was being born into a world that had quite a few voids in it.  Especially in the music scene.

For instance, I've never known a world that had Buddy Holly, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, or Janis Joplin.  They all passed away before I was born.

I've also never known a world in which all four of the Beatles were still alive.  John Lennon was shot while I was still in the womb.

And, going along this trend, I've never known a world in which Elvis Presley was still alive - well, unless you believe all those hundreds of tales of him being sighted at McDonald's in the National Enquirer.

But was thirty-nine years ago that Elvis Presley was found dead inside of his home at the age of 42.  The day he died he was in the middle of a comeback of sorts, and he was slated to fly out of Memphis, Tennessee to begin touring the United States.  He was found unresponsive by his girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden and was pronounced dead at 3:30 that afternoon.

By August 17, the world began to mourn Presley's death.  He left behind his estate known as Graceland (which would become a tourist attraction beginning in 1982), and he left behind his only child, daughter Lisa Marie, whom Elvis had with Priscilla Presley.  Crowds gathered outside of the estate to pay their respects, and it is estimated that 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was initially buried alongside his mother. (Both bodies have since been relocated to Graceland's Meditation Garden after a crazed fan tried to dig up his body in an effort to steal it.)

It seems hard to believe that Elvis Presley would be 81 years old had he lived.  And, even though it's been nearly four decades since his death, his music can still be heard on the radio, in television and film projects, and even in a couple of video games! 

So, I thought that to pay tribute to Elvis Presley, I would choose five of my favourite Elvis songs to play and discuss so that we can remember him by his immense gift of combining his powerful vocals with his quivering lips and swaying hips.  And, I'll tell you...choosing only five songs was no easy task.  I really had to pick and choose what songs I thought were worth a listen. 

It took me a while, but here's my list.  And feel free to share yours here as well if you like. 

Released:  August 1, 1972

I don't know what it is about this song that I like so much.  Maybe because it was one of Elvis' last Top 10 hits (it peaked at #2 in 1972).  Maybe because it was Elvis' last real rock and roll song (any of his song releases after this date were ballads.)  Maybe because it has that catchy "hunka hunka burning love" chorus at the end.  Maybe because it was used a lot in the Disney film "Lilo & Stitch".  I don't quite know what the appeal is.  All I know is that I really enjoy this one, and it almost seems criminal that it was kept off the top of the charts by Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-ling". 

Released:  June 11, 1957

Okay, okay...let's forget about the fact that John Stamos, Bob Saget, and Dave Coulier sang this song to the Olsen twins in a 1990 episode of "Full House" for a minute.  The fact of the matter is that this single was and still remains a very catchy little ditty.  It also did incredibly well on the music charts, staying at #1 for seven consecutive weeks!  And keep in mind that this was before the Billboard Hot 100 even existed!  I think it very well could also be the only chart-topper that incorporated that wonderful stuffed animal that I would imagine that 99% of us owned at one point in our childhoods.  Great song.

Released:  August 26, 1969

Okay, this was another song that was performed on "Full House" - or at least a snippit of it.  I can't help the fact that Jesse Katsopolis loved Elvis!  But with a brilliant single such as "Suspicious Minds", it is hard not to love what he did.  But what might shock you is that this song was actually released as a cover version.  The original was recorded one year earlier by Mark James, but it fizzled on the charts.  Elvis Presley was given the song to record one year later, and the rest is history.  The song about a dysfunctional relationship where a lack of trust is definitely evident was the cornerstone to Elvis Presley's renaissance period, and he sang the song at his comeback special in 1968 to glowing reviews.  This song would be his final #1 hit.  And while other artists such as the Fine Young Cannibals and Dwight Yoakam have released their own versions of the song, I'd say Presley's was the best version.

Released:  January 27, 1956

I've always loved songs that seem to be based on a true story, and in the case of "Heartbreak Hotel", the story behind the song is about as tragic as you can get.  Two different stories have been told behind the origin of the single.  In one, the song is allegedly based on the tale of Alvin Krolik, a man who wrote a partial autobiography with the line "the story of a person who walked a lonely street" who checked into a hotel following the break-up of his marriage.  In the other, it was written on an account of a man actually committing suicide at a hotel he checked into following the end of his relationship.  Either way, the song was definitely one of Elvis' finest performances, and it became a number one hit.  Interestingly enough, the song was received warmly in North America, but was criticized in the UK where people felt that it wasn't entertaining enough and actually placed the song on a restricted play list!

Released:  March 22, 1957

You know, it was really hard to pick my favourite Elvis song, but whenever I thought about it, "All Shook Up" was always going to be at the top of my list.  Why?  Because it's smooth, it's easy on the ears...and it was inspired by a bottle of Pepsi?!?  One of the stories behind the origin of the song is related to the tale about how one of the owners of Shalimar Records, Al Stanton was shaking a bottle of Pepsi at the time he was meeting with Otis Blackwell, and Blackwell penned the lyrics based on the phrase "all shook up".  Whether or not this is absolutely true or not, who can say?  The point is that this song was definitely a hit (it was #1 for eight whole weeks), and it's definitely the song that automatically comes to my mind whenever the name Elvis Presley is dropped.

It seems so unreal that it has been almost four decades since Elvis passed away.  But, his memory and his music will live on forever.

So, tell me.  What Elvis songs are your favourites?

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