Elvis was always important in my family. My mother and grandmother, to this day, argue over who actually brought the first Elvis 45 into their house. My mother was only in 3rd grade, so I'm not sure how she went to the record store and paid for it, but she's sticking to her story.
I remember tearing off after dinner one summer night in 1974. Elvis was performing at the Charleston Civic Center and his plane, the Lisa Marie, was at the airport. My mother, grandmother, and younger brother stood behind a tall chain-link fence staring at the plane for what seemed like hours. There were hundreds of screaming women with us. My father and grandfather thought we were nuts. All I remember is the fence, the screaming females, and Elvis in a baby-blue jumpsuit. He wasn't fat yet. He waved at us and went into the plane. And that was it. But it was enormously exciting.
I remember exactly where I was when I found out he was dead. We had spent a week at our farm in rural West Virginia, and came back home to Charleston to do laundry and grocery shop, before we headed out again for a week with my father's family. My grandmother called my mother in the afternoon and said "Elvis died." At the time, I was 10 years old, just a year older than Lisa Marie. I thought 42 (Elvis' age) was ancient. The next day, as we headed out for the second week of our vacation, I held the Charleston Gazette (I read the newspaper, even then). The headline, bigger than any I remembered seeing, was "King of Rock and Roll is Dead."