Everybody that truly loves music has a story of the time they first fell in love with it. For me, there were a few steps along the way which brought me to where I am today. My first concert in 1982 - The Who at the old JFK Stadium in Philadelphia - changed my life. And seeing both Bruce Springsteen and KISS in concert for the first time in 1984 also had an undeniable impact. Later, seeing U2 also showed me that rock and roll, when presented in a certain and very special way, can literally take you to another place.
But my initial spark with music went back much further. About 10 years further, to be exact. It was then, in the early '70s, while sitting with my grandfather and listening to his albums, that I first heard Elvis Presley. As a kid, I spent an incredible amount of time with my grandpa. He watched me every day after school until my Mom got out of work, and in the summertime, he watched me all day. My memories of that time are all fond ones. He pretty much let me have the run of his house. My friends were welcome there, and he even put a little swimming pool in his backyard for me. He was a kind man, and when it was just him and me hanging out, we didn't watch a lot of TV. We listened to records. Mostly Elvis Presley records.
Elvis in the '70s was larger than life. Though only in his mid-30s when the decade began, he was already a living icon. His 1973 "Aloha From Hawaii" concert was viewed by more than a billion people around the globe. He was still cranking out hits such as "Burning Love." And even the mass popularity of a show such as "Happy Days" - which made frequent references to The King - helped give a young lad such as myself a better understanding of how long Elvis had been such an important figure in pop culture. His death in 1977 was met with a sense of national grief which, to this day, was unlike anything I've ever seen.
All of that had a strong influence on me. It changed me. And I know that it changed me for the better. Later, as a teen, I would would go to rock concerts and have some of the best times of my life. In college, I picked up an old bass guitar and played in a few bands. In my twenties, I began to cover rock and pop music for newspapers, and in my thirties, I helped launch a weekly radio show and even entered the recording studio a few times to record a few tunes that I had written, or songs by some of my favorite artists. One of those songs was by Elvis Presley.
All of it goes back to me and my grandpa, sitting in his parlor, listening to Elvis records on his fabulous console-style, floor-model stereo. The man took his music seriously, and I think about him every day, and of what a wonderful influence he had on my life. And so I was moved when, this past Saturday, Elvis Radio - which broadcasts right from Graceland - read a request and dedication that I'd sent in and played a song in memory of my grandpa. It was a tune called "We Can Make The Morning," from the album "Elvis Now," which was one of his favorites.
Thank you, to Bill Rock and Elvis Radio for allowing people to share such stories with one another, and now through the above link, allowing me to share it with you. It meant a lot to me. And from his parlor in Pennsylvania 40 years ago, to Memphis, to the radio satellites, to the heavens, I like to think that it meant a lot to him, too.
To quote The King: "Thank ya. Thank ya very much."
Again, it meant a lot to me.