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Elvis Presley and the Politics of Popular Memory

Elvis Presley and the Politics of Popular Memory essay ...................... by Michael T. Bertrand Elvis Presley, backstage at the WDIA Goodwill Revue, December 1956. Photograph © Ernest C. Withers, courtesy of Panopticon Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts. Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard," blared the headline of a late-summer special edition of the Memphis PressScimitar. "The King is Dead." Much like his explosive ascent nearly a generation earlier, Elvis Presley's untimely demise on August 16, 1977, left many "all shook up." Grieving fans by the thousands trekked to Memphis for the wake and funeral; millions more paid their respects by besieging radio stations and record stores, listening to songs and looking for Presley products. Commenting on the mass anguish, one veteran columnist recalled that he had witnessed many instances of public mourning since the assassination of President John Kennedy, "but nothing has equaled the present national grief." The mainstream media, unprepared for the passionate and ubiquitous response that Presley's passing engendered, resorted to repeating by rote the distinctive American tale of an anonymous truck driver whose unrestrained performance style and meteoric rise to fame flustered the less than frenzied fifties. A stock script asserted that Presley symbolized the twentieth-century version of the heroic pioneer blazing trails into http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southern Cultures University of North Carolina Press

Elvis Presley and the Politics of Popular Memory

Southern Cultures , Volume 13 (3) – Sep 17, 2007

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Center for the Study of the American South. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1534-1488
Publisher site
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Abstract

essay ...................... by Michael T. Bertrand Elvis Presley, backstage at the WDIA Goodwill Revue, December 1956. Photograph © Ernest C. Withers, courtesy of Panopticon Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts. Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard," blared the headline of a late-summer special edition of the Memphis PressScimitar. "The King is Dead." Much like his explosive ascent nearly a generation earlier, Elvis Presley's untimely demise on August 16, 1977, left many "all shook up." Grieving fans by the thousands trekked to Memphis for the wake and funeral; millions more paid their respects by besieging radio stations and record stores, listening to songs and looking for Presley products. Commenting on the mass anguish, one veteran columnist recalled that he had witnessed many instances of public mourning since the assassination of President John Kennedy, "but nothing has equaled the present national grief." The mainstream media, unprepared for the passionate and ubiquitous response that Presley's passing engendered, resorted to repeating by rote the distinctive American tale of an anonymous truck driver whose unrestrained performance style and meteoric rise to fame flustered the less than frenzied fifties. A stock script asserted that Presley symbolized the twentieth-century version of the heroic pioneer blazing trails into

Journal

Southern CulturesUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Sep 17, 2007

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