Elvis Presley 1975-1977 by Jeff Schrembs 2010 All Rights Reserved
For whatever reason(s) the accomplishments, down to his face/stature, have been ignored like they never existed. Whoever came up with this mentality wants us to believe that after “Aloha from Hawaii” that Elvis either (a) ceased to exist (b) was a “cartoon” of himself (c) not relevant and/or (d) was not deserving of acknowledging – remembering – or respecting. I have one word for those lemmings and that word is…ENOUGH!
I would prefer an Elvis Presley recording of 1977 (example is Elvis touching/beautiful rendition of “How Great Their Art” which he sang live on the “CBS Special” which aired after his death) versus ANY “performer” today.
Somehow we are supposed to “forget” Elvis’ weight gain, his struggles, his dreams, his body of work, his accomplishments, etc. during this time. Why? Up until the day he died Elvis sought answers to spiritual questions. Elvis helped people privately and publicly, Elvis sought out good songs (example is Dolly Parton’s ”I Will Always Love You” which Colonel Parker tried to get Dolly Parton to give up a substantial share of her writing credit and monetary percentage and she said no. Elvis was not told this as Colonel, as Colonel did often, told Elvis a “half-truth” and it hurt him in many ways) and put his heart and soul into what he had to work with.
Some people hold onto the “dream” of “getting Elvis in 1977 to be like Elvis was in 1970″. Well, in 1970 Elvis was embracing one of the happiest times in his life. He was married, he was a loving Father, he had completed the movie contracts, Las Vegas wanted him and agreed to pay him the highest monetary amount ever paid to an entertainer, his vocal and stage performance skills were “off the charts” (i.e. his vocal range was incredible and he moved like a tiger and took the crowd on a ride bordering on love then frenzy and back again) and he had the highest rated TV show in what now is known as “The 68 Comeback”. Elvis in 1977 was dealing with the aftermath of his divorce, being away from his child that he adored, being on the “cycle” of touring over 100 days a year for five + years, his addition to prescribed medications, being over 40 years old and “matching” his mothers age of 42 when she died (note: Elvis Mother Gladys was really 46 years old when she died but Elvis believed she was 42 years of age), the monetary strains of bad management by Colonel Parker, the monetary strains of not maximizing his tax returns (and thus not having as much disposable income as he should of had) as Elvis was “scared to the core” about the IRS and he (basically) sent in his return and said “let me know if I owe you money”, his Fathers ill health, his relationship with Ginger Alden, and the book “Elvis What Happened”. For those who held on to the “dream” of Elvis returning to his appearance/energy/mentality of 1970 it was too high a bar and NO entertainer before, now, or hereafter will ever come close to achieving Elvis’ performances of 1970 let along 1977.
Then again what man, faced with real medical issues that adversely affect his ability to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom/move/etc., looks better at 42 than at 35? This is not to say that Elvis should not of sought medical help, and taken a well deserved year or two off from touring, but HE and HE ALONE was the “bread winner” for his family – his relatives – his loved ones – his entourage – and many others. Elvis Presleys’ efforts, to provide for his family and still give a good/great Concert, should be respected/appreciated/acknowledged and not “swept under the rug of musical history”.
I cannot fathom the “mental adjustment” that Elvis had endured through 1977 when RCA put a “mobile recording truck” in the driveway of Graceland while Elvis recorded his last album (sadly) entitled “Moody Blue” versus the hype/endless possibilities/excitement starting in 1968 – 1973. It is very telling that during that 1977 recording session that it was Elvis, and one member of the Memphis Mafia, and a few RCA Technicians. No applause, no “you can do it Elvis”, no sounding board, just Elvis alone with his voice reaching inside his soul to exchange his vocal cords onto vinyl closing his eyes and then opening them to the colors displayed inside of the Jungle Room instead of being surrounded by claps and “oohs and awws” and celebrations by throngs of RCA Execs/etc.
The inner strength that it must have taken on Elvis’ soul, mind, spirit, body, etc. to be going through all of these “stresses” along with having his relationship with his daughter dictated by a “court proceeding” (note: Priscilla and Elvis had a very close relationship through 1977 and Elvis would call her late at night and talk for hours and show up at her home in the middle of the night and they put a “united front” to celebrate Holidays with Lisa so on this matter I say out loud to Priscilla a heartfelt “THANK YOU“) and waiving goodbye to the love of your life unsure of when, if ever, you will see them again. I know FIRSTHAND the pains, and the strength and toll, it takes on a man to not give into the mindset of “giving up” but to carry on every moment of everyday when it would be “easier” to just…stop caring. WHO could Elvis turn to, consistently, to share his inner fears? WHO could comfort him and tell him, so he believed it, that “everything will turn out all right”? Throughout Elvis’ career it was always Elvis who solved the problem of others and was the “strong shoulder to cry on”.
Far too many Elvis ‘fans’ fed into the notion that, during the successful US Postal Campaign, there was the “skinny Elvis” (i.e. 1956) and the “fat Elvis” (i.e. 1973) when the facts were that Elvis (in response to the upcoming Aloha From Hawaii Concert) lost over 25 pounds and was in very good (visually) shape for the “Aloha From Hawaii” Concert (the first to use “Satellite” technology seen Worldwide by over a billion people). I would put Elvis physical appearance in 1973 against any other “Celebrity” who ever lived. Elvis was blessed with not just “good looks” but with “overwhelming good looks” and a trillion dollar smile/persona.
Having spent the vast majority of my life collecting Elvis, reading about Elvis, watching Elvis, etc. I am, and always was, taken aback by the lack of respect that Elvis was given (from 1975-1977) for going onstage – giving of his time/efforts – giving the fans a great show – all the while feeling terrible and KNOWING you look “not your best”. It takes a REAL MAN to face that reality and give it their all and in spite of how badly he felt (physciall, mentally, emotionally, etc.) Elvis “smiled” to the cameras/fans and sang his heart out.
The “revision” of Elvis History has gone on for decades now with the emphasis (always) on Elvis from 1954-1973. Just like the accolades that the Memphis Mafia have not gotten, nor the respect/appreciation/support that they deserve, Elvis in 1975-1977 was NOT something to be “dismissed” but should be studied and his body of work embraced by Elvis Fans Worldwide.
If we start “picking and choosing” what Elvis facts/accomplishments to acknowledge then we miss what Elvis was all about as a performer. Elvis gave his best and Elvis SACRIFICED on behalf of his fans and he never gave up in spite of every cell in his body telling him to (note: if you LISTEN to the CBS Special in 1977, and not watch it, Elvis’ voice was incredible and he hits notes that other “performers” can only dream about even with modern technology) stop – to sit down and rest – to quit touring – and to “heal”.
I truly believe that had Colonel Parker of allowed Elvis to tour overseas, and take advantage of the monetary rewards that he would have gotten in lieu of having to tour 100+ dates a year for five + years, AND Elvis had gotten the rest he needed that Elvis would have lived longer and (most importantly) lived…happier.
In life we all make mistakes and our failures, through the press, are always given more “ink”. Elvis in 1975-1977 was not a “shell of a man” but a man with REAL BLOOD and FEELINGS going through life giving his best knowing it was adverse to his health. Sadly, medical technology and intent was wholly lacking when it came to Elvis and he paid the ultimate price.
I do believe that Elvis fans always thought, and I plead guilty as charged to this one, that Elvis would “be around”. We took him for granted and reality hit us square in the heart on August 16, 1977. The tragedy that we never fully let Elvis know how much we CARED for him, and that is vastly different that just liking a few songs, and his family AND the Memphis Mafia including but not limited to Elvis 1975-1977 is unjustifiable in 2010. If we didn’t learn that “life is short”, from losing Elvis, then we learned nothing.
Elvis left us with a body of work INCLUDING 1975-1977 and I for one admire him for doing so AND I respect his recordings regardless of their place on Billboard or if they sold a million records of not.
I would like to CHALLENGE Elvis Presley Fans Worldwide to not “run or hide” from Elvis Presley 1975-1977 but to accept him and all he was going through. I would also say that there have been victims that Elvis Presley loved whose life, stories, and memories Elvis Fans have not supported or given the respect due. An example is the Memphis Mafia being, in this specific context, Marty Lacker/Red West/Sonny West/Lamar Fike/Billy Smith. We should not minimize or discard their contributions but seek them out, individually and collectively, to say THANK YOU for your part in Elvis life and for continuing his legacy as well as fighting for the truth.
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jack Soden, Joe Esposito, and Jerry Schilling all should be acknowledged as well and as an Elvis Fan I would ENCOURAGE them to find a means to welcome those Members of the Memphis Mafia, and their family members, into the “Elvis Family” on a permanent basis. I believe that Elvis would have wanted that and that is good enough reason for me besides the fact that I have great admiration and respect for these men and their family.
Having been blessed to have lived during Elvis’ lifetime, and supported all of his works, I never felt in 1975 through 1977 that Elvis was “unworthy”. To the contrary I sang to his songs and cared about his medical issues and hoped he would take a break and get well. I felt that way then and I do so now but I don’t believe that Elvis’ name, and legacy, will ever be “healed” unless/until we incorporate and rejoice in his body of works from 1975-1977.
THANK YOU Elvis Presley for giving of yourself and for reaching out to help others. God bless Elvis Presley, his family, the Memphis Mafia, anyone/everyone who worked with Elvis, and for every child born and to those yet to be born. Life is short and life is a blessing and we live our lives as best we know how. When we die we leave behind our name, our blood lines, our body of works, and our legacy. In the case of Elvis Aron Presley that should include the years 1975-1977. Take care and God bless.
***Note: While Jeff Schrembs is unavailable due to medical complications this article has been released with his expressed written permission on his behalf authorized by his family. Article issued 2010 All Rights Reserved. ***