Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Growing Up With Elvis!

I wasn't quite a teenager when I went to see Elvis in Kid Galahad at the Essoldo Cinema in Tunbridge Wells. I was just six months short of my thirteenth birthday. The idea of going to see an Elvis Presley movie made a relatively small impact on me at the time. It was my sister, Sue, three years older than me, and her friend Ann Church, who persuaded me to join them one Saturday afternoon in late August 1962.
Although I barely knew who Elvis was, I had heard of him, of course, who hadn't, but that was some years earlier at secondary school when the older, senior boys stood round in groups in the playground discussing Elvis as if he was God himself, swapping bubblegum cards with his picture on. Even so, I still didn't have a clear picture of who he was. I can't even remember if, back then, I had even heard one of his hit singles being played on the radio. And at that tender age, I was still a little time off buying records and no, I wasn't even listening to the popular radio station of the day, Radio Luxembourg, usually listened to under a blanket at night by those of my sister's age. Nor had I purchased a record myself. When I did, I remember, it was the other hitmakers of the day like Frankie Vaughn and Garry Mills, not Elvis. In fact, I soon became the proud owner of Vaughn's Tower of Strength and Garry's Treasure Island, both on 45rpm records.

My sister was already into records. She had recently become the proud owner of a brand new ‘Elizabethan’ 4-speed, auto changer in a blue and white cabinet. It was the latest mono record player that made her friend’s very basic red and white ‘Dansette’ turntable look like an antique. Going by the records she was buying at the time, it seemed that she was going for all the big pop hits of the day by such names as Eden Kane, Cliff Richard and Russ Conway.

But in the wake of seeing Kid Galahad, the first Elvis record I bought was a 45rpm EP containing four of the songs from King Creole. And the first Elvis LP I owned, was given to me by an older boy at school, Elvis Golden Records Volume 2, released in America under the title 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong. The boy who I only knew by his surname used to fill the Chemistry Lab almost every lunch break with his guitar playing. He impressed any one who showed up with his skill to play an Electric Fender just like Hank Marvin. It was after one of these lunch time sessions that he gave me the Elvis album, and at the same time offered to lend me Elvis's EP of gospel songs, Peace In The Valley, warning me that I may not like it as it was, indeed required listening. I can't believe it now, but I actually turned down the EP. I think he put me off by telling me it was a collection of hymns, and even though I was a regular sunday school goer, under the demands of my parents, I didn't think I wanted to hear anyone sing the same hymns that had driven me mad every Sunday morning.

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