35 years after Elvis’ death, the King of Rock and Roll is remembered

Tim Skillern
The Lookout

If you ask Elvis fans to recall the King, they focus on their favorite image of him: hunky Elvis, white-jumpsuit Elvis, silver-screen Elvis, country-western Elvis, gospel-loving Elvis, Vegas Elvis and more. Thursday, Aug. 16, marks 35 years since he died. Yahoo! News asked readers and contributors to share their recollections and impressions of Elvis, and the impact he had on their lives. This is what some fans had to say:

"My Elvis is the young, strong man with the bedroom eyes, the sultry voice, and the assured and easy-going manner. His appearance on my television screen nearly every Saturday was guaranteed by small stations that screened old movies. He is the Elvis who wooed the cool Nancy Sinatra in 'Speedway' and Donna Douglas in 'Frankie & Johnnie.' This Elvis, whose image will always be one of youthful exuberance and understated sex appeal, is the Elvis who lives forever in my memory." -- Andrea Paulsen

"Like all the great ones, he was gone too soon. All that we have is his body of work, and I am only left to imagine what might have been. Elvis, I hope you are not lonesome tonight. I pray that as you reached people with the gospel music, the gospel also reached you. You are still golden, after all. Rock on in peace." -- Hector Quiambao

"Before the Beatles and the British invasion, Elvis Presley was the first worldwide star of the young generation. He was more than a musical icon. Elvis brought youth culture to the forefront, made it relevant, and opened the doors to the sweeping social changes of the '60s that transformed the western world. His rock 'n' roll was the gospel that woke up a social force previously inert and ignored. His hips were more dangerous to the establishment than the Rolling Stones tongue. Youngsters in the free world listened live. Those behind the Iron Curtain -- I was one of them -- tuned into Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Elvis died 35 years ago, but he never left the building." -- Vladimir Moraru

"The enduring image of Elvis Presley that stands out in my mind is the wild, uninhibited dancing style he displayed in 'Jailhouse Rock.' Presley's energetic, inspired and hip-shaking moves continue to be mimicked by performers around the world, even 35 years since his untimely death. Many fans remember Presley for his spectacular high baritone vocal range, but I appreciate his unpredictable dancing style above all else." -- Eric Holden

"As a child, I saw and heard Elvis everywhere: TV shows, movies, radio, records and 8-tracks each night before bed. He always had a way of being the king of every moment. I never met Elvis; he died when I was 2. But at 9, I had no idea. In my world, he was still alive, still living and still King. Like Santa Claus, I didn't know until I was 12 that he'd died. In retrospect, he was just as much as magical and just as much a legend." -- Kevin Kinchen

"Before black Americans could be integrated within marble-lined corridors of the political establishment controlled by white Americans, the two races had first to be integrated on dance floors across the country. Elvis did something that Martin Luther King could not have done in a 100 years: He was invited into the homes of white people across the South. He introduced the music of black artists -- banned from white radio stations -- to a generation of teenagers already primed by the shackles of 1950s conformity to engage in rebellion. This led to acceptance, leading to integration, leading to equality." -- Timothy Sexton

"Elvis Presley was part of my rite of passage from child to tween. The first impromptu speech assignment I received was to explain, in three minutes, my impression of his impact on the music industry. 'Love Me Tender' was the first time I was allowed to walk to the theater by myself. It is also the first movie I returned to see again. After buying an inexpensive guitar, I traded babysitting for lessons from the country-western band family next door. For the school talent show, I moved to the music, played my guitar and sang 'Hound Dog.' " -- Lori Gunn

"I am not the biggest Elvis fan, but the King left a strong legacy with my wife and me. We went out with friends a few months after we started dating to a karaoke night. During an intermission, they played Elvis' 'Can't Help Falling In Love.' I had never heard the song before, but my wife and I lip-synched it silently to each other. We now had 'our song.' This was the song we had played during our dance at our wedding, which was ironically Aug. 16. Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. So while Aug. 16 is a sad day for many Elvis fans, it has been a happy day for my wife and me for the last 10 years." -- William H. Sloan

"My father was the type who always had the radio on while getting ready for work. For a solid half hour each morning, I'd hear 'oldies' coming out of his radio in the bathroom. Elvis was a mainstay in the 1970s, even more so after his death. I associated Elvis songs with the comfort and innocence of being young, never knowing back then about his trials and tribulations. To me, Elvis just meant eating breakfast, watching cartoons and basking in the comfort of watching my daddy get ready to go out and conquer the world. Good songs, good times, good memories." -- Deborah Muller

"No other star has inspired impersonators like Elvis has. People flock to Graceland and Las Vegas to be married by an 'Elvis.' I myself once wanted to be married by 'White-Jumpsuit Elvis.' He seems more priest-like than 'Gold-Jacket Elvis.' Blues and rock 'n' roll are inherently American music, and Elvis' range of songs has something for every taste. If you claim you don't like at least one of Elvis Presley's songs, you are either a liar or a bad American." -- Joe Capristo