Birthday fit for a king


Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.

In 1935, the Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt; baseball star Babe Ruth retired; canned beer made its debut; “Top Hat,” featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, hit the big screen; and outlaws Ma Barker and her son Fred were gunned down near Ocala.

And then there's the king. That's right, Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley on Jan. 8, in Tupelo, Miss. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn.

Elvis rose to phenomenal fame through his music, television appearances, movies and live performances. The man known as the King of Rock ‘n' Roll died at his Graceland home in Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 16, 1977.

It is there, on the grounds he loved so well, that thousands of people from around the world will gather to celebrate Elvis' 75th birthday.

The celebration began Thursday and ends Sunday. It includes a ceremony featuring Elvis' ex-wife Priscilla Presley and their daughter Lisa Marie, a Memphis Grizzlies tribute with the ballplayers wearing “blue suede shoes,” the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Elvis Birthday Pops concert, a 75th Birthday Bash on Beale Street and a Southern gospel celebration.

If you can't make it to Memphis, ask the boss for the day off. Put some Elvis music on and dance around the house, or tune in to Turner Classic Movies for an all-day marathon of movies and concert performances. Or cook up some meatloaf and mashed potatoes — dishes he loved as much as peanut butter and banana sandwiches — put on something pink and black, and slick your hair into a DA.

Make it all Elvis, all day!

But the celebration doesn't end this weekend — events are slated all year to mark the milestone of Elvis' 75th birthday and the career that followed:

Elvis is in the House: event set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Bakers and Cooks, 128 SW Broadway St., Ocala. Menu includes Jailhouse Rock BBQ Pizza, Love me Tender Turkey Burgers, Can't Help Falling in Love Mac ‘n' Cheese and Blue Suede Cupcakes for dessert. Saucy Queen Michele Northrup will lead the way with the menu with Billy Lindsey as Elvis. $40 per person. (bakersandcooks.com or 789-6020)

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour: makes its way to Florida beginning Jan. 26 with a stop at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, followed by stops in Jacksonville on Jan. 29 and St. Petersburg on Jan. 31. This is a multi-media extravaganza that pays homage to Elvis Presley during various stages of his career. The performers are tribute artists who were previously selected as finalists at worldwide preliminary competitions for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition, held annually by Elvis Presley Enterprises,Inc. Tickets start at $25. (800-745-3000 or www.Ticketmaster.com)

“Viva ELVIS”: by Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas, Nevada. What happens in Las Vegas started in Memphis. This new Cirque show at the ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter is created in the “image” of Elvis. The fusion of live music, dance and acrobatics is said to be powerful, sexy, whimsical and larger than life. (www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/viva-elvis/default.aspx)

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: Washington, D.C. The One Life gallery is devoted to exploration of the life of an individual. Beginning today and running through Aug. 29, the exhibit will feature Elvis.

Also, “Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer,” a new Smithsonian traveling exhibit, will debut today at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and run through March 28. (http://www.si.edu/visit/whatsnew/NPG.ASP)

Harley-Davidson Museum: Milwaukee, Wisc. Elvis loved motorcycles. His red and white 1956 Model KH Harley is the centerpiece of an exhibit that runs through Jan. 31 and includes a photo collection from the 1968 “Comeback” television special. Bikers loves black leather, but Elvis really made a statement when he donned his famous black leather suit for that performance.(www.harley-davidson.com)

Elvis in Concert: Ireland, France, Germany , Switzerland, Holland and England. OK, you have to leave the country to catch these shows, but the trip would be well worth it. The concert features Elvis video-projected onto the stage, where members of his TCB Band, along with back-up singers, perform live. The shows will be in February and March. And if the European winter weather doesn't give you goosebumps, the concert will. (www.elvis.com)

Elvis Presley Fashion King: Memphis, Tenn. Opening in March at Graceland, this new exhibit “opens the door to Elvis' closet” by exploring fashion trends set by the King. (www.elvis.com)

The Newseum: Washington, D.C. Explore the impact Elvis had on music and popular culture through an exhibit that opens March 12. It depicts how Elvis was portrayed in the news media and explores how his music “pushed the boundaries of mainstream taste and free expression.” (www.newseum.org)

Elvis Week: Memphis, Tenn. From Aug. 10-16, activities at Graceland include kick-up-your-heels events with music and dancing, social and charitable events, and the solemn Candlelight Vigil, which draws thousands of people who pay their respects by filing through the memorial garden in which Elvis is laid to rest. (www.elvis.com)

Elvis Cruise: Jacksonville/Bahamas. The Carnival ship Fascination departs Jacksonville on Thursday, Nov. 4, cruises to the Bahamas, and returns to port Monday, Nov. 8. In between, it's all Elvis, all day and night; with live entertainment, including his former band members and backup singers, as well as the cream of the crop of tribute artists, and more. (www.theelviscruise.com)

There's more..

75 Years of Elvis Timeline; www.elvis.com

“Elvis Yourself” — Coming to Facebook in early 2010.

ELVIS 74 Twibbon; http://twibbon.com/join/Elvis-75th-anniversary

Get daily updates from the Elvis Mobile iPhone app.

Listen to “all Elvis, all the time” on Sirius 13 and XM 18 on satellite radio.

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection — From the Franklin Mint, a collection of all 711 recordings released during Elvis' lifetime; www.franklinmintelvis.com.

Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight — From RCA, 100 digitally restored songs, in chronological order. Plus, Elvis 75, 26-track single CD will feature selections from the box set.

Collectibles — Coming from Mattel, the Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock doll from the Barbie Pink Label Collection; a bronze Elvis figurine from The Bradford Exchange; and, from Zippo, a series of Elvis 75 lighters; www.shopelvis.com.

There's no doubt, 75 years after his birth, and more than 30 years after his death, Elvis is still the King.

Contact Susan Smiley-Height at 867-4121 or susan.smiley-height@starbanner.com.

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