Yesterday saw the start of Elvis Week in Memphis, and as usual it made me think of my trip to the U.S. and Elvis Week 2005. It was one of the best Elvis experiences I've ever had, meeting fellow fans from all around the world and musicians who played for Elvis. But reading an article in the latest issue of the British fan club magazine, I was reminded that there are those who have experienced even greater things when it comes to Elvis.
The article is titled "Destination USA 1972," and in it Rita Overhead describes the first British Elvis Presley Fan Club trip to America to see Elvis during his Las Vegas engagement in the summer of 1972. It's an amazing story. Not only did she get to see no less than 10 shows, she also met Elvis.
After attending the midnight show on Saturday, September 2, she waited for the extra Sunday morning show together with a couple of other fans outside the showroom. Suddenly the door to what was the manager's office opened and there was Colonel Parker chewing on a long cigar. After "a nice little conversation" with him he asked how many they were and told them to come along.
It must have been an incredible experience, following the Colonel through a "No Exit" door and then down a corridor and realizing they were being taken down to see Elvis. As they entered a large room they noticed The Stamps, The Sweet Inspirations and Kathy Westmoreland sitting down watching a small television.
They were then shown into a small room, first being introduced to Vernon Presley. Then all of a sudden Elvis appeared in the doorway. He asked them if they had a good journey to USA and if they enjoyed the shows. The author of the article also received a kiss.
She then forgot her own name when Elvis was about to sign a menu she had from one of the shows. "You must have a name," he kidded and when she finally remembered it he answered, "Rita, are you sure?" He then signed the menu "I love Rita, Elvis Presley."
To have such a memory of Elvis must be priceless, and while I enjoyed the article immensely, I was also a little bit saddened that I never saw Elvis in person. That one will always be an impossible dream. On the other hand I've done the next best thing: going to Memphis in 2005 was a dream come true, and something I will never forget.