41 years after his death, Elvis Presley is given America’s highest honour.
President Donald Trump has honoured Elvis Presley with the highest award for US civilians, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, 41 years after the singer was found dead at his Graceland home. Stranger things have happened but its anyone’s guess as to why it’s taken so long for this honour to be given and posthumously too.
Jimmy Carter was President when Elvis died and all those who followed him have failed to recognise Elvis’ colossal contribution to the world. Nor even any of Carter’s predecessors, Ford, Nixon, Johnson et al acknowledged Presley’s chart breaking feats or sheer presence within the industry.
What can be said about the King of Rock and Roll’s career that hasn’t already been documented or discussed? Well did you know that one in seven people own an Elvis record? So he’s not just the King of Rock and Roll, but the King of music. The best selling recording artist of all time by a landslide. Elvis’ films have collectively grossed over $1 billion (adjusted for inflation) at the cinema and many more video cassettes, DVD’s and Blu Ray can be added on top of that too.
So how will all this happen and what if Elvis were still alive today? Well for a start he would be 83 years old, so would he attend the ceremony standing up or wheelchair bound? Or maybe the medal will just be delivered to Graceland and be gratefully received? And IF Elvis were alive today, what would he of thought of the endless cover versions, reworking’s of his songs, remixes and tributes to him? Let’s explore…
Well for a start he would of ‘heard’ Fine Young Cannibals’ version of “Suspicious Minds”, then there’s The Pet Shop Boys UK Christmas number one from 1987 “Always On My Mind”, UB40’s chart topping “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” or maybe ZZ Top doing “Viva Las Vegas” or JXL’s number one “A Little Less Conversation”.
He would also of cast an eye on Paul Simon’s album “Graceland” and maybe even sang his own version of Mark Cohen’s “Walking In Memphis” and what would he of thought of Kirsty MacColl’s “There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop Who Swears He’s Elvis”?!
Either way 41 years on, Elvis will finally be ‘admitted’ to an elite group of people who are bestowed with America’s highest award that recognises “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors”. The award was established in 1963 by President John F Kennedy, shortly before he was assassinated and replaced an earlier award that was founded in 1945 by President Harry Truman.
Elvis Joins like likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Irving Berlin, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and many other gifted and distinguished musicians in receiving the medal for excellence and contribution to American music on a global scale. Well done Elvis!
There is an official Elvis website for more about this and the King’s career