Maria, 43 and Hal 46, have a super busy household in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, way too busy most days. Celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss, with 2 high paced careers, 3 lively children, an active dog that sheds, an aloof cat, a hamster named Luigi, and a wealth of extended family, life seldom slows down. On the rare occasion of alone time, Maria recharges her batteries allowing the King to calm her spirit and take her back to the beautiful memories she and her late mother shared, a mutual love and admiration for Elvis. Maria’s mother was newly pregnant when she attended that last Omaha concert, not imagining by any means that it was the last. New beginnings with a new baby was marred by sorrow of the man’s death. Regardless, she shared her love for him with her baby girl and whenever Maria allows herself to go back, she smiles and she remembers.
Charlie recently hit 50. He never imagined himself to be where he is in life. In fact, there was a time he doubted he’d ever make it to 30, much less 50. A rough beginning in the land down under, the love from a mother that should have been for her child was assigned to alcohol instead. His father was non existent, except for a brief meeting born from curiosity in his late teens. Charlie had a chip on his shoulder begging to be knocked off and his brushes with the law attested to it. No male figure in his life, he substituted a man named Presley he’d seen on the silver screen, for the real thing. The truth is, it was far better than the real thing. His loving wife and 2 grown children and his steady job of 15 years keep him sane and on track. When he veers away, there is that voice and that figure that leads him back.
Three years ago Shelly graduated with her Master’s degree in Business. Moving 2 hours away from her family for a job was far different from being an hour away in a college setting where she was always surrounded by people and activity. She discovered music was wonderful company. Not the music of her contemporaries, although she loves that too, but a man she had heard of all of her life, but really knew very little about. His music hit a chord and she sought out more of his tunes. That led to a curiosity about his life and the more she learned, the more interested she became. There is no end to learning about him.
Elena grew up in the south, the south of France. Nearing 70 now, she grew up dreaming of American culture and lifestyle, listening to American music, and watching American movies. A handsome dark haired man on the big screen captivated her interest, as he did so many teenagers world wide. She was hooked. A life dream was a pilgrimage to Memphis, which finally happened two years ago when she and her husband Marco retired from their business, selling the little store they ran together. Marco may not have loved Elvis, but he loved her – and so he made her dream come true. Neither were disappointed.
Keith and Paula’s first date was in 1956. Sitting side by side in a darkened theater, Clint Reno was their chaperone. Both loved southern California, Mexican food, convertibles, the beach, and rock and roll. Both loved Elvis. They were overgrown teenagers and never fell out of love. Their only time apart had been his 3 year tour of duty in Vietnam. He returned to a very different world, but to the same girl who’s hand he first held back in 1956. He held her hand every day since, only letting go late last summer, when cancer took her from him. The music consoles him. It’s as if a part of her is with him when he hears certain songs. He needs it to survive.
Jeanie and Joanne were neighbors, both attended Humes High School, graduating three years after it’s most famous alumni. They can’t remember not knowing about Elvis, not following Elvis, not loving Elvis. They formed a fan club and became regular fixtures at the well know music gates. They lived, slept, and breathed Elvis for years. Although married and with children, the 70’s found them taking numerous road trips together. Understanding husbands encouraged the girl’s outings, knowing the joy that pilgrimage gave them. Life took them both in different directions, but all these years later, they return to Memphis for a week each summer. They reminisce and they remember. They have their friendship and they know how lucky they were to have known him personally. He’s family.
Joe is a singer. Actually, he’s more than a singer, he’s a student of music. In his 35 years, he’s sang many styles, but always seems to turn to the one that grabs the most hearts, his and his audience. He is a true tribute artist, not a replica or an imitator, but a respectful fellow artist honoring the one who determined it all – in the best way he knows how.
Russ is a loner, alone in a room full of people, alone in his thoughts, alone in his ways. An only child, he learned to enjoy his own company. He functions well on his own but the truth is, he’s lonely on the inside. This man’s music is his best company. From his teenage days until now in his 60’s, it was the Hillbilly Cat who gave him purpose – as a friend, as a companion, as entertainment and as an example. He well remembers the first time he saw the larger than life image on the big screen. G I Blues changed his life forever.
Rick was late to the game. Living in New York City and being in the music business as a promotor, he’d been exposed to all sorts of music from the late 80’s on. He knows more technical and statistical detail than anyone you can think of. In 1997, he happened to be on his way to Nashville from St. Louis, in mid August. Stopping in Memphis, he found himself at Elvis Week, the 20th anniversary. His casual interest became fanatical study. He still isn’t sure exactly how it happened, but the surroundings enveloped him and he found his music focus – on the King of Rock and Roll.
Diane fell in love in 1954. Sitting in the third row of a high school auditorium in East Texas, the singer she’d heard on the Louisiana Hayride was now only feet away from her. She’d begged her father for weeks to allow her to go see him and he finally relented, with numerous conditions, all of which she faithfully abided by. It was surely the most exciting day of her young life. Her life was changed. She was changed. She considered herself lucky to have been there from the very beginning. No one knows more about Elvis than she does. Over the years, she attended no less than 57 of his live shows, made numerous trips to Graceland, meeting many of his co-stars and contemporaries. She’d read every book out there and her home was practically an Elvis shrine. She had never married, but she’d never felt alone.
What do these individuals have in common? What brings them together? Different ages, different experiences, different eras, different levels of knowledge, different parts of the world, different places on the journey ….. they are all TRUE FANS. Every . Single . One . Of . Them.
None of us have badges making us the true fan police. Love doesn’t place conditions. When you love, you know it, whichever mile marker you are at on the Elvis trip. We’re all heading the same direction toward Memphis.