The King is Dead…That’s All You Have?
The passing of Prince and the strong feeling of loss among his fans reminds of the day Elvis Presley died. I was working morning drive at a 1000-watter in Auburn, New York, about 25 miles west of Syracuse. Each morning our newsman, Rich Stewart, picked me up in his little Datsun pickup truck and we stopped at Mister Donut for fortification before our shift. On that day, August 17, 1977, as I climbed into the truck, Rich didn’t say “good morning.” He said, “did you hear, the King is dead.” Hmm..King Who? King Kong? Sky King? I had no idea. Incredulously he implored me, “the KING! Elvis Presley! He died yesterday!” Oh. While a normal human being might feel sad, all I could think about was what a lousy collection of Elvis records the station had and how I would be inundated with requests.
Sure enough, my phone didn’t stop ringing with Elvis requests. Sure enough, we had only 2 Elvis albums, one of them a Christmas LP. I was told by the program director to play nothing but Elvis. It was gonna be a long 4-hour shift. After the fourth time I played “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog,” and the seventh time I played “Blue Christmas” the audience rebelled. “Please, for the love of everything sacred in this world, could you play something else?” one caller pleaded. Auburn being a small-ish town of about 40-thousand people, the stores weren’t open yet, which thwarted my idea of sending someone to buy any and all Elvis records they find. So I was stuck with those two albums and in August, Christmas songs just don’t go over very well, even if they were sung by the now-dead King.
To kill time and avoid repeating the same 20 Elvis songs over and over again I decided to take calls on the air where fans could express their feelings about their idol who died on the toilet seat. I ended up with mostly blubbering spinsters who claimed their lives couldn’t go on without Elvis and they didn’t appreciate me informing them their lives and Elvis’s really never crossed paths, so take a moment to mourn then go bowling .
Those in the business know that DJ’s are very competitive so as my shift mercifully wound to a close I thought it might be helpful to promote the announcer who followed me, and one whom I despised because he and his girlfriend with her very large lips would eat greasy subs then French kiss in the studio. So I dutifully told the audience that Roger K would play nothing but Elvis for the next four hours. Not much French kissing that day for Roger and Big Lips. He was taking it on his double chin from his audience.