Introducing: Wendy King

It is my pleasure to introduce Wendy King, ETA judge and blogger, who shares her story of how Elvis Presley has influenced her life since a very young age. As well as sharing links to Wendy's blog and an amusing video of driving on a roundabout with Sergio, I have included Wendy's article, His Gospel Will Put Goosebumps On Your Goosebumps. Dedicated fans will appreciate Wendy's passionate tribute to the King of Rock and Roll.  Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your personal story and tribute to Elvis.  CM

Wendy King at age 3.

Wendy King at age 3.

2017 marked my 50th visit to Graceland. I started to go there in October of 1977--two months after Elvis died. At that time, you could just stand outside the gates and look over the fence to the home on the hill. It was something I just had to do to say thank you for all the years of sheer joy and fun he had brought to my life. I have continued the annual tradition, and the home and the city have never lost its magic. As with many fans, it seems, Elvis captured my heart at a young age--for me at 6.  The first song I remember was "Devil in Disguise" and I would sit in my dad's car and wait endlessly for it to be played on the radio.

My teenage years were spent following his every step which back then was through movie magazines and the odd newspaper article. I saved every picture and snippet of paper. His movies were so much fun.  Imagine my disappointment when I finally realized dates don't usually include a raft ride in Hawaii nor a clambake on the beach.

In 1975 on New Year's Eve at the Pontiac Silverdome, I had the best night of my life.  Elvis--live in concert!  This was the one in which he wore two jumpsuits because he split the seat out of the first one. I was one of 60 thousand fans there and I was not close but I remember every moment and everything he said that night. I saw him a 2nd time April 22, 1977 at the Olympia in Detroit, Michigan. I remember him looking fantastic and sounding incredible.

When Elvis died just 4 months later--I felt my life ended too.  Its hard to explain but Elvis was always my best friend.  It was as if he set my life to music. At that time I decided maybe if I went into radio, I could find a way to continue to play his music and talk about him.  For 40 years, that is what I have tried to do.

Through the years I have been blessed to meet many of Elvis' family, friends and colleagues.  I have been honoured to judge a number of Elvis festivals in Canada and the U.S. Every great thing that has happened in my life was in some way connected to Elvis Presley. I am forever in his debt and he is forever in my heart.

Wendy King

Wendy King with Priscilla Presley.

Wendy King with Priscilla Presley.

Everything King: His Gospel Will Put Goosebumps on Your Goosebumps by Wendy King

August 16, 1977

Wendy King with her Elvis mug.

Wendy King with her Elvis mug.

If you are of a certain vintage that is a date you will remember.  You will know where you were and what you were doing when you heard the unexpected news that Elvis Presley had passed away. It is just one of those moments when time stood still.

It stopped me in my tracks.

He was and has always been my musical and personal hero. Somehow, inexplicably, he became as cherished by me as any family member.  I am not alone.  Worldwide, there are millions of fans who feel this way and probably for equally as many reasons why.

As exceedingly talented as he was, with no musical training, I think I loved his heart as much as his voice. There are so many stories that tell you what kind of a person he was.  There’s a couple that have always jumped out at me.

Apparently, most Christmas Eves, he went down to the Memphis police department to visit not only the officers on duty but the prisoners. He visited with each one and asked what he could do to ease the burden of their families at home. Then, he took action.

I loved the fact that front row at his concerts was saved for his fans not for whatever celebrity or dignitary wanted a perk.  He also insisted ticket prices be kept low so his fans could afford to go.  I saw him twice live in person in 1975 and 1977 and paid 10 dollars each time (Today’s stars should take note!). He paid for his own ticket for his “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in 1973 because it was for charity.

While many celebrities want to keep you at arm’s length, he opened his arms and said in effect “come closer”. That is why this week, throngs of fans are descending on Memphis, Tennessee to celebrate the life and career of Elvis Presley. If you ever want to see how one person can bring people of all faiths, nationalities and walks of life together in a positive way — look no further than Graceland mansion this week.

He sold a billion records and they are selling still. Do yourself a favour and dig into the music — not just the top 10 — try out some of the close to 800 songs he recorded. If you are so inclined, his gospel will put goosebumps on your goosebumps.

Check out Elvis concert video and you will see what charisma looks like.

Every musician owes him a debt and almost all acknowledge that.

I owe him the life I have enjoyed. He gave me my best friends, most fun adventures, my career and he set my life to music. He did it all without the advantage of YouTube or Twitter or Facebook or even a cordless mic.

He did it with a million dollar smile and a voice that echoes still.