Focused on Mississippi: Elvis Presley’s Birthday

Focused on Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Elvis Presley and his influence changed the music world. He has been inducted into five Music Hall of Fames and sold over a billion records. His rags to riches story still inspires hopeful artists all the time.

Elvis would have been 86-years old this year. Although he died 44 years ago, a lot of people feel like he’s only left the building.

Elvis is particularly alive in Mississippi, with his birthplace being here in Tupelo. The annual Tupelo Elvis Festival brings more Elvis impersonators, or Elvis Tribute Artists as they like to call themselves, to the city. We have official State of Mississippi Elvis car tags here. Tennessee may have them, but I’ve never seen them.

We still have people here who have memories of the childhood Elvis, who grew up in Tupelo, where he got a guitar for his 11th birthday, only because his mom wouldn’t let him have the .22 rifle that he really wanted. Guy Harris remembers.

“We stopped there one day after we had been up here playing and got real hot and was really gonna go to the swimming hole down at the creek. And we stopped, and he went in and got us a glass of water a piece and brought it out. And then, he brought that little guitar out and said, ‘Y’all want to hear me sing Ole Shep?’ We told him, ‘Yea. Let’s get Ole Shep out of the way so we can go to the swimming hole,’” said Harris.

Elvis fans know no end. There’s Elvis decorative and commemorative plates, Elvis dolls and even an Elvis Christmas Village.

The King of Rock and Roll is a cultural phenomenon that will take sociologist a hundred years to untangle; to sort out all he was and is and still is with his influence. John Lennon said that there would have been no Beatles had there been no Elvis. 

So, long live Elvis in the land of his birth; the hill country of Mississippi. Elvis and the implied hope that his life instills that if he can make it from here, anybody can make it from where they are.

The Tupelo Elvis Festival for 2021 is June 9-13. They had to have it virtually last year, but they are hoping to be able to have a gathering again this year.


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