Focused on Mississippi: Celebrating the life of Elvis Presley

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – January 8, 2020, would have been the 85th birthday of the most famous person born in Mississippi: Elvis Presley.

Every new generation that comes along brings a new generation of Elvis fans. He died 43 years ago this years ago this year. But in many respects for a lot of people, Elvis still lives.

Elvis is particularly alive in Mississippi, with his birthplace being in Tupelo. Every year, the Tupelo Elvis Festival brings more Elvis impersonators, or Elvis Tribute Artists as they like to call themselves, to Tupelo. We have official State of Mississippi Elvis car tags here.

But 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. His mama wouldn’t let him have the .22 rifle that he really wanted.

“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 Guy Harris of Tupelo.

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. Just choose the guitar and not the .22 rifle.  

The Tupelo Elvis Festival is June 3rd through June 7th this year. Tickets go on sale February 3rd. 

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