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Collection of newspaper clippings about the death of Elvis Presley, August 17

Made 1977

When Elvis Presley died, August 17th 1977, it made front page news world wide. ‘The King is Dead’, the most common headline, alluding to Presley’s status as the King of Rock and Roll. These newspapers and clippings collected by Irene Combe in Australia and the United States demonstrate the saturation coverage given to the death of Presley and the impact of mass marketing and the cult of celebrity.

From 1954-1958 Presley exploded onto the American and then the world music scene with songs that ...

Summary

Object No.

2013/104/3

Object Statement

Newspapers (2), newspaper clippings (4), transcription pages (2), relating to the death of Elvis Presley. paper, made in Australia / United States of America, 1977-1978

Physical Description

Collection of newspapers and newspaper clippings announcing the death of Elvis Presley, August 17, 1977 and his birthday the following January 1978.

Newspaper in broad sheet format, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday morning edition, August 17, 1977, no 229. 'Death captures crown of Rock and Roll - Elvis dies apparently after heart attack'.

Newspaper in broad sheet format, Memphis Press-Scimitar, Memphis, Tennessee, Special Edition, Wednesday August 17, 1977. 'A lonely life ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Memphis leads the world in mourning the Monarch of Rock and Roll'.

Tabloid newspaper front page from The Daily Mirror, Sydney, New South Wales, Late final extra edition, Wednesday August 17, 1977. 'Elvis Dead. Rock King's heart attack'.

Tabloid newspaper special photo tribute from The Daily Mirror, Sydney, New South Wales, late final extra, Thursday August 29, 1977. Colour wrap around lift out.

Tabloid newspaper front page clipping from The Sun, Sydney, New South Wales, Wednesday August 17, 1977. 'Elvis dead. Heart attack at 42'.

Broad sheet newspaper clipping from Memphis Press-Scimitar, Memphis Tennessee, Saturday January 7, 1978. 'Elvis' fans in Memphis to say Happy Birthday'.

Two pages out of a notebook transcribed by Irene Combe with the words from Elvis Presley's grave. 'ELVIS / AARON / PRESLEY / JANUARY 8, 1935 / AUGUST 16, 1977 / SON OF / VERNON ELVIS PRESLEY / AND / GLADYS LOVE PRESLEY. / FATHER OF / LISA MARIE PRESLEY./ HE WAS A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM GOD / WE CHERISHED AND LOVED DEARLY / HE HAD GOD-GIVEN TALENT THAT HE SHARED / WITH THE WORLD AND WITHOUT A DOUBT / HE BECAME MOST WIDELY ACCLAIMED / CAPTURING THE HEARTS OF YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE / HE WAS ADMIRED NOT ONLY AS AN ENTERTAINER / BUT AS THE GREAT HUMANITARIAN THAT HE WAS / FOR HIS GENEROSITY AND HIS KIND FEELINGS / FOR HIS FELLOW MAN. / HE REVOLUTIONIZED THE FIELD OF MUSIC AND / RECEIVED ITS HIGHEST AWARDS. / HE BECAME A LIVING LEGEND IN HIS OWN TIME / EARNING THE RESPECT AND LOVE OF MILLIONS. / GOD SAW THAT HE NEEDED SOME REST AND / CALLED HIM HOME TO BE WITH HIM. / WE MISS YOU SON AND DADDY. I THANK GOD / THAT HE GAVE US YOU AS OUR SON. / TCB / VERNON PRESLEY'

History

Notes

These newspaper clippings were collected by fashion model Irene Combe following Elvis Presley's death in 1977.

Irene Combe, born in 1951 in Sydney, was an Elvis Presley fan long before she met him. She grew up listening to his songs in the 1950s and early 1960s and also saw many of his films. "Yes we all used to love Elvis as kids. Mum used to blush when 'Such a night' came on the radio as she was standing at the laminex table shelling the peas. I was so young I didn't know what she could have been thinking. Now I think it's very raunchy for the '50s! We all used to love singing along with 'Little Egypt' (in the early 1960s). I've still got a little plastic coin purse from the late '50s, early '60s and Elvis is the photo I'd chosen for the clear pouch inside". Although her musical allegiances changed from 1963-64 to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Irene still had a fondness for Elvis.

Irene married radio 2UW DJ Ward 'Pally' Austin in June 1968 and they took a delayed honeymoon to the USA in October of that year, enabling Ward Austin to interview a number of RCA recording artists set up by his friend Bill Walsh, the head of RCA Records in Australia. One of these meetings was with Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager. Through The Colonel, Irene and Ward were introduced to Elvis Presley. The Colonel asked Irene and Ward if they 'would like to meet the Kid?' Irene was unaware to whom he referred. "Tom drove us around the Movie lot to a dressing room. As we walked around the corner and looked at the doorway there was Elvis at the top of the steps, looking so amazing in his outfit that he was wearing for the filming 'The Trouble with Girls'".

Ward and Irene were surprised and delighted to meet Elvis in person. "Elvis invited us into the trailer?he was incredibly humble and warm and almost self-effacing. He never said the word 'I'. He only said 'We' meaning everyone around him not just him and the Colonel'". Elvis spoke about moving away from movies and starting to perform live shows again, beginning with his return to Las Vegas.

Colonel Tom Parker had organised for a photograph to be taken to mark the occasion. Irene Combe speculates that they were lucky enough to be chosen to meet Elvis because "The Colonel wanted Ward 'Pally' Austin, 'the king of the kids' in Sydney, to spread the word about Elvis and publicise his impending return to live performing. I distinctly remember the brochure about Las Vegas being tilted in Ward's hands so that it could be read clearly for the photo".

The staging of the photograph was particularly memorable for Irene. "Elvis was sort of nervy with his hands, not annoyingly fidgety, but like as if he was always playing an imaginary guitar or piano? He was playing notes, on anything, as he was talking and it made me look at his beautifully shaped hands with the knuckles standing out??As we were placed in our positions at the end of the trailer for the photo it just seemed natural for me to put my arm gently around his waist because he had started 'playing the piano' up and down my spine! I could feel him going up and down over my bra strap, up and down, from my neck to my waist. I was totally mesmerised. The camera clicked, and there is that expression of total adoration on my face immortalised forever!" They were sent a copy of the photograph to commemorate the occasion by Tom Diskin, Colonel Tom Parker's assistant.

Irene Combe and Ward Austin lived in the United States throughout the early 1970s. They saw Elvis Presley perform in Phoenix on April 22 1973. Irene remembers "he sent himself up gutless, almost doing a parody of himself during the big intro music of '2001 A Space Odyssey'." ['Also Sprach Zarathustra' the theme to the film '2001: A Space Odyssey']

Elvis Presley died on August 17, 1977, aged 42. His death and subsequent funeral made headlines in newspapers around the world. Irene Combe collected these clippings from the Sydney special edition afternoon tabloid newspapers The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

In the January following Elvis Presley's death, Irene and Ward made a pilgrimage to Elvis' home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. They arrived on January 7 1978, the day before Elvis' 43rd birthday. His coffin and that of his mother Gladys had recently been moved from the Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis to the meditation gardens in the grounds of Graceland for increased security. "It was quite free and easy at Graceland then. Elvis had only been dead since the August, just over four months and the heavy security hadn't really kicked in. You could wander out to the pool area?..but there was no way anyone got into the home itself. The horror of Elvis dying was all too new and raw". Irene Combe saved the clipping from the newspaper from that day, Memphis Press-Scimitar January 7, 1978, with the headline 'Elvis' fans in Memphis say Happy Birthday'.

While in Memphis Irene Combe also bought the two souvenir Memphis newspapers:The Memphis Press-Scimitar and the Commercial Appeal from August 17, 1977, the day of Elvis' death.

Irene Combe was particularly moved by the words on Elvis Presley's grave. Composed by his father Vernon Presley, they were preserved in bronze on a large panel above his grave. Irene Combe transcribed the words onto notepaper, keeping them as a momento until donating them to the Powerhouse Museum.

References:
Interview with Irene Combe, July 2013
Rohter, L and Tom Zito, "Rock Idol Elvis Presley dies at 42", Washington Post, August 17, 1977

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Irene Combe, 2013

Acquisition Date

18 October 2013

Cite this Object

Harvard

Collection of newspaper clippings about the death of Elvis Presley, August 17 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 23 August 2019, <https://ma.as/469896>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/469896 |title=Collection of newspaper clippings about the death of Elvis Presley, August 17 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=23 August 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

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