Today is Elvis Presley’s birthday! He would have been 73. Or he is 73 today, depending on your opinion about his death. It’s also David Bowie’s birthday today, which is a nice parallel. He’s 61 – 61!

There is story concerning the two artists; that Bowie, during his Ziggy Stardust period, showed up late at an Elvis Presley concert held at Madison Square Garden in full Ziggy regalia and sat near the front row to everyone’s distraction. What a time the early 70s must have been for shows like that, when members of the audience could outdress those on stage, even if the one on stage happens to be Elvis!

Here’s a recollection from Bowie on the matter:

“[Elvis] was a major hero of mine. And I was probably stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something. I came over for a long weekend. I remember coming straight from the airport and walking into Madison Square Garden very late. I was wearing all my clobber from the Ziggy period and had great seats near the front. The whole place just turned to look at me and I felt like a right idiot. I had brilliant red hair, some huge padded space suit and those red boots with big black soles. I wished I’d gone for something quiet, because I must have registered with him. He was well into his set.”

– Bowie (1996) (Read more from the source of this quote here…)

And what must Elvis have thought? I’d like to think it was something like, “look what’s come of everything I helped to start!”

Happy birthdays, guys!

To celebrate, here are a couple of clips

To view the clips, hover over each of the images and click the ‘play’ icon. Enlarge the viewing window by clicking on the magnifying glass icon.

Enjoy!

Elvis Presley On Stage

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

About the Clips

The first one is Elvis during his earliest Vegas residency at the very beginning of the 1970s, which I think is an underrated period in his career. He performs Tony Joe White‘s ‘Polk Salad Annie’, a standard in Elvis’ set at the time, and featuring the scorching guitar work of the great James Burton. This tune graced Elvis’ live album On Stage February 1970 , which remains to be a favourite of mine, and one of the earliest records I remembering heatring. Dad is a big Elvis fan from way back.

The second clip is Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust around the same time, this time on an historic appearance on Britain’s Top of the Pops show performing his song “Starman”. The performance polarized a nation, with one half seeing a new world of fashion, expression, and a new approach to rock performance, and the other thinking that the world had gone mad, causing many to seek a refund of their TV licenses.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Elvis Presley and David Bowie!

  1. That Elvis clip is great Rob. I would have loved to have seen him live at that time. He just oozed entertainment. I agree with the point you make that some of his later work was often unfairly cast in the shadows of his supposed “heyday” in the late 50’s. My parents brought me up on his music, when I was a teen I hated it as we all do in our deliberately reactionary way, but now I’m growing to admire almost everything he did. I may one day even start to like his movies, but hey, one step at a time.

  2. You know, I really like the early Sun Recordings as any sensible person does. But, I do prefer that late 60s-early 70s period – let’s just call it the ’68 Comeback Special to the Aloha Hawaii satellite concert. His voice sounds a bit more lived in, more sonorous. And as much as I like the Moore-Black-Fontana set up, I really think the backbone of his 70s band – James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin – are hard to beat.

    I wish Elvis had lived long enough to record Springsteen’s ‘Brilliant Disguise’ with that group backing him. With respect to Springsteen, that song should have been Elvis’.

    In my Elvis parallel universe, Elvis played the Last Waltz too. 🙂

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