Many people consider Elvis to be one of the greatest musicians in recent history. Whether you agree or not, you can’t deny that he was a pioneer of rock and roll. His music rolled out a sound that launched a new genre of music and led the way to many more.
As he forged his way through the music industry, Elvis earned the title “The King of Rock and Roll” for the new sound that he made. Most people had never heard music like his before.
He was also an incredibly talented performer.
When Elvis was on the stage, he was exactly where he belonged. He loved performing for people and playing music.
The famous musician died in 1977 at the age of 42, leaving fans shocked and heartbroken. But now, his final performance has been found.
His last show was far from his biggest one.
The King of Rock and Roll last took the stage in Rapid City, South Dakota. But regardless of where he was, Elvis gave the performance all the talent he had. His rendition of “Unchained Melody” is charged with emotion.
Sitting at the piano in his recognizable high-collared white suit, Elvis belted out the melody with as much gusto as he had given performances throughout his career.
Just a few weeks later, the King died unexpectedly at his home in Memphis.
“Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself,” said former President Jimmy Carter in an official statement. “He was unique, irreplaceable. More than twenty years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled.”
More than 30,000 people swarmed to Memphis to attend his funeral, forcing the President to call in the National Guard. Many of his celebrity friends and co-stars also attended, including comedian Jackie Kahane, Ann-Margret, James Brown, and George Hamilton.
As his funeral procession made its way to Forest Hill Cemetery, 80,000 people assembled to watch it go by.
“His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture,” said Carter. “His following was immense. And he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of this country.”
During his performance in Rapid City, Elvis had no way of knowing that death was a little more than a month away.
But for his longtime fans, the incredible passion he put into his final song meant more than he could ever know.
As the song ended, the crowd burst into frenzied applause. Elvis walked down to the end of the stage and handed his scarf to a screaming fan. Then, he struck a pose that had become iconic to him: one hip cocked, both pointer fingers up in the air.
He seemed to be thanking the audience as much as they were thanking him.
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