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The Day Elvis Died

Al Dvorin

Al Dvorin worked closely with Colonel Parker in promotions and concerts and coined the phrase "Elvis has left the building"

As was the custom, I was always in the first city of a tour 3 days before the day of the first concert. I arrived in Portland, Maine on August 14, 1977, to meet with Colonel Parker and other Elvis Tour "executives" such as Tom Diskin, George Parkhill and Tom Hulett, to finalize details of the current tour. On the morning of August 16th, I was in my hotel room watching TV and wajting for a call from the Colonel to meet for lunch. The program was interrupted with a special announcement that Elvis had passed away at Graceland. I sat at the edge of my bed with my mouth hanging wide open, my eyes wide as saucers, in complete shock and disbelief. I ran down the corridor to the Colonel's room mentally screaming, "Oh, no!" George Parkhill and the Colonel were already together. I hollered, "Is it true?" They quietly answered as one, "AI, it's true." The Colonel said they were waiting for further details.

We then heard from Joe Esposito , who was on the premises at Graceland, who filled us in on the goings-on in EIvis' home. After Joe's call, our phones continued ringing incessantly, especially mine. The calls were from wire services, radio and TV stations wanting interviews. Being In shock and certainly not in the mood, I refused all calls. My wife then called to tell me that she was being inundated with calls at my home and again I was unavailable, She informed me that our son, James, would call in the next 10 minutes from DeKalb, Illinois, where he was on the air as a broadcaster at radio station WLBK. That's the one call I accepted. His interview with me was the only one I permitted. 

The following day, we flew down to Memphis to prepare for the funeral. I sat In Elvis' kitchen pondering why and recalling wonderful memories of Elvis; his talents and last but not least, the man. 

At the funeral, I was in the seventh white Cadillac limo with the Colonel. The streets from Graceland to the cemetery were lined with the grieving fans. - similarly, I thought, to the funeral procession of our late president, John F, Kennedy . And now that twenty years had passed it is lvis the performer, the philanthropist, but mostly my friend and colleague, that I think bout the most. 

Even as I often recall that fateful, tragic Tuesday back in 1977, I know that I shall never forget every sorrowful detail that stays with me even to today.

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