Elvis Radio (Ch. 19) is celebrating Elvis Presley’s 81st birthday with special programming all week. However, they aren’t the only SiriusXM channel that loves to celebrate Elvis. In honor of the festivities in Graceland, we’ve asked the hosts and programmers across our many channels that play his hits, including Elvis Radio, to share their favorite songs and memories of The King of Rock and Roll.
“Elvis is The King of Rock n Roll and everyone knows that. He created music that shattered boundaries and music that soothed souls… It still does… He followed his dreams and achieved so much more than he could have ever expected or known. But the one thing that I love most about Elvis is the people that he brings together. People from all over the globe, from every race, from every continent. He brings together families and facilitates lifelong friendships. This is my favorite Elvis moment, right now. The one that brings you and me together. Hope to see you soon at Graceland and I’ll play my favorite Elvis song from our Elvis Radio Vault… Memphis, TN (take 6)!” — Argo
“My favorite Elvis moment was that split-second just before Elvis began to sing the first song of the ‘Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite Special,’ when he looked directly into the camera lens for just a moment and grinned. That little-boy smile only hinted at the rock and roll that was to come over the course of that next hour. Elvis was ‘bad to the bone’ from the moment he stepped on stage until he threw out his last scarf!”
— Big Jim Sykes
“Suspicious Minds is my favorite because I am partly responsible for Elvis recording that song. My friend Mark James wrote that song, and I suggested it to Elvis. It has sold over 40 million copies since, becoming his biggest selling record, ever!”
— George Klein
“My favorite Elvis song of all time is Mystery Train. In addition to loving the progression and Scotty Moore’s rhythm-guitar syncopation technique (similar to Chet Atkins), I believe historically it is a pivotal song in the evolution from rockabilly to early rock and roll. Not only did it have black roots in Junior Parker’s preceding version, it took rockabilly, country and R&B and combined them. It used a haunting image of a train, often thematic in country music and a simple message of the anticipation of the reuniting of two people and blended the message in the classic 3 major chord rock and roll combination.
“This is very evident in subsequent covers like Toby Keith and Joe Perry’s version, a classic melding of country and rock with a soulful feeling. Because of the arrangement and Elvis’ delivery, it was neither a black or white song, it was a transitional rock and roll song, molded by the great musical alchemist Sam Phillips.” — Bill Rock
“Tuesday, August 16, 1977, I was getting ready to fly out for Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records Macon, Georgia BBQ Blowout and setting the promo plan for the evening’s Sanford-Townsend ‘Smoke From A Distant Fire’ BBQ radio station party, all multitasking (even back then) while doing my rock & roll afternoon drive show on WOUR-FM. I probably had the Allman Brothers blazing on one of the three studio turntables, when the AP Teletype machine started to go bonkers. I looked up at the studio clock, and it was a few minutes past 2 p.m. The news bulletin said: ‘Elvis Presley has been taken by ambulance to the hospital’.
“Less than 20 minutes later, the teletype machine went off louder and longer than I could ever remember with the news ‘Elvis Presley Is Dead.’ During those 20 minutes, I found old EP interviews from Armed Forces Radio shows, archived in our music library, and thus began a three-hour Elvis musical memorial tribute salute — perhaps an early forerunner to SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio, the way it plays today!
“Fast forward two years later, and on my first night in Memphis, I got lost driving south on Bellevue (that becomes Elvis Presley Boulevard — just past McLemore, home to STAX). When I realized I was approaching Elvis’ Graceland mansion, I made the left turn up the King’s driveway, and the next thing I knew, Uncle Vester was chasing after me, yelling, ‘Boy, you can’t be drivin’ up heah’…had to back up in reverse…!
“All this to say that when Elvis sings the blues and R&B music so steeped in Memphis flava, I have to say this is some of my favorite sounds. SiriusXM Elvis fans probably know two of my ATF Elvis recordings are the obvious Stranger In My Own Hometown (thumbs up to Chips Moman and The Memphis Boys…don’t try to drive up the Graceland driveway) and the extended jam version that you can only hear on Elvis Radio of Merry Christmas Baby (James Burton and the TCB Band are on fire). Elvis Forever Long Live The King Of Rock & Roll!” — TY
“It was a hotter-than-normal August day in Memphis, TN. The truck had just dropped my bundles of papers off in front of my house for my afternoon route. My mom opened the door and shouted out to me to come inside to fold my papers since it was so hot. So I moved my bundles and rubber bands inside and plopped down in front of the TV and began to fold.
“It was only minutes later that a news bulletin interrupted Match Game, my favorite game show. A local news reporter was standing in front of Baptist Hospital, the same hospital where I had entered the world, saying that Elvis had been brought into the emergency room suffering from an apparent heart attack.
“I was in shock. I immediately thought of 4 years before, when my father and I had run into Elvis. We were walking together, when a familiar voice said my father’s name. It was Elvis Presley. I was, by this time, totally lost in rock n roll and music in general and well aware of Elvis.
“I was puzzled how Elvis knew my father. They talked for a minute, then without being introduced Elvis addressed me by my first name. I was speechless. I said hello. After we walked away I could not wrap my 10-year-old head around the fact that Elvis knew my name, and my dad. I asked my dad how Elvis knew my name. My dad laughed and tapped my chest and said, ‘Son, your name is on your baseball jacket.’ We both laughed out loud as we walked.
“After I delivered my papers that afternoon I returned to find out Elvis was dead. For the next few days, the world mourned with our city for its favorite son. We watched it all happen on TV. I remember very distinctly the live coverage of those white limousines carrying Elvis’ body.
“Nothing has ever shock me to the core like Elvis’ death, and nothing would again until three years later on December 8, 1980. Every single time for the last 11 years of Elvis Radio, when I have played Long Black Limousine my mind goes straight back to that hot August afternoon in 1977 that the music died while I was folding papers.”
— Doc Walker
“Elvis Presley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the very first class in 1986, so he has a very special place in the hearts of everyone at the Rock Hall and SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio. Elvis’ 1954 track That’s All Right was the first single ever recorded and released by The King, therefore, it stands apart as the record that introduced Elvis to the world!” — Dominic Nardella
“I have two special Elvis songs that I hold near and dear. One: King Creole – Besides being the theme to my favorite Elvis movie it’s just a great song for me to back announce on the air. Saying, “That’s King Creole with Kid Leo…”
“Two: Can’t Help Falling In Love – This one is special for a much more important reason. It was the song I sang to my daughter when she was a baby as a lullaby. It also was the song she and I chose for the ‘Father/Daughter’ dance at her wedding.”
— Kid Leo
“I’ll never forget the morning after the death of Elvis Aaron Presley. I was managing a record store in New Jersey and as I arrived to open there was a middle-aged woman waiting at the door, dabbing her eyes with a hankie. I said, ‘Good morning, ma’am, I’ll be open in about 30 minutes. Are you alright?’
“She gazed at me with wet eyes and said, ‘I know but I really need to get every Elvis album I can.’ I invited her in, locked the door and walked her to the Elvis Presley section. There sat every Elvis album currently in print from RCA, including the Camden Budget line stuff. There were multiple copies of all the ‘important’ albums and Elvis’ section took up the entire row of the browser. She took one look and said, ‘I’ll take them all.’
“This being the ’70s, I tried to explain that these records were in absolutely no danger of going out of print and, in fact, were sure to be available for many years. She still wanted to buy them all. I managed to talk her out of the doubles, so I would have something left in the inventory for other Elvis fans, gave her a discount and could have closed the store before opening, as I had already made my numbers for the day!
“My personal favorite Elvis songs are Heartbreak Hotel (from the early years) and In the Ghetto (from the later years).” — Mike Marrone
“[At Caricia], we love Always on My Mind, which was included in José Feliciano’s tribute album titled, The King, released in 2012. José Feliciano performed this song live at the SiriusXM studios.” — Israel Salazar
“One of the most exciting moments [for me] was in 1977 at my first radio station. The program director brought in a NEW single by Elvis Presley called Way Down. I was 17, and it was my first job as a ‘baby DJ’ playing Elvis’ new, but last single.”
— JayBeau Jones
“The Wonder of You is such a powerful ballad. It never fails to pack the dance floor, and it has everyone singing every word.” — Dennis Falcone
“I was a ‘baby DJ’ on the air in Jacksonville, Fla., at the time it was announced that Elvis had died. I was in shock and wasn’t prepared emotionally to deal with a story like this on the air. I remember playing and singing along to Rock A Hula Baby (from the Blue Hawaii Soundtrack) over and over in my basement. I sounded just like Elvis (as long as no one heard it).” — JJ Walker
“The day that Elvis died was the very first ‘death’ in my young life. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. The passing of Elvis so resonated with me as to take me back to my fourth birthday, when I was made aware for the very — first time — that none of us live forever. My favorite song would be Way Down, a classic homage to his old 1950s rock ‘n roll!!” — ‘Magic Matt’ Alan
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