"Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Essential 70's Masters" box set came out in 1995, and the completist in me needed to own it. I would have all the Elvis I would ever need in those 15 discs. Well, then I wanted to see some of his early films and ended up buying a few on VHS tapes. Then I wanted to read a really good biography on Elvis, something that appreciated him but didn't deify the man or focus on his faults. I bought the two-volume biography by Peter Guralnick ("Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley" and "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley"), which is well written, well researched and, to put it simply, definitive.

I went to Las Vegas with some friends about 10 years ago. I had to track down a statue of Elvis, then I needed to go to the Elvis-A-Rama Museum. Yes, I bought a pair of his replica 1970s sunglasses. I also found a cool T-shirt that has Elvis with the Las Vegas strip behind him. You can see where all of this is going. I have 36 Elvis CD titles, which include (good heavens) nine box sets. RCA also has done an amazing job in recent years with deluxe editions (remastered editions and more chronologically based versions of out-of-print albums) of his music catalog. Yeah, I own five of those. If you were to ask me my dream vacation, I'd have to say going to Memphis, Tenn., to tour the Sun Records Studio then to Graceland, neither of which I have done.

My wife asked me the other day what it is about Elvis that I like so much.

Well, it starts with those early Sun recordings. They were revolutionary. Younger people may scoff at that, but consider being in the South in the early- to mid-1950s and singing music by black artists, mixing it with gospel and country-western. In the racially divided South, the music was considered dangerous on many levels. Elvis developed his own style that, literally, changed music forever. His rise to stardom is such an American dream kind of story. He grew up poor, was seen as a bit of an outcast and shy in high school and became one of the richest and most recognizable artists of all time. Stories like that provide people with a sense of hope.

He also got to places even he could not imagine, which helped provide some of the fuel for his downfall. He experienced fame that few people reach, which helped isolate him. His manager worked him relentlessly for most of his career but also largely kept him from exploring himself artistically. Elvis never seemed to find lasting happiness offstage and developed a prescription drug habit that, ultimately, led to his death. So his story is a tragedy and a cautionary tale.

He's a fascinating artist and one of the best vocalists of all time. What is it about him that has made me a fan? All of that. I started out spending some time studying and listening to his music to find out what the big deal was and ended up a fanatic. I won't be the last one.

This is the opinion of music enthusiast Mick Hatten. Contact him at mhatten@stcloudtimes.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/sctimesmick and on Twitter @MickHatten (News, Source: sctimes.com)

Preserving Elvis' concerts at the Polk: Aug. 6, 1956 was the day Lakeland got all shook up, if you'll pardon the grammar.

Perhaps the most noteworthy musical event in Polk County history occurred that day when 21-year-old Elvis Presley played three shows at the Polk Theatre. The performances created indelible memories for those who paid the $1.50 ticket cost and stood in line to see Kid Dynamite just seven months after he first topped the charts with his single, "Heartbreak Hotel."

Though nearly 58 years have passed since then, the president of the Polk Theatre and two local filmmakers know that many memories of that day remain vivid. They want to record those memories in a documentary.

The trio is inviting all who have stories to share about Elvis' appearance in Lakeland to attend an open house at the Polk Theatre on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The event is a preliminary meeting to find interview subjects for the planned documentary.

The documentary is the brainchild of Leslie Sikora, president and CEO of the Polk Theatre, and the film-production team of Shane Lawlor and Spencer Rubel. Lawlor and Rubel produced a musical gathering, the British Invasion, last summer at the theater, an 86-year-old structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After that event, Sikora said the three talked about what their next project might be, and the discussion turned to Elvis Presley. At first they talked of staging a cabaret show similar to the British Invasion tribute, but Sikora said she would prefer to create something more lasting.