uses Elvis for music history
CHELSI MOY of the (Billings) Gazette Staff
25 years of playing Elvis tunes during art classes and showing The
King's movies once a year, she felt the annual celebration was getting
a little out of hand. Over the years, she has had students give her
so much Elvis memorabilia that she is running out of places to store
it, she said.
Elvis Presley's birthday each year in her fourth-grade classroom
at Canyon Creek School began as a fun way for Candy Holzer
to teach students about music history.
then, the tradition has earned her a trademark and a tradition
she can't seem to shake loose. "Just like Elvis, it never
dies," said Holzer.
has had to dedicate an entire room in her house to Elvis. "That's
how people remember me," she said. "They equate me with Elvis."
It has been 50 years since Elvis Presley recorded his first song,
"That's All Right." The album ignited his career and sparked a musical
revolution, even though fewer than 20,000 copies of the album sold.
half a century later, the Elvis jive is still going strong even
though most people in the Elvis generation are well into their 70s.
The reason, as most Elvis enthusiasts would contend, is that no
one since has done it better. "He can sing love songs that bring
tears to my eyes and rock 'n' roll that makes everyone want to get
up and dance," Holzer said. What is the reason for The King's longevity
in the world of rock 'n' roll?
Elvis fan Del Henman, of Laurel, has one explanation: No one sounds
like Elvis. No one has dabbled into so many music genres and performed
them at the same quality as Elvis. And no one dared mix R&B, country
and a little swing to give rock 'n' roll its image. "Sometimes the
thing that saves me when listening to today's rock 'n' roll is knowing
where it came from," he said. "Everything evolves. There are different
styles of it."
people like Holzer and Henman are trying to preserve old rock 'n'
roll and educate younger generations in an attempt to keep The King
alive. "My students love it," Holzer said. "They ask for it." One
of Holzer's fourth-grade students became so enthralled with collecting
Elvis memorabilia that she would come to school and the little girl
would want to trade Elvis posters and books like they were baseball
cards, the teacher said.
it came time for parent-teacher conferences, Holzer was going to
apologize for getting their daughter hooked on Elvis. However, the
little girl's mother said her daughter's new hobby has actually
brought them together. "She told me they are closer now because
when they go shopping, they share the same interest," Holzer said.
"It almost brought me to tears." Henman has more than 9,000 vinyl
records and an extensive collection of Elvis dolls, dishes and drawings.
Most of the memorabilia he collects is unopened, to maintain its
value. "I collect anything that might be worth something," said
Henman, who admits that he is terrible with names but can remember
the title of every record he owns.
he doesn't have space to display his extensive collection, he said,
"it means more to me just knowing I have it." While Elvis is most
popular among younger generations for his rock 'n' roll music like
"Shake, Rattle and Roll," Henman said nobody sang gospel music like
The King. "I get emotional just thinking about it," he said. "He
could do it all."
youngest daughter, Vanessa, shares her dad's passion for Elvis'
gospel music. The 16-year-old even named her dachshund Elvis. While
Holzer and Henman are sparking newfound love for The King in younger
generations, they were inspired by an older generation of music
lovers. "I was not in the Elvis generation," said Holzer, 48. Just
22 years old when Elvis died, she said she used to sneak into her
older brothers' rooms and steal their vinyl records. "I just thought
he was so handsome," she said.
Mike Beyl, the manager of Ernie November, a music store on Broadwater
Avenue, said he remembers listening to Elvis for as long as he can
remember because his mother and aunt were huge fans, he said. "It's
kinda like Ricky Martin now," he said. "They thought he was sexy."
Beyl considers himself a "huge music fan."
he doesn't necessarily live and die by The King, he said it's important
to at least appreciate his music. "If you like rock 'n' roll, you
got to be curious at least," he said. "He's the first one to take
country and make it rock 'n' roll." And if nothing else, his rein
as The King of rock 'n' roll should be enough to interest younger
generations in finding the roots of modern rock. "There are a lot
of people that try to sound like him," Henman said, "but as they
say, impersonation is the biggest form of flattery."
© The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.