Forty-four year old Fenton Naylor from Dalton-on Furness in Cumbria, England sends along his touching account of his reason for being a devoted Elvis fan. The following is excerpted from a story Fenton wrote:
An Elvis record changes Fenton’s life. It all began for me when I was 7 years old. We lived in a rural town in England called Stonemarket. I was looking at my mother’s records and noticed the name “Elvis Presley” on two of them. I wondered who he was so I put them on Mother’s small record player that she’d had for years. As soon as the music came through the small speaker, the beat and the rhythm had me jumping up and down with excitement. The records were “Follow that Dream” and “Kid Galahad.” Even at that age I was aware of music, but this changed my life.
Later, when I was fourteen years old, on the fateful night of August 16th, 1977, I heard that Elvis Presley had died at age 42 of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s strange, I never met him or saw him in concert, but I felt upset and cried a little. My mother thought I had hurt myself. I told her “No, Mother, I haven’t hurt myself. It’s Elvis Presley. He just died.” My mother stood back in amazement that this guy from Tupelo, Mississippi who was known as “The King” the world over could affect a 14-year-old boy who should have been more interested in the Glam rock that was happening in the UK with the likes of “Slade,” “The Rubettes,” “Rod Stewart” and others.
A Dream of Graceland. As the years went by, I wanted to experience Graceland. Ok, I thought to myself, Elvis is no longer with us, but I could go to Graceland and fulfill the dream that had been burning in my heart for so long. I wanted to know what it was about this man that was drawing me there. That dream became reality in August of 1993 when I traveled with the Fan Club of Great Britain to the USA.
I had never been on an aeroplane before, so flying to the USA was an experience in itself. When we landed in Memphis, everyone wanted to go to Graceland immediately, but our tour started at Tupelo where Elvis was born. Even in 1993, the two-room shack held some mystical calling to me and I felt warmth inside this place.
From Tupelo we moved on to Memphis for more Elvis sights and sounds. I was always taking photos and wanted to keep everything for eternity. Elvis Presley fans are one big family and it was Elvis, the man, his music, his legend, that kept us talking for hours. Studio B was a place to stand still and close your eyes for a moment and imagine Elvis recording, “In the Ghetto.” For me, the trip was just getting better and my understanding of the man was of humility and kindness.
Graceland at last. When I arrived at Graceland, I just stood at the gates and for a second I thought to myself, “I’m actually here!” I touched the Graceland gates and it was the emotional start of the Graceland experience. Walking up the driveway to the front pillars of the entrance seemed to take forever, but that was a good thing because I didn’t want it to end. Walking into the mansion itself was like going back in time because it looked lived in and I could feel that Elvis loved this place and that he was happy there.
Candlelight vigil. The night of the candlelight vigil I remember as if it was yesterday. I was standing in a never-ending line of people, all waiting for the gates to open at the stroke of midnight. There were people from all over the world and all ages. That showed the feeling and emotion that Elvis still had among his many loyal fans.
Once I got to Elvis’s grave, I placed a single red rose on his grave. I touched his grave to try and send out a signal to his spirit to tell him, “Hey, Elvis, you will always live in our hearts and minds.” After so many years of wanting to be here with Elvis, in a way I was.