Elvis: Dad Vernon battled tears in heartbreaking video message to fans after star’s death
Elvis Presley's father thanks fans for letters and flowers following star's death
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Just weeks before the star’s shocking death, he had been preparing for a televised concert special. Vernon, himself, had also recorded a special interview to be included in the broadcast. Nobody was prepared for the tragic events of August 16, 1977. Commentators might have thought Elvis’ star had dimmed a little over the past decade, but the global outpouring of grief soon proved how enduring The King’s legacy would be. As tributes, letters and gifts poured into Graceland, Vernon went on TV to deliver a special message to his son’s devoted fans. He also had all the flowers from the funeral distributed to fans the morning after the service. More than 50,000 turned up for one last memento of their idol. WATCH THE FULL TELEVISED CONCERT AND VERNON’S MESSAGE BELOW
The message was part of an ABC broadcast of Elvis’s last ever live concert recordings, which had been filmed that June. Elvis had actually been due to fly back out on tour the day he died.
Towards the end of the broadcast there is a sequence with Vernon which had also been shot earlier that year, where he talks about his son’s early life, his start in the business and his relationship with manager Colonel Parker.
The end of Elvis’ final concert is then poignantly shown with the iconic announcement “Elvis has now left the rebuilding.” Nobody could have known how soon that would be true forever.
The programme ends with a new recording of a grieving Vernon in his office at Graceland. He is stood beneath a framed portrait of Elvis inside Graceland, surrounded by enormous piles of letters from fans.
Vernon is clearly trying to control his emotions and his breathing as he says: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for all the cards and letters that you have sent since the passing away of my son, Elvis. We have all the flowers and the letters and the cards, which we will eventually get around to answering, the majority of them.
“I just wanted you to know that we appreciate them very much, appreciate your concern and you have been a great help to me and the family during this time of grief.”
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Vernon added: “Ladies and gentlemen, the picture you have just seen is the last live performance that Elvis ever done on stage. Thank you. God bless you.”
it is clear Vernon is fighting back tears as his words remind himself and the viewers that Elvis had truly gone. There would be no more music, no more extraordinary live shows, no more American Trilogy or My Way.
Earlier in the broadcast, Vernon had talked so proudly about his son’s earliest days.
He said: “He didn’t do a lot of singing in church. He made his first public appearance when he was nine years old. It was a school competition type thing and he won third prize singing Old Shep. At that time he couldn’t even make no kind of music, he just sung the song and that was it.”
Vernon said: “I know he can’t go out like a normal person because people see him and of course they recognise him and they worry him about this and that. There have been so many different news reports out and they made him into a hermit-type guy like Howard Hughes was supposed to be. I don’t know how all that stuff gets started, but it’s not really true.
“One thing that was good, he never changed his feelings about people or anything. I’m sure he was very happy with his success and all the things that happened to him.. but it didn’t make him think he was something that he wasn’t, you know.”
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