This week is Elvis Week. That in and of itself is pretty big news but this year marks the 40th anniversary of the super entertainer's death.

This week is Elvis Week. That in and of itself is pretty big news but this year marks the 40th anniversary of the super entertainer's death.

Like the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy as well the Challenger disaster, most people alive at the time can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of Elvis' passing.

It was Aug. 16, 1977, I was working the night shift at the American Greeting Card factory at Osceola. I believe it was the second break of the night, probably between 10 and 10:30 p.m., when my supervisor Roy came and sat down with us in the break room and announced that Elvis Presley had died. Roy was well known for kidding and joking around but this time he had a very serious look on his face.

“Get out of here,” commented one of his workers. “Quit lying man,” replied another.

I looked at Roy myself with more than a little disbelief in my eyes. I went back to my work area thinking, “Elvis can't be dead. He's been around since I was a kid.” I was 24 at the time.

I was only four years old when Elvis' career began to take off in the mid-1950s. I wasn't buying records at the time but my brother, Mike was. He had Elvis' first LP, several EPs and dozens of 45's. Mike was a big radio fan back in those days. Occasionally on Friday or Saturday evenings, he would put up a card table in the living room and break out his 45s and play them on his record player as if he was a DJ on a rock and roll radio station. Sometime he let me select the records.

His Elvis playlist included “Teddy Bear,” “All Shook Up,” “Return to Sender,” “Don't,” “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Tender.”

Music changed dramatically over the years and by the time I was buying records it was The Beatles that was the rage. Elvis drifted toward ballads and pop tunes and soon became somewhat of a crooner for lack of a better term. It really wasn't cool to be an Elvis fan during my formative high school years.

Then, The King made a comeback. Suddenly, Elvis was cropping back up on mainstream rock and roll stations with “Kentucky Rain,” “In the Ghetto” and my all-time favorite Elvis song, “Suspicious Minds,” not to mention “Burning Love,” “Way Down” and “Moody Blue.” The list of hit Elvis songs could fill a small diary.

Finally, I broke down an bought an Elvis album. I believe it was a live album and I wasn't totally satisfied with the recording quality of the performance. So later, when a double record set of his greatest hits became available through my record club I bought it.

Over the years I have converted to CDs and purchased several of Elvis' greatest hits, love songs and gospel music compilation records. They are now a treasured portion of my recording collection. While I don't listen to Elvis nearly as frequently as I do The Beatles, I have come to respect Elvis as the true king of rock and roll. It is easy to listen and hear just how many artists he has influenced over the years. His music will last forever. It is as All-American as apple pie, baseball and hot dogs.

I never could get Roy to tell me that he was joking or that Elvis' death was just another one of those outlandish rumors. I thought about it a lot during the remaining two hours I had left on the job.

Mom and Dad were still awake when I arrived after midnight. Despite the late hour, the news was still being reported on the Memphis TV stations. After all, Elvis called Memphis home and it was at his Graceland mansion where he died.

It took days even months before the shock wore off. Fans denied it saying it was a hoax staged by Elvis so that he could retire from the public eye.

Over the years, unreleased recordings popped up here and there and Elvis Enterprises has become a multi-billion business.

For loyal fans, Elvis still lives on in his music and movies. For those who grew up during that era they will never forget the excitement and joy that the king of rock and roll brought into their lives almost on a daily basis.

Long, live the king.