LAS VEGAS, NV. The Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) is hosting the annual Las Vegas Elvis Fest Heart of the King production July 11-14. The LVH is the original International Hotel Elvis contracted with in 1969 and performed his record breaking 837 consecutive sold out shows. His final sold out shows were December 2 – December 12, 1976.
I’m not sure why I chose the title, Where No One Stands Alone, from one of Elvis’ obscure gospel songs he recorded in 1967 on the How Great Thou Art album to write about the LV Elvis Fest. According to some reports he only sang it live once on February 16, 1977 for an impromptu performance taking the band and back up singers by surprise. It seems to be a personal testimony about his life at that moment, or perhaps, an epiphanous summarization of it. The song reminds me of a passage in Ecclesiastes where King Solomon, after experiencing every indulgence wealth can provide, he concluded there is one purpose for all.
Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (12:13-14).
The second stanza of Where No One Stands Alone.
Like a king, I may live in a palace so tall with great riches to call my own. But, I don’t know a thing in this whole wide world that’s worse than being alone. Hold my hand all the way, every hour every day; come here to the great unknown.
Parallel conclusions about the meaning of life, nonfulfillment from wealth, and the emptiness of the soul apart from God. Regardless of belief, these are profound proverbs from the King of Israel and the King of Rock & Roll. (At this time I have no idea where this is going, but stick with me. Inspiration is rarely a straight path.)
Perhaps, the direction is this. Whatever meaning Elvis discovered in the last months of his life since he sang Where No One Stands Alone, is known only to him and God, and may have been the catalyst sparking the legacy we see today. Would Elvis be elevated to the same status he is today if he had lived? Would his influence be as far reaching? Does it really matter?
Every fan, every ETA has a story about how Elvis impacted their lives. Some, like me, simply heard an Elvis song and became a fan for life. Others were inspired to become musicians and singers because they identified with him. Many, at least 60,000 by some counts, are ETAs paying tribute to Elvis year after year. There are a few people whose lives were literally saved by Elvis.
Eric E-rock Haws was contemplating suicide at the age of 13 when his Aunt Billie intervened and took him to see Elvis on April 24, 1973.
Elvis and his music filled my soul and I have never been the same since. I believe God sent [Aunt Billie and Elvis Presley] to save my life and they did. God worked through my Aunt Billie, who worked through Elvis, to reach my vacant heart. ~Eric E-rock Haws
Does it really matter? To E-rock, it was a matter of life and death in a moment where he felt all alone. E-rock went on to become an ETA to pay tribute to the man who saved his life and to honor the life of his Aunt Billie. He is competing in this year’s event.
Thousand of fans will be filling the LVH for a festive celebration of Elvis, his music, and his impact on each of our lives. On the stage, once graced by Elvis himself, will be the 30 ETAs competing for $10,000 in cash prizes. Some of his closest friends, like Joe Esposito, Jimmy Velvet, Jerry Schilling, and DJ Fontana will be present to answer questions and take fans on guided backstage tours. Back up singers, Joe Moscheo of the Imperials and Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, are sharing their memories of Elvis on tour. Movie co-stars, Cynthia Pepper (Kissin’ Cousins) and Darlene Tompkins (Blue Hawaii), will tell stories about Elvis from the movie sets. We might get a few laughs from the comedian who made Elvis laugh, Sammy Shore. Rounding out the list is Elvis’ friend and personal nurse for the last two years of his life, Marian Cocke.
Who else will be there? You. We’ll sing the chorus to My Way or Can’t Help Falling in Love together in unison and off key. Strangers will take the hand of other strangers and twirl the dance floor and become strangers no more. We’ll toast with new and old friends to the memory of Elvis while some will share tears. There is one, I know, who will be remembering the good things life, friends, his ETA brothers, and Elvis have to offer from his hospital bed. No one will stand alone.
Whew! It was a winding path of inspiration to come to the conclusion where no one will be standing alone at the Las Vegas Elvis Fest. Thanks for sticking around. God bless to all and good luck to the competing ETAs. Rock it like Elvis!