Elvis has been dead for nearly 37 years, and fans still line up for him – and for his likeness.
For the past two years, I’ve spent some particularly frigid January mornings with Elvis fans – almost all ladies, and almost all over 50 – who stand outside the Tupelo Downtown Main Street Association office for hours to get the best seats for the Tupelo Elvis Festival’s tribute artist shows and competitions.
The ladies bundle up in layers of sweaters, long johns, socks, scarves, hats, gloves and ear muffs and stand outside, some as long as six hours.
While covering the Elvis beat I’ve met fans from all over the world, some who spoke no English except what they knew in Elvis songs. Some spend their life savings on a trip to the birthplace.
It’s interesting to see how that kind of passion and loyalty play out in fandoms of today.
It’s easy to be a fan of someone who’s died: They can no longer make a bad movie, say something offensive or release a terrible album.
But it’s interesting to see stars today who do those kinds of things, and their fans stick with them.
I’m not sure Justin Bieber’s lost any fans since his recent DUI arrest.
It was especially heartbreaking to see fans flock to social media to ask, “What’s a DUI?” and even more heartbreaking when others thought it meant “drinking under the influence.”
I know plenty of other fans who leave their favorites behind for far more minor infractions.
Some fans leave TV shows or their creators after a creative slump. Some refuse to listen to a singer or band after a few too many f-bombs in the music, or if they get too sexual.
And these fans seem especially proud that they’re dumping an old favorite.
In fact, there are some Metallica fans out there who I feel like I can understand better depending on which Metallica they prefer: with Cliff or without Cliff.
But Elvis fans?
Elvis fans are forever.
I could say more, but I have a request for a fellow Elvis fan.
A few years ago I met a sweet English lady, Christina, who came to Tupelo to see her favorite artist’s birthplace and to see his statue unveiled in Fairpark.
She was here in town with a few friends, but Christina is the one I’ve kept in touch with, sharing stories about our lives and hometowns thousands of miles away.
I received an email from her over the weekend with bad news: she’s battling lung cancer.
It sounds like it’s been a tough road so far, and it sounds like chemo has done almost more harm than good. Still, she’s is in good spirits and was thankful for her progress so far.
Please, fellow Elvis fans, keep this special Elvis fan in your prayers.
Contact Daily Journal entertainment writer and reporter Sheena Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.