Elvis Presley in 1969
80 years ago, January 08, 1935, Elvis Presley came into this world. He certainly shook it up forever. I remember being five years old and seeing him the first time he was on the Ed Sullivan show. I stood in the middle of the living room dancing much to the delight of my family. My mother loved him from the moment she saw him because he came from a poor southern upbringing just like her. You can say from that moment on I was a rock and roll fan.
In 1969 Elvis made his big comeback in Las Vegas. My best girl friend and I saw him perform the very first week at the International Hotel. He was really on top of his performance in 1969. Dressed in an all black karate suit he came on stage without all the glitz, sparkle, and glamour and just rocked the house.
In 1969 one of my best friends was in the marines and on the weekends he would bring his buddies to my apartment and they would play music and different games. I will never forget this one young man who kept playing my album “Elvis 68” over and over again one weekend. The song he would play the most was, “If I Could Dream.” It is a powerful song that Elvis felt was his message to the world about how it could change if it wanted to. He went to Vietnam and never made it back. To this day when I hear that song I still remember that young man.
I continued to see him perform in Las Vegas over the years and his voice was always outstanding, but there was a change in him and I did not feel him connecting to the audience. Little did I know of his troubles.
Outside of seeing Elvis perform on stage the closest I came to a connection with him was through his medical doctor. I was in Las Vegas fall of 1976 and had been sick for several years. I call the hotel and asked for reference for a doctor. They recommended I see Dr. Elias Ghanem. I took a taxi from the hotel because I was so weak I could hardly walk. The office was very impressive. It was brand new and decorated in a colonial style-all white and gold inside and out. As I arrived at the front desk the receptionist gave me the usual paper work to fill out. Once I had finished the paper work I was taken into Dr. Ghanem’s office to wait for him. I sat down in front of his desk. Right next to his desk was a large wreath in the shape of a guitar made out of white carnations. It was from Elvis Presley! As I looked around the office I noticed photographs on the wall of a Middle Eastern good-looking man standing next to Ann Margaret, another with Glenn Campbell, and of course with Elvis Presley. Dr. Ghanem must be the doctor to the stars.
He entered the office with an air of grace. It was as though he floated rather than walked. He was in his early 40’s extremely handsome, black hair beautifully styled hanging below his ears, wearing a white smock, and huge gold rings with diamonds on every finger. He could have been a movie star. He shook my hand and sat down at his desk. I was intimidated by his incredible good looks. “Please, tell me about your medical history,” he asked me.
I gave him an outline of the last three years and all the doctors I had seen who were mystified by my problems.
“If you will stay here in Las Vegas for three weeks, I guarantee you I will find what’s wrong with you. Can you do this?”
Looking at his brown confident eyes I felt I had found the right doctor. “Yes, if it means ending this terrible pain.” He busied himself setting up a schedule of tests for me to undergo. I went back to the hotel and telephoned my mother telling her about meeting Elvis Presley’s Doctor and how he felt he could find the answers for me. She was very happy. She thought Elvis Presley was a good old Southern Boy and if the doctor was good enough for him, he was good enough for me. She was going to fly up to Vegas and join me since I had to be hospitalized for some of the testing.
Dr. Ghanem treated me like royalty. He made sure my mother and I got free passes to every show in Vegas. He even arranged for one of his employees to escort us. Some of the tests were very hard on me and I didn’t feel like going out often. My mother went home after a week while I continued the tests. At the end of the three weeks he had found the problem and I had to have surgery.
It was a painful operation and afterwards when the doctor would come to see me I would ask if he could get Elvis to visit me in the hospital. At the time, 1976, Elvis was performing in Las Vegas. I begged because I thought it might be the only chance I would ever have to meet Elvis. Unfortunately he did not bring Elvis to the hospital. Later I realized Elvis was in no condition to meet many people.
I felt a great loss when he passed in 1977. He was so young and so much ahead of him. He lives on through his music and movies. The world was never the same after Elvis Presley. He definitely made a major impact that lasts even now. Not bad for a poor southern boy.
Gone but never forgotten and he always will be the King of Rock And Roll! John Lennon once said, “Before Elvis there was nothing.” He of course was referring to Elvis’s music. I am enclosing my favorite song “If I Can Dream” by Elvis Presley.
All I can say in summing up this little memoir is that I am glad that I lived to experience so many great musicians in my lifetime. There’s no question that Elvis Presley is the King of Rock And Roll. You will never be forgotten Elvis.
Please share your memories and thoughts about Elvis.
Happy birthday in Heaven Elvis,