Thursday, 21 August 2014

EPFCA at 10 - Take 3

Elvis fan with Elvis picture
About 10 years ago a friend told met that in the music store CD Select in the Tyger Valley Shopping Centre there is a notice in connection with an Elvis Fan Club. I called Annemarie and 10 years later, the fan club is still going strong.

When I think back, it's the new friends I made and all the beautiful music and everything I learned about Elvis, that bring only beautiful memories

There were a lot of laughs when a few of us had to paint bannersblew up balloons and decorate the hall for the dances that we held.

Many have come and gone but a few fans kept attending the get-togethers. As it happens, we had to loose our dear friends and club members 
Joel and Sylvia for ever when they passed on.

We had outings, Amazing Race quizzes and much more, but what I still enjoy most is Elvis' music and of course the movies and do not forget when we could tear apart the "Colonel" during one of our discussions!
 
Long live Elvis' music and the Fan Club!
- Connie Jefferies © EPFCA

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

EPFCA at 10 - Take 2

Teenager discovered Elvis in 1956. Become member of fan club as adultI 'discovered' Elvis when I was a 12 year old budding teenager in 1956. I also discovered that parents were not too keen on this young rock 'n roll singer with the swiveling hips and the smouldering looks! That was fuel on the fire and being rebellious at the time, I went out of my way to collect as many pictures of Elvis as I could to cover my bedroom walls much to my grandmother's disgust! She called him a child of the devil but nothing they said could stop me from adoring him. 

I neglected my homework and sat with my ear glued to the radio every afternoon to listen to his songs. I had an exercise book and wrote down all the Elvis songs I heard and learned them off by heart. Great was my excitement when I bought my very first 78 record Doncha' Think It's Time (with Wear My Ring Around Your Neck on the flip side) was played till it was terribly scratched and worn. I have it to this day as well as a few others and also my very first LP, King Creole. Then followed 45s, tapes, videos, CDs and now of course, DVD. But my oldies really bring back happy memories of those early years.

How we screamed our way right through his movies in those days and of course even today when I see Elvis on screen my heart still skips a beat. 

A couple of years ago I joined the Elvis Presley Fan Club of Africa here in Bellville. We listen to his music, watch his movies and talk Elvis. We can let our hair down, sing along, tap our feet, squeal with delight and enjoy a fun filled afternoon once a month with friends who all love Elvis. What a pleasure!
- Christine Botha © EPFCA

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

EPFCA at 10 - Take 1

When the nursing sister at my mother’s retirement home told me that an Elvis club existed in Bellville, I could not believe my luck. I immediately phoned and spoke with the founder, Annemarie Swarts. I was not sure what to expect but was very pleasantly surprised. Annemarie questioned me as to why I am an Elvis fan - probably to check out whether I was weird or not. When I told her that I have been a fan since 1956 (giving away my age) and that I had already been to Graceland twice, Annemarie was excited. She invited me to the next get-together (I forget exactly when that was) which was on a Saturday afternoon and asked me to talk about Graceland and to bring all the photos I took there.

When I got to the get-together which was held in Annemarie’s lounge, I met Annemarie, Connie, Poppie and Jako. Yes, membership was low with me coming in at number five but thanks to Annemarie’s perseverance, the club has grown. I was very impressed with the way Annemarie presented the afternoon. I had absolutely no idea what an Elvis fan club would do at a get-together. We talked, listened and watched Elvis footage - some of which I did not know existed. I then showed my photos and spoke about my trips to Graceland. It was a wonderful afternoon, had me hooked and I am still here.

During the past ten years, I have learnt so much more about Elvis. I thought, having been a fan since 1956 and having been to Graceland, that I knew all there was to know but I was so very wrong. I have made numerous friends of which most will remain close friends for life, I hope. I have enjoyed the many get-togethers that we have had and all the fun filled activities that Annemarie and Nicolette have organized. I cannot single out any one event that was more enjoyable than others as I have enjoyed them all - even when we had to write ‘tests’.

I am so very fortunate to be able to call ya’ll friends and thank Elvis and Annemarie for bringing us all together. May the club continue for many, many more decades.      
- Amy Grainger © EPFCA

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Remembering Elvis

With 16th August falling on a Saturday this year, we held our monthly get together on the actual anniversary of Elvis' death, 37 years later.

The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to ‘Sentimental Me’ - personal memories of what very special Elvis songs meant to us. Very happy and very sad memories came to the fore - with each fan sharing very personal feelings. All of us gaining more understanding of each other. O, how Elvis really touched our hearts with his music, his voice. Songs such as Bringing It Back, Love Me Tender, My Wish Came True, An American Trilogy, One Night, all mean so much to one specific fan.

It is amazing just how much Elvis’ music touched us all.

Then came the concert - The Fantasy Concert - of Elvis recorded live on stage in Memphis 20th March 1974 at the Mid-South Coliseum. Camera footage from that show was complemented with footage from other shows to form a complete show! Elvis was in top form, loving every minute of performing back in his hometown for the first time in 13 years. What a performance he gave.

It was a sad day, 16th August, but just watching this concert we became aware again, of what a brilliant, one of a kind entertainer this man with the magnificent voice was and always will be.

RIP Elvis - Long Live The King.
Jackie van Schalkwyk © EPFCA

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spell-bound In London

Annemarie and I jetted off to London for two weeks on 26 April 2005 to see Elvis - The Concert and meet VIPs in the Elvis World. The first few days we did the tourist thing to show Annemarie all the wonderful sites the city has to offer, as it was her first time overseas.

We attended an Elvis Nite at a pub in London where we met up with well-known Elvis author Julie Yeardye who invited us to her and hubby Trevor's home in Tring. They showed us the beautiful countryside surrounding Tring. Then came the big night ... Annemarie and I were so excited, we counted the minutes to the show. At about 6.30 p.m. we took the tube to Hammersmith where the concert was held. We were surrounded by thousands of Elvis fans, young and still young at heart.

Not wanting to miss anything we took our seats and immediately felt the energy in the air. Just before spontaneously combusted with anticipation, the lights dimmed and the first few notes of Also Sprach Zarathustra began to play. We almost jumped out of our seats.

The curtains lifted and there they were, the band members who shared Elvis' stage and life: The Sweets, The Stamps, James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Glen Hardin and Joe Guercio. Then, larger than life, Elvis appeared on the big screen in the middle of the stage. That voice and music captured us and let us experience a magnificent, spell-bound performance!

Soon everybody were rocking in the isles to the rhythm of Suspicious Minds, and, holding hands, swaying to Can't Help Falling In Love. All too soon the evening was over, but the memories of that evening will stay in our hearts forever.
Nicolette Meades © EPFCA

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Everything Elvis

Graceland Visit 2007In 2007 four EPFCA members flew to Memphis to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Elvis' passing. Our dream had come true. We arrived midday 5th August, booked into our Red Roof Inn Motel and drove straight to Graceland. Nicolette was our designated driver and Annemarie our navigator. 

Those first moments gazing over the wall at the mansion cannot be described. Our feelings were overpowering. We were on Elvis territory and wanted to see and experience everything Elvis possible. As this was the week before actual Elvis Week, we had time to explore all the well-known places Elvis knew... Humes High, 2414 Lamar Ave,Lauderdale Courts, Sun Studio, Audubon Drive 1034, 1266 Dolan Drive, the Circle G Ranch, Mid-South Coliseum, Liberty Land with the wooden Zippen Pippin, Stax Museum - the list goes on and on. One of my highlights, the Overton Park Shell, was still beautiful though neglected. All of us were imagining Elvis performing here.

Then, at last, our Graceland VIP tour - what an emotional drive up to Graceland, through the music gates and up to the house. Heart overflowing, tears streaming down my face - I was here. Walking through the house for the first time, I felt like a zombie. Standing at Elvis' grave 30 years on, I felt so privileged sharing what so many people still felt: love and respect for Elvis and his legacy.

Back through Graceland, drinking in every little detail this time. Hall of Gold, Racquetball Court - could one person really have achieved all this? YES! ELVIS!

Then came the Automobile Museum, the aeroplanes and other exhibitions across from Graceland at the Plaza. All of us were sometimes just speechless, trying to absorb all we were seeing. Visiting the mansion yet again, we were the last four alone inside before they closed. What a feeling - just us and Elvis! We also revisited the grave again and again, each with our own thoughts and longing.

Tupelo! Wow, touring the wide open American highways. I haven't mentioned the heat, yet, but here in Tupelo it was really, really hot. The little shotgun house, Tupelo Hardware Store, Lawhon Elementary and much more. A real satisfying day.

We met up with fellow club member John Webb at the Plaza. Everyone bought FTD CDs and books. The official opening of Elvis Week was held at AutoZone Park with a baseball game between the Memphis Redbirds and Omaha Royals, ending with a fireworks display to the beat of Elvis music. Magnificent.

Beale Street, The Peabody Hotel, a trip down the Mississippi River on an authentic paddle boat, Elvis Expo, Insiders Conference - just a few activities we attended. I even got to shake Jerry Shilling's hand and chat to him while he autographed his new book for me. A great Elvis-related moment.

A first ever - two movie nights on the lawn at Graceland. Elvis on the big screen in Viva Las Vegas and That's The Way It Is. Loved it. Then the 4th Annual Movie Festival at Malco Theatre's Studio On The Square with more movies on the big screen like Girl Happy, Charro and Speedway. Just couldn't get enough.

At last, the Candlelight Vigil, 15th August. First a moving ceremony, If I Can Dream being the theme, then the queues waiting to pass the grave. We stood in the queue from 12.30 a.m. It was still very, very hot. Huge standing fans all over cooled us down. Candles were issued at the music gates and lit with a flame from the everlasting flame at Elvis' grave. We walked two by two, there being so many fans and stood at the grave at about 6 a.m. That night 75,000 fans passed by Elvis' grave - all sad and happy to be there. Totally exhausted we drove home as the sun came up, but so grateful to have been there for the commemoration event.

Then came Elvis - The Concert and directly after that the Midnight Vegas Show. Absolutely brilliant. Totally overwhelming - imagine, just imagine that Elvis is performing live to a sold out auditorium. I was quite shell-shocked for a while. The whole set-up was amazing, it so easily could have been live shows.

This mind-boggling Elvis Week ended with the Night of A Thousand Stars - a meetup with some film co-stars of Elvis through the years - Suzanna Leigh, Ed Faulkner and Jan Shepard to name a few.

Lastly, it was back to Graceland to say goodbye, sign on the wall and remember: he dared to rock That's All Right - 5 July 1954! As George Klein says: "The sun never sets on a legend".

We'll be back! If you're not an Elvis fan - you just don't get it!
Jackie Van Schalkwyk © EPFCA