Sunday, August 6, 2023

That time Elvis shot his TV in Disgraceland

I’m a fan of journalist Jake Brennan’s podcast Disgraceland. 

And the release in book form of some of the most outrageous rock ‘n roll historical storytelling from that show is perhaps even better. The first story Brennan tells in Disgraceland: Musicians Getting Away with Murder and Behaving Very Badly is about the sad last days of Elvis Presley.

As “Fat Elvis” slid ever further down his rabbit hole of greasy fried food and narcotic cocktails, he premeditated how he was going to use his .38 pistol to shoot the TV the next time singer Robert Goulet’s “shit-eating grin”appeared on screen.

It wasn’t just the fact that Goulet moved in on his girl back when Elvis went off in the military. The story postulates that one of his major sources of intense loneliness stemmed from being the survivor when he was born and his twin Jesse Garon Presley died in childbirth.

By the time Elvis died in 1977, he had amazingly not had a top 10 hit since “Burnin’ Love” in 1972 and not had critical success since 1969’s “Suspicious Minds.” It had already been nine years since his NBC Comeback Special, which tells you how long it had been since Elvis was the King.

The source of Elvis’ sorrow and anger (at that TV) was of course, as we all know after seeing last year’s Baz Lurman movie, Colonel Tom Parker. The grifter from Holland who assimilated into U.S. society by getting people to give money to circus acts jumped into the 1950s fad of rock n’ roll, finagled a contract for Elvis that gave himself lots of rights, and got the singer moved over from Sun Records to RCA, where the hits started flowing. 

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