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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
'Why Elvis remains my idol'
Elvis Presley
Fans are preparing to mark 30 years since Presley's death

BBC journalist Matthew Shephard was barely out of nappies when Elvis Presley died on 16 August 1977.

But he grew up a huge fan of the singer - collecting memorabilia and even performing his songs. He explains why - and how - he became such an admirer of the King.

Some of my friends worry about me.

They wonder why a young man became an Elvis Presley fan. I was seven years old when my parents sat me in front of the television while they entertained other family members.

As I switched channels I came across a guy singing to a bunch of bikini-clad girls, and that immediately made an impression on my young mind.

I wanted to sing to a bunch of girls too!

Fast forward many years and I am singing Elvis songs as a tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, but sadly the bikini-clad girls are nowhere to be seen.

Elvis collection

Not a month goes by without another parcel arriving at work with my latest online purchase.

Matthew Shepherd
Matthew performing at a BBC Elvis show in Cornwall

Over the years I have collected vinyl, CDs, and even fruit juice glasses which once belonged to him in 1956.

Working for the BBC I have been fortunate to interview many people who were close to the King, like Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling and Sonny West.

Ask any fan why they like Elvis and you will get numerous answers.

Some like his movies, others prefer his early Sun Recordings made when he was still in his late teens, while other devotees are spellbound by his memorable Vegas appearances of the 1970s.

Rags to riches story

And there you have the answer - Elvis transcends all music genres.

He may have been known as the King of Rock 'n Roll, but lets not forget his gospel recordings for which he received two Grammy awards.

Also known as the Hillbilly Cat he scored worldwide number ones with reworkings of old ballads like Are You Lonesome Tonight? and It's Now Or Never.

Elvis lived the rags to riches story - another reason why he appeals to so many people.

Here was someone who was born during the height of the depression in the 1930s in a shack to parents with barely a dollar to their name.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley performing three months before his death in 1977

Yet he became RCA's artist of the century, selling billions of records all over the world and scored the 1,000th UK number one.

Elvis may have died in 1977, but his career shows no signs of fading just yet, as a collection of singles is about to go on sale to coincide with the 30th anniversary of his death.

One of his major regrets was never touring the UK, but thanks to today's technology Elvis has now performed to the world via a big screen while his original band play live on stage.

Whether you like him or not there's no denying the fact that Elvis has become timeless.

While the rest of us are slowly getting older, Elvis remains an idol for past, present and future generations.

Elvis fans are among the most dedicated in the world which means his music and image will be around for a long time to come.

Will he still be leaving fans All Shook Up in ten, twenty or thirty years time?

You bet - and you ain't nuthin' but a Hound Dog if you believe anything else!



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