Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Elvis anniversary: Blue suede shoes and bobby socks

It is 50 years to the day since the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, touched down on British soil for the first and only time.

When Sergeant Presley of the US air force walked down the steps onto the tarmac at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire he famously asked: "Where am I?"


Anne with Elvis star at Prestwick. Photo by Huw Williams
Ann Murphy was among fans who greeted Elvis at Prestwick

He only spent an hour at the base, as the plane taking him back to America from military service in Germany was refuelled, but news that Elvis was in town leaked out and 1,000 screaming fans turned out to greet him.

Among them was 16-year-old Ann Murphy, or Ann Sproats as she was at the time.

"I babysat for the Americans and the sergeant whose children I looked after came to our house," she recalled.

"He said that Elvis would be at Prestwick between six and seven and that I should rush home, have my tea, then rush out to the base if I wanted to see him."

Anne was a huge Elvis fan and, after her mother ran to the nearest telephone box and rang her with the news, she quickly made plans to ensure she would catch a glimpse of her idol.

"My mother was panting and out of breath," she said. "I didn't believe her at first but I had my tea, put on my blue suede shoes, my bobby socks and my jeans and cycled to my friends house to see if she wanted to come."

The barrier was up to my chin but that didn't stop me seeing the door open and then out popped Elvis
Anne Murphy
Elvis fan

Her friend, Muriel, didn't believe the rumour sweeping the Ayrshire town either but agreed to come along and the two girls walked to the Greensite US Airbase.

"When we arrived the barrier was up, " Ann said.

"The plane taxied into the base and stopped, two cars were waiting at the foot of the steps."

"I am 4ft 10ins and the barrier was up to my chin but that didn't stop me seeing the door open and then out popped Elvis."

Anne, and the 1,000 other fans gathered at the base couldn't believe their eyes as the 25-year-old singer stepped onto the tarmac to greet his adoring public and sign some autographs.

"I remember I was shouting 'I love you'," Ann said.

Elvis lookalike

Her friend, took her efforts to attract the King of Rock and Roll's attention even further.

"She jumped the barrier, jumped onto the bonnet of one of the cars and spread-eagled herself onto it, " recalled Ann.

"She peered through the front windscreen but unfortunately Elvis was in the other car.

Elvis lookalike at Prestwick airport. Photo by Huw Williams
An Elvis impersonator performed as part of the anniversary celebrations

"She was soon scraped off the bonnet by the military police and put back on the other side of the barrier."

The visit was short and sweet but still enough to leave the residents of Prestwick all shook up.

Fifty years on, Ann, now 66, still has the blue suede shoes and bobby socks she wore that day (although the jeans no longer fit) and she was wearing them proudly as she took part in events to mark the anniversary.

A 16-hour charity show is being held at the airport, with musical tributes and even an appearance from an Elvis lookalike who recreated Scottish rock and roll history by arriving on a plane, although it came from London rather than Germany.

Prestwick Airport's chief executive Iain Cochrane said: "There are lots of rumours surrounding Elvis and suggestions of other British visits but as far as we are concerned this is the only place and time he ever set foot in the UK."



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