I spent much of my early life in South Africa, brought up on a musical diet of Al Jolson, my father’s favourite, and Kenneth McKellar (a Scottish tenor), my mother’s, from the long-playing records (33 rpm) brought from Scotland.
I am not here to denigrate these great singers from an earlier era but, for a pre-teen boy, they were not quite doing it.
Then one night my father took us to the drive-in cinema near Durban to see a new film from the USA.
I sat open-mouthed, stunned, unbelieving, totally enraptured, as Elvis Presley slid down a pole and ‘The warden threw a party in the county jail’!
Yep, Jailhouse Rock.
The film that taught me there was a whole new and different world of music out there.
The film that showed me that a man could sing and dance and – no disrespect to the wonderful Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly – still be one heck of a man.
The film that gave voice to a generation, to their music and their culture.
The film that personified the new ‘Zeitgeist’, even if it would be 20 years before I knew what that word meant.
The film that introduced me to Elvis, to Rock and Roll, to a way of life.
The film that had the greatest impact on my own life, the one that most changed my way of thinking.
He would be 83 years old today.
Happy Birthday, Mr Presley.
And thank you.