While it is not exactly one of those dates that most people recall instantly, dedicated Elvis fans do, many of whom can say where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news.
For Eddie O'Rourke, who has been doing an Elvis Tribute show for decades, the upcoming anniversary of the death brought up another odd thought.
"It recently occurred to me that I've been doing Elvis professionally longer than Elvis performed as Elvis," O'Rourke said. "If someone had suggested to me years ago that I'd still be doing my Elvis tribute, I would have thought they were crazy."
O'Rourke has also made an important distinction between what he does as tribute and people who imitate Elvis. O'Rourke interprets Elvis's style, but does not do an impersonation.
Born and raised in Jersey City Heights before moving onto North Bergen for his later years in school, O'Rourke has been performing in the Elvis style for more than 26 years, starting with a few Elvis songs in his act but began adding more as interest grew. He always believed that he would give up his act when people stopped wanting to hear it. That interest has never waned and that fact does not surprise him.
"over the years there have been personalities that have struck a resonant chord with the public," he said. "Part of it is outstanding talent. But in the final analysis I believe it is more a question of coming along at the right time."
In November, O'Rourke is will be recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, the studio where Elvis began and from which other great performers such as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins began. O'Rourke will be standing on the same spot Elvis stood 50 years ago. He will be recording a tribute album of various material over Elvis' career, and possibly an Elvis Tribute Christmas action. While he believes this will be a thrill, O'Rourke said he gets his biggest kicks from performing Elvis material in front of a live audience, getting their reaction and helps make performing fun.
One of the things that evolved out his tribute shows has been O'Rourke's amazing collection of Elvis memorabilia.
"It began as research in order to interpret the music and better understand Elvis," he said.
While this collection was meager for a long time - mostly news clipping, books, magazines, recordings and promo trinkets, he had met a man named Jimmy Velvet, whose close ties with Graceland - Elvis' home - had allowed him to amass a significant collection. In the early 1990s some of this went to auction and O'Rourke significantly improved his own collection.
Over the years he became acquainted with many people who touched the King's life, members of his infamous Memphis Mafia, relatives, Elvis' housekeepers, his clothiers, and people who lived at Graceland, all of whom became sources of additional items, as well as the other authorities on Elvis and museum owners, as well as his own family and friends who are constantly on the look out for Elvis.
The range material varies as does the perceived market value and in total he has more than 200 items that are considered Elvis collectable.
"I tend to collect what I like so my collection run from cheap to fairly expensive," he said. "The most valuable things would be those that he touched, such as the crystal and Sterling silver dish," he said, though he also has some odder items such as empty cartridge cases from bullets Elvis used.
Nearly everything is authenticated in some way either by word of a relative, someone O'Rourke trusts or by certificate. The red drapes, O'Rourke obtained through Elvis' cousin. A piece of carpet from Elvis' Jungle Room came through Nancy Rooks, Elvis' maid from 1967 to 1977.
"These days the collection fills two galleries in my studio," O'Rourke said, and spills over into rooms of my home."
One piece of collectable he got quite by accident. When he was 20 years old and working for a local NBC Affiliate radio station in Augusta, Georgia, he needed a microphone for a singing gig he was doing at a local night club. The station manager heard about this and dug through a storage room, handing him a large 1950s style Shure microphone. "As he handed it to me he said, `You can have this one ... and don't be surprised when if you plug it in, it starts singing Hound Dog."
Elvis had used the microphone at Bell Auditorium in Augusta in 1957.
"Needless to say, I still have the microphone," O'Rourke noted.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org