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Viva Elvis!

National Archives to celebrate birthday of ‘The King’

Photo by Curt Yeomans: The Morrow-based National Archives at Atlanta has several Elvis-related items, including sheet music and old records in its collection, as part of a federal court case to which the famous singer was a party.

Photo by Curt Yeomans: The Morrow-based National Archives at Atlanta has several Elvis-related items, including sheet music and old records in its collection, as part of a federal court case to which the famous singer was a party.

“You’d think the most popular item in all of the National Archives’ holdings would be some important document from our nation’s history, like the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution,” said Mary Evelyn Tomlin, the public programs specialist for the Morrow-based National Archives at Atlanta. “No, it’s the photograph of Elvis meeting Nixon [President Richard Nixon] at the White House.”

The local National Archives branch is preparing to celebrate what would have been the 77th birthday of the “King of Rock and Roll” — Elvis Presley — this weekend, with a birthday party.

The free-to-attend party is scheduled to be held on Saturday, from 12:30 p.m., to 1:30 p.m., at the archives, located at 5780 Jonesboro Road, in Morrow. The public is invited to attend.

The actual anniversary of his birth will be Sunday, but the National Archives is typically closed on that day of the week, Tomlin said.

“It just seemed like a good opportunity to do something that’s fun,” she said. “We just thought it [a birthday party] would be a nice, interesting thing to do.”

Presley, who had several hit songs in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, died in August 1977, but Tomlin said his popularity has not waned over the years.

“Even in death, he has continued to become more and more popular,” she said. “The St. Louis people [at the National Archives and Records Administration’s National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, Mo.] said his draft card is the item from their holdings that people most often ask to see.”

And, not even death can keep a good Elvis — or at least a good Elvis impersonator — down. Tomlin said part of the birthday festivities is expected to include an appearance by “The King,” or perhaps just someone impersonating him. The special guest, she said, will read letters written by Elvis.

Other activities scheduled for Elvis’ birthday party include the playing of several of his popular songs, including “Burnin’ Love,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Hound Dog,” and displaying Elvis-related items from the National Archives at Atlanta’s collection.

Tomlin said many of the items that the archives holds include lawsuits that Presley, or his estate, were parties to. Because the National Archives at Atlanta is the holding facility for federal records generated in the Southeast, such as records from federal courts across the region, it has the records from the cases involving Presley in its permanent collection.

One federal case, from 1957, involves claims by a songwriter that he was defrauded out of royalties he was entitled to as the writer of the song, “Too Much,” that Elvis sang on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Another federal case, from 1980, was filed by Presley’s widow, Priscilla Presley, and his estate, against a British company, called “Elvisly Yours,” which was selling T-shirts and underwear that sported “The King’s” face. “We actually have some of the panties at our [records management] facility in Ellenwood,” said Tomlin.

And, yes, the underwear — with Elvis’ face — is expected to be put on display at the birthday party, according to the public programs specialist.

Anyone who owns a guitar is encouraged to bring it with them, provided “they can sing an Elvis song,” Tomlin said. Attendees will also be able to grab a hunka, hunka birthday cake.

And, what will be the decoration on the cake?

Why, the picture of Elvis meeting Nixon, of course.