Curtin's For Elvis
:: It's Now or Never ::
:: Little Darlin ::
So, it was twenty-nine years ago today that The King died on his throne. In reflecting on that, I remembered that every once in awhile at the dinner table while growing up, my father would say to me and my sisters, “Eat your vegetables, kids. If you don’t, you’ll die straining on the toilet like Elvis. Elvis didn’t eat his vegetables.” That morbid pearl of wisdom never did convince me to put a Brussel sprout in my mouth, but it did provide a lasting, imagined visual of what the Big E’s final few sweaty moments on Earth were probably like.
Anyway, in Deathiversary tribute we’ve got this 1978 single of Elvis impersonator, Jim “E” Curtin, recorded at South Philly hotspot, Palumbo’s, before it burnt down in the early ‘90’s. Curtin was an Elvis fanatic, collecting Elvis ephemera and memorabilia until he amassed one of the largest collections in the world. Of course, famed actor and Elvis memorabilia collector, Nicholas Cage still wins for acquiring the ultimate Elvis collectible, if only for a short while – that being Lisa Marie.
But I digress. Curtin was so devoted to Elvis that he had a custom-made Gibson J200 guitar with “Elvis Presley” and two crowns engraved on the fret board, and was able to meet Presley in 1974 to give it to him. This guitar is on display at Graceland, and was one of many gifts that Curtin gave to Elvis over the course of the remaining few years of Presley’s life. You often hear of Elvis bestowing gifts on others, not the other way around.
Anyway, he began doing impersonation shows in Philly-area bars in 1976, and after Elvis strained himself to death and the demand for these types of shows took off, Curtin swiveled his hips into the fray, toured the country, released three albums, and acquired twelve different fan clubs filled with middle-aged housewives eagerly awaiting his next performance to hit town. He also wrote eight books on The King.
On this single, the chatter of the spaghetti-slurping audience while he really belts it out on “It’s Now or Never” and the lackluster backing vocals on “Little Darlin” are some of the little things that lend a hand in making the recording sort of charming in a way. The photo on the cover is cut-off at the bottom, but it looks like Curtin is playing the keyboards - in a karate uniform! Now, that’s entertainment.