Reflects on Elvis
IndyStar.com - David Lindquist
Presley's final show, June 27, 1977, at Market Square Arena, was a life-changing experience
for Danny Thompson, a 13-year-old at the time. "It really had an effect on me," Thompson says. "I
said, 'You know, I want to do that.'"
Thompson followed through on his musical aspirations. He was a founding member of punk rock's
Sloppy Seconds in the 1980s, and in recent years he's fronted rockabilly revival act Bigger
Than Elvis and the Mess Arounds, a trio that specializes in "hot-rocking blues, soul and R&B,"
in Thompson's words.
Here are Thompson's thoughts on topics that continue to fascinate fans of the "King
of Rock 'n' Roll":
Market Square Arena memories: Thompson knows the final stages of Presley's concert career
are widely maligned as being inconsistent and incoherent. Yet he describes the final
concert as a "good performance," and one he can revisit thanks to a bootleg videotape of
various 8 mm films. "I remember it being fun and energetic," Thompson says. "He had fun
doing what he was doing."
If Presley had lived a longer life: The idea of a collaboration between Presley and
producer Rick Rubin, who's rallied late-career greatness from Johnny Cash and
Neil Diamond, intrigues Thompson. The Mess Arounds vocalist says also that interest
in rockabilly was on the rise in the 1970s, a trend that might have prompted a tour
with stars such as Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. "Then again, Elvis always did his own
thing," Thompson says. "He never followed trends, but he kept an eye on what was happening."
Hollywood highlight: Regarding Presley's work as an actor, Thompson says his favorite
film is 1958's "King Creole." "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz oversaw "King Creole,"
which featured Walter Matthau and Vic Morrow in supporting roles. "Even without Elvis,
it would have been a good film," Thompson says.
Mansion in Memphis: Thompson has visited Graceland twice, in 1988 and 2000. When asked
to name his favorite room in Presley's home, Thompson goes with "the one that everyone
hates": the Jungle Room. It's a retreat known for its indoor waterfall, fur-upholstered
furniture and green carpet on the floor, walls and ceiling. "It's just tacky-cool,"
Thompson says. "Other than the shag carpet, it's like you've walked into some
What people are missing: Thompson advises Presley fans to check out "Walk a Mile in
My Shoes: The Essential '70s Masters" -- a 120-track boxed set that was released in
1995. "(That era) was more than just shaking around in a jumpsuit," Thompson says. "He
did some really poignant music. I think people should listen and give it a chance."
More about Danny.
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