When Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, the news devastated the world. Millions of fans around the world were completely heartbroken, and tens of thousands of Elvis devotees attended his funeral just a few days later at his home in Graceland. But the people most affected by the King’s death were his family and those who spent a considerable amount of time with him. One of the star’s ex-girlfriends was so hurt by the singer’s death that she recorded an entire album to commemorate it.
Wanda Jackson, who turns 85 today on October 20, 2022, first met Elvis in the late 1950s.
She was an up-and-coming country music singer, at the time, who joined the King on his tour of the United States. But, before long, she fell madly in love with the star.
The young lovers spent just over a year together before parting ways and going their separate ways, but not before Elvis turned Wanda’s life upside down.
Before the King would let her go any further, he urged Wanda to change her musical style. He thought her voice would fit the rock and roll genre much better and told her to make a change on her future albums. After initially resisting, she went for it and quickly found incredible success.
Wanda became one of the pioneers of the rockabilly genre and has sold millions of albums worldwide over the last 50 years.
In 2009, she was even inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, all thanks to Elvis and his demand that she change her singing style.
Just a few years earlier, in 2006, Wanda released a tribute album dedicated to the King titled: I Remember Elvis.
The 16-track album was filled with covers of songs originally performed by the King. He released the album as a way to remember the star more than 40 years after his death.
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Wanda said in her monologue, “There was a very special day in my life at that time. We had a matinee and a night show, so after the matinee, we had to stay, but he asked me to go out with him.” which i did. We walked to his car and he asked me to be his girl.”
Wanda added with a smile, “I said yes, I would love to be his girl! He took a ring off his hand, gave it to me and asked me to wear it around my neck, which I did for over a year. “
The last words of his monologue were: “We still miss you, Elvis, and we always will.”
This wasn’t the only way Wanda remembered Elvis. Over the decades, she has always said that she owes her singing career to the King for urging her to try something new.
He has even kept a collection of Elvis songs from his live shows as a way of thanking the star.
Wanda said in 2003: “I have been [playing Elvis songs] in my shows around a small tribute I do to Elvis. I do it at all my shows. Because it was Elvis Presley who got me into rockabilly.”
He added that he tries to shake things up at every show with his highly trained team of musicians.
“I have a band in Sweden that does a medley of songs,” he revealed. “Like Jailhouse Rock and Money Honey and Hound Dog. And then really the most popular song with the audience is One Night With You. I recorded it on a CD project from Denmark that I did a couple of years ago. But One Night With You and Trying to Get to You. So it can be a combination of any of those.”
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