Germans mark 'The King's' 70th birthday

10th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 January 2005, HAMBURG - No other country outside the United States lays a claim to the legend of Elvis Presley more so than does Germany, and Saturday was no exception as various festivities marking "The King's" 70th birthday were held. Germany's claim to Elvis dates to the 1958-1960 period when the young rock star served as a simple US Army GI in western Germany. His arrival by ship and then his sojourn to his eventual posting at an army post in Friedberg were an occasion of mass hysteria as young Germ

10 January 2005

HAMBURG - No other country outside the United States lays a claim to the legend of Elvis Presley more so than does Germany, and Saturday was no exception as various festivities marking "The King's" 70th birthday were held.

Germany's claim to Elvis dates to the 1958-1960 period when the young rock star served as a simple US Army GI in western Germany.

His arrival by ship and then his sojourn to his eventual posting at an army post in Friedberg were an occasion of mass hysteria as young Germans, especially the "Frauleins", sought to get a glimpse of the 23-year-old star.

Events marking the Elvis anniversary included a "Las Vegas Elvis Revival Show" and a gospel concert.

For decades, the two towns - Friedberg and Bad Nauheim - have battled over which was the "real" Elvis Presley site in Germany.

While Friedberg laid its claim because this was where the Army base was in which Elvis worked and advanced to the rank of sergeant, Bad Nauheim, four kilometres away, is where Elvis slept. 

Today, townsfolk in their late 50s and early 60s recall how they would keep an eye out for GI Presley. Claus Ilge, 62, spoke of the excitement in an otherwise quiet area.

"Finally there was some action, and he was a star you could approach," Ilge said, recalling how after school he would head to the army barracks for a chance to see Elvis. Ilge collected dozens of autographs.

In Bad Nauheim, the chief Elvis attraction is the Hotel Grunewald, where Elvis once stayed in Room 10. Elvis fans today can view the bed the young GI slept in, the bathtub and the balcony.

Rita Issberner-Haldane, the hotel's top manager, recalls today how Elvis gave a "modest, clean impression" to people. "He was all music," she added.

It was also in Bad Nauheim where, it is said, the hit song "It's Now Or Never" originated, local tourism officials say.

Ulrich Schlichthaerle, head of tourism in Bad Nauheim, believes the town can and should make more of its connection with the first megastar of rock 'n roll:

"Bayreuth has Wagner, Salzburg has Mozart and we have Elvis ... I am convinced that in one hundred years' time, Elvis will be just as significant as he is today."

DPA

Subject: German news

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