When Elvis Presley died 40 years ago, Long Island was supposed to be one of the next stops on his tour. Fans gathered in the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum, where the concert was to take place, to memorialize the King of Rock and Roll.
Now Elvis fans will unite at NYCB Theatre at Westbury where his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, is holding an intimate show, “Elvis and Me,” discussing her years with the music legend and taking questions from the crowd.
“I start my show off saying, ‘You’re probably wondering why I’m doing this.’ I think it’s time. I feel much more comfortable with crowds, with people and with talking,” says Presley, 72. “I just want to clear up so many things that have been altered or perceived differently. I want to put the record straight from my side.”
Here are five things you might learn about Elvis from Priscilla Presley’s perspective:
Elvis was a homebody
To avoid crowds, Elvis was often cloistered in his home with his wife. “We didn’t go out for dinners. We had our cook and didn’t want to be interrupted with people coming over asking for autographs or gawking at him while he’s eating,” Presley says. “It got so bad that even if we were sunning around our pool in bathing suits we’d hear the bushes rustling — sure enough there were paparazzi behind the trees.”
Elvis was a night owl
Elvis had his fun late in the evening. “We’d go to the movies very late at night until the early morning hours; that’s when he’d go to the music room and start playing,” Presley says. “Never his songs — it was always other people’s songs. Mostly with me it was gospel singing. Everyone else would be asleep so it would be great.”
Elvis wasn’t going to play indefinitely
Unlike his contemporaries Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Elvis, who died at 42, didn’t see himself performing into his golden years.
“You have to remember that back in the day, age 40 was getting up there. In fact, he was wondering what he should be doing,” Presley says. “He was thinking maybe he should be giving it up because he didn’t want to be old on stage singing rocker songs.”
Elvis was nervous about his “ ’68 Comeback Special”
In December 1968, Elvis made a big return to the music scene when this special aired on NBC.
“He was so nervous. Mind you, it was the first time I saw him perform live in front of an audience. It was quite an experience for me,” Presley says. “He thought for sure it was going to make him or break him. He hadn’t performed in almost 10 years. You can’t be so confident that things are going to go right and that people are going to love you.”
Elvis and Priscilla remained close even after they divorced
Although they married in 1967 and were divorced by 1973, Presley says the couple had a deeper bond back to when they met in 1959.
“Elvis and I liked each other. That made a big difference right there. Just because you get a divorce does not mean you have to hate or dislike, it just means things change,” Presley says. “For me, it was trying to find out who I was. I got so caught up and wrapped up in him.”
The couple were always in contact, right up until his death on Aug. 16, 1977.
“I talked to him just a couple of days before he passed. We spoke a few times a month. He’d even come visit me alone at my home in L.A.,” Presley says. “We still cared very much, which made it quite easy. We didn’t have a divorce like most people do.”
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: “ELVIS AND ME”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.
INFO 516-247-5200, venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com