Elvis Presley would have turned 81 years old on Friday – January 8, 2016 – were he still alive, according to a report on CNN on Friday. The king of rock and roll is celebrated every year on his birthday in spite of the fact that most people have now come to the sad realization that Elvis has indeed left the building. Of the many celebrations held throughout the land, one of the most notable was that hosted by legendary rock and roll disc jockey Dick Biondi. Once again, Radio Hall of Fame DJ Biondi stepped forward to host an event that drew several hundred fans in the Windy City where Biondi still does an oldies radio show on 94.7 FM, WLS-FM. Biondi was first heard on Chicago airwaves back in the early 1960s. He has been called the king of rock and roll radio.
As for the Elvis celebration, the event – The Elvis Fest – was held at The Original Mothers bar along Division Street – 26 West Division – which hosts a number of popular bars on the near North Side of the city. The event was held on the eve of Elvis’ 81st birthday – on Thursday night. When arriving, one was greeted by a team of security who looked like they were old enough to remember Elvis but for some odd reason didn’t look too excited about being there. That wasn’t a big deal after descending into the basement of the establishment where there was a line of about 100 rambunctious people waiting to get in at the starting time, 8 PM. Some 23 minutes later, the security personnel stationed at the back room where the birthday celebration was being held was a bit more welcoming than the street’s security at the front door. They welcomed guests who filed into the room, passing a table set up for donations which were not required for entry. Beyond there, Dick Biondi was standing alongside a couple of Elvis cardboard standups and he graciously took time to talk to each person who wanted to greet him. Additionally, photos were allowed with the standups of Elvis as well as with the legendary rock and roll radio announcer.
Shortly thereafter, the busy bar had a number of Elvis look-alikes who were hopeful of winning the best-Elvis-look-alike contest for a pair of tickets to (Viva) Las Vegas. I didn’t know about this part of the evening or I may have slapped on a couple of “lamb chops” on my cheeks and gone for the prize. Then again, maybe not. There was an Elvis impersonator singing live while doing some decent Elvis gyrations and other Elvis-influenced moves. Though no birthday cake was in-sight, over in the corner were two huge big plates filled with Elvis’ favorite snack – peanut butter and banana sandwiches. The bar in the party room featured Elvis-inspired drinks, too. I asked a young-looking female bartender if she was an Elvis fan. As the generation divide would have it, she said, “No.” It’s pretty safe to say that she was the only non-Elvis fanatic present.
Throughout the evening, Biondi could be heard on his radio station interviewing the owners and employees of the hosting establishment as well as people who had shown up for the affair. Several hundred people appeared to be in attendance after the evening got rocking and rolling along. All in all, Biondi, the Original Mothers’ staff, and the celebrants who trekked their way to the event did Elvis proud. According to Chicago Radio and Media, it is the 16th year in a row for the event. Presley passed away on Aug. 16, 1977 at the age of 42.