Northern Ireland fans remember Elvis

By Tori Watson

Image source, Keystone/Getty Images
Image caption, Elvis Presley died 40 years ago

Forty years after his death Elvis Presley continues to influence the lives of fans across Northern Ireland.

The King of rock and roll created endless hits which revolutionised popular music in the 1950s and are still greatly loved by all ages.

In 2016, Presley sold one million albums making him a top earning dead star.

Image caption, From politics to rock and roll - former first Minister David Trimble has collected a selection of Elvis records

One high-profile fan of the singer is former first minister Lord Trimble.

He began collecting records by the artist in 1959.

"I remember in summertime when you walked past the amusement arcade that had a jukebox, it was always playing I'm All Shook Up," he told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"Throughout the summer, the young men of the town who had a high opinion of themselves were playing it endlessly.

"Even in the troubled years of his lifetime when he had some serious health problems, he was capable of producing excellent recordings.

"He had a considerable range in terms of what he could sing - I often say to people, moving from Elvis to Wagner was a frictionless transition!"

'Next to God in music'

From collections to creations, one die-hard Elvis fanatic was so inspired by the King, that he built his very own replica Graceland in Ballyronan, County Londonderry.

Barney Coleman told the BBC: "Elvis is next to God to me in music terms."

Image source, Getty/BBC
Image caption, Barney Coleman recreated Elvis Presley's Graceland in Ballyronan

A carpenter by trade, Mr Coleman said he looked at the layout of the real Graceland on his computer and based his replica on it.

"I wanted it in his style, I didn't want to make it bigger, smaller or wider," he said.

"A lot of people have driven in and stopped and chatted when I was working on the house.

"It's just a pity I didn't have it built before he died, as I might have been able to invite him over to come and chill out."


Born nine years after Elvis died, Caroline McKnight grew up listening to Elvis' dulcet tones thanks to her dad's love of rock and roll.

"He died before I was born but I still feel like his music is as prominent today as it was then - it's timeless and speaks to fans in a unique way," she said.

"There'll never be another artist like him again.

Image source, Caroline McKnight
Image caption, Caroline dressed up as Elvis for her dad Trevor's sixtieth birthday party

Londonderry born Caroline enjoys Elvis music so much that she even considered calling her son Presley.

"I was going to call my son Oliver Presley, but my Granny pleaded with me not to do it because she thought that he might get bullied at school.

"I've also got the word Elvis tattooed on my back. I got it done when I was in my 20s.

"When I went in to get it done the tattoo artist spent an hour trying to talk me out of it, but I'd wanted it for so long I went ahead with it.

"Sometimes people will comment about it, but I don't regret it at all."

Ms McKnight's Elvis songs include I Can't Help Falling in Love and Suspicious Minds, which she sang at her dad's sixtieth birthday party.

Image caption, Stephen McCann wearing an Elvis costume that he wore on his wedding day

Stephen McCann not only loves Elvis, but also got an Elvis impersonator to propose to his wife in Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

"She wasn't really expecting it as she's quite a shy person - but it was great," he said.

However Elvis' involvement in the couples wedding did not stop there.

"We travelled to Vegas to get married and my wedding suit was an Elvis costume.

"It took me 25 minutes to get from my hotel room to the wedding car because so many people stopped me and asked for photographs," he said.

"Everyone asks my wife what she wore on our wedding day, and she always says it didn't really matter because she didn't want to upstage me."

The couple also have a dog named Elvis and have turned their downstairs bathroom into a shrine to the King of rock and roll.

"It's filled with books, plates, rings and all sort of paraphernalia - everything Elvis."

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