Taking Care of Business: One Question with K. Russell

Arrving in Lake Charles, 5-04-75

TheGourdsNews: When people start kicking around memories of their first concert, you probably just sit there knowing you hold the trump card--Elvis Presley. If my numbers are right, May 4, 1975, would've been only a couple of weeks short of your eighth birthday. What do you remember about it?

Kevin Russell: The date has always fluctuated with me in my recollection hovel. It was for my mama, and sister and me, I guess. My father, I always thought and suspected either way he could harbor a secret hate for Elvis, though he never would admit to such a thing. In fact, he would judgmentally deny it. Only he knows, so I must accept his history. I remember being in the same room when I heard, "We are going to see Elvis" and, "Elvis is dead". This was my parents small bedroom. They had made a decision when moving into this house that me and my brother would have the biggest room. On the bed so high, under wood grains glow the TV could be touched, knobs turned with toes. The swinging breeze of the attic fan thrumbed through the house. The memory is distinct. The drive I don't recall, we were just suddenly there. The Theme to 2001: Space Odyssey rumbled out. The timpani pounded with the thunder of one who is being summoned up, conjured from the spiritual world to swoop down and be worshiped. And thus spake Elvis Presley...with his white, glittering, golden ray blast. From CC Rider to falling asleep on the blue vinyl of the backseat, I basked in his light. I felt then that we were truly in the presence of greatness. I had doubts that he was not who we said he was, but I never spoke of them. When he sang all those songs and walked the length of that stage reaching out to the throngs, I knew he was the King. But Kings are always beset by the problems and the struggles against them, the paranoia equals his mote and fear forms the Castle. He was a king like Idi Amin, Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Steve McQueen all rolled together. Familiar, exotic, powerful and famous. My memory of the night is fragmented and impressionistic at best. Now it has passed more into archetypal archives where I continually reform and retool the different parts of songs I remember, the various crouching and kicks and the hits. It is a pleasant place to go always back to that show* in 1975 where I saw The King Of Rock n Roll.

*The 8:30 pm performance at the Civic Center in Lake Charles, LA, not the 2:30 pm show from earlier that same day.

Note: Some time after this interview was over, I emailed Kevin to acknowledge the coincidence of asking him what ended up being an Elvis-related question on the 32nd anniversary of his death. In his reply, he added the following: "The Gourds once spent an evening in London on this night of Death Of The King. We ran around with our friends to various street parties listening to the Elvis music blaring. I remember me and Jimmy singing all the songs and people looking at us in surprise. I think we felt very American that night, shameless and free as only Americans can be. There used to be an oldies station in Dallas that Jimmy and I would listen to. They had one day a week set aside for All Elvis. That was one of the first things we connected on when he joined the [Picket Line] Coyotes. As we get further from his time the shadow of The King grows less and less. But his story is a classic tradgedy that forms a portion my heritage" (K. Russell, personal communication, August 16, 2009).


  1. Interesting parallel with my father though he admitted his distaste for Elvis describing his performances as being 'too sexual'. But he was a big Marilyn Monroe fan. Go figger.

  2. Said like only KR can say it! I particularly like the last response of being in England and feeling so American...