He’d be 75 if he were alive today. Whether you’re a lover or a hater, one can certainly appreciate how incredibly unhealthy he was at the end, yet his amazing voice prevailed. They’re playing some documentaries on TCM tonight which attest to that fact. Of course, my all-time favorite performance is Elvis’ rendition of “Unchained Melody” just weeks before his death. It’s painful to watch, yet it’s a testament to his talent. He looks terrible, but sounds remarkably “with it” — a phrase that he himself says after his performance (read his lips midway through and also at the end where he says “I’m with it” to someone offstage). Charlie Hodge and others would recall later that they were all praying that Elvis would remember the words, and in a couple of places you can even see Charlie (holding the microphone) mouthing the worlds under his breath, hence the triumphant “I’m with it” muttered after Elvis realizes that yes, he does indeed remember the words. One can almost see a glimpse of a young Elvis from ’57 or so when he hits the high note — almost reminiscent of “That’s All Right Mama” from that time. Just a glimpse — then it’s gone, as he was a couple of months later.
Watch the performance on You Tube, which is preceded by a brief documentary piece: