Elvis Presley, without a song
There was a succession of unusual events in the life of Elvis Presley during late 1970 and early 1971. A visit to Tupelo, dropping in at the White House, and several other happenings indicated a man who was becoming increasingly restless with life.
In the midst of this, on 16th January 1971, Elvis attended very special ceremony in Memphis. He had decided to accept an award as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1970, made by the prestigious Jaycee's organisation. He'd been nominated before but had turned down the honour, not wanting to draw further attention to himself. His friend Jerry Schilling persuaded him to accept the award, this being the last year he could be shortlisted because of his age.
The other nine nominees were men of great prestige and accomplishment, and Presley joined a long list of Presidents, scientists and diplomats who had been similarly honoured since the 1930s.
His speech was simple, and he occasionally stumbled over his words (he was, ironically, very nervous) but he delivered a simple precis on his approach to life, taking an old Roy Hamilton hit, "Without a Song" as his theme.
Charismatic and humble, he held the room in the palm of his hand as he spoke of his childhood and explained his guiding philosophy. It may have been the most beautiful and poignant sixty seconds of his entire career.