I generally hate editor's columns. You know the drill: "Freelancer Grayson Quince spent weeks with the indigenous people of faraway Swahamba to bring you a first-hand account of their incredible mating rituals ... etc. etc." These things are written, presumably, to give readers behind-the-scenes information about how the publication was put together. And they're usually boring, which is why I avoid writing them. Most of the time.
This week's issue, however, seems to call for a bit of explanation. You might have seen the cover with Elvis' photo and the dates "1935-2007" and thought, What ... !? This is the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death. What's with this 2007 stuff?
Well, it's pretty simple, really: We knew you'd be inundated with the usual Elvis career rehash this week, and we wanted to do something different.
In a staff meeting a few weeks back, someone wondered aloud about what would have happened if Elvis had survived the health crisis that killed him in 1977. What kind of career would he have had? What would have happened to Graceland? Would the King have gone on to create more great music? Would he have become a recluse? Gone to rehab? Adopted an African baby? Or, as John Lennon famously said when informed of Elvis' death, was dying a "good career move."
The answers to all these questions can be found in this week's cover story. Chris Herrington and Greg Akers spent the last week or so piecing together the details of Elvis' later years. To say they became obsessed with the project is an understatement. They huddled together, discussing Elvis theories for hours, finally coming up with a 6,500-word opus on Elvis' last 30 years that is so detailed and rich it makes you sad that Elvis couldn't have lived to, well, live it.
The slightly pared-down version (for space considerations) begins on page 20. Kudos also to art directors Carrie Beasley and Amy Mathews for their creative Photoshop work.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...