Wednesday, Aug. 17, 1977 | 5:31 p.m.
The shock reaction set in. Deep and swift.
Across the land but never felt more shockingly than in Las Vegas, the town where superstars are common but he was a galaxy all by himself.
The one name said it all. Nobody had to be told the last name.
More than that he was a man, one helluva man. Y ou don't get that praise in Vegas unless you earn it. And the people who give it are the ones who've seen them all, and can tell the culls from the diamonds.
The security guards who guarded him at the Hilton, the waitresses, the stagehands, and all the other so-called little people.
Security Sgt. Mike Albrecht, who's been with the Hilton for five years, was one of them.
"He was one hell of a guy. I worked his show the last three times he was here. He'd always remember you by name. A lot of stars don't even know you exist, but not him."
He told of Elvis the clown who'd grab a handful of dinner rolls and play touch football with the guards as they escorted himm from the superstar penthouse suite down to the showroom.
Then there was the Elvis who carried a bible and would quote passages by heart and suggest the guards read them.
Frencesca Fegette, a main room waitress at the Hilton since it opened, was another one.
"He always remembered the help every time. What amazed me was that he'd remember our names. He liked to fun around. He'd chase up upstairs to the second floor where we changed our uniforms. We'd all tell him not tonight Elvis, he'd laugh and say 'Ok, I'll wait'."
She was not the first one to notice the difference in the last few years.
"He didn't look good, you could tell. He didn't clown around like before. He will be missed, believe me."
Roger Mennie, a former bodyguard for Elvis and now casino host at the Rendezvous Casino and Hotel downtown, still wears a $24,000 diamond ring Elvis gave him in 1972.
"We were walking along and talking on the way to his suite and I mentioned something about how nice the ring looked. He just took it off his finger and said 'It's yours.'"
There were many butler people who benefited from the generosity of the King of Rock. A generosity he always insisted be kept quiet.
Randy Clark showed the ring he got from Elvis. His wife got another one, all because he once helped him escape from over-zealous fans.
"We always had to check the rafters in the main room and backstage. The girls would climb up there and hide all day just to get a glimpse of him. It was amazing. He was always one of the guys, he liiked to clown around...take buckets of ice and dump 'em on a guy, we'd take a fire hose and squirt him back into his dressing room. He was a fun guy. I never heard him say a bad word about anybody."
Norma Dreifuss, of San Diego, was one of the many who were in shock when they heard of his death. "I was a fan of his for years. It's unbelievable."
The little known facts about the man came out. The various local charities he contributed to on the quiet, to the tune of more than $250,000.
Always he was a guy who didn't want any credit.
From the little people to the greats of showbiz, the shock was deep.
Ann-Margret, the star who is currently packing them in at the Hilton and a friend of Elvis's for years, said "I've lost a dear friend, the world has lost a great entertainer. He was a legend. There never was another Elvis, there never will be."
The statement was read by her husband, Roger Smith.
"She's too upset to talk, this has really gotten to her. The house is sold out for tonight, but I don't know if she can go one. She's trying to pull herself together."
One man with a guitar is dead.
And his passing is felt across the land.