Elvis has entered the building.
Starting today and running through Oct. 5, Ken and Linda Burton will exhibit their extensive collection of Elvis Presley albums at the Great Bend Public Library. In all, 45 to 50 first-release vinyl records will be on display covering the King’s long and influential music career.
“We have wonderful library here in Great Bend,” Ken said. “We just want to promote it.”
All the albums are in glassed frames and span Presley’s career, from young rockabilly sensation to Las Vegas headliner. Each will have a tag telling a little about it and when it was released.
“We probably have more, we’d just have to dig them out,” Ken said.
Sure, the Great Bend couple loves Elvis and they’ve been to his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn. “He influenced the whole world with his music,” Ken said.
But, at heart, the couple just loves music, of all kinds.
They have records from the swing era of the 1940s through the popular rock of the 1960s. There are recordings of everything from Dean Martin to the Beatles.
“I could probably put on an exhibit like the Elvis exhibit with Frank Sinatra,” Ken said.
A 1966 graduate of Atwood High School in Atwood, Ken has collected records since he was in school. “I mowed lawns for 35 cents so I could buy records,” he said.
This was a time when he only had three television stations to pick from and no FM radio. Records, which cost around a dollar, were his only contact with the popular culture beyond northwest Kansas.
Then, decades later, his collection grew when most of the music-listening world changed to compact discs. “I had a lot of friends come to me and give me their albums when they switched to CDs,” Ken said.
Ken is a retired truck driver and Linda works for Rosewood Services. They just recently moved to Great Bend after living in Albert for 39 years.
Today, the Burtons have record turntables “in just about every room of the house,” he said. Rare is the time when one of them is not playing.
Currently, the Elvis collection hangs on a wall in Ken’s shop, overlooking a Model T Ford. On a recent afternoon, it was no surprise to find a turntable in that building with Elvis’ “Moody Blue” album spinning.
GBPL Marketing Librarian Elizabeth Dukelow said the library puts the word out that they are seeking artists to set up displays. Exhibits have included all art forms from drawings to paintings to sculptures to jewelry.
The Argonne Rebels had a display, now so does the King of Rock and Roll.
Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Miss., but grew up in Memphis, Tenn. It was the pop,country, gospel and R&B music he heard there that influenced his musical style.
He has sold over one billion records globally, earned three Grammy Awards and stared in 33 films. He died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on Aug. 16, 1977.