It all began with a dream of initiating someone famous as an honorary member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) Fraternity at Arkansas State College in the fall of 1960. Chapter president Rick Husky came up with the idea of presenting Elvis Presley with an award. Due to Elvis’ generous charitable contributions, Husky thought of the idea to present a “Man of the Year Award.”
Elvis had just returned to Graceland in the fall of 1960 from Germany after being discharged from the army. Husky contacted Elvis’ secretary after coming across her name in a fan magazine. Little did he know, the rock icon would accept the award by inviting Husky and his fraternity brothers to Graceland to present the award and initiate him. The funny thing is, they didn’t even have an award to present to Elvis because Husky had done this initially for the publicity. Husky and his fraternity brothers pulled through in the end with a polished brass plaque.
When asked about why he thought Elvis accepted the invitation to become a brother, CSUN TKE president Cameron Aziz said, “Arkansas State was honoring Frater (fraternal brother) Elvis Presley with the Man of the Year Award for his contribution to charity. TKE has a long history of charity work and Frater Elvis aligned well with our ideals.”
CSUN students not in TKE, like Ubaldo Guzman weren’t aware of Elvis’ ties to the fraternity.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he was in a fraternity. Elvis was so famous during his time and such an iconic figure. I’m sure that the fraternity benefited from having Elvis in the fraternity because I think it opened opportunities for the fraternity to expand and get more pledges,” Guzman said.
Alicia Dean, a representative with Elvis Presley Enterprises, spoke with the Daily Sundial about the day Elvis’ fraternity brothers arrived at Graceland to present the “Man of the Year” award. She went on to say the one thing she learned about Elvis that she did not already know.
Daily Sundial- Although Elvis did not attend college, I’m curious as to why he accepted the invitation to become a TKE brother?
Alicia Dean- He felt it was an honor and something he never had the chance to do.
DS- Any stories that you can recall?
AD- They met at Graceland and the ceremony took place in the music room. Afterwards he showed them his new Rolls Royce he had just purchased.
DS- How did Elvis balance the business and art aspect of being an entertainer?
AD- He remained true to himself and what he believed in. He appreciated what other artists were doing. He really was a fan of good music.
DS- Did Elvis have a preferred location where he liked to record?
AD- Not really he recorded when and where ever he was needed.
DS- There’s often an incredible energy that takes place when artists record in a studio. I’m curious as to how you think Elvis took this energy and translated it out into his live performances?
AD- Elvis gave it his all no matter if he was in the recording studio, on stage or even just jamming with friends around a piano. It was just in his nature.
DS- Over the years you have had conversations with many individuals who worked close with Elvis. What is one thing you learned about Elvis that you did not already know?
AD- That he was just as normal as anyone else. He loved his friends, family and fans and treated them all with great respect. He was always looking out for others and willing to give at any moment. It wasn’t about being Elvis, it was about being true to his beliefs and to himself.
For more information on Elvis Presley Enterprises go to http://www.elvis.com/about-epe/