Many Album 88 listeners and Georgia State Students got a special treat over the summer break when Elvis Costello visited our studio as a guest D.J. Elvis was in Atlanta for a September 1 concert at the Fox Theater. What made his show at Album 88 even more special was that it marks only the fourth time that the characteristically aloof Costello has guested with a station. WRAS music Director and devoted Elvis fan, Jane Davis, approached Steve Backer of CBS Records in August about the prospect of having Elvis on the air. After clearing it with WKLS/96 Rock, the station sponsoring the concert, the plans were finalized ... Elvis was scheduled for a one hour special show with us. To the frustration of many listeners, and the jocks who had to answer the inquires, no one knew exactly when Elvis would show. This was quite purposeful since we wished to insure that Elvis would not be bombarded by fans when he arrived. Arrangements were made with the GSU police, and no one, including staff, was allowed inside the station until after Elvis was on the air. Although many of us worried about what would transpire due to his reputation as a callous star who often likes to make waves, Elvis was a perfect gentleman. Dressed in an ill-fitting suit and sporting his customary hat and glasses, he looked about as far from a rock star as you can get. Costello took over the controls just before 3:00 p.m. and played everything from Al Green to the Violent Femmes.
The son of a dance band singer, Elvis Costello is actually the creation of Declan McManus, a former London factory worker and computer operator. Born in 1954 in London, England, Costello is one of the artists that emerged from the punk/new wave movement of the late '70's. His first album My Aim Is True remained on the charts for 12 weeks and received excellent musical reviews. He formed his current band, "The Attractions" in June 1977 and launched his career in America the following year. His album Armed Forces and the hit single "Oliver's Army" got as high as number two on the British charts and "Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" did well for him in the states.
Although "Oliver's Army" was very much a "pop" single, Elvis' music is often characterized as "serious" and "complex." He admits that it is often difficult to write meaningful songs and remain popular at the same time. In a recent interview with Graham Lock of the New Music Express, Elvis commented that "it's very difficult to balance the two things, because on one hand you make serious records, but on the other you've got to be in competition with Haircut 100."
Costello seemed to enjoy his visit with Album 88, and although he was scheduled for only an hour show, he stayed well over two hours, finally leaving to prepare for the evening's performance. He was immediately at ease the moment he switched on the mike, and the fans loved his many interesting comments. In addition, he spoke with callers who were able to get through on the request line, and gave away several autographed albums and posters. To the delight of our staff and the many fans who stopped by the station, Elvis was generous with his autographs and willingly posed for photos. He went on to give an excellent concert that evening, and when he left Atlanta, we hope he left with a good impression of our city, GSU, and Album 88.