Friedberg, Germany is “Just a Hunk of Burning Love” for Elvis Presley
Three pedestrian traffic lights resembling Elvis Presley have been installed in Elvis Presley Square in Friedberg, Germany.
The red “Don’t Walk” signal shows Presley’s silhouette standing at a microphone, while the green “Go” signal looks like him performing his signature swiveling hip dance move. The signs went online last week.
Presley was stationed at the United States Army’s Ray Barracks in Friedberg from Oct. 1958 to March 1960 after he received his draft notice in 1957. Presley lived in Bad Nauheim, a three-mile drive from Friedberg.
Presley was already an international star when he arrived in Germany. He signed his first contract with RCA Records on Nov. 20, 1955. His eponymously titled debut was released on March 23, 1956, and the album spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. He also appeared in three movies before receiving his draft notice.
Screaming fans greeted Elvis when he arrived in Bremerhaven. His manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, told Presley that after he finished his tour of duty in West Germany, he would be an even bigger star. All he had to do was “…stay a good boy, and do nothing to embarrass your country.”
Many Presley fans were already in the German town, and the lights were added as another attraction for them. According Marion Götz, a local politician, the signals received the approval of the local police department. They cost the city about $1,020 (€900).
Bad Nauheim has held the annual European Elvis Festival since 2002. When the festival was held in Aug. 2015, one fan, then 36-year-old Philipp Lieder, said he dressed up as Elvis even at work. The 2018 festival was held from Aug. 17 to 19. Activities included a fan market where international sellers sold albums, books, and other Elvis-related merchandise; a classic car exhibition; and Elvis movie screenings. A candlelight vigil was also held at 8:30pm on Aug. 16 in memory of Presley’s passing. It was the forty-first anniversary of his death.
Over one billion Elvis records have been sold worldwide, more than anyone in the history of the industry. An estimated 40 percent of those records were sold outside the United States. Presley is revered for taking the traditional genres of bluegrass, blues, and country and modernizing them for a younger audience.