Monday, August 22, 2011
FEARS are growing for a Scottish mother who has been missing for a week after travelling to the United States to attend an Elvis Presley convention.
Friends said last night that Gerrie Lawrie has not been seen since Monday, 15 August, when she vanished from the centre of Memphis, Tennessee.
Ms Lawrie, who is in her late 30s and lives in Aberdeenshire, travelled to the convention alone. She was last seen by Gene Barksdale – a retired sheriff who had been a friend of Elvis – with whom she had dinner.
Mr Barksdale, 89, who became friends with Ms Lawrie after meeting her at another Elvis event, is said to have walked her to her car before she left for a candlelit vigil at the late singer's Graceland home.
But she never appeared at the vigil and the alarm was raised after she missed her flight home to Scotland.
Ms Lawrie did not return her hired car to the dealer and did not turn up in Nashville, where she had been due to spend more time with fellow Elvis fans. She has also failed to answer anxious texts and phone calls from friends and family.
Ms Lawrie's partner, Roger Williams, who had been with her son earlier, was understood to be on his way to Memphis last night. It is not known whether her son went with him.
A missing persons report has been lodged with the Memphis police and an appeal has been launched by Ms Lawrie's friends on Facebook.
Andrew Hearn, a friend who runs the Essential Elvis UK fan group to which Ms Lawrie belongs, said: "She met Gene Barksdale at one of our events last August and they stayed in touch.
"After they had dinner on Monday he walked her to her car safely. It was mid-evening and she had arranged to meet friends at the vigil, but she never made it. Thousands of people come for the vigil. The fact that she didn't attend it really does raise a red flag.
"She's a good-looking young lady and she was by herself in Memphis, which is a pretty rough town."
Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, he added: "Things are looking bleak for Gerrie.
'Hound Dog' lyricist Jerry Leiber dies at 78
Song writer also penned 'Jail House Rock' and other hits with partner Mike Stoller
LOS ANGELES — Jerry Leiber, who with longtime partner Mike Stoller wrote "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Yakity Yak" and other hit songs that came to define early rock 'n' roll, has died. He was 78.
His death was confirmed Monday by his longtime publicist, Bobbi Marcus.
With Leiber as lyricist and Stoller as composer, the team channeled their blues and jazz backgrounds into pop songs performed by such artists as Elvis Presley, Dion and the Belmonts, the Coasters, the Drifters and Ben E. King in a way that would help create a joyous new musical style.
From their breakout hit, blues great Big Mama Thornton's 1953 rendition of "Hound Dog," until their songwriting took a more serious turn in 1969 with Peggy Lee's recording of "Is That All There Is?" the pair remained one of the most successful teams in pop music history.
Their writing prowess and influence over the recording industry as pioneering independent producers earned them induction into the non-performer category of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
"The music world lost today one of its greatest poet laureates," said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "Jerry not only wrote the words that everyone was singing, he led the way in how we verbalized our feelings about the societal changes we were living with in post-World War II life. Appropriately, his vehicles of choice were the emerging populist musical genres of rhythm and blues and then rock and roll."
Leiber, who like Stoller was white, said his musical inspiration came from the close identification he had with black American culture during his boyhood and teen years in Baltimore and Los Angeles.
Thus he was the perfect lyricist for bluesy, jazz-inflected compositions like "Kansas City," "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots," "Charlie Brown," "Drip Drop," "Stand By Me" and "On Broadway."
The lyrics could be poignant, as in "On Broadway," or full of humor, as in the antics of high school goofball Charlie Brown, who "calls the English teacher Daddy-O" and laments, "Why's everybody always pickin' on me?"
The result was a serious departure from the classically inflected music that had been produced by a previous generation of pop songwriters that included George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.
"Irving Berlin was the greatest songwriter of all time," Leiber told The Los Angeles Times' "West" magazine in 2006. "I was in awe of him. But his music wasn't my music. My music was the blues."
Over their career, they had 15 No. 1 hits in a variety of genres by 10 different artists. They were instrumental in helping launch Presley's career with such songs as "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock."
The two far preferred Thornton's version of "Hound Dog" to Presley's, in part because the latter version changed some of the lyrics.
"Lick for lick, there's no comparison between the Presley version and the Big Mama original," Leiber said in the pair's dual autobiography, "Hound Dog," published in 2009. Stoller said he also was annoyed by the Presley version, but still praised the "edge of danger and mystery" that Presley brought to his covers of R&B records.
In the 1990s their songs became the centerpiece of a long-running Broadway revue, "Smokey Joe's Cafe," which won a Grammy for best musical show album in 1996.
"Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written some of the most spirited and enduring rock 'n' roll songs," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said in a statement released at the time of their induction. "As pop auteurs ... Leiber and Stoller advanced rock and roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication."
Their last song to reach wide acclaim was the 1969 ballad, "Is That All There Is?" Lee's moody rendition of the song, whose lyrics are based on an 1896 short story by German author Thomas Mann, reached the top 20.
Leiber and Stoller continued to collaborate on earnest, eclectic projects, including 1975's "Mirrors."
Leiber was born in Baltimore in 1933; his parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. He met Stoller after moving to Los Angeles with his mother in 1950. The two immediately began collaborating and formed their own record label, Spark, in 1953.
The pair had grown tired of writing pop hits by the late 1960s, Leiber once said, and decided to concentrate on more serious music. Those later efforts never found the wide audience that their earlier work did, but Leiber said that was fine with him and his partner.
"The earlier market of swing and Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee and Duke Ellington was pretty much gone, but we liked that kind of sound and wanted to imitate it," he told The New York Times in 1995. "In a way we had helped kill it with what we had done. We had helped bring down the cathedral, and now we didn't know where to pray."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis Police have found the body of a woman at the address where a missing Elvis fan from Scotland was last staying.
Officers found the body of a 40-year old woman at an apartment on the 600-block of Denmark in the South Bluffs area of Downtown Memphis. According to MPD Sgt. Karen Rudolph, there were no obvious signs of foul play and the cause of death has not been determined.
Police have not identified the victim, but former Shelby County Sheriff Gene Barksdale filed a missing persons report for his friend Gerrie Lawrie on August 20th after she did not return on her flight home to Aberdeen, Scotland. She had been in Memphis for Elvis Week, and was last known to be staying at the same address where the victim was found.
While the cause of death is still under investigation, some say the odd dissapearance of a tourist, a fellow Elvis fan, is devastating.
"Another fan, goin missin' after comin', I mean you don't know what to think," said Kyle Daigle.
"Tragedy, that you just have to worry, be so protective," said Raymond Karpovich.
"That's one of the last things you want to happen, so it's a sad situation," said John Merrick.
According to the police report, Lawire met some friends at the Elvis festival and planned to travel to Nashville on Friday, before returning to Memphis that night.
Police say Lawire has not returned her rental vehicle.
Gerrie Lawrie, 40, did not catch a flight home to Aberdeen, Scotland, as scheduled, prompting former Shelby County sheriff Gene Barksdale to file a missing person report with Memphis police on Saturday.
“Her mother called me (Saturday) to let me know that she didn’t arrive on the flight she was supposed to arrive on,” Barksdale, 89, said today.
“Nobody has been able to locate her, even her Facebook disappeared off the Internet, which is rather strange, you know,” Barksdale said.
Late this afternoon, Memphis police reported finding a woman's body at 612 Denmark, near the area where Lawrie was staying. Police said there were no obvious signs of foul play, but that the investigation is ongoing.
Barksdale said he had not seen the Elvis fan since escorting her to her rented vehicle in a Downtown parking garage last week.
Barksdale, sheriff from 1976-86, including the date of Presley’s death on Aug. 16, 1977, said he met Lawrie two or three years ago at a fan meeting in Memphis where Elvis took karate lessons.
“People from Scotland, England and around the world, if you knew Elvis they wanted to talk to you,” he said.
Barksdale said that he, Lawrie and two others last week met for a dinner Downtown at The Peabody and then went to TGI Friday’s in an adjacent hotel.
Barksdale said today that they met last Monday. However, a missing person police report lists the date as Thursday.
“I’m 89 and my memory is not what it should be,” Barksdale said. He said he had confirmed with the couple at the dinner that it occurred on Monday.
Because his vehicle was parked nearby, about 11:50 p.m. Barksdale drove Lawrie to a parking garage at Second and Monroe, according to the police report.
He said he walked with her to the second story, where her vehicle was parked, and she gave him a lift back to his. Driving a rented, silver Dodge sport utility vehicle, she headed west on Union toward a condominium that she had rented in the 600 block of Denmark near the South Bluffs.
“I haven’t seen her since,” Barksdale said.
Lawrie also mentioned that she planned a one-day trip to Nashville. The rental car company reported that the vehicle had not been returned, according to the police report.
Barksdale said Lawrie works for an oil company in Scotland and has two grown sons.
John Helms, a Memphis artist who said he met Lawrie through Barksdale and helped act as a host during her visits, said this was her sixth visit to Memphis and that she arrived on Aug. 9.
Lawrie initially stayed at a hotel near Graceland on Brooks Road, but moved later to the condominium.
In addition to her Facebook page being deleted, Helms said, she has not answered his attempts to reach her by e-mails, cell phone and the Skype Internet service.
“Either she has turned off communication or else someone has for her,” he said.
He also said, “She wanted to move here real bad.”
Helms described Lawrie as a blonde, outgoing world traveler. The missing person report lists her as 5-foot-7 and 110 pounds.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.
© 2011 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved.
Riley Keough, a model and the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, is set to appear in Magic Mike. Keough will play a stipper named Zora. Originally Lindsay Lohan was rumored for the role but director Steven Soderbergh decided not to go there. Zora is the love interest for Alex Pettyfer 's character. The film starts shooting in Florida next month.
|MISSING - Gerrie Lawrie from Scotland|
Essential Elvis reports that Gerrie Lawrie from Scotland went missing in Memphis four nights ago. She was last seen on Wednesday night on Union Avenue between 11:00pm and 11:30pm. A missing persons report has been filed with the MPD. Gerrie traveled from Scotland to attend Elvis Week 2011 in Memphis.
Gerrie was also seen on Tuesday, August 16th having dinner with Sheriff Gene Barksdale at TGIFriday's. Gene walked her to her car and saw her drive away. She has not been seen or heard from since.
She was staying alone at The Cedar Hotel on Brooks Road, and she attended many events during Elvis Week. She missed her flight home to Scotland, and she has not boarded any other flights nor did she return her rental car. A Missing Persons Report has been filed with The Memphis Police Department. Any tips or leads should be called in to the police.
BIM: This story just gives me the chills. It could have been anyone of us who traveled to Memphis for Elvis Week. Next year marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death which means many Elvis fans and tourists around the world are planning to travel to Memphis for Elvis Week. A case like this could keep fans and tourists away if not handled properly. I hope the Memphis police are actively investigating this case and focusing not only on downtown but also the rundown area of Brookes Rd. When I visited the record show at The Cedar during Elvis Week, I noticed the old Days Inn next door closed down BUT the room doors were removed and there were people either squatting there or up to no good. It was quite unsettling to look at. I hope security camera tapes are being checked in both areas of town before it is too late. We need to put pressure on the city to create awareness and to find Gerrie!
I have not seen any coverage of this story by the Memphis news circuit. And I hope they will feature this case and help find Gerrie alive and well. Please spread the word to all your fellow Elvis friends and Memphians! Too much precious time has passed already! Please keep Gerrie in your prayers!
Memphis News and national news have now picked up on this tragic story.