The much-loved Sunderland Elvis fan who was always on his adoring granddaughter’s mind

Brian Evans relaxing in Scotland in the 70s.
Brian Evans relaxing in Scotland in the 70s.
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Chloe Evans has a great love of the King of Rock and Roll.

There’s one person she wants to thank for that. She inherited her love for Elvis Presley’s music, as well as an enormous record collection, from the Sunderland grandad she adored.

A young Chloe with her grandad, Brian Evans.

A young Chloe with her grandad, Brian Evans.

His name was Brian Evans and he might well have held the claim to being the biggest Elvis fan in the region.

He had every record. He had posters and he even had a German Shepherd called King.

Brian certainly knew plenty about the legend of music.

“He used to get all of Elvis’s records. Every one,” said Chloe, 19, also from Sunderland and a business administration apprentice. “He used to go to South Shields market where he would get them. I never counted how many but they are all on my bookshelf now.”

They called him the Big Bopper, as in Chantilly Lace, because he was a big man. He was a gentle giant. He was lovely, my grandad

Chloe Evans

Brian hailed originally from Castletown but he spent most of his life in the Roker area. He passed away two years ago at the age of 73 and Chloe inherited his huge collection of records.

In life, he talked about his passion for music with Chloe. “I liked the Elvis songs as well,” she said. “I liked the music because my grandad did.”

Many people will have recognised Brian during his working life in the city. He was the doorman at the Locarno in Sunderland in the 1960s and the 1970s.

He was a big man but very much the gentle giant, said Chloe who adored the man who shared his memories with her.

Elvis Presley fan Brian Evans in the early 1960s.

Elvis Presley fan Brian Evans in the early 1960s.

“He was a bouncer at the Locarno and he got to hear bands like Led Zeppelin before they were well known.”

But Elvis was his real love and his favourite hit of the King’s was the moving American Trilogy.

Brian was even given his own musically-linked nickname by those who knew him back in the day.

“They called him the Big Bopper, as in Chantilly Lace, because he was a big man. He was a gentle giant. He was lovely, my grandad.”

We asked Chloe if she knew of her grandad’s reaction when he first heard that Elvis had died, 40 years ago this week.

“He didn’t really say much when Elvis died but I think he thought it was a joke. I don’t think he really believed it.”

Chloe would love to hear from anyone in Sunderland who remembers her grandad, especially anyone who may have one particular photograph.

It shows Brian posing beside a giant poster of Elvis.

It would be a lovely memory for Chloe to keep. Can you help?

If you can help with memories or photographs of Brian, we would love to hear from you. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk

To trigger your memories, here are some more reminders of what was happening in the news at around the same time.

l Residents on the Springwell Estate in Sunderland were wondering what was causing a mystery yellow dust to settle on their houses. Ruth Ainsley, of Selby Square, said the greenhouse, vegetable plot, apple tree and family car were covered in it. Health department officials promised to investigate.

l There was big news for the East End of Sunderland where a £1.3 million modernisation scheme was announced. The flats in the Garths - more than 500 of them which were nearly 40 years old - were being lined up for works.

l Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd had some international visitors to their North Sands shipyard that year. Yugoslavian dancers in national costume were invited to be guests at the launch of the 71,000 tonne bulk carrier Kosmaj. The dancers were in the region already as they were taking part in the Billingham International Folklore Festival.

l Cigar-waving comedian Groucho Marx was another household name who passed away in August 1977.

l On the television, you could enjoy programmes such as The Rockford Files, Top of the Pops, Magic Roundabout, We Are The Champions and Nationwide on BBC1.

Over on BBC2, there was Play School, The Open University and Festival 77.

And on Tyne Tees television, how about a night in with The Brady Bunch. Crossroads, Emmerdale Farm, Double Top and Northern Life.

If you have any memories of August 1977 to share, get in touch and tell us more.

It could be anything from your favourite shop of that era to a particular event that you recall.

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk to share your recollections.