Pop Culture

Copyright: John Frost Newspapers

The newspaper: The Sun

The date: August 17, 1977

The news event: Rock superstar Elvis Presley dies

What you see: This is a simple front page reporting the news of the death of Elvis, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. The headlines tell the story. Elvis's death affected millions of fans across the world. At the time it would have been slightly unusual to lead on a 'showbiz' story - now it is commonplace. Today the tabloids will very often ignore a major 'news'story and run one about a TV soap star or celebrity.

Background: Elvis Presley, born into a poor family on January 8 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, is credited by many as the man who made modern music popular. By 1956, aged 21, he was selling more records in a month than 50 top British artists put together. He had number one hits across the world and made 31 movies. His records still sell by the million every year. The public was horrified when he died aged only 42. He was severely overweight and had a serious drug addiction. He died alone at his home, Graceland, which is visited each year by hundreds of thousands of fans.

The front page: In the 1970s The Sun was changing the way tabloids reported the news. While many people think it is sensational to have major stories on minor TV stars, few people would have said it was wrong to carry such a front page on such a star.

Design: The designers and editors on The Sun, and other tabloids, often write the headline first and then design the page around it. The 'splash' or main headline was straightforward: 'KING ELVIS DEAD'. Some might have written: KING ELVIS DIES to make it more active, but the word 'dies' would not have fitted with the other words above it. Then the editors would have written words to fill the space next to the masthead. The picture would have been placed and trimmed to fit down to the bottom of the page with a caption. Because there was no picture of him actually dead in the bathroom where he was found, the journalists would have searched their picture library for a suitable image. The story would have been edited and positioned and the rest of the page filled up.

The only other different piece of the jigsaw was a 'wob' (white on black headline) at the bottom: DUCHESS BIDS TO HALT TV SERIES - PAGE 2.