ELDEN TITUS: BUILDER, CUSTOMIZER, MODEL MAKER, VISIONARY, HALL OF FAME MEMBER, WONDERFUL FAMILY MAN...MY FRIEND
In 1959 one of the biggest tragedies for the Golden Age of Rock & Roll happened when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) were killed in the crash of a small plane they had chartered to take them to their next Concert date.
As a young student, record collector, and, future radio personality, I and my friends were devastated by the news. But, knowing that their music would live on in the recordings that they made before their deaths was some consulation. And, time has proven that they will NEVER be forgotten. They are "Legends" in the very sense of the word...and, future generations will continue to be influenced by their music, their voices, and, their sounds.
Well, just as 1959 was a year of shock and sadness for the Music Industry, 2008 will go down the same way for us in the Rod & Custom Industry: Boyd Coddington, 'Lil John Buttera, Dick Dean, and, Elden Titus, all passed away in 2008 and, in their own special way, left a huge void that will never be filled...but their body of work will live on even after WE are gone.
When I originally conceived the idea for the Hall Of Fame Legends Series, friends Darryl Starbird, Jerry & Elden Titus, Jerry Weesner, and, Frank Livingston were the first that I consulted with about it and all were enthusiastically on-board with the concept. My objective was to document the histories, ideas, and backgrounds of these Legends in their own voices so that they would be preserved for future generations...telling their own stories in their own words so that they could be heard WorldWide. Many times by those who have seen and appreciated their work for years, but have never - and will never - have a chance to meet them in person.
Think about a young boy in London, England, who's read about "The Voodoo Spider" or "The Vibrasonic Roadster", seen pictures of them, thought they were fantastic, but will NEVER be able to see them in person or talk to Elden about them. Well, he can not only see pictures of those cars on this WebSite, BUT he can also hear Elden tell the stories about the cars.
The same goes for a Vietnam Vet in Sarasota, Florida. Maybe he's followed Elden's work for years, but is confined to a wheel chair because he stepped on a landmine and lost both legs in the Service of his Country...well, he too can come to this WebSite and see and hear the stories of Elden and all who've been so generous with their time to let me document their histories & voices.
And so it was with Elden the last time we recorded an Interview at Darryl Starbird's 44th Annual Tulsa Show on February 16th, 2008.
Elden had worked on hundreds of cars since he began his career working for Darryl Starbird in 1967. You've seen many of the cars that he built through the years in R&C, Custom Rodder, the KKOA Trendsetter, Kustoms Illustrated, Car Kulture DeLuxe, and many other publications. He was a mentor to some of the "young guns" like Jeff Myers & Dennis McPhail, and a friend to Industry legends such as George Barris, Bill Hines, Gene Winfield, Spence Murray, Jerry Weesner, M.K. John, and many others. He also worked with and was friends with, Gary Meyers, Jack Marinelli, Ed Dorr, and the others who were helping him with the "Vibrasonic". Elden always said: "Profile is everything !"...and nobody "profiled" better than Elden.
But Elden had been plagued by cancer the last few years, going in and out of remission, with good days, bad days, and, some really horrible days. But he continued to be positive about his work, building the "Vibrasonic", and working with George Barris...which he considered one of the "ultimate" of all his builds because he was truly honored to be putting together a project with one of his idols "The King of the Kustomizers".
Elden was apprehensive about his health, but wanted to complete this project as a part of his personal legacy. I told him then, and also many times later, that his "legend" was already created ! He could have stopped building cars after the "Voodoo Spider" and never looked back !! His body of work over the last 40 years was remarkable !! For evidence of that, take a look at the poster on the Top of this Page with just some of the cars that he - and, some with brother Jerry - has put together.
Elden sent me updates on the "Vibrasonic" and a CD with many, many pix of it. We talked on the phone a number of times, and he was so excited about it ! We got together again at the KKOA 28th Annual Salina Lead Sled Spectacular and we talked about getting more pix on the Site as the car progressed into its final stages. Unfortunately, the new pictures never came...and, I knew why.
Elden got sicker after Salina, was hospitalized, and was eventually brought back home to be with his family & friends.
In September, I sent him a copy of the Hall Of Fame Legends Series 1st Anniversary CD (which he was on with a story of the Origin of the "Voodoo Spider") to, hopefully, cheer him up. I'll share with you part of a note, and subsequent eMail I sent to Elden:
I'm sorry you are going through this right now, but know that I'm praying for you and treasure your friendship and kindness for all these years. You are not only an expert builder & customizer, but one of THE best human beings I've ever been associated with.
You have more friends in the Industry than you'll ever know, and with the "Vibrasonic" build-up being showcased in Car Kulture DeLuxe Magazine you've gained a whole new audience. Also, since my WebSite is now covering over 65 Countries WorldWide, your "Vibrasonic" Interview is one of the MOST listened to stories on the Site...your voice & input are being heard by over 17,500 people !
God bless you, Elden, and always remember you have a friend in St. Louis if you need him.
Your friend, Jonnie "
My friend, Elden, passed away Wednesday, October 8th, 2008. I will never forget him...he was THE best. Period. He was a friend to all of us.
My sincere thoughts, and prayers to Elden's wife, Tammy, Jerry & DeVona Titus, and, his family.
SPECIAL NOTE: In the last Interview that Elden & I did, we had talked about his "Vibrasonic" Project which was being done in conjunction with George Barris, and being used in Car Kulture DeLuxe Magazine as a Feature Build. But, knowing Elden as I did, I wanted to know about any future project that he wanted to do once the Vibrasonic was finished.
It was then that he told me about the "Rocket Car" that he intended to build, and these turned out to be the last words & thoughts of Elden that I recorded. Please take a few minutes to listen to this story from my friend: EldenTitus . To hear this story, Simply Click-On Here .
(Top of Page: Myself & Elden at the 26th KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular, July, 2006; The Voodoo Spider,The Vibrasonic Roadster, and Gary Meyer's Vampyre )
ALL IMAGES/PHOTOS ON THIS TRIBUTE PAGE COURTESY OF THEIR ORIGINAL OWNERS/COPYRIGHT HOLDERS...WITH SINCERE THANKS.