Even though he's been dead for 25 years, Elvis Presley can still shake up the music world.
This spring, a remix of the Elvis tune "A Little Less Conversation" topped the singles charts after appearing on a Nike commercial. This summer, The King reclaimed his throne as the top-earning dead celebrity, as his estate raked in $37 million during the previous 12 months. And this week, a compilation of Elvis songs--appropriately titled Elvis: 30 No. 1 Hits--dominated the U.S. album charts after its Sept. 24 release.
Elvis: 30 No. 1 Hits has sold about half a million copies domestically and has climbed to No. 1 in 11 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil and Spain. It has reached second place in Japan and Mexico. Though a total of foreign sales hasn't yet been tallied, the album sold in the neighborhood of 135,000 copies in Britain, and total international sales are so far outstripping American sales.
The half-million-album mark is almost double the number of sales of last week's chart topper: the punk metal group Disturbed sold 284,000 copies of the album Believe for the week ended Sept. 22, according to Nielson SoundScan. The turnout for Elvis' record, however, fell short of being the best debut of the year. That distinction belongs to the Dixie Chicks, who sold 780,000 copies of the album Home in the first week after its release on Sept. 1.
But 2002--the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death--has been "a dazzling year," says Graceland spokesman Todd Morgan. The single "A Little Less Conversation" was thought to have netted $4 million for Elvis' heirs Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley. Graceland's Morgan declined to comment on how lucrative the newly released album has been, but avowed that the estate contributed "our energy, our archive, our cross-marketing and all other kinds of things that we bring to the table, all of which we are remunerated for." Morgan added that the No. 1 hits album, which was produced by RCA Records, a unit of privately owned Bertelsmann, has been the most marketed Elvis record ever.
Visits to Graceland--a focal point of the legend and a profit engine that separates Elvis from all other deceased stars--have risen dramatically since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Although it's still early in the game, it looks as though it will be impossible to dethrone The King from the top of the Forbes.com dead celebrities list for 2003.
Source: Forbes / Updated: Oct 2, 2002