EPE did a follow up on their recent news posting about a John Mellencamp appearance at Graceland for AOL Sessions. Here is the complete update from EPE:
In response to the fan comments and inquiries we have been getting, first, let us apologize for not making things as clear as we should have and not providing more information. Word of this project leaked before the press release was ready and we had to post information and get out E-newsletter alerts very quickly. The press release is still to come, but we do want to go ahead and clear up some misunderstandings now.
AOL Sessions is the name of a program AOL members can watch on AOL. Each episode of this online program features a different artist performing a song or set of songs in an intimate setting - kind of like the unplugged term we've all become familiar with in recent years. Each episode debuts on AOL and is available for online viewing for AOL members for a short time, and soon after that it becomes accessible for online viewing by all on Netscape.
This project evolved from our marketing department's ongoing promotional collaboration with AOL, a company that has gotten really turned on to Elvis and frequently features a lot of Elvis-related programming and Elvis/EPE/RCA/BMG promotions. AOL benefits from the interest the public has in Elvis and gets more traffic to its site, and all things Elvis have the opportunity to reach an enormous audience that AOL delivers. It is a wonderful relationship. AOL, as many of you know, carries our annual VigilCast program live for you (and then a tape is archived here on Elvis.com). Recently, in talking about various promotions to do together, and in particular, talking about ways to create more awareness for the VigilCast and Elvis Week this year, one of the suggestions was to have an August episode of AOL's very popular Sessions series take place at Graceland. Very good promotion for AOL, the chosen artist, and, most of all, for the world of Elvis.
It happened to work out that John Mellencamp, who is a respected singer/songwriter and an avowed Elvis fan, would be the artist. (Perhaps you remember that he was among the artists who did Elvis covers for the Honeymoon in Vegas movie soundtrack. He did Jailhouse Rock.) For the AOL show he will be singing a short set of songs (including a personal Elvis favorite or two), taking a quick on-camera tour of Graceland, and doing an interview. Having popular artists of today pay homage to Elvis, make media appearances at Graceland, etc. is great for the Elvis legacy and an especially effective way of reaching new audiences for Elvis. From AOL and Netscape there will be links to Elvis.com and promotional tie-ins to Elvis Week and the VigilCast. We're delighted to be welcoming John Mellencamp to Graceland and he is thrilled and honored to be doing this very special program.
The AOL Sessions episode that is being videotaped at Graceland featuring John Mellencamp is not a recording session for a record release. The videotape is not for a John Mellencamp music video for television. The videotape is not for retail sales. Some fans who are not familiar with the show, and who did not have the benefit of all this information, got upset, thinking that artist album sessions and music video sessions were now going to be taking place at Graceland. The confusion and upset was certainly understandable and, again, we apologize for not getting more information to you on the front end. We have every confidence that the majority of Elvis fans will be pleased and proud when they see the program or we would not be doing it.
John Mellencamp, while the first to do a performance for the Internet at Graceland, will not be the first artist to perform in or around Graceland for media. In the early 1980s, Henry Mancini played the piano in the Graceland music room for a national magazine article. Mac Davis sang and played Elvis' guitar in the music room for a syndicated 1993 television special, America Comes to Graceland, which he co-hosted from Graceland with Lisa Hartman Black and which also featured a song performance by J.D. Sumner & The Stamps in the living room. Chris Isaak performed outside in front of the mansion for the Today show in 1994 as a tie-in to the celebrity concert in tribute to Elvis that was happening in Memphis at the time. Travis Tritt sang a song in the kitchen when he hosted from Graceland a syndicated 1995 television special Elvis, Touch the Dream, A New Generation. On the Today show in August 2002, Al Green's church choir performed on the Graceland front porch and the TCB Band performed on the front lawn as part of the show's observance of the 25th anniversary of Elvis' passing. There are various other examples.