No one can doubt that for Elvis’ legacy, and for the members of the official Elvis Presley Fan Club who made it happen it has been an amazing start to 2005 with Elvis dominating the singles chart for almost half a year. The re-release of Elvis’ 18 #1 UK singles when announced late last year was viewed with scepticism by the retail trade, who set the trend by ordering minimum quantities from SONY-BMG, giving rise to a “buy and scramble” culture. Fans and eBay traders alike were plundering stores of every piece of stock, with a sustained buying campaign, which lasted for a staggering four months and beyond! Well, the party’s over with the chart crown fitting securely on Elvis’ head, with more UK number 1s more top ten hits and more top 40 singles positions and any other artiste, performer, or group in the history of recorded music. Without your support this would not have happened, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. We British Fan Club Members should all feel very proud!
“Elvis The Concert” – the virtual presentation tour featuring Elvis on the large screen backed by his band mates was a sell-out across the UK! And don’t forget Elvis’ TCB band will be performing one more time for the official Elvis Presley Fan Club at our Elvis Hayride Festival being held at Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire on Saturday 8th October. Tickets are selling fast, as too are places on our Elvis Holiday Week at Mablethorpe during the first week of October with Jerry Schilling, George Klein and Joe Esposito flying over from the US to meet and greet our guests.
At this time all eyes are on the album, the DVD, and the book “Elvis by the Presleys” now on sale not only in the UK, but also around the world. The one hour prequal to this trilogy of releases screened by ITV has had a very positive response and fans are eagerly waiting the almost 5 hour long DVD which will be popping up in a couple of weeks from now.
Collecting CDs in the Elvis community is the raison d’être for many fan club members and as a club we try to make you aware of future product not only from the UK but from around the world. The “Follow That Dream” CD collection pioneered by ourselves has been hugely successful across Europe. One RCA release which has generally “escaped” most fans’ attention was the recent “Valentine’s Day” compilation “Love Elvis”. Now virtually sold out this title is likely to be sort after in the months and years to come. And 2006 sees the 50th anniversary of “Heartbreak Hotel”, and we are working closely with Sony-BMG to hit-the-spot with massive celebratory activities.
But what for the future? Bob Sillerman’s business CKX - which is now the parent Company for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. is looking at all the options. Many years ago I remember meeting up with a guy called Joe Rascoff, who at that time, was the business affairs manager for Enterprises. He now manages the Stones and U2 in the States. To use his own words he had just been “blown-away” by a behind-closed-doors demonstration of an on stage duet with Elvis (as a three dimensional laser image) with Tina Turner performing “Proud Mary”. No doubt you have seen the amazing Gene Kelly commercial for VW cars will Kelly body-popping his way through his legendary “Singing in the Rain” routine. With today’s technology you can do almost anything so don’t be surprised at what might happen with Elvis’ altered image in the years to come.
For the first time the Graceland division of EPE is buying ad time on American satellite TV channels which target the 25-45 female profile, in an attempt to boost a younger visitor-ship to the Memphis attraction. Because of what it is, “Graceland - The Mansion” has fallen into the category of being almost a museum, and I feel that there has to be a lot more on offer to stimulate visitors who are not like us – that is to say not dedicated Elvis fans. The mansion should stay as it is, but it would be nice to include film footage of the inaccessible up-stairs apartments inside one of the across-the-street exhibits. The shops need a makeover. The retail space is “too much”, and needs to be enhanced by live entertainment with a host who can question-and-answer perform with guests. I would erect a 50s style radio tower with illuminated E L V I S lettering, and have an all day Elvis radio station, staffed by volunteers, and servicing the tourist community. Most US attractions now have one, and licenses are easy to get from the FCC. It would be self-funded by advertising gleaned from hotels, car-hire companies, airlines other retailers, and city-wide attractions. And let’s not forget the casinos – “leave your wife and kids at Graceland for the day and come and play with us”.
And for overseas fans unable to travel to the US, the time has come to seriously think about a touring attraction giving a flavour of the Graceland Experience. I’m thinking more of an entertainment experience of both audio and visual excitement, not just a few show cases stuffed with Elvis’ old clothes and possessions.
For Elvis legacy to continue every project from now on has to be a “happening”. Times have changed, and the general public expects more for their buck. Technologies have changed making almost anything possible, so let’s have all suggestions on the table and if Mr Sillerman has the bucks to invest, then lets see that cheque book open. If you have an idea, then share it with us, and we will be happy to publish your suggestions. The fans will support you!