- Echoes of Elvis still linger in Vegas
By MIKE WEATHERFORD
(reviewjournal.com, July 26 2009)
In a few weeks, everyone will be remembering Elvis Presley on the day he died, Aug. 16. On Thursday, Las Vegas should pay more attention to the day he was reborn, one that changed things around here for keeps.
Thursday is the 40th anniversary of Elvis' debut at the International Hotel, now the Las Vegas Hilton. If you take Elvis seriously, cue up "Suspicious Minds." If you goof on him, make yourself a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Just don't ignore it.
At the time, the Elvis comeback took a back seat to the lingering euphoria over the moon landing. But this giant step for Vegas-kind still echoes all around town, from wedding chapels to the next big Cirque du Soleil, due at CityCenter in December.
Ken Sharp, a Los Angeles writer and producer, first called me a year and a half ago for contacts on a book about Presley's live comeback in Las Vegas. Last week, he was excited to have received his first copy of "Elvis '69," which has its formal release during "Elvis week" at Graceland next month.
"This was a guy who was able to come home again," Sharp says. And not just because Presley was treated like an oddity during an ill-advised New Frontier showroom run in 1956.
In the bigger picture, Presley had shaken the diminished returns of his movie career with his 1968 comeback TV special. In the recording studio, he regained his credibility with hits such as "If I Can Dream" and "In The Ghetto."
The last component was to sing again in front of a ticket-buying audience. When the curtain went up at the International, "He looked great, was in great shape, energized and confident," Sharp says.
Well, maybe not as confident as he looked. Comedian Sammy Shore was the opening act, and he distinctly remembers a clammy palm when he shook hands with the star backstage. ...
- Elvis in the building
By Mola Lenghi
(carolinalive.com, July 25 2009)
Saturday night on the Grand Strand it was a tribute to "The King." Elvis Presley impersonators took the stage for the semi-finals round of The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest at the Legends In Concert in Surfside Beach. The winner is awarded $1,000 and advances to the final round of the national contest in Memphis, TN. Thousands turned out to view Saturday night's concert.
- Auto buffs racing to prove Elvis Cadillac
By GREG MARTIN
(Charlotte Sun and Weekly Herald, July 22 2009)
Elvis Presley bought his first Cadillac in 1955 after his first record hit No. 1. He also took his last ride in a Cadillac hearse at his funeral in 1977. In between, the iconic singer bought, drove and gave away some 200 Cadillacs. And one of them just may have been discovered at a Charlotte Harbor auto restoration shop.
Paul Kull, an upholstery technician for Nick's Custom Trim at 23058 Harborview Road, said he was pulling the seats out of a 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special four-door sedan and noticed something that spiked his curiosity. It was a silver ashtray mounted in the middle of the back of the front seat. Like other vintage 1950s Cadillacs, which didn't skimp on such luxuries, the ashtray had a gold-plated Cadillac emblem and, beneath that, a gold-plated plaque.
Unlike other vintage Cadillacs, however, this gold-plated plaque was engraved with the name "Elvis Presley." "I thought, 'Why would somebody put that there if it was really not Elvis' car?'" Kull said. His question quickly drifted through the restoration shop all the way to the top. Just about everyone who looked at the ashtray became convinced the gold-plated plaque was installed by the factory when the car was manufactured in 1958.
That's because the backside of the ashtray still has what appears to be original felt sound-proofing material glued to it. The felt still covers the places where the gold plates were mounted, suggesting that the felt was installed after the gold plates, said Nick Castelli, owner of Nick's.
"It's exciting; it's fun," Castelli said of his reaction to the find. "It's better than bad news."
The thought that the '58 Caddy in bay No. 1 may have been driven by America's first rock-and-roll idol set off a race among Nick's employees to prove its authenticity. Staffer Charlie Allison began researching the rock legend on the Internet, while John Castelli, Nick's son, began tracing the ownership of the vehicle. Its current owner, an area businessman who reportedly bought the car in "needs-restoration" condition about a year ago, is not interested in publicity, according to John Castelli. Nick's staffers have declined to reveal his identity.
By backtracking, however, John Castelli has traced the ownership of the car as far back as 1993, when it was owned by Johnny Thompson of Philadelphia. Castelli said he has learned the car had been insured for $50,000 when it was stolen in a 1993 heist. Investigators recovered the vehicle, he said.
Castelli said he's contacted insurance companies and a National Insurance Crime Bureau that investigates such high-dollar heists, seeking more information about the '58. He's also contacted General Motors in Detroit. A staffer is reportedly working to locate manufacturer's archives to identify the dealership where the 1958 mystery car was delivered. "It's done one person at a time," said John Castelli, of the researching. "It's time-consuming."
However, many folks have been willing to help track down the pedigree of the car. "Everyone's trying to help because they're wondering: 'Could it be Elvis's car?'" Castelli said. "Even if it turns out it wasn't his, it's fun to trace back its history."
Calls also have been made to Graceland, the Elvis Presley museum in Memphis. Marco Hartner, an auto restoration expert who specializes in 1960s Corvettes, said he can recognize when something was made by a factory. And he said he's convinced the local Cadillac's ashtray was manufactured by GM with Elvis' name engraved on it.
He cited not only the original felt on the back but also the bevel on the gold plate, which appeared to have been professionally made. Now, Hartner is researching Presley's history with Cadillacs on various Web sites. One site, elviscadillacs.tripod.com, listed dozens of Cadillacs known to have been owned by Presley. The list includes a black 1958 Fleetwood limousine, which would have looked similar but longer than the Fleetwood Special in Nick's shop.
That Web site states the fate of Presley's 1959 limousine is a "mystery." Hartner, however, wonders if the black Fleetwood sedan in Nick's shop could have been inaccurately described as a limousine. "It depends on how people interpret it," Hartner said. "A lot of people would have thought a four-door sedan was a limousine. Especially when Elvis had a couple hundred cars, the potential that something hasn't been discovered yet is pretty good, I think," he said.
Don Royston, president and co-founder of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America, also is working to trace the origins of the car, but remains skeptical. "I've seen this before," he said of false alarms.
If the car is an authentic Elvis Presley Cadillac, that would add considerably to its value. "If it proves out, it would be known as a celebrity car, and there are some buyers that would want to have (it) for their collection," he said.
- Elvis' homes open
(recordgazette.net, July 21 2009)
For the first time ever, two iconic homes in Palm Springs - one once owned by Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz; the other once owned by Elvis Presley and wife Pricilla Presley ‹ are now open to visitors for tours and/or overnight visits.
The Lucy House, 1194 Via Miraliste in Palm Springs, is one of the original desert homes of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, owned by the couple from 1946 through 1955. Pricing: Summer Weekdays: $450; Summer Weekends: $550. Visit TheLucyHouse.com for more information.
The Elvis Presley Palm Springs Estate, located at 845 West Chino Canyon Road, is one of only five homes that Elvis Presley bought in his lifetime. Built in 1946, the home was purchased by Elvis and Priscilla on April 2, 1970 (visitors will see the original deed). The home includes a recording studio; Elvis's private bedroom; a lively bar area; Elvis's original outdoor hot tub and indoor sauna and steam room; and a private entrance Elvis used to come and go unnoticed by others. Visitors may tour the residence for a special summer rate of just $15 per person. For more info, visit elvispalmsprings.com.
- Bouillabaisse: Fish Head, Balloons and Gloves, Well Steeped in Bach and Elvis
By GIA KOURLAS
(nytimes.com, July 21 2009)
Pilobolus Dance Theater, the company formed in 1971 and named after a genus of fungi, has changed drastically over the years in terms of artistic makeup. Lately the group, which opened its third program of the current season on Monday night at the Joyce Theater, has looked to outside choreographers in an effort to ignite creative sparks. In the case of "2b," a New York premiere by the Israeli artistic team of Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak, the flame could do with more fanning.
An arid work full of vague imagery and set to music by Bach, Tom Waits and Elvis Presley, "2b" features a surreal cast of characters. There are various skirmishes involving a man (Andrew Herro), a fisherman initially seen tangled inside a cluster of black balloons; a figure dressed in blue (Matt Del Rosario) wearing a fish head; a woman (Annika Sheaff) who skulks around the stage on demipoint wearing red tights and long red gloves; and another man (Jun Kuribayashi) who emerges from behind a miniature door.
... Pilobolus Dance Theater continues through Aug. 8 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800 or joyce.org.
- Elvis, your e-passport is ready!
Posted by Robin Harris
(blogs.zdnet.com, July 19 2009)
E-passports not only threaten your personal safety traveling, the RFID chips are easy to clone and fake. How easy? Here’s the picture of Elvis Presley’s e-passport:
The photo is taken from a passport scanner at a Dutch airport - no alarms or errors. But let’s look on the bright side: some salesman is making millions and some former bureaucrats have cushy gigs with RFID consultants.
Feel better now?
The Hacker’s Choice, that gen’d up the Elvis passport chip, tells you how to do it. The fake e-passport chip business is just starting: get in on the ground floor!
But wait: it gets better!
In theory the RFID passports improve security - uh-huh - and are faster to process. The first is laughable; the second not much better. Why?
The e-passport still has to be opened to confirm that what the chips says is also what the printed passport says. How is that faster?
What is faster are the new RFID chipped ID cards for border crossings: they broadcast their unencrypted info for 10 meters or more. Wow!
And you know the nifty key Speed Pass that buys gas? They’ve been hacked too.
But for the larcenous nothing beats RFID credit cards. They can be hacked for $8 from a foot or more away.
The Storage Bits take
RFID are great for their original application: tracking goods in a warehouse. But they are horribly insecure for financial and identity applications.
Their may be some workarounds. If the immigration agent’s terminal queried a central database that brought up a 2nd photo not on the passport, then we could be fairly certain that it wasn’t a forgery.
Another alternative: optical - not radio - data storage and encryption. A bar code scanner on a microscope could read tiny barcodes embedded in your photo - a concept not unlike the Dataglyphs developed at Xerox PARC.
The larger point is that RFID passports, drivers licenses, credit cards and other identity documents are a Bad Idea. We KNOW that techno-criminals are ripping off people on the web. Why won’t these same people move on to RFID when the economics make sense?
And when there are hundreds of millions RFID documents circulating, we won’t be able to issue a patch and fix the hole in a few weeks. No, these holes will be open for years. Good luck with that.
Comments welcome, of course. Want another view? The Economist magazine offers Why chips in passports and ID cards are a stupid idea. OK, it isn’t so different, but worth a read.
- Canadian artist wins Elvis contest
(Sun Herald, July 19 2009)
Hundreds of fans were all shook up when 15 contestants hit The Stage Bar on Saturday night at the Silver Slipper Casino for the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest. But it was Stephen Kabakos they couldn't help falling in love with, and he claimed the top title.
... Kabakos, of Ontario, Canada, won $1,000 cash and the opportunity to compete in The 2009 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest finals, presented by Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. in Memphis during the annual Elvis Week, Aug. 8-16. David Allen of Colony, Texas, was second, winning $500; Mario Kombou of London, England, was third, winning $250. Jeff Golden of Dothan, Ala., and Paul Ross of Austin, Texas, were also in the five finalists. Fifteen impersonators from around the world competed Friday night for a chance to be one of the five finalists to compete Saturday night for the title.
All were backed by the live band "XPG." For years, "XPG" has been the full-time band for the 2008 Ultimate Elvis(R) Tribute Artist Contest's Grand Champion and Ponchatoula, La., native Brandon Bennett. Bennett is one of the primary entertainers who perform regularly at Silver Slipper Casino.
This is the third year Graceland's Elvis Presley Enterprises has held a contest in search of the Elvis tribute artist who is the "best representation of the legacy of Elvis Presley." Only about a dozen locations are selected, world-wide, each year to host a sanctioned preliminary. The Grand Champion of the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest, in August, will win a prize package that includes $20,000 cash.
- Battle of the tributes looms
By MIKE WEATHERFORD
(Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 19 2009)
There hasn't been a showdown with Elvis. Not until September, anyway. But Damian Brantley's stock has gone through the roof. Brantley's Michael Jackson tribute anchored the Stratosphere's "American Superstars" for years. He's now in "Legends in Concert" at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut.
No surprise that he closes the show; the Elvis who traditionally provides the "Legends" finale is conveniently on break. "I've had a standing O every single night, if not more than one per show," Brantley says. "To follow that is probably tough. It's more than just my performance."
Brantley is due back on the Strip in September to join "Legends" at Harrah's Las Vegas. In the meantime, his phone hasn't stopped ringing with other offers. "I have to say it's been pretty wild," he says. "Out of control."
Same with the California-based impersonator E' Casanova, who says he has been getting "at least 12 to 15 offers a day on every scale," including one for Madison Square Garden.
Believe it or not, there were a handful of Elvis impersonators before the real Presley died in 1977. Some even played Las Vegas. But the real explosion came after he died. With Jackson, the Strip already seemed loaded with impressions and costumed tributes. ...
- Elvis Presley: 1935-2007: A Wonderful Life
By Greg Akers and Chris Herrington
(memphisflyer.com, July 19 2009)
Elvis Presley, the man who jump-started the rock-and-roll revolution from a tiny Memphis recording studio in 1954 and went on to become the world's most recognizable entertainer, died Monday, August 6th, of cardiac arrest, at his Horn Lake, Mississippi, home. He was 72 years old.
It had been six years since an earlier heart attack sent the man many called "The King" into a mini-retirement and 30 years since a drug overdose threatened his life, then in chaos, and forever altered his career: cleaning up, breaking from his iron-fisted manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker, and withdrawing from the music world for several years.
Upon his return to public life in the 1980s, Presley mixed sporadic but high-profile concert and record appearances with a series of non-music business ventures, including an ownership stake in the NFL Memphis Hound Dogs. In the 1990s, Presley returned to regular performances with a residency at the Hilton Hotel & Casino Tunica, setting the stage for a dramatic return as a musician and film star in the final decade of his life. ...
"Right Next Door to Dead"
On August 16th, 1977, Presley was found at his Graceland home around noon - ?unconscious and unresponsive - by fiancée Ginger Alden. According to never-confirmed rumors, Alden discovered Presley lying on the floor of his bathroom; all he would say later was that it was "a shameful scene." Rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital by paramedics, Presley, apparently a victim of a prescription drug overdose, slipped into a coma, and fears were high that he might not survive. In a statement on the steps of the hospital, Presley's father, Vernon, announced to the world, "My boy may not make it." Presley himself later said he was "right next door to dead."
But the next day, Presley awoke and was discharged from the hospital three days later. He checked into Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, a leading drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation center, where he would stay for a month. ...
- How Sir Paul made it to 64 ... and beyond
By SUN MEDIA
(torontosun.com, July 16 2009)
Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson both died years before their time -- their health and happiness in shambles, their bodies reliant on drugs. Perhaps the only other musician still alive whose fame rivals that of the kings of rock and pop is Paul McCartney. The bubbliest Beatle, now 67, was as happy and as bubbly as ever last Saturday just before headlining an outdoor concert before 50,000 in Halifax.
So why is it that he didn't end up as troubled as Presley and Jackson? "I get asked that question a lot," McCartney told a Sun Media interviewer, "and I think the answer -- if I am sane and healthy -- is my family. My Liverpool family. I had a really good family. I had a happy childhood, and I wasn't a child star. So I did all the ordinary things that everyone does -- you know, try to get a girl to go on a date, get turned down. All that.
"And then I got in the Beatles, and the fact that I was from that very strong family kept my feet on the ground. And I see them quite a bit. I go back up to Liverpool and see all the folks. And there, I'm not a star. I'm just 'Our Paul.' I try to impress them, saying, 'You know, I'm very famous.' They're like (rolls eyes), 'Have another drink.' That's good. It keeps me level-headed. I like that." ...
- PRISCILLA PRESLEY - JOE JACKSON TURNS TO PRESLEYS
(contactmusic.com, July 15 2009)
Michael Jackson's father Joe Jackson wants to turn Neverland into a venture as successful as late singer Elvis Presley's former home Graceland.
Joe Jackson wants Priscilla Presley to help him transform Neverland into the next Graceland.
The 79-year-old father of the late Michael Jackson sought out Priscilla and her daughter Lisa Marie Presley - Michael's ex-wife and the daughter of Elvis Presley - because he is keen to turn Michael's former home into an attraction for fans.
Joe believes Neverland could be as successful as Elvis' former residence Graceland.
National Enquirer magazine reports: "Joe secretly set about soliciting advice from ex in-laws Lisa Marie Presley and hard-nosed mom Priscilla Presley on how to turn the ranch into a perpetual money-machine, like Graceland - which has netted the Presleys hundreds of millions!"
Joe is said to be amazed at the amount of money Priscilla and her family have made from Graceland. He is keen to buy the Neverland ranch - which Michael moved out of in 2005 following his acquittal of child abuse charges - from the mortgage company which is currently in charge of it as soon as possible.
Joe is also said to be considering exhuming Michael's body after it is buried and moving it to Neverland - even though the 50-year-old pop icon had said he never wanted to return after police raided the estate in 2003.
A source said: "Joe tortured Michael in life. If his scheme to bury Michael in Neverland succeeds, his son may never rest in peace. Turning Neverland into Graceland is one thing - imprisoning Michael's spirit in a hated place is a shocking betrayal."
Michael died of a suspected cardiac arrest last month.
- Graceland Announces Plans for Elvis Week 2009
(Yahoo! Finance / BUSINESS WIRE, July 15 2009)
Every year since Elvis Presley¹s death in 1977, tens of thousands of people from around the world have gathered at his home, Graceland, in Memphis to celebrate his life in a series of events known as ELVIS WEEK. Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) announced today that in addition to the annual events such as the Candlelight Vigil, tickets are also on sale for new Elvis Week events August 8-16 in Memphis. The nine-day celebration includes a wide variety of festivities that will showcase the impact Elvis Presley¹s life and career continues to have on music enthusiasts and popular culture.
- Elvis' homes open
(Record Gazette, July 15 2009)
For the first time ever, two iconic homes in Palm Springs - one once owned by Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz; the other once owned by Elvis Presley and wife Pricilla Presley -- are now open to visitors for tours and/or overnight visits.
... The Elvis Presley Palm Springs Estate, located at 845 West Chino Canyon Road, is one of only five homes that Elvis Presley bought in his lifetime. Built in 1946, the home was purchased by Elvis and Priscilla on April 2, 1970 (visitors will see the original deed). The home includes a recording studio; Elvis's private bedroom; a lively bar area; Elvis's original outdoor hot tub and indoor sauna and steam room; and a private entrance Elvis used to come and go unnoticed by others. Visitors may tour the residence for a special summer rate of just $15 per person. For more info, visit www.elvispalmsprings.com.