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Elvis Presley News

June 2009
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  • Elvis Estate owner wins more of 'The King's' possessions
    By Terria Smith
    ( /Palm Springs Sun, June 12 2009)
    Elvis left the building a long time ago, but the new owner of the Presley Estate hopes "The King's" airplane and other possessions will attract visitors to his Palm Springs home.

    Estate owner Reno Fontana is acquiring the music legend's private jet, car and performance ring to help promote the home as the "Graceland of the West." Presley bought the home at 845 W. Chino Canyon Road in 1970 and owned it until his death in 1977. Fontana placed the winning bid for the items on May 30, through a Webcast for a Kruse International auction, said Kelly Ellert, director of public relations for Kruse International. Fontana said he bid $600,000 for the three possessions. ...

  • The King gets royal treatment
    (, June 11 2009)
    "Elvis" began with karaoke. Jay Stewart was at a party with friends from Harwich Junior Theatre when he got up and, he jokes, "favored the crowd with an Elvis Presley tune." It was no joke to them, though: They were wowed and encouraged him to consider putting together a show performing Elvis tunes. Stewart, a professional clown and actor, did not, however, want to become an impersonator.

    He did end up creating the one-man "Elvis: The King and Me" but assures audiences that the show doesn't involve him "sitting there with the jumpsuit and the fringe and the wig." Elvis arrives via multimedia magic, he says, because "I don't want to compete with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. This is my tribute. I sing the songs, and I hope people will sing along." ...

  • ELVIS PRESLEY FESTIVAL: Getting ready for the King
    By Sheena Barnett
    (NEMS Daily Journal, June 6 2009)
    A few random drops of rain couldn¹t keep Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival organizers from finishing preparations for this weekend¹s festivities. Crews were busy at Fairpark, where the main entertainment stage will be, as well as down at Broadway in front of The Lyric. Entertainment at both sites begins today. ...

  • ELVIS PRESLEY FESTIVAL: Elvis tribute artist in the building
    By Stephanie Moody-Coomer
    (, June 6 2009)
    Tribute Artist Schedule
    Friday, June 5th - Lyric Theatre
    10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition-Round One
    Saturday, June 6th - Lyric Theatre
    1 p.m.- 3 p.m.

  • Wanted: Remembrances of encounters with Elvis" Legacy Project records interviews for Graceland archives
    By Michael Lollar
    (, June 6 2009)
    John "Bull" Bramlett would go on to become a professional football player, but in the early 1950s, he was part of the ragtag team that played touch football near Lauderdale Courts housing project with Elvis Presley as a teammate.

    Bramlett, 67, was six years younger than Elvis, who called him "Little Bramlett." He sometimes had to stand on the sidelines and watch, but when the older boys needed an extra player, he says, "They'd bang me around just like they did everybody else."

    It's part of the story Bramlett tells as part of the "Elvis Presley Legacy Project," in which Graceland is inviting those who knew or met Elvis to tell about their encounters in taped interviews to be included in Graceland's archives.

    Graceland will videotape other stories from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 12 and 13 at the East Memphis Hilton.

    Bramlett was invited to tell his story ahead of time along with a few other high-profile Memphians, including former Elvis girlfriend Dixie Locke Emmons, who met Elvis at her church, First Assembly of God.

    The interviews, designed to promote the 75th Elvis birthday celebrations in January, tend toward a certain reverence, although off-camera, Bramlett adds a few details that won't make it into the Graceland archives.

    Elvis was a "great guy," he says, but he was not destined for sports. "He was just an average athlete. I thought he kind of ran like a girl. It was just a funny way that he ran."

    While Elvis went on to musical immortality, Bramlett became a celebrity in his own right. He was an All-State and All-American high school football player at Humes High School and an honorable mention All-American at Memphis State University.

    From 1965 to 1971, he played for the Denver Broncos, the Miami Dolphins, the Boston Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

    Bramlett says alcohol and drugs helped fuel his reputation as "the meanest man in football," until he "met Jesus in 1973." It was a conversion that led Bramlett to begin his own lay ministry. He now ministers in prisons and to sports groups, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, NFL clubs and NASCAR chapel services.

    And he can tell about knowing Elvis before and after he became famous.

    Bramlett was with Elvis in 1954 at the old Suzore Theater when Elvis' mother, Gladys, came to the theater to tell him that his record, "That's All Right," was being played over and over on WHBQ Radio.

    Within three years Elvis had his first RCA hit, "Heartbreak Hotel," and a new home at Graceland. It was soon after the move to Graceland, Bramlett says, that Elvis pulled up alongside him at a red light. He heard a familiar voice yell, "Hey, Little Bramlett." Bramlett says he had to look closely before recognizing Elvis in an old white van and wearing a floppy hat to disguise himself so that he could go out in public.

    When Bramlett called out, "Elvis," Presley motioned for him to keep quiet, then drove away.

  • Musicians reflect on Bo Diddley's influence
    (Yahoo News!, June 3 2009)
    Mention Bo Diddley's name and most everyone thinks one thing -- the beat. Bomp ba-bomp-ba-bomp, bomp bomp. Applied to such songs as "Bo Diddley"; "Hey Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love" it's perhaps the most influential musical motif since the devil purportedly handed Robert Johnson the I-IV-V chord progression< at the crossroads.

    It earned Diddley -- who died June 2, 2008, of heart failure at age 79 -- his rightful moniker as the Originator and his spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, as well as other lifetime achievement honors. But there was more to Diddley than the beat.

    During a career that stretched some four and a half decades, he produced a rich body of spirited, aggressive work that fused a blues sensibility with rock 'n' roll energy and ran far deeper than the well-known hits. Diddley acquitted himself as a progressive bandleader as well as an inventor, not only of the square-shaped Gretsch guitar that was his trademark but also of a variety of effects that subsequently became commonplace pedals and rack mounts for electronic components.

    A year after his death he's remembered as all of that and more by other musicians who knew him, admired his accomplishments or both.

    Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top): "He hit the scene with that infectious beat he brought to the forefront, but it goes back to when he landed in Chicago and was part of the Maxwell Street scene playing at the flea market on the corner. It was Bo Diddley, Clifton James on drums and Jerome Green on maracas -- and that was it. Who ever heard of a guitar player and two percussionists? And you listen to those early records now, with the knowledge there was no bass guitar, no rhythm guitar, no piano, no nothing except those three guys, but you turn it up and you say, 'Well, I don't miss anything. It sounds like a full orchestra to me.'"

    George Thorogood: "No artist has fascinated me more than Bo Diddley. When I got into his stuff, everybody in 1967 was listening to two monumental rock history albums -- one was (Jimi Hendrix's) 'Are You Experienced?,' the other was (the Beatles') 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' But I had this album, Bo Diddley's '16 All-Time Greatest Hits.' I'd go to Wildwood, New Jersey, and buy maracas by the pound because I was fascinated with this sound and this thing that was Bo Diddley. This was before I got into John Lee Hooker, and I was amazed by the sound of this guy who sat on one chord, maybe two. But, like James Brown, he could do one chord for 15 minutes and it never gets boring. That's where I learned my whole routine from. I mean, what is 'Bad to the Bone' except, really, Bo Diddley?"

    Todd Snider: "There are four important things about Bo Diddley that I hope everybody knows. The first, of course, is that he invented a beat. Second, and less known, his song 'Bo Diddley' was a first in that his name was the title and chorus which, in my opinion, makes him one of the inventors of rap. Third, three months before Elvis Presley played (on) Ed Sullivan, Bo Diddley did. He was told to play a different song than 'Bo Diddley' and said he would, but when the cameras rolled he played 'Bo Diddley,' thus inventing rock 'n' roll's attitude. Fourth and most important, he was so sexy that he told Arlene he had a chimney made out of human skulls -- and she still went for a walk with him."

    Billy Corgan (the Smashing Pumpkins): "What he really did was bring a rock 'n' roll attitude to rhythm and blues, and that influence is everywhere. Imagine the Stones without the influence of Diddley's swagger, and you can see his true impact. His prime, like Chuck Berry's, was at a time when African-American artists playing rock 'n' roll was more comfortably accepted by a white public if these men were playing nonthreatening observers whose commentary came through in riddles and encoded language. The hipsters picked up on the fact that they were being spoken to. I never thought much of Bo Diddley till I got his boxed set in the early '90s, and I found certain songs struck me like Escher drawings in that the more I heard them the more I saw. His is the kind of music that in its primitive urgency never gets old and in its lyrical narrative will never become outdated."

    Joe Satriani: "Bo Diddley gave us so much. He was an essential part of rock 'n' roll. It couldn't have happened without him."

    Bonnie Raitt: "Bo's music will continue to influence people as long as someone can beat out that signature rhythm on whatever instrument they can. He was one of the greats and a wonderful man as well."

    Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead, Phil & Friends): "That groove is everywhere. It's so fundamental. It permeates. You can hear it in all different kinds of music, and it moves so nicely. Personally I kind of like to do things inside it; I like to take the groove and move it over an eighth note and set up that tension between the thing that starts on the downbeat and the same pattern that starts an eighth note later, and then you can build that up and it's very satisfying. It's very fruitful, shall we say."

    Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Ratdog): "He was famous for that one rhythm, but he was actually a pretty eminent blues artist. He had an amazing sense of dynamics. When musicians get together and they're working up stuff, it's quite common to hear somebody say, 'I want you to play this Bo Diddley,' and everybody knows what that means. It rumbles and rolls, and the notes don't come real fast so you get a little time to be real choosy about what notes you play and it allows you to dance with your instruments. It's a fun rhythm to play, so we tend to stretch it out and live in it for a while."

    Nils Lofgren (E Street Band): "That groove, however Bo fell into it, I'm sure he realized he had a gem ... and he called it his own and sold it to us, and it was a beautiful thing and still is. It's a signature beat that you can play against a four-count bar, but you can't lose it. If someone's playing that beat you can improv around it with funk, rock, melodic playing, nasty stuff, pretty stuff -- but not at the expense of the beat. The drummer doesn't have to play it; the guitar player can play it against regular backbeat drums, and it's going to color the entire picture."

    John Doe (X, the Knitters): "He came to Los Angeles once in about '83 and played this place called the Music Machine, and everybody was just out of their minds because Bo Diddley hadn't played in L.A. since who knows when. They had put together a group of guys that played the blues OK but really didn't have a clue to what to do with Bo Diddley and, with all apologies, it was terrible. That same night Dave (Alvin) and a few of us went to the owner of the club and said, 'Get him back six months from now and we'll put together a band and it will be great,' and we did. And it was."

    Ted Nugent: "Bo Diddley's incredible impact on music and America is immeasurable. As my American blues brother Billy Gibbons exclaimed, accurately, a newborn infant exposed to the Bo Diddley rhythm would begin to gyrate accordingly. We often hear the term 'primal' associated with good rock 'n' roll music, but clearly Bo handed off the purity of primal direct from our aboriginal campfires straight to the masses via his electric guitar grind. It is pure. I was privileged and deeply honored to jam with Bo and actually play bass guitar in a few of his concerts back in 1970. It changed my life. I wallowed in the belly of the beast and was instantaneously moved to better appreciate and more effectively implement the soulfulness of his music into my own. All dedicated musicians, knowingly or otherwise, directly or indirectly, cannot make stirring music without the immense touch of Bo Diddley guiding them one way or another."

    Jack Ingram: "One way I look at it is when I listen to Tom Petty, we don't have 'American Girl' without Bo Diddley -- and that could be said about thousands of other classic American rock 'n' roll tunes. Without Bo Diddley, we'd be missing an entire segment of the soundtrack of our lives. My kid brought me a guitar he made in class the other day; he's 3 years old, and in preschool they were making guitars that look like Bo Diddley's. So his influence is bigger than I can fathom. It's bigger than the money he made or the records he sold."

    Keith Urban: "In '97 I was in a band called the Ranch. We were opening for Bo at a club in New York City. We finished our set, and I made sure to get out into the audience to see Bo play. After his show, we were packing up backstage, and in walks Bo and he says, 'Hey, boy, was that you just pickin' on that there guitar?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Mmm, you're a good guitar player, boy,' and then he just nodded and walked away. I remembered this photo that was taken backstage that night; I'd had it on a table in my apartment for years, but when I moved it was packed up. I actually found it after I was asked by the organizers of the Grammy Awards to play with B.B. King, Buddy Guy and John Mayer as part of a tribute to Bo. It really was a full-circle moment for me."

    (Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

  • Feds drop all charges against celebrity coroner
    (, June 2 2009)
    The criminal case against celebrity pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht is over. Federal prosecutors say all remaining counts will be dropped. The former Allegheny County medical examiner is renowned for his work on famous deaths, including those of Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey and Vince Foster. He has testified in numerous high-profile cases and was a frequent TV guest in the months preceding the 1994 O.J. Simpson homicide trial. ...

  • Elvis fest street closings start today
    By M. Scott Morris
    (, June 1 2009)
    The Elvis Presley Festival opens Friday, and you¹ll find some changes in downtown this week.

    A Front Street parking lot was closed on Sunday to prepare the way for a carnival. At 6 p.m. today, Troy Street will be closed to vehicular traffic behind Tupelo City Hall. At 6 p.m. Wednesday, South Commerce Street will be closed from Main to Troy streets. In addition, Broadway Street will be closed from Jefferson to Court streets. At 6 p.m. Friday, Main Street will be closed from Front Street to Fairpark Drive, and North Commerce Street will be closed from Park Heights restaurant to Main Street. Spring Street will close from Main to Court streets at 10 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, the festival parade will line up at Church Street School. It'll start at 10 a.m. and follow Church Street to Main Street, and the parade will end at Fairpark. The streets closed exclusively for the parade will open after the parade on Saturday. The other street closings will be in effect until Sunday morning. ...

  • Tupelo festival draws Elvis enthusiasts to his hometown
    ( / Associated Press, June 1 2009)
    The 2009 TupeloElvis Presley Festival includes a pair of parades, a carnival and other activities. The celebration begins Tuesday at the Tupelo Automobile Museum, which will feature posters from all of Elvis' movies.

    The carnival begins Thursday. The "Elvis All the Time" area in downtown Tupelo will have carnival vendors and representatives from Elvis Presley Enterprises' Legacy Project, who will record people's Elvis stories on Saturday. Also Saturday, there will be a re-enactment of Elvis and his mother, Gladys, buying his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware. The parade is 10 a.m. Saturday followed by the Elvis Look-Alike Pet Parade at 11 a.m.

    The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition begins Friday with the finals Saturday night.

  • Tupelo Elvis fest this week
    Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
    ( / Associated Press, June 1 2009)
    The 2009 Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival includes a pair of parades, a carnival and other activities. The celebration begins Tuesday at the Tupelo Automobile Museum, which will feature posters from all of Elvis¹ movies. The carnival begins Thursday.

    The "Elvis All the Time" area in downtown Tupelo will have carnival vendors and representatives from Elvis Presley Enterprises' Legacy Project, who will record people's Elvis stories on Saturday. Also Saturday, there will be a re-enactment of Elvis and his mother, Gladys, buying his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware.

    The parade is 10 a.m. Saturday followed by the Elvis Look-Alike Pet Parade at 11 a.m. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition begins Friday with the finals Saturday night.

  • American Idol Sillerman Dealt Elvis Default Heartbreak in Vegas
    By Anthony Effinger and Daniel Taub
    (, June 1 2009)
    Media baron Robert F.X. Sillerman had a great run until he tried to break into real estate -- with Elvis Presley as his partner.

    The 61-year-old Sillerman -- who works out six days a week, offsetting an appetite for ice cream and cookies -- made a fortune in radio, buying up stations nationwide and selling them en masse for $2.1 billion in 1998. He then rolled up concert venues and talent agencies for the likes of Metallica and basketball star Michael Jordan and sold that business for $4 billion in 2000. A year later, he co-produced the Broadway adaptation of his friend Mel Brooks' movie "The Producers."

    Sillerman made what may have been his best deal in 2005, when he bought television's American Idol, the talent show that has franchises around the world and tops U.S. TV ratings.

    Then, in 2007, Sillerman rolled the dice on real estate -- at exactly the wrong time. He started a company called FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. and took over 18 acres (7 hectares) on the Las Vegas Strip. He borrowed $475 million through Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG to pay for the property and start developing a resort with an Elvis theme.

    Sillerman owns the commercial rights to Elvis -- and Muhammad Ali -- through another company, New York-based CKX Inc., which also owns Idol.

    The FX investment turned out to be a blunder by a dealmaker who, according to business partners and friends, rarely makes them. ...

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