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Presleys in the Press

Elvis Presley News

July 2009
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  • Sweet spot in Sycamore that Elvis would have liked
    ( / The Courier-News, July 14 2009)
    Elvis Presley would feel right at home at the '50s-style Riccardi's Red Hots & Soda Fountain. The eatery has a menu item inspired by one of Presley's favorite snacks. "The Elvis sandwich is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich," said Suzie Riccardi, who owns and operates the restaurant with her husband, Frank. ...

  • Riffs: New collection highlights classic Elvis CD
    BY Ron Wynn
    (, July 13 2009)
    In a year dominated by anniversaries of great labels and historic events, one that might get overlooked concerns Elvis Presley's return 40 years ago to his Memphis recording roots.

    He'd spent the previous 13 starring in a string of films (several of them quite forgettable) and also doing both studio and soundtrack sessions in Nashville and Hollywood. Many observers felt that his days of making hits -- let alone significant releases-- were long gone and that he was now more a brand and a casino draw than a major performer.

    But the Presley comeback had already started a year earlier. His December 1968 television show (actually taped in June but not shown until that winter) proved The King hadn't yet lost his ability to surprise and startle. The 68 Comeback Special, now available in DVD, was his first live show in front of an audience in more than eleven years, and the amazing live special aired on NBC was both a commercial and creative smash.

    But what came after that proved even greater. Presley made one of his last great secular releases Elvis in Memphis at American Studios a year later. It was a vintage date in both sensibility and style, with Presley ranging all over the place vocally, doing folk, soul, and country. The single "In the Ghetto" (penned by Mac Davis) got him back on the charts, and his versions of "Any Day Now," "Only the Strong Survive" and "Gentle on My Mind" rivaled the originals in quality and depth.

    The new two-CD release From Elvis in Memphis: The Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy) will be issued July 28. It contains not only all the tunes from the original Elvis in Memphis and subsequent From Memphis to Vegas albums, but other stirring singles that found their way on various Presley albums in the next few years.

    Some, like his cover of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" are more important for their place in the Presley canon than anything else, but some others, particularly the covers of Percy Mayfield's "Stranger in My Own Home Town," Ned Miller's "From a Jack to a King" and Eddie Rabbitt's "Kentucky Rain" are magnificent. There's also the glittering "Suspicious Minds," written by Mark James, which featured another triumphant Presley vocal.

    The special set also includes exhaustive and definitive liner notes from the husband/wife team of writer/filmmaker Robert Gordon and writer/historian Tara McAdams. Their essay puts in perspective not only Presley's comeback, but also the roles played by producer/songwriter impresario Chips Moman and the contributions of many master musicians working at American studios.

    Presley didn't shed all his celebrity baggage when he came back home in 1969, but the music made and presented on From Elvis in Memphis: Legacy Edition comes very close to equaling the splendor of the Sun sessions that launched his extraordinary ascension to stardom.

    New Little Richard reissues

    Hopes were high on all sides in 1970 when Little Richard joined the roster of Warner Bros. At that time the label was one of the nation's foremost, and Little Richard seemed primed to make the same major return to show business glory that Elvis Presley had two years earlier.

    Unfortunately, none of the three albums he made for the company in the early '70s ever generated the type of momentum or reaction expected. But they still had plenty of exciting moments and now all three have been reissued by Collector's Choice. ...

  • Kill pill
    BY Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
    (Hindustan Times, July 11 2009)
    Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley and now Michael Jackson. All of them popped pills so often that they got addicted to them. These pills were apparently harmless; often were described as a "necessity" to get through a gruelling day.

    But they did a bit more than relieve these celebrities of their stress. They also relieved them of their physical and mental health. ... "Painkillers, sedatives, anti-allergics and cough syrups are greatly abused," says Dr Kushrav Bajan, intensive care specialist, P D Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. ... "Persistent use of such seemingly regular drugs lower the threshold of tolerance levels to any sort of discomfort." Agrees Dr Meenakshi Jain, consultant, internal medicine, Max Healthcare, Noida, "Often, painkillers like brufen, combiflam, aspirin and so on become almost a habit for a lot of people."

    Painkillers can be divided into two categories, narcotic and non narcotic. Both can be harmful if misused. "Regular painkillers like dispirin, aspirin, combiflam etc are non narcotic drugs and available over the counter," says Dr Jain. "Regular use can cause stomach infections, ulcers, acidity, gas, thinning of the blood, high blood pressure and kidney and liver toxicity."

    Narcotic drugs like morphine, codeine and so on are only prescribed to relieve very serious pains, such as post operative or cancer pains, chronic back pain or sometimes nerve troubles. ³These are definitely not to be taken beyond the prescribed period," says Jain ...

  • Media frenzies seem to be part of current times
    (, July 11 2009)
    I am not sure what to make of the Michael Jackson events. Not being a fan, the coverage of his death and its aftermath seemed quite a bit overdone to me. Yet the expressions of grief and interest in the ongoing coverage seemed genuine. There did appear to be a real connection for many people, one which I don't necessarily have myself but which apparently exists for others.

    Still, I think the coverage, especially in the TV media, went beyond the realm of reasonableness even for the someone who is now being called the "King of Pop."

    It is not the first time we have seen this kind of media frenzy over a news event, whether it be a natural disaster or a celebrity death. When they happen, they remind me of a feeding frenzy after sharks detect blood in the water.

    I define excessive coverage as the kind where it seems like it is hard to avoid the story, if one chooses to do so, for days on end. Jackson is certainly not the only example involving a celebrity that comes to mind. Remember the death of Princess Diana? Or how about the O.J. Simpson trial? At some point, you ask yourself, "Will this never end?"

    That amount of coverage in my view strips us of a proper perspective of events. It attempts to force us to accept a view that there is only one thing of importance or interest to most people.

    I can think of instances when that has been pretty much true. Two that come to mind for our nation are the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the events of Sept, 11, 2001. These are events that touched nearly the entire nation.

    But usually there is not that kind of near-universal interest, and certainly I do not see the death of Michael Jackson as one of those instances.

    When it comes to celebrities, they often have a core group of intensely interested followers among a sea of disinterested people. Presuming that there is universal interest in those cases seems to me to be a mistake, whether it is Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or pick your own choice.

  • Jackson exploited in death as martyr
    (, July 11 2009)
    Like Elvis Presley before him, the demise of Michael Jackson has engaged the entire world, and the parallels are spooky. Both Presley and Jackson lived isolated, somewhat bizarre lives, eventually destroying themselves with drugs administered by doctors on their payrolls.

    This was a proven fact in Presley's case; there is strong evidence in Jackson's.

    But while Presley was mourned primarily as a great entertainer, Jackson is being sold by his supporters as much more. In fact, if you listen to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, the troubled singer was the second coming of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Jackson's memorial service earlier this week, Sharpton put forth that Jackson brought blacks and whites together, teaching us all how to love.

    Wow, who knew?

    A Pew Research poll shows that African-Americans are far more interested in the Jackson story than are white Americans, and some speakers at the memorial referred to Jackson as a black icon. But how can this be? Jackson bleached his skin to make it lighter and presumably paid white men to donate sperm for his three in-vitro children, at least two of whom were carried to term by a white woman.

    Does that sound like a black icon to you? What is really going on here?

    My colleague Bernard Goldberg says this is an example of a minority group sticking together, rallying around one of their own. It is true that many African-Americans celebrated the acquittal of O.J. Simpson of murder, as well as a jury finding Jackson not guilty on child molestation charges.

    I guess it's natural to root for the home team, especially when history has been brutally unkind. Black Americans well understand the injustice of the past.

    But the truth is that Jackson's contribution lies in entertainment and little else. He is not a role model.

    His admitted conduct with children is simply unacceptable for any adult. His use of cosmetic surgery is troubling to say the least. And the enormous amount of money he spent on prescription drugs speaks for itself.

    Of course, the corrupt media are driving the deification of Jackson. Rather than challenge the St. Paul-like portrayal, the media are cynically exploiting it to the fullest.

    Remember, these are the same people who covered the molestation trial gavel to gavel. When Jackson was found not guilty, did the press label him a hero? They certainly did not. But now that he's dead (very possibly from an accidental drug overdose), Jackson has become a hero. How does that happen? What kind of media con is this?

    I'd like to put that question to every single national anchorperson who sat there doing play-by-play at the memorial service, but I do not believe I'd get a cogent answer.

    I have no desire to intrude on anyone grieving for Jackson, especially the people who truly loved him. But the entire planet is watching this play out, and there is such a thing as truth in this world.

    We should be telling it.

  • Elvis vs. Michael - who left the bigger legacy?
    ( / Scripps Howard News Service, July 10 2009)
    The death hadn't even been confirmed, the body not yet cold, before the comparisons were being made. The passing of Michael Jackson reignited the occasional debate about the King of Pop and Elvis Presley, "The King" of rock 'n' roll.

    In the hours after Jackson's passing, Canadian songbird Celine Dion claimed it felt "like when (President John) Kennedy died, when Elvis Presley died. We are not only talking about a talented person dying, it's an amazing loss."

    The articles analyzing the similarities between Jackson and Presley have been ubiquitous and inevitable. Even Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde declared, "The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it."

    But is there really a case to be made that Jackson's and Presley's places in the pantheon of popular culture were as similar as some suggest?

    Parallels between Elvis and Michael

    Certainly, parallels between the two do exist. Both were born poor and became massive music icons on a global scale (though Jackson may have the slight advantage there as Presley never performed outside of North America). Each sold hundreds of millions of records and reached unimaginable levels of fame and wealth before experiencing rapid personal and professional descents (and, of course, there's the matter of Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie, who was married briefly to Jackson in the mid-'90s).

    "Like Elvis, Jackson unified black and white listeners, and made startlingly important, memorable and era-defining music," says writer and music historian Alanna Nash, author of several Elvis books, including a groundbreaking biography of Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker. "Jackson was also a completely luminous performer -- you couldn't take your eyes off of him -- and part of it was because you sensed that this was an extraordinarily damaged boy-man, again, like Elvis, a Peter Pan, a puer aeternus" (Latin for "eternal boy").

    One of them was a real revolutionary

    But unlike Jackson -- whose gaudy sales figures and personal excesses defined him -- Presley's impact and lasting relevance were part of a larger cultural phenomenon.

    "Elvis emerged at a point in history where our culture was ready to turn itself upside down," says Dr. John Bakke, a professor emeritus of the University of Memphis' Department of Communication, who staged the first scholarly conference on Presley in 1979. "From the Depression on to World War II and then into the Cold War, there was a real drive towards security. Elvis came along at just the time the first identifiable generation of teen-agers were about to substitute a drive for freedom for their parents' drive for security.

    "With the change in values came a change in music and you had the impact of what became rock 'n' roll. Elvis stood at the cusp of that generational revolution."

    As Nash notes, Presley's was a trailblazing path.

    "Where Elvis co-created a musical art form, Michael largely built on one. Where Elvis changed sexual mores in the conservative wake of World War II, Michael only made shocking crotch-grabbing movements. And where Elvis, expanding on James Dean's work, harnessed a burgeoning youth culture, Michael only drew more attention to it," says Nash. "He did it brilliantly ... but his cultural impact pales in comparison to Presley's."

    Beyond their impact in life, the question now is whether a cult will spring up around Jackson in death similar to the one that grew around Presley, who died in 1977.

    Given the particular nature of Jackson's legal and personal troubles over the past decade, it's hard to imagine millions of tourists visiting Jackson's childhood home in Gary, Ind., or his former Neverland Ranch complex in California the way Presley pilgrims -- young and old -- turn up at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., each year.

    "It's far easier to overlook Elvis's peccadilloes than Michael's," Nash says. "Elvis was beautiful, sexy and fun. Michael was sweet, strange and sad. Who wants to see that on a lunchbox?"

    Different times, different worlds

    Bakke also points out that the worlds in which Presley and Jackson lived and died were dramatically different.

    "In general, people weren't interested in (Elvis) personally or that interested in their pop-culture figures the way they are now. It was a big deal when one of the networks actually led their newscast with Elvis' death. Compare that to what you're seeing with Jackson -- it's totally night and day."

    Like Jackson, Presley's reputation had, by the end of his life, been damaged to some extent (by his divorce, rumors of drugs and diminishing commercial success). But Presley's image was rehabilitated posthumously. Due largely to the continuing efforts by the Elvis Presley Enterprises and RCA Records, he's remained a relevant, romantic and iconic figure for successive generations of fans. (Through a spokesman, Elvis Presley Enterprises declined to comment.)

    While Jackson's later years rarely saw him create or put out new music, Presley continued recording up until his death, amassing a voluminous catalog of material -- touching on rock, pop, country and gospel -- that could be released and repackaged for years to come. "Suddenly after Elvis died, there was a vacuum," notes Bakke, "and there was plenty to fill up the void: RCA started packaging and marketing to those interests."

    The opportunity for Jackson to be remembered and rehabilitated will be more complicated given his chaotic family and financial circumstances. Presley had strong supporters in ex-wife Priscilla Presley and Parker, as well as a small army of business interests eager to keep his flame burning. Who will step in and play the same custodial role for Jackson? At this point it's hard to say.

    The only thing that's clear now is that the tragedy of Jackson's life and death might prove mere foreshadowing for what awaits his legacy.

    Comparing Elvis and Michael: At a glance ...

  • Iconic Waikiki Hotel Closes
    ( / Associated Press, July 10 2009)
    The Y-shaped Ilikai hotel that has graced the Waikiki skyline for nearly five decades and hosted everyone from U.S. presidents to Elvis Presley has closed. The new owner ceased hotel operations on the iconic property on Thursday because of mounting operating losses. ...

  • Waikiki hotel closes
    The Y-shaped Ilikai hotel that has graced the Waikiki skyline for nearly five decades and hosted everyone from U.S. presidents to Elvis Presley has closed. The new owner ceased hotel operations on the iconic property on Thursday because of mounting operating losses. ...

  • In hunting for celebrity graves, Michael Jackson's may be difficult
    (, July 10 2009)
    Their graves are public shrines for fans and followers. Countless people from all over the world make pilgrimages to their burial sites, hoping to draw close to those they adored from afar.

    Now Michael Jackson's gravesite will become the next holy grail. A private gathering for the pop icon was held Tuesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California. Afterward, his casket was taken to the public memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. But it remains unclear whether his body has been interred -- or where.

    Officials at Forest Lawn won't disclose where Jackson's body is being buried. If his final resting place is at Forest Lawn, fans who wish to visit will have to overcome the funeral company's stringent security patrols. A Los Angeles Police Department official told CNN that the force hoped Jackson would be buried outside of its jurisdiction for fear officers might be assigned to protect the grave for months.

    There has been some speculation that Jackson's body will eventually be moved to Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California. But that would require the family to obtain zoning exemptions and settle legal disputes, which could take years. Jackson retained only a small share of ownership in the ranch.

    If a public memorial were created at Neverland -- or anywhere -- it might easily surpass the tombs of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley as the most-visited gravesite. "If it gets moved somewhere more public, I think a lot of people will come visit," said Steve Goldstein, author of L.A.'s Gravesite Companion: Where the VIP's RIP. "He'll probably take over as the most visited grave site over Marilyn." ...

  • Fans watch from Elvis' ex-home
    By Denise Goolsby
    (The Desert Sun, July 8 2009)
    Nearly 100 Michael Jackson fans congregated at Elvis Presley's former Palm Springs home on Tuesday to watch the pop star's memorial service televised live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Chairs, set atop a checkerboard of black and white tile in a room once used by Presley to entertain guests, were filled with people, some from as far away as San Francisco. ...

  • Presley denies turning her back on Jackson
    ( /, July 7 2009)
    Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie has dismissed reports she ignored a voicemail from her ex-husband Michael Jackson in which he made a desperate plea for help.

    The Thriller superstar, who divorced Lisa Marie Presley in 1996 after two years of marriage, died after suffering a cardiac arrest on June 25th. His cause of death has yet to be determined, but rumors have swirled about his alleged addiction to prescription painkillers possibly contributing to his untimely demise.

    Us Weekly magazine claims Jackson reached out to his first wife Presley one year ago, after fearing he was losing control of his life. The rock offspring reportedly turned her back on Jackson and refused to return the distraught call - and now the tabloid claims she's wracked with guilt over her decision. A source tells the tabloid, "He said he needed her help because his life was spinning out of control and begged her to call him. But she never did." "She kept saying, 'I should've done something', and blames herself, which is completely unreasonable of course."

    However, a representative for Presley has poured doubt on the report, saying: "I don't believe this is true." Presley took to her online blog after Jackson's death and revealed he had had a premonition he would die young, just like her father did. She wrote, "He knew: Years ago Michael and I were having a deep conversation about life in general. I can't recall the exact subject matter but he may have been questioning me about the circumstances of my father's death..." "At some point he paused, he stared at me very intensely and he stated with an almost calm certainty, 'I am afraid that I am going to end up like him, the way he did.' ..."

  • Michael Jackson's post-death music sales outstrip Elvis and John Lennon
    By Catherine Boyle
    (, July 1 2009)
    HMV said yesterday that sales of Michael Jackson's music since last week have surpassed those of Elvis Presley and John Lennon after their sudden deaths. Simon Fox, chief executive of HMV, said that sales of Jackson's albums have multiplied by 80 since the singer's death last Thursday. During his lifetime Jackson sold more than 750 million records. ...

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