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Elvis Presley News

August 2009
Links are provided to the original news sources. These links may be temporary and cease to work after a short time. Full text versions of the more important items may available for purchase from the source. This site provides selected media reports. It does not claim to provide comrehensive coverage.

Mid August
  • Collectors still connect with king through Elvis-abilia
    By Lori Verderame Art & Antiques
    (, August 22 2009)
    Las Vegas has a wedding chapel dedicated to him. More than a few wanna-be actors make their living impersonating him. People across the globe report numerous sightings of him.

    Who is he? He's none other than the King - Elvis Presley.

    Elvis Presley died Aug. 16, 1977. He left a legacy that continues to inspire many fans to this day. In addition to his mansion, Graceland, his mountain of hit records and his popular movies, Elvis still connects with collectors more than 30 years after his untimely death. Beloved by millions, Elvis was a visionary talent and a star among stars.

    Remembering a legend

    Collectors are devoted to Elvis and what some call Elvis-abilia in a manner that differs from that of other celebrities or rock stars. Elvis was an icon, and while his hit records are valuable on today's secondary market, it is his global appeal that has attracted so many collectors to Elvis objects, both musical and otherwise.

    People collect objects relating to Elvis' career, home, family, and his lifestyle because they were inspired and impressed with him. Elvis made a career out of connecting with his audiences. What's more, his personal decisions to serve in the military and to support American causes contribute to his widespread popular appeal.

    The king of rock and roll raised funds to help construct Hawaii's famed U.S.S. Arizona memorial and he was immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp in 1992. The Elvis stamp remains the most publicized stamp in U.S. history, yet its collectible value is rather low since so many - more than 500 million - were distributed. When it comes to collecting, Elvis objects are a good long-term investment. Each year on the anniversary of his birth and the anniversary of his death, the prices for Elvis collectibles temporarily spike. Many objects that relate to the king of rock and roll are quite pricey today.

    An avid collector of American automobiles himself, Elvis enjoyed the fastest cars of the post war era and purchased many automobiles from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s. An example from his classic car collection sold to a fellow collector for $295,000. His bold and bejeweled performance costumes have sold to collectors in a range from $30,000 to $300,000.

    Elvis memorabilia

    More common objects that attract fans are Elvis concert announcements and movie posters. For instance, the 1955 printed board announcement for Elvis at the Grand Ole Opry sold for $12,650 and a leather jacket from Elvis¹ early days brought $37,000.

    And, of course, Elvis recordings continue to bring high prices. A Sun Record 45 rpm recording of "That's All Right" in its original paper sleeve in good condition sold for more than $1,100.

    Major artists also helped to further immortalize Elvis to his ever-growing numbers of fans. Andy Warhol's characteristic pop art masterpiece of Elvis Presley from 1963, entitled "Single Elvis" in silkscreen ink on a silvered background sold at auction for $3.3 million.

    It's good to be king. And, perhaps, it's even better to collect the king.

    Ph.D. antiques appraiser and TV talk show host Dr. Lori presents antiques appraisal events nationwide. Watch Dr. Lori across the country on the Fine Living Network's "Worth Every Penny" and on the nationally syndicated "Daytime" program. Visit or call (888) 431-1010.

  • America's famous hometowns: Where Abe, Elvis and JFK grew up
    By Jeff Koyen
    (, August 20 2009)
    If it's true you can't go home again, then how about going to someone else's home? For tourists who want to visit their favorite idols' hometowns and birthplaces, America offers enough sites to last a lifetime. In some cases, devoted fans can even stand in the exact spot where their heroes came into the world.

    In "James Dean Died Here," "Led Zeppelin Crashed Here" and others, author Chris Epting has literally written the books about America's cultural touchstones. Want to know the fate of Dorothy's red slippers? Or what happened to Einstein's brain? Ask Epting. In his latest book, "The Birthplace Book: A Guide to Birth Sites of Famous People, Places, and Things," the California resident crisscrosses America, visiting those places that birthed movie stars and presidents, heroes and villains -- and even a certain international food chain that's known for its golden arches.

    ... What could be more American than a world-famous celebrity? While famous hometowns and birthplaces are popular with both fervent and casual admirers, it's often fan clubs that initiate projects to protect their heroes' childhood homes. In some cases, entire towns get involved.

    America's favorite hometowns

    In Tupelo, Miss., for example, Elvis fans take the Early Years Driving Tour, which starts at the actual house where Elvis Presley was born 35 minutes after his twin brother, Jesse Garon, who had already died. The small wooden house was built by Elvis' father, grandfather and his uncle, Vester; an actual hammer used during construction still hangs inside. But Elvis' birthplace is just the beginning. The tour continues to several key sites, including Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis' mother Gladys bought him his first guitar, and the newly restored Assembly of God church, where the future King of Rock 'n' Roll first fell in love with gospel music.

    After the King of Rock 'n' Roll came the King of Pop. Within hours of Michael Jackson's death in Los Angeles in June, fans had already gathered to mourn and celebrate Jackson's long, influential career. For New Yorkers, Harlem's Apollo Theater was a natural gathering spot -- in 1967, the newly formed Jackson 5 won that venue's famous amateur-night competition, which helped ignite the ensemble's career. ...

  • 102-year-old nun all shook up in Reading when Elvis impersonator serenades her at birthday bash
    By Dan Kelly
    (Reading Eagle, August 20 2009)
    Sister Rose Lechner's head tilted slightly, a smile spread across her face. She turned 102 on Wednesday, and the staff at Sacred Heart Villa, an assisted living facility next to the headquarters of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, had ordered up a surprise. It seems Sister Rose has been a lifelong Elvis Presley fan.

    ... Several Elvis impersonators turned down the job, but Krick of Leesport said he made a hole in his schedule when he got a call from the nuns. Krick had just finished a rousing version of "Heartbreak Hotel," which he altered slightly to "Sacred Heart Hotel." Sister Rose and the rest of the audience of about 75 nuns, residents and staff loved it. ...

  • Soul, BBQ and Elvis: Memphis has much to offer
    ( / Associated Press, August 20 2009)
    Memphis is where you go to celebrate everything Elvis. Sun Studio is where Presley got his start as the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and Graceland is a few miles south of downtown. But other styles of music - the blues and soul - also have deep roots in this city on the Mississippi River, with legendary Beale Street and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music among the must-sees for any visitor. ...

  • Off Beat: Rock station ends despite fan support
    (, August 19 2009)
    Rock 'n' roll used to be all about youth. Elvis Presley, The Beatles and other early rockers hit it big because they appealed to teenagers and shocked teens' parents.

    But now that the generation that didn't trust anyone over 30 has children hitting 40, times have changed. Rock 'n' roll is still the music of young people, but it's also the music of those who've reached middle age and beyond. The genre - and its audience - has shattered into a thousand pieces. This is all a roundabout way of explaining why 99.9 The Carp sleeps with the fishes. ...

  • Collections of Elvis to go under hammer
    (, August 18 2009)
    A collection presenting a remarkable post-script to Elvis Presley¹s life and legacy, including clothes worn by the rock and roll king, a large lock of his and LPs will be up for grab at an auction here in October.

    The 'once in a lifetime opportunity' for Elvis collectors and fans, as auctioneers Leslie Hindman has described the sales, will be held on October 18 and a portion of its proceeds from the auction will be donated to a cerebral palsy centre.

    The collection of memorabilia is from Gary Pepper, a man with cerebral palsy who ultimately became a close friend and the president of one of Elvis first fan clubs. Elvis died on August 16, 1977. Highlights from the auction also includes a telegram sent to Gary while Elvis was in the army and an incredible selection of souvenirs from celebrities.

  • Memphis on a budget: Trolleys, barbecue and Elvis
    (Yahoo! News / AP, August 14 2009)
    Memphis is where you go to celebrate everything Elvis. Sun Studio is where Presley got his start as the King of Rock'n'Roll, and Graceland is a few miles south of downtown. But other styles of music ‹ the blues and soul ‹ also have deep roots in this city on the Mississippi River, with legendary Beale Street and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music among the must-sees for any visitor. ...

  • Only memories left of site of last No. 1 Elvis hit
    (Yahoo! News / AP, August 14 2009)

    In this undated photo released by Sony Music, American Sound Studio is shown in Nashville, Tenn.

    Elvis Presley fans flocking to Memphis this weekend to remember the day he died are being encouraged to also celebrate the 40th anniversary of his final No. 1 hit single, "Suspicious Minds." While they can tour Graceland, the estate where he died 32 years ago, or Sun Studio, which helped make him the King of Rock 'n' Roll, the Elvis faithful can't see the place where that hit record was made. There's nothing left, not even a historical marker, to remind people of the sessions that produced the "From Elvis in Memphis" album.

    American Sound Studio folded in 1972 and the building was later torn down. In its place is a beauty shop and a crumbling parking lot. "I haven't been back there to see," said Chips Moman, who ran the studio and produced the 1969 Elvis sessions. "I put it out of my mind."

    But in 1969, American Sound Studio was at the top of its game, in the middle of a three-year span that would yield more than 100 hit records for artists that included B.J. Thomas, Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield.

    Presley, meanwhile, had spent much of the previous years filming and recording soundtracks to his largely forgettable movies. He hadn't recorded in Memphis since leaving the Sun label in 1955. But he was also coming off the roaring success of his televised comeback special in December 1968 and proved willing to take some risks in hopes of charting his first No. 1 hit in six years. "All of us had always liked Elvis, his early stuff," Moman, 72, said in a telephone interview from his home in LaGrange, Ga. "We didn't like all that movie stuff, so when we got our chance we wanted to cut some stuff that we liked."

    Initially, it didn't appear Presley was going to want to move in a different direction. He arrived at the studio in January 1969 with his sizable entourage of friends and handlers, and some potential songs were presented to Moman and the band. "And of course all those guys were boogalooing to all those terrible songs," recalled Bobby Wood, 68, piano player for the 827 Thomas Street Band. "And we were just standing around wondering, 'What in the world is going on here?'"

    Wood said he was approached by Elvis confidant George Klein and asked what he thought about the songs. He answered frankly that he thought "they were a bunch of crap" and was shocked when Klein carried that message back to Presley. "I didn't know whether Elvis was going to say 'Get out of here,' or what," Wood said. "But he just started laughing, and he was laughing to the top of his voice. So I knew he was all right after that."

    The entourage began melting away as Presley began to gel with Moman and the house band in overnight recording sessions. He agreed to record "In the Ghetto," unusual in Elvis' repertoire for its social commentary on the cycle of crime and poverty, and "Suspicious Minds," which became a centerpiece of his live Las Vegas performances that would begin that year.

    "I knew that he was only a good song away from being as big as he ever was," Moman said. "I knew Elvis had what it takes. We just gave him something new, and a new kind of groove."

    Four years later and well into his jumpsuit-and-cape era, Elvis returned to Memphis to record at Stax Records in an effort to recapture the feel from the American sessions. Wood and several other members of the band ‹ now known as the Memphis Boys since moving to Nashville ‹ were brought in to back him up. "The whole scenario had changed, and even Elvis didn't seem like he was that interested anymore," Wood said. The studio was teeming with people and there were too many distractions to record quality music, he said.

    "If you're not in control of the recording and getting it done with a small group of people, it's just not the same," Wood said. Presley never lived to see another No. 1 single. He died Aug. 16, 1977, of heart disease worsened by years of prescription drug abuse.

  • On Elvis anniversary, fans have advice for those grieving Jackson
    By John Gerome
    ( / AP, August 13 2009)
    "I said 'I can't believe it's happening again,'" Smith recalled. "It hurt, it really did. Even though I wasn't a Michael Jackson fan, I could feel the pain because it happened to somebody I had loved, and I know what his family and his fans were going through."

    Smith, who is president of the Elvis Fever fan club in Jacksonville, Fla., and millions of others will remember the fallen icon Aug. 16, the day he was found dead in his home at age 42 in 1977, the victim of heart failure worsened by prescription drug abuse.

    They are quick to offer advice to Jackson fans: Focus on the pop idol's music and generosity, not his shortcomings or the rumors about his death.

    "Don't believe everything you hear and read," Smith warned. "Respect him for what you hear of his music and don't listen to the gossip."

    Sandi Pichon of Slidell, La., who says she knew Presley personally and has written two books about him, "Raised on Elvis! Elvis! Elvis!" and "Elvis on Tour '75," says the pain will ease but never lift. "Much like Elvis, once he touched your life you're never the same," Pichon said of Jackson. "The comfort they are going to find is listening to his music and relying on his memories and keeping the positive things alive."

    Pichon is at Presley's Graceland mansion in Memphis for Elvis Week, a nine-day run of festivals and events that began Saturday.

    If Presley is any guide, there will be a proliferation of Jackson fan clubs. Elvis Presley Enterprises, a corporate entity created by Presley's trust to run Graceland, recognizes more than 500 active fan clubs around the world.

  • Homecoming: A new Elvis reissue remembers the King's dramatic return home.
    By Chris Herrington
    (, August 13 2009)
    Everyone knows that Elvis Presley recorded the finest music of his life in 1954 and 1955 at Memphis' Sun Studio, under the direction of strong-willed producer Sam Phillips. It is not quite as universally understood that Presley recorded the second best music of his life ‹ sessions that produced hit singles "Suspicious Minds," "In the Ghetto," and "Kentucky Rain" ‹ in early 1969 at Memphis' American Sound Studio, under the direction of another strong-willed producer, Chips Moman.

    Those were the only two times in Presley's career he recorded studio material in his hometown, but I tend to think the connection was more about having a producer with sharp taste who was willing to push him than it was about Memphis. As local writers Robert Gordon and Tara McAdams recount in the liner notes to the new From Elvis in Memphis: 40th Anniversary Edition, Presley was at the time surrounded by sycophants and handlers, but Moman and his "Memphis Boys" house band had been creating more hits than Presley. They weren't interested in coddling the returning King.

    The music that emerged from these historic sessions has been released in many forms over the years. Initially the fruits from these sessions were divided among the stellar 1969 album From Elvis in Memphis, one half of the later 1969 double album From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis (the studio portion reissued the next year under the title Back in Memphis), and a handful of singles, most notably "Suspicious Minds." A 23-song, single-disc compilation of the American sessions were released in 1987 as the now long-out-of-print The Memphis Record, which is still probably the most user-friendly way to hear this music. The Memphis Record was replaced in the Presley catalog in 1999 by the more completist two-disc, 44-track Suspicious Minds compilation.

    And now this, a two-disc, 36-track set that preserves the original track listings and artwork of both From Elvis in Memphis and Back in Memphis while adding singles and bonus tracks to the end of each disc.

    Essentially a "return to roots" after a decade adrift in Hollywood and before his final Vegas voyage, the music Presley cut at American with Moman is rich in self-awareness. From Elvis in Memphis has one of the great, knowing opening lyrics on any rock album ‹ Presley belting out, over a bed of soul organ, "I had to leave town for a little while ..." This is followed immediately by a cover of the then-contemporary Jerry Butler hit "Only the Strong Survive," where Presley turns the simple song of a mother offering a forlorn son romantic advice into something that feels more like a career rumination.

    Later on the album is "Long Black Limousine," which Gordon and McAdams point out was the first song recorded at the sessions. It's the story of a woman who left her hometown to find fame and fortune and comes back in the gleaming black title car: a hearse. The subtext was, apparently, clear to everyone in the room, including Presley, whose performance in this context is both sardonic and triumphant.

    Released on the second collection, but chosen as the lead track on The Memphis Record, is "Stranger in My Own Hometown," where Presley is clearly reveling in not-so-subtle autobiography. "I came home with good intentions," he sings with long-dormant blues swagger. "My hometown won't accept me/Don't feel welcome here no more."

    All this subtext wouldn't be as rewarding if the music weren't so fine. Presley's post-Sun pop had been glorious at times ("Don't Be Cruel" is as monumental as anything he recorded), but over time the diverse influences (blues, country, gospel, crooner pop) he'd helped fashion into rock-and-roll had become flattened, unrecognizable.

    Here, with Moman, the music was bumpier. The edges were back. The funky house band was rooted in soul, country, and swamp rock, and with Presley they crafted a dense, more contemporary update of the Sun sound. Here, Presley draws from soul (Chuck Jackson's "Any Day Now," Butler's "Only the Strong Survive") and country both weepy ("It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'") and jaunty (Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On"). And the sound and spirit of those genres is still palpable. His gospel influence is there on "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)" ranging from the hymn-like to wilder testifying.

    He moves from tearjerkers ("Don't Cry Daddy") to leering rockers ("Rubberneckin'") with equal authenticity; bears down hard on lean arrangements ("After Loving You," reminiscent of the "Comeback" TV concert that set the stage for his Memphis return), and fights through maelstroms ("Suspicious Minds").

    Singing the deep-soul classic "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road," Presley might be offering his own affirmative music criticism of the sessions: "Love is a stranger and hearts are in danger on smooth streets paved with gold / Oh, true love travels on a gravel road." The music here was Presley's last true burst of greatness before the downward slide began. Most serious Elvis fans already own it in some form. But if you don't - or even if you're a casual Elvis fan or just someone with a healthy interest in Memphis music - this is the rare recent Elvis reissue worth getting.

  • Remembering Elvis: Loving him tender (Flash presentation)
    By Karen Klinkenberg
    ( / AP, August 13 2009)
    Elvis Presley is still the king of rock 'n' roll, even though it has been 32 years (1977) since his death on Aug. 16. Here are a few of the interesting and eclectic posthumous developments that speak to Elvis' continuing pop-culture presence.

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