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Elvis Presley News

October 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.

  • Elvis Ranch Now Open for Virtual Tours
    ( / AP, October 29 2009)
    The Elvis Ranch is for sale for a cool $6.5 million, but anyone with an Internet connection can take a virtual tour. ...

  • Britney prefers 'iconic' Beatles to Elvis Presley: : Britney Spears has revealed that she prefers rocking to the tunes of the Beatles rather than those of Elvis Presley
    (, October 29 2009)
    The pop princess was asked in an interview via email who would she choose between the two music legends. "Beatles, they are just so iconic," the Herald Sun quoted her as saying. The singer, who will soon begin her Australian tour in Perth, was also quizzed about the frequently played song on her iPod. She said: "Right now it's Beyonce's Halo. It just puts me in a trance, it's so well written and she is so intense singing it."

  • Topping the list of top earners among the deceased is fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who earned $350 million to beat out Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and others
    (, October 29 2009)
    The money might be drying up in Hollywood, but there's still plenty of cash to be made in the graveyard. The 13 iconic figures on Forbes' list of the top-earning dead celebrities grossed a collective $886 million in the past 12 months.

    Celebrity deaths in 2009

    Topping the list for the first time is Yves Saint Laurent, who earned $350 million in a much-heralded estate sale. Over three days in February, auction house Christie's sold many of the French fashion icon's possessions, including expensive art, antiques and furniture, garnering $443 million.

    ... Behind Jackson is longtime list-topper Elvis Presley. The King of Rock 'n' Roll earned $55 million during the yearlong span. That's more than some of the music industry's biggest living acts command: New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi brought in $50 million for the 12 months ending in June; Britney Spears grossed $35 million during the same period.

    Unlike Jackson, Presley doesn't count music royalties among his revenue streams; his manager famously sold the rights to the King's pre-1973 recordings to RCA (now part of Sony) for $5 million. The handlers of his estate have found other means of expanding the fortune, from merchandising to admissions to Graceland. Expect the estate's income to expand next year as Graceland celebrates Elvis' 75th birthday with new exhibits and a massive birthday celebration.

  • King of Pop rocks Elvis' role as top earner in Forbes dead-star list
    By Michael Lollar
    (Memphis Commercial Appeal, October 29 2009)
    Forbes magazine's annual list of top-earning dead celebrities pits Elvis Presley against Michael Jackson as rival kings in an afterlife battle for rock and roll riches, predicting the King of Pop will reign.

    Elvis, "The King" of rock and roll, has been the perennial top earner on the Forbes list, including the last two years. But he fell to No. 4 on the list released Wednesday, behind Jackson, the King of Pop.

    Although Elvis' earnings rose from $52 million last year to $55 million this year, it was far behind Michael Jackson's $90 million earnings, and Forbes predicted Jackson's year-in, year-out appeal will be "massively more global" than Elvis'.

    Both kings were deposed this year by fashion and music icons considered short-lived blips on the long-time earnings list. Fashion icon Yves St. Laurent, much of whose estate was sold after his death from a brain tumor last year, earned $350 million. Music giants Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, whose catalog from "Oklahoma" to "The Sound of Music" was bought by a Dutch pension fund, earned $235 million.

    Those top earners were like former Nirvana rocker Kurt Cobain, part of whose song catalog was sold by his former wife, Courtney Love, to land him in the top spot on the 2006 Forbes list. Cobain then disappeared from the list. Among others who slipped off the list this year are Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, James Dean, Marvin Gaye and Steve McQueen.

    "I think the economy has had an effect on all of these folks," said David Reeder, vice president of GreenLight, a media licensing and rights representation consulting firm. Reeder, whose firm represents the estates of Albert Einstein (No. 9 on the Forbes list) and Andy Warhol (No. 13), also was a consultant to Forbes and made the prediction of an end to Elvis' long dominance of the list. Explaining his comments, Reeder said in a telephone interview: "This is not a knock on Elvis at all. I own a copy of his '68 Comeback Special, and there's no more of an iconic amazing personality you're going to see than that."

    Reeder, 43, based his prediction that Jackson will eclipse Elvis in part on demographics. "There are more people in the world today than when Elvis died. And there are more people on the planet who have participated in Michael Jackson's activities when they were alive." Jackson became part of the "soundtrack of their lives," he said.

    Jackson's notoriety in his last decade already is "evaporating" in the public's mind and will follow the pattern of Elvis and other performers. Misadventures from drug abuse to plastic surgery are soon forgotten, and Jackson, like Elvis, soon is remembered as "one of the greatest performers ever known."

    Graceland officials declined to comment on the list.

  • Elvis Presley's 10ct Diamond Concert Gift Ring Hits the Auction Block
    By Joshua Molina
    (, October 28 2009)
    Elvis Presley's massive 10ct diamond concert gift ring hits the auction block. Gifted to fan Lloyd Perry in Asheville N.C. at concert in 1975. This one-of-a-kind piece of Elvis Presley memorabilia will be sold at auction December 6th, 2009. Ring is conveyed with complete file of provenance and guarantee of authenticity. ...

  • From Elvis's backyard to the top of his game, and back again
    (, October 27 2009)
    In his 16th floor office in Montreal, Hunter Harrison is reminiscing about his birthplace of Memphis, where he grew up a kilometre down the road from Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion.

    The king of rock 'n' roll would often rent the Memphis fairgrounds, using it as a private amusement park for his family and friends after closing time, and one night, a teenage Mr. Harrison managed to score an invitation through a buddy who knew one of the singer's confidants.

    "Elvis leaned on a wall with his motorcycle hat on," recalls the chief executive officer of Canadian National Railway Co. "There was a lady then that Elvis was going with named Anita Wood. She was a local TV star on a dance show like American Bandstand.

    "She knew me a little bit. Here I am at the fairgrounds with pimples, 16 years old. She comes over to me and my neighbour - another little acne kid. We talked to her for about 10 minutes. She approached us, we didn't go to her. But the man Elvis is over there. One of the bodyguards comes over and tells us, 'The man doesn't like that.' I'm thinking, 'Could Elvis be jealous of us?' "

    His face beams as he finishes the story in his Tennessee drawl. On that night nearly 50 years ago, it was clear that the teenager didn't stand a chance in the competition of romance against the rock legend. What wasn't at all obvious was that Mr. Harrison the hotheaded son of a travelling preacher, would, in a very different line of work and a very different place, eventually become a minor legend in his own right.

    Thanks in part to his reforms, CN is the envy of the railway industry - a formerly bloated Crown corporation that has transformed itself into an efficient operator. ...

  • American Idol's Adam Lambert, Looking like Elvis, Sparks Buzz in Racy Details Photo Shoot
    By Joshua Molina
    (, October 23 2009)
    Idol's glam rocker Adam Lambert, looking a lot like a young Elvis Presley, appears on the cover of the November Detais magazine.
    In Details practiallyturns over the issue, online at least, to Lambert, offering his Top 5 faves, and a contest to appear in a photo shoot with Lambert. Lambert also appears on an elaborate photo spread and video clips. ...

  • PETA asks to lease Elvis Presley's old Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake: Proposes 'Don't Be Cruel Center' to promote kindness to critters
    By Michael Lollar
    (Commercial Appeal, October 22 2009)
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] wrote a letter Wednesday proposing to lease Elvis Presley's old Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake for use as a "Don't Be Cruel Educational Center" for children. ... The Circle G Ranch went up for sale a month ago with an asking price of $6.5 million, said real estate agent Rodger Motz, representing property owner Dennis McLemore.

    Priscilla Presley said in May when she introduced two rescue horses at Graceland that Elvis bought the ranch as a place to ride horses. He purchased it in 1967 and kept it about four years.

    The property at Goodman Road and Miss. 301 is included on several bus tours when fans gather to observe Elvis' birthday and the anniversary of his death, but no one has been able to turn it into a viable year-round tourist attraction.

    Motz said the current owner had looked into several uses for the land, including as a resort property or a residential development. Motz said it now is zoned for planned unit development, although McLemore keeps cattle on the land. He said he isn't sure how many cattle McLemore has. "I didn't count them, but there are a bunch of Black Angus." Motz said he has had inquiries from potential buyers across the United States and Europe, but is not close to agreeing to terms with anyone. And he said McLemore is "not interested in leasing it to those people," referring to PETA.

    Byrne said PETA's offer is serious, and that the 2-million-member group would follow through with a rental or lease deal. "We would do something where we got it set up and have some compassionate local people involved. I'm sure that kind of planning would be done after we made the (rental) arrangements."

    In the letter to McLemore, PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said that "in honor of the King and cows, PETA would like to turn the ranch into a 'Don't Be Cruel' center to educate students about how smart and sensitive the animals we eat really are, and why a vegan diet (no meat, no eggs and no dairy) is kindest for animals, the Earth and even our own arteries. Elvis would have benefited from going vegan, that's for sure."

  • Billy Lee Riley: Charismatic rock 'n' roller who was eclipsed by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records
    (, October 20 2009)
    Sun Records in Memphis is justly famous for discovering Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis and making their first hit singles. In the latter half of the 1950s, it was a very productive label and some of their most exciting records were made by Billy Lee Riley. Riley was to have a long and varied career but never became a chart name. He attributed that to being "in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people."

    Billy Lee Riley was born one of eight children on a cotton plantation in Pocahontas, Arkansas in October 1933. The family was so poor that they often lived in tents. He heard hillbilly music on the radio and picked up the rudiments of playing harmonica and guitar. In 1946, they were on a plantation with three white and 36 black families and this led to Riley acquiring a love of delta blues. Riley had no birth certificate and when he wanted to enrol in the army in March 1949, one of his sisters testified that he was 18. He returned to civilian life in 1954 and played with country bands in Jonesboro, Arkansas and appeared on local radio.

    In 1955, he married and moved to Memphis, where he worked in his brother-in-law's restaurant and then as a truck driver. He befriended Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, and his first Sun single was "Rock With Me Baby" and "Trouble Bound" in May 1956. When Elvis Presley heard "Trouble Bound", he remarked that Riley sounded like him.

    Phillips appreciated his talent and had him play on other records as part of the house band. Riley himself used Jerry Lee Lewis on piano for a frenzied novelty, "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll", which was attributed, following a reference in the lyric, to Billy Riley and the Little Green Men.

    Riley felt that his time had come with a scorching remake of Billy Emerson's "Red Hot", which also featured Lewis. It was shaping up to be a big seller but some radio stations were wary of the phrase, "Your gal ain't doodly squat", meaning "Your girl is worthless", and Phillips decided to put his promotional budget behind Lewis's "Great Balls Of Fire". Riley was furious: he got drunk and set about wrecking the Sun studio before Phillips calmed him down with a promise that he would be the next Sun star. The next single, the echo-drenched "Wouldn't You Know", was a nothing of a song and only sold 3,000, around the same time that Riley was playing guitar on Lewis's million-selling "Breathless".

    Riley was a handsome, charismatic performer who whipped the crowds and himself into a frenzy. After a particularly wild performance he was banned from the Arkansas State Fair but he returned the following year under a different name. In the early 1960s, the Beatles loved performing a frenetic "Red Hot", but they took their cue from Ronnie Hawkins' version.

    Although Riley seemed a natural for rock'n'roll stardom, neither he nor anyone else had a career plan. After the disappointments at Sun, Riley took anything that was going, recording singles for small labels under his own name or such pseudonyms as Darron Lee, Lightnin' Leon, Sandy and the Sandstorms and the Rockin' Stockin's. He co-produced the 1960 hit, "Mountain Of Love" by Harold Dorman and he played guitar with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on "The Lonely Bull", a million-seller from 1962. In 1963, some instrumentals he had made as part of the Megatons were sold to Chess Records. The company removed his harmonica and added Bo Diddley's guitar, thus creating the album, Surfin' With Bo Diddley. In 1969, Riley recorded some singles for a reactivated Sun label, now owned by Shelby Singleton, but most of the time he was making ends meet by working as a decorator.

    He found a following in Europe by appearing at rock 'n' roll festivals. Robert Gordon with Link Wray revived both "Red Hot" and "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll". In 1992, Riley opened for Bob Dylan in Little Rock, Arkansas and then later in Nashville. Dylan referred to him as "my hero".

    In 1995, he was the subject of the album, A Tribute To Billy Lee Riley. Riley made albums which he would sell by mail order from his home, including Hot Damn! (1997), Shade Tree Blues (1999) and One More Time (2002). Spencer Leigh Billy Lee Riley, singer: born Pocahontas, Arkansas 5 October 1933; married twice (one son, three daughters); died Jonesboro, Arkansas 2 August 2009.

  • Elvis Presley Career-Spanning Boxed Set Due Dec. 8
    (, October 19 2009)
    A four-disc boxed set spanning the full career of Elvis Presley will be released on Dec. 8 by Legacy Recordings. Elvis 75 -- Good Rockin' Tonight will begin with "My Happiness," the acetate Presley recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis in 1953, to "A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Remix Edit)," an international hit in 2002. A single-disc edition with key tracks will be released on Jan. 5. Presley would have turned 75 on Jan. 8, 2010. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

  • Elvis' hair leaves the building -- sold for US$18,300
    By Georgia Garvey
    (The Malaysian Insider / Reuters, October 19 2009)
    The King's hair was one of up to 200 items of Elvis memorabilia collected by the late Gary Pepper, who was the president of the Tankers Fan Club set up for Elvis fans.

    The top price of US$62,800 was paid for a cream collared cotton shirt with the monogram EP that came with a magazine showing the King wearing the shirt, or at least one similar. It had been expected to sell for between US$2,000 and US$4,000. A red ultra-suede shirt, which was also expected to sell for between US$2,000 and US$4,000, and was also believed to have been worn by Elvis sold for US$34,000.

    Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers posted the results of the auction on its website, saying the lot of hair sold for US$18,300 which topped the expected price of between US$8,000 and US$12,000. All prices on its website included the buyer's premium.

    The auction house said the hair was given to Pepper to mail to Presley fans. No DNA test was carried out on the hair but the auctioneer quoted "an expert in celebrity hair authentication", John Reznikoff, saying it matched the Elvis hair he has in his collection. ...

  • Easy come, easy go at Elvis Presley auction
    By Georgia Garvey
    (Los Angeles Times, October 19 2009)
    Reporting from Chicago - When John Urso left Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Sunday, he carried two shirts carefully hung and wrapped in plastic -- shirts too small for him to wear. But then again, it would be a shame to risk spilling spaghetti sauce on cloth that may have touched the king of rock 'n' roll. "It's worth every penny," said Urso, who bought the priciest item in a Chicago auction of Presley memorabilia that included locks of Presley's hair allegedly from his famous 1958 Army haircut.

    Urso passed on the $15,000 hair, but he bought a white cotton shirt with "EP" monogrammed on the chest for $52,000. His second buy, a relative bargain at $28,000, was a red Ultrasuede shirt Presley wore for a photo shoot. "I'm a huge fan of Elvis Presley," said Urso, who lives in Inverness, Ill. "Huge fan." Urso plans to show off the shirts in display cases alongside signed Presley albums.

    Another fan hoping to take home a piece of the king, Adam Holbrook, wanted Presley memorabilia as a present for his 30th birthday -- which is today. Holbrook, described by his girlfriend, Erin Shiloh, as "crazy obsessed" with the singer, sports mutton-chop sideburns and three Elvis tattoos. Holbrook said he wound up taking home some Presley dolls, not at all disappointed to be outbid on his top items.

    Items sold Sunday were from the collection of Gary Pepper, the president of a Presley fan club who became friends with him. Pieces included a birthday telegram from Presley to Pepper (sold for $1,400) and photos from Presley's 1967 wedding ($4,000). For $1,900, a bidder picked up concert scarves said to have been sweated on by Presley. On top of the purchase price, successful bidders must pay 22% in fees to the auction house. Urso said when he realized the hair was going for such a "cheap" price, he almost bought that too.

    But "what am I gonna do with the hair?" said Urso, who owns Frontline Communications Corp., a cable contractor for Comcast, along with his wife. Leslie Hindman, chief executive of the auction house, said she expected the hair to go for a "bit more" than the $15,000 winning bid placed by phone. In this economy, though, "nobody's going to buy a hunk of a hair for a crazy price," she said.

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