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Presleys in the Press

Elvis Presley News

February 2010
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.

  • New details on the Zippin Pippin: A look at how the coaster could make its way to GB
    (, February 13 2010)
    By Becky DeVries
    An old roller coaster that's touted for a connection to rock 'n roll history may soon be on its way to Green Bay. The Zippin Pippin was based in Memphis, but it has been dis-assembled in preparation for it possibly coming to our neck of the woods.

    As reminders of summer fun sit covered in snow, officials for the city of Green Bay are working to expand the summer fun options at Bay Beach Amusement Park.

    This week crews have been taking it down the Zippin Pippin roller coaster, and getting ready for its potential move to a new home. While the coaster was coming down part of it collapsed. But Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says that is no reason to worry.

    "It's really more buying the history, the name the design," said Schmitt.

    Schmitt says the cost of that history, name and design is less than $25,000 and someone has already committed to paying for it.

    The cost of essentially rebuilding the Zippin Pippin is much greater: somewhere between $2.4 and $3 million.

    "A couple million cheaper than starting from scratch and getting a new design," said Schmitt.

    The mayor hopes to have about 20% of the cost of the coaster, around a half million dollars, paid for through private donations. The majority of the funding will come through Bay Beach revenue. The mayor says if a quarter of the people who come to Bay Beach pay one dollar to ride the roller coaster, in 10 years the Zippin Pippin will be a revenue source for Bay Beach."

    "We're excited about that," said Schmitt.

    The Zippin Pippin in Green Bay is not a done deal yet. The park committee and city council needs to approve the plans.

    "We're all pretty well in tune, and as we had looked into some other roller coasters that are basically available, we all pretty well agreed," said Jerry Wiezbiskie, member of the city's park committee. "And we were all pretty excited about even looking at the other ones as we came along. I think this one should go right on through."

    The Green Bay Park Committee is meeting one week from Monday. If approved, the city council will look at the issue next. The mayor hopes construction on the Zippin Pippin starts this summer, making it ready to roll when Bay Beach opens in May of 2011.

  • Zippin Pippin zapped, coaster on ground in Memphis
    (WBAY-TV / AP, February 12 2010)
    The Zippin Pippin roller coaster, which Elvis Presley loved to ride, is on the ground in Memphis after part of it collapsed during dismantling. Steve Mulroy is president of a nonprofit group negotiating the sale of the century-old coaster. He told The Commercial Appeal that Green Bay, Wis., will acquire the name, design and configuration of the Pippin. He said only a small portion of the wood might be usable. ...

  • Cirque du Soleil: Colonel marshals Elvis troupers
    (Salt Lake Tribune, February 11 2010)
    By Tom Wharton
    When Logan's Garrett Eugene Case, Jr., signed on to play the role of Elvis Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker in a new Vegas show, at first he thought he had landed a small part. As originally written, it was a small part, and he was sharing it with other actors. Still, the Odyssey Dance Theatre alum was happy to be cast in the new Cirque du Soleil production, "Viva Elvis," which opens Feb. 19 at the just-opened Aria Resort and Casino.

    But then the part developed into something more prominent. Case plays Parker, who serves as a narrator connecting the show's musical, visual and acrobatic elements. "We are using Colonel Parker as the narrative through line to the show and also as a witness to Elvis' life," said Armand Thomas, director of creation for the production, noting how Parker managed the singer's career from 1956 until his death in 1977. "He is the raconteur, the privileged witness to Elvis life. We have created monologues in which the Colonel dips back in his memories in time and shares anecdotes that really enlighten us to who Elvis really was."

    Produced in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, the show incorporates historical footage of the singer and his recordings, plus cover versions of his songs performed live. It's billed as a fusion of dance, acrobatics and live music, blending "nostalgia, modernity and raw emotion" to pay tribute to Presley's voice and the sheer energy of his songs.

    The white-suited, cigar-chomping character of Colonel Parker guides a cast of 76, which includes 30 dancers, 26 acrobats, a live nine-piece band and four female singers, performing in a state-of-the-art, 1,800-seat theater built for the production.

    As Parker, Case takes part in some of the show's most spectacular special effects. In one scene, he's lowered on a filmstrip eight stories from the top of the stage to the floor. In another scene, he flies across the stage while images of Elvis are playing.

    In a newer scene, just recently added, the actor drives a three-wheeled car similar to the one the real Elvis gave to the real Colonel Parker.

    "There are so many dancers and acrobats who tell the story in their own right," Case said. "It is beautiful to watch them perform. My role sets up the past and narrates it. I try to give insight information as to who Elvis was."

    One scene tells the story of Elvis's twin brother, who died at birth. His memory is portrayed through an acrobatic duet, performed through the props of a white piano and a huge silver guitar.

    Case doesn't sing in the show, and the 38-year-old performer relies on the magic of makeup to age through the years. Then there's the matter of the fake cigars he chomps on, props made in China, which had to be modified, because the power tasted "nasty. "We had to fix them so I don't have to inhale that stuff," he says.

    One of the performer's challenges in preparing for the Feb. 19 opening, after a month and a half of preview shows, is how the script has evolved. "With my role, it has been finding the script, and finding the right words that work with what the narrative needs to be and where it goes," he said. "I have been memorizing, then memorizing something else, and trying to forget. It's been a fun challenge to put myself through as an actor to step up to the next level."

    The "Elvis" tribute, opening in the 75th anniversary year of the singer's birth, is different than the other Cirque shows playing on the Vegas strip. It's even markedly different than the other big-name music show, "The Beatles Love," playing at The Mirage. "Love" incorporates original Beatles songs that were redigitalized for the show, utilizing characters from the songs. In contrast, a live band and singers are on stage for most of the "Viva Elvis."

    "With the Las Vegas shows, we are in this diversification mode that no two shows should replicate the other, especially in such close proximity," Thomas said. "We have to create new art every time." Thomas and the rest of Cirque's producers focused on the cultural history embedded in the singer's life and music. "Elvis is the star of this show," Thomas said. "We had to capture him in many ways, through visuals, his voice, storytelling, the atmosphere, our choice of colors and our choice of sets. We had master tapes where we could listen to Elvis in a studio doing 14 different takes on "Hound Dog"and everything that goes in between each take. All of that allowed us to really be almost eavesdroppers on his life."

  • Elvis Presley's Favorite Roller Coaster May Move North
    (WSMV Nashville /AP, February 8 2010)
    Officials from Green Bay, Wis., were in Memphis Monday looking at moving the Zippin Pippin, a wooden coaster that was a favorite of Ilvis Presley's, up north. The Commercial Appeal reported Green Bay's mayor Jim Schmitt talked with Memphis city engineers about moving the coaster to Beach Bay Amusement Park. Schmitt didn't disclose the asking price of the move. he Zippin Pippin is being disassembled after the closure of Libertyland amusement park in 2005 and the planned redevelopment of the site. Schmitt said he would recommend his city "work diligently" to acquire the Pippin and move it.

  • Elvis exhibit at D.C.'s Newseum looks at media impact
    (, February 7 2010)
    A new exhibit opening March 12 at the Newseum in Washington, DC, will look at Elvis Presley as the groundbreaking media phenomenon who changed the way celebrity is covered by journalists.

    Some of the artifacts of his life to be displayed have never before been made publlc, even at Graceland, according to exhibit curator Cathy Trost. They include a leather Harley Davidson jacket and an original acetate recording of his first apearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show in 1954.

  • Retro Redux: Johnny Burnette Mirrored Elvis
    (, February 5 2010)
    By Big Geez
    It's tempting to wonder what would have become of Johnny Burnette if he hadn't gone fishing that night in 1964. After all, by the time that speedboat came along, he was at a point in his career where he'd managed to pull off the transition from raw rockabilly singer to genuine teen idol, hitting the Top Ten with bestsellers like "You're Sixteen" and "Dreamin'".

    It was the same process followed by many of his contemporaries, including Elvis Presley, and Burnette shared some other things with Presley too. For one thing, he'd grown up poor in Memphis, living in the same public development that housed Presley during his teen years, and both briefly worked for the Crown Electric Company. Also, Burnette -- like Presley -- made some early records that reflected the rich musical heritage of the area before later moving on to a style that the parents of teens probably found less threatening.

    It all started around 1952, when teenager Johnny and his brother Dorsey -- both of whom had tried their hand at boxing for a while -- joined up with their friend, Paul Burlison, and formed a musical group they called the Rhythm Rangers. Over the next few years the guys found mixed success, but eventually moved to New York. By then they were calling themselves the Rock and Roll Trio, and they signed a deal with Coral Records that soon led to some marketing help via TV appearances and tour dates.

    Unfortunately, disagreements led to a lot of turmoil and the breakup of the group the following year. Although the records made during this period were not big hits, and a few just featured Johnny backed by studio musicians, there were some jewels among them. Classics like "Train Kept a-Rollin'," "Rock-a-billy Boogie," and "Lonesome Train" (video below), were some of the best examples of the era's rockabilly sound.

    The Burnette brothers eventually reconciled in California, where they had some success writing songs for stars like Ricky Nelson, but by the close of the decade Johnny was ready for a solo career. The next few years would be his biggest as a performer, as he gradually built his name through a series of hit records. Unfortunately, his career was cut short one night in 1964 when his small fishing boat was rammed and he drowned -- just thirty years old.

  • Worst Super Bowl halftime shows ever
    (Journal Gazette, February 5 2010)
    The Who plays the halftime show during Sunday's Super Bowl, and thank God for that. If this were 1990 instead of 2010, we might have to watch a bad Elvis impersonator perform a card trick involving the New Kids on the Block, Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill and the Miami Sound Machine.

    America has become much worse in recent years at making cars, balancing its budget and producing coherent America's Got Talent judges. But our ability to create tolerable Super Bowl halftime shows has improved at least 1,000 percent. ...

  • Aping Elvis: Touring tribute to rock 'n' roll icon comes to Embassy Theatre tonight
    (Journal Gazette, February 5 2010)
    By Steve Penhollow
    What: "The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour"
    When: 7:30 p.m. today
    Where: Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.
    Admission: Tickets, from $25 to $37.50, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and charge-by-phone, 1-800-745-3000.

    On a cruise ship, former Fort Wayne resident Brahm Sheray found not love, but Elvis. Also Madonna, Michael Jackson and Buddy Holly. In short, he found his calling.

    For 13 years, Sheray has been the music director for Legends in Concert, aka On Stage Entertainment. The company specializes in musical mimics impersonators whose performances are virtually indistinguishable from those of the pop and rock stars they imitate. Sheray will return to his hometown with the first true touring show that Legends in Concert has ever produced and the first devoted to a single artist.

    "The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour," coming to Embassy Theatre tonight, features four Elvis Presley impersonators, including former welder Bill Cherry, winner of the 2009 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Contest. Each impersonator in "The Ultimate Elvis" represents a different era in Presley's career: the '50s, the movie years, the '68 comeback special and the '70s concert years. Ther''s even a woman named Lori Russo who does an impersonation of Ann-Margret. ...

  • Hollywood's love affair with Hawaiian film locations
    (, February 5 2010)
    By Jeanne Cooper
    For years Hawai'i has played both starring and stand-in roles in Hollywood, appearing in everything from Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" and James Michener's "South Pacific" to Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park" franchises. But just as 10 movies are vying for this year's Academy Award for Best Picture, maybe it's time to give more recent films their due for creative use of Hawaiian scenery - and to share tips for going "on location," as they say. ...

  • Neil Sedaka looks back with new album
    ( / Reuters, February 1 2010)
    By Steve James
    Neil Sedaka was one of rock 'n roll's first superstars with hits like "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," "Oh! Carol," "Calendar Girl," "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," and "Laughter in the Rain." Now, after more than half a century singing and writing songs, he looks back at his legacy with an album, "The Music of My Life," containing original new songs.

    Sedaka, 70, the son of a Brooklyn cab driver, spoke to Reuters about his life and how he went from studying classical piano to becoming the soundtrack of the fledgling rock 'n roll generation.

    Q: You have written over 1,000 songs, what was the first?
    A: "It was a terrible thing called 'My Life's Devotion,' I was 13. I called it a bastardized Bolero, or a ruptured rumba. It was an old Xavier Cugat thing I had in my head that I probably rewrote."

    Q: Were you musical as a child?
    A: "I never even sang in school, I was the pianist for 'Oklahoma,' and 'Carousel' and 'Finnian's Rainbow' and for the choir. I was ashamed to sing, because my voice was so high. It wasn't until 1958 that I got up the courage to sing."

    Q: You studied music (at Juilliard) then wrote songs at the Brill Building, was that your first job in music?
    A: "Actually my first job was with Atlantic Records. I was 16 when I sold songs for Laverne Baker and Clyde McPhatter. I'd do black R&B songs, (for groups like) the Cookies, the Clovers. And I always said to myself: 'Why don't they take my voice with it?' I told (producer) Jerry Wexler years later, I said 'I was always so hurt that you didn't sign me as a singer'. He said: 'I kick myself to this day that I didn't sign you. You certainly proved me wrong'"

    Q: What was your big break?
    A: "In 1958 Steve Scholes of RCA Victor, who brought Elvis (Presley) from Sun, heard me. I was auditioned and sang 'The Diary' and he signed me as a singer. I sold, between '58 and '63, about 35 million records." ...

    Q: Did you tour with Elvis Presley and other big rock 'n roll stars?

    A: "I wanted to be Bobby Darin. But I never did the 'American Bandstand' bus tours. I wanted to be a cabaret singer like Connie Francis. So I started at the Copacabana and New York cabarets. I did Ed Sullivan on television. ...

  • Starr relishes new challenges, but he will forever be a Beatle
    (, February 1 2010)
    The 69-year-old visitor to the downtown Grammy Museum strolled with fascination through its new exhibit of Alfred Wertheimer's celebrated 1956 photos of Elvis Presley at 21, just as the impossibly handsome young singer was on the threshold of stardom.

    Like most other visitors taking in the remarkably unguarded photos, this bearded gentleman exhibited affection and appreciation for the black-and-white portraits of Presley's quiet moments - lunching at a diner; teasing, and being teased, by a female fan - some of the last such moments he would enjoy before exploding as the biggest star in the pop music universe.

    But occasionally came an expression that none of the others wandering the gallery could offer: understanding. "The start of all our careers was quiet like that," said Ringo Starr, the former Beatle enjoying a relatively quiet few minutes of his own, perusing the Elvis photos before a question-answer session and performance a short time later. "We didn't expect any problems, and then suddenly it gets wild - and it did."

    Things are, of course, less wild today for Starr than they were 45 years ago when the Fab Four supplanted Elvis at the top of the pop heap. The world's most famous drummer was a Beatle for eight years, and he's been an ex-Beatle for five times that long now. But hardly a minute goes by when the topic doesn't come up.

    After making his way through the photo display, Starr headed straight for the museum store in search of an Elvis T-shirt but quickly found himself faced with apparel bearing his own visage along with those of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Eventually, though, he found what he was after and slipped on the Presley shirt for his evening session, an event he took on in conjunction with the release last week of his latest album, "Y Not." ...

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