If there were an Elvis Collectors Hall Of Fame, Chris Davidson and Jimmy Velvet would be charter members. Davidson was mentioned prominently in the recent news reports about his sale of the Elvis-A-Rama Museum to Robert Sillerman’s SKX Inc. We can be sure he pocketed a nice chunk of change when he sold his six-year old Las Vegas museum to the new powers behind Elvis Presley Enterprises. Jimmy Velvet also figures prominently in the history of Elvis-A Rama and its namesake exhibit.
Extensive internet searches have not produced as much history on Chris Davidson as I would have expected. The best source was a 35-minute audio interview at www.ladyluckmusic.com/radio/interviews/elvisarama. If you already have Real Player on your computer, you might want to check out the interview. However, I had to down load Real Player before I could listen, and now I’m getting pop-ups coaxing me to upgrade to their premium service. I hate pop-ups.
Chris Davidson became an Elvis fan at an early age. He was only seven when he bought his first Elvis album, and he was only ten when he talked his father into taking him to a 1975 Elvis concert at the Las Vegas Hilton. Collecting Elvis started much later, after Davidson’s business career put him in a position to afford it.
His success in an auto body/detailing business he started at 19 must have paid off well and facilitated an interest in powerboats. At least that would explain his move to the publishing business, where he is now the Editor of Hot Boat Magazine. Davison’s interest in collecting started with baseball cards, and it was at a baseball card show in 1993 when he purchased his first Elvis autograph.
The next year he attended an auction of Elvis memorabilia presented by Jimmy Velvet at the Las Vegas Hilton and was amazed at how many Elvis things you could buy. Davidson left with two checks signed by Elvis and a 1955 letter from Elvis’ manager at the time, Bob Neal, regarding Colonel Parker taking over Elvis’ career. Those purchases launched a new hobby that turned into an obsession, and finally evolved into a quest to create a spectacular Elvis experience.
The last big step toward this occurred in 1998 when Davidson purchased the huge Elvis-A-Rama interactive mural. We’ll cover the history of the mural and the significance of its name in a later article. And, of course, we’ll talk about Jimmy Velvet, the man who sold it to Davidson. He has an interesting story, too, but I hope I don’t have to download anything else to dig up all the facts on him.
© 2005 Philip R Arnold