Monthly Archives: January 2007

VISITORS TO GRACELAND

Most readers of Elvisblog are probably familiar with www.elvis.com, the official website of Elvis Presley Enterprises.  I don’t know what year it got started, but they have been posting news items since 2000.  Currently, 263 items are still available in the News Archives, along with the five current items that have yet to be archived.  An article posted this past January 19 led me to a most interesting file.

 

I followed this link:  News and FAQs / 1/19/07 Zakk Wilde is Graceland’s Latest Celebrity Guest / Click Here for article on Graceland visitors since 1982.  Sure enough, up came eleven pages of celebrity names – famous folks that have visited Graceland since the first year it opened.  The dates of their visits are not listed, except in the case of celebrities who came back a second time.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure who some of these famous people are (Zakk Wilde for instance), but I stopped keeping up with current pop culture fifteen years ago.

 

2006 had two very notable visitors.  In July, Pricilla and Lisa Marie hosted President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at Graceland.  This visit generated tons of press for several days. As I chronicled on the 7/2/06 Elvisblog entry, Koizumi is a real Elvis fan with an interesting taste in Elvis songs.

 

In October, Oprah Winfrey and a film crew blew into town to tape a segment that appeared on her show a few days later.  I seriously doubt that Oprah is any where near the Elvis fan that Koizumi is, but Oprah managed to get into the mysterious “Secret Room.”  This is the fireproof, hurricane-proof, humidity-controlled warehouse of Elvis memorabilia.  Among other things, it contains 60,000 photographs and 88 jumpsuits, and it is never open to the public.  Maybe Koizumi didn’t know about the “Secret Room,” but Oprah obviously did her homework and negotiated permission to see this very private, off-limits treasure trove.  At least, Graceland officials didn’t let her film crew in, but they did provide her with still photos taken by in-house staff.

 

In addition to politicians and TV stars, the list of famous visitors to Graceland includes movie stars, sports figures, models, country singers, pop music singers, and rock groups – lots of rock groups.  It seems like every music act that ever performed in Memphis also make a visit to the home of Elvis Presley.  I was especially impressed with all the heavy metal bands that came to Graceland.  You know that the music of groups like Ratt and Poison is about as far from “Hound Dog” or “Suspicious Minds” as you can get, but they still paid their respects to rock music’s seminal pioneer.  Here’s some of the bigger names in heavy metal music that checked out the Jungle Room and the rest of Graceland:

 

            Metallica

            Judas Priest

            Motley Crue

            Kiss

            Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zepellin)

            Axl Rose (Guns and Roses)

 

And check out this line-up of hard rock bands who made the pilgrimage to Elvis’ home:

 

            Aerosmith

            Bad Company

            Bon Jovi

            Cheap Trick

            Crosby, Stills, & Nash

            Doobie Brothers

            Duran, Duran

            Van Halen

            38 Special

            Styx

            Keith Richards & Ronnie Woods (Rolling Stones)

            REO Speedwagon

            Pink Floyd

            Tom Petty

            Moody Blues

            Meat Loaf

            Journey

            Don Henley (Eagles)

            John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival)                     

            Fleetwood Mac

 

Bruce Springsteen is listed just like everybody else on the list, but his visit to Graceland has an interesting story.  He jumped the fence and tried to get into the house before the security guards escorted him off the premises.  This was back in 1976, just after Springsteen had blasted to the top of the music scene.  His picture had recently appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek.   Memphis was a stop on his Born To Run tour, and after the concert, Springsteen took a cab to Graceland.  He noticed a light on up at the house, so he climbed the wall and ran up to the front door.  When security nabbed him, he asked, “Is Elvis home?”  They informed him Elvis was in Lake Tahoe (true).  Springsteen tried to explain who he was, but the guards apparently hadn’t heard of him yet.

 

If Bruce Springsteen ever decides to visit Graceland again, it’s a good bet the security guys will recognize him.  He will certainly get the VIP treatment.  Maybe he can even use some Oprah-style clout to get into the “Secret Room”.

 

©   2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

CHECK OUT ELVIS ON FUNTRIVIA.COM

As your dedicated Elvisblog host, I spend a lot of time on the Internet looking for interesting Elvis-related subjects to write about.  Once in a while, this causes conflicts with my wife when she wants to get on the computer to check e-mail, play games, read a few news stories, and find out Today’s Special Value on the Jewelry Television website (we had to cancel the JTV channel on cable, but that’s another story.)

 

The other day she grew impatient with all the computer time I was hogging.  “Are you nearly finished?” she asked with an edge in her voice.

 

“Almost.  Give me a few more minutes,” I answered.

 

Fifteen minutes later she came over and stood behind me to see what I was doing that was so important.  “Hey, you’re just doing stupid Elvis trivia.”

 

“It’s not stupid.  It’s research for my blog.”

 

“Yeah, right.  You’ve had the computer long enough.  Move it.”

 

The truth is, it really was research for Elvisblog, because I wanted to recommend that you visit www.funtrivia.com.  In the interest of your valuable time, I was testing all of the trivia challenges they offered, so I could direct you to the only best ones.

 

FunTrivia.com calls itself the world’s largest trivia website, and I wouldn’t doubt that a bit.  It started in 1994 and now boasts over 1,300,000 trivia questions in 10,000 categories.  All of this has been submitted by visitors to the site and checked by one of their twenty-five+ volunteer editors for accuracy.  FunTrivia.com also encourages quiz writers to provide interesting additional information on each question topic to provide a better experience for the quiz takers.

 

The reason my research took so long is that there are 47 Elvis challenges with ten to twenty-five questions each.  Some are very easy or even stupid, so we’ll skip them and recommend the good ones.  However, if you have lots of free time (and a wife who doesn’t bug you if you stay on the computer too long), go right ahead and play them all.

 

When you open the home page, you will see the box on the left where your type in the topic you want.  Type in ‘Elvis’ and a page opens showing eight categories related to Elvis.  You can forget the two for Elvis Costello and Elvis Stojke.  Also forget the “Quiz Search Results” farther down on the page, because it shows some, but not all, of the same Elvis quizzes.

 

If you click on the first category, Presley, Elvis [Movies], the quiz I recommend is “Elvis Presley Movie Characters.”  I didn’t do as well on this as I thought I would.  It is multiple-choice, but it’s hard to remember the movie where Elvis was Ted Jackson, or Mike McCoy, or Charlie Richards.

 

The next category, “Presley, Elvis [Music]” contains 24 quizzes.  I don’t like anagrams, but if you do, try “Elvis – All Shook Up.”  Some clues, like “A Hulks Loop” are easy, but “A Cheeseburger Nil Tiny Yin” is too tough for me.  The answer page tells you what percent of the quiz takers got each question right, and only 6% got that one.

 

All three of the “Ultimate Elvis” quizzes are worth your time.  “Ultimate Elvis: Part 3” advises, “All facts are taken from UK National Press, so correct me if necessary.”  That is easily done, because the bottom of each answer page gives you a link to submit a correction if you find an error.

 

 “Oh, Elvis” is a good one.  I liked it because I learned some interesting stuff from the questions and the extra trivia added after each answer.  I got nine out of ten right on “Elvis, You Shook Us Up,” but I caught an error.  Elvis did not record “That’s All Right (Mama)” as a birthday present for Gladys. 

 

The rest of my recommendations will be offered without comment.  The Category is listed first and the good quizzes below it.

 

Elvis Presley [Music]:

            Elvis Presley Trivia

            More Elvis

            All About Elvis, Parts 1, 2, and 3

            Elvis and the Colonel

            Elvis is in the Building

 

Elvis Movies [Music]:

            Elvis Movie Soundtracks

 

Elvis Songs [Music]:

            Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”

            Elvis Songs: How Much Do You Know? #1

 

Elvis Lyrics [Music]:

            Elvis Lyrics, Parts 1 and 2

            First Lines of Songs by Elvis Presley.

 

Cover Songs by Elvis [Music]:

            Elvis Presley Cover Songs

 

That’s it – the twenty-one nifty Elvis quizzes on FunTrivia.com that I recommend.  You’re in for a lot of fun if you visit the site and give it a try.  You’ll learn a lot of new things about Elvis, too.  I hope I can find another Elvis site equally interesting, so I can put in a bunch more hours of research.

 

 

©   2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog

ELVISBLOG NEWS — 1/14/07

 

Total Hits For the Year Sets New Record:

 

The final count for reader visits to Elvisblog in 2006 are in, and the results make all the time and expense that goes into creating it worthwhile.  The first and still the only real blog devoted to Elvis Presley had 42,654 hits last year.  This was a 38% increase over 2005.  These numbers would have been higher, but a lot of ground was lost early last year when my blogware supplier sold out and I had to switch to a new web address.  The old service transferred visitors to the new site for only a month, and after that anyone going to the old web address was left completely lost.

 

It was no surprise that the best month was August with 5251 hits.  Most visitors now reach the site by typing in www.elvisblog.net or clicking on it as a favorite.  However, for those discovering the site for the first time, the most popular subject they Googled was Benjamin Keough, Elvis’ grandson.  There’s a lot of interest in that young man.  To my surprise, Elvis collector and friend Jimmy Velvet is a frequent Google search subject that brings people to Elvisblog.

 

 

Elvisblog Now Has Photos:

 

As you can see in the article below, a photo has been added to an Elvisblog article for the first time.  I should have done this a long time ago, because the technology wasn’t that hard to master.  I may go back and add pictures to old articles.  For example, one that really deserves a photo is the story about Scotty Moore and the Rolling Stones backstage.

 

 

New Elvisblog Categories Coming:

 

You can read the most recent 15 Elvisblog articles by scrolling down the main page.  All the earlier articles are accessible through monthly categories.  I have decide a better way to do this would be to organize the archived articles into different subjects.  This would include Elvis and Other Singers, Albums/CDs, Elvis Week, Concerts, Lists, Movies/DVDs, News, and others.  This is going to take some time to complete.  The technology is simple, but it requires a lot of additional typing.  The goal is to have this completed by the two-year anniversary of Elvisblog on February 1.

ROBOT ELVIS TALKING HEADS

image

Those two identical looking zoned-out fellows above were photographed at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 8.  The picture was first posted on the Popular Mechanics website.  In quick succession that day, it showed up on YouTube, www.elvismatters.be, and then www.elvisnews.com, which is where I discovered the photo.

 

The ElvisNews.com text read:  “The Wowwee Company will release a ‘living’ Elvis head, under an official EPE license.  The robot version of the Comeback Elvis can sing 8 songs, has 30 quotes and a karaoke function.  You can turn off Elvis’ voice and with the included microphone, you can hear your voice coming out of the head.  The company says the final release will look a lot more realistic.  Release date – summer 2007, estimated price $349.”

 

Below the ElvisNews.com text was an arrow to click on and watch the one-minute YouTube video of a reporter at the electronics show talking about the ‘living’ Elvis heads.  Well, he was talking, but Elvis wasn’t.  The head moved around slightly as a real one would during conversation, the mouth formed several positions as though pronouncing words, and the eyes moved (very realistically, I must admit.)  But, there were no songs or quotes.

 

It appeared to me that the folks at Wowwee rushed a prototype to the show, but it couldn’t do any of the audio things promised.  Even worse, it didn’t look like Elvis.  Just having Elvis hair and the black leather ’68 Comeback Special shirt is not going to cut it.  I checked out the company’s website, and there is not one word about this new product.  However, they had blurbs on their big hit toys Robosapien and Robosapien Jr. (who dances to his own music, moves forwards and backwards, bumps off walls, spins, has light-up eyes, and makes funny sound effects.)  It sure seems like one big leap in technology to go from Robosapien Jr. to what is promised for the Comeback Elvis head.

 

ElvisNews.com allows comments by their registered readers, and the Talking Elvis Head article prompted 58 responses within two days.  By far, the majority of them were negative – some real negative.  This was not surprising, because there’s a group of EPE-haters out there just waiting for some new thing to complain about, and this riled them up big time.

 

Some of the responses were:

            “This defies belief.”

            “Come on – a freaky Elvis impersonator head.”

            “Just another pointless disrespectful ploy to make money.”

            “This latest product is literally digging the bottom of the trash bin.”

“That enough people would be stupid enough to buy it for $349 is simply impossible to believe.  I’m actually stunned.”

 

Of course, there were a few folks who liked the idea:

            “Yess!! Great!!”

“Personally, I think that in this product we are looking at the future.  I think it is fantastic and I expect the technology, when perfected, to be used in future productions of ‘Elvis In Concert’ and ‘Cirque du Soleil.’  New technology is the way to go for Elvis.  The model featured is only a prototype, but just imagine a few years down the line.”

 

And some folks showed their sense of humor:

“Why is this more crappy than any other Elvis souvenir out there?”

“Perhaps they have plans to license some company in China with a doll that breaks wind to 'Love Me Tender'.”

“And if they can make the head sing “Dominic” I think they might have a hit.”  ('Dominic' is the song about an impotent bull from the movie Stay Away Joe.)

 

I though it was interesting that many people offered their opinion on who the Elvis head really looked like:

            Uncle Jesse of Full House

            Keanu Reeves

            Tom Arnold

            Shakin Stevens

            Goran Visnjic of ER

 

So, what is the official Elvisblog position on the talking Elvis head?  I think the idea is a little weird, but I like it.  Or at least I would if they absolutely get Elvis’ face right.  That should be something they can accomplish.  I don’t think I would fork out $349 of my money to buy one, but if I ever came across one at a theme park arcade, I would gladly stick some bills in the dollar slot to hear him sing “Hound Dog” and say lines like “Play it, James” and “I don’t sound like nobody.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVISWORLD 2006 — THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Elvisworld had a busy year again in 2006.  Let’s take a look at the most significant events and the new offerings of Elvis DVD’s, CDs, books and other products.

 

We Lost Another Elvis Buddy: 

 

The saddest event had to be the passing of great friend Charlie Hodge at age 71.  He was a loyal, long-term friend who lived right at Graceland for years.  Charlie is best known as the fellow who sang harmony with Elvis during the 70s concerts and who handed Elvis the white scarves he passed out to screaming female fans.

 

Significant Events:

 

The most publicized event had to be the July visit to Graceland by President Bush and Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan.  This was all over the papers, TV, and the Internet for days.  Priscilla and Lisa Marie greeted the two heads of state, and it looked like everyone had a grand time.

 

In March, Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark.  It was certainly a justified honor for America’s most recognizable residence after the White House.

 

Lisa Marie married Michael Lockwood in Kyoto, Japan on January 22.  It would be nice if this union works, and so far it seems to be. 

 

In December, the building that formally housed Elvis Presley’s Memphis on Beale Street came back to life as EP Delta Kitchen and Bar.  It was sad to see Elvis Presley’s Memphis close in 2003, but EPE admits that it suffered a significant loss throughout the six years they operated it.  Now they have worked out a deal with Jimmy Ishii, an established restaurateur with eight restaurants in Memphis and nine others from Florida to Missouri.  EP Delta Kitchen and Bar has an emphasis on music from several genres, especially the blues.

 

Elvis 56 and Elvis After Dark exhibits opened in the Graceland visitor center in March.  1956 was the year Elvis’ career exploded, so there are plenty of goodies featured in Elvis 56.  The Elvis After Dark exhibit is a clever concept.  As EPE expressed it, “For much of his life, Elvis Presley was a night person.  After the sun went down, Elvis came out to play.”  I look forward to checking out both of these new attractions during Elvis Week in August.

 

CDs:

 

Follow That Dream Collector’s Label came out with seven new releases in 2006: “Something For Everybody,” “I Found My Thrill,” “Elvis Presley,” “Clambake,” “Let Yourself Go,” “Writing For The King,” and “His Hand In Mind.”  This program is designed to steer fans away from buying bootleg recordings, and they have released some interesting selections.  The FTD series deserves more detailed comment in a future Elvisblog article.

 

“Million Dollar Quartet 50th Anniversary Release” came out in September, and the 1956 session was released in its entirety and in the sequence in which it was originally recorded.  This CD is great from a historical standpoint, but the music is such that most people who buy it won’t be playing it over and over.

 

Elvis’ songs have been repackaged before (notably in the Time/Life series), but Sony BMG released six titles under the Elvis Genre Collection in 2006: “Rock,” “Country,” “Inspirational,” “Live,” “Movies,” and “R&B.”  With 20 songs each and a reasonable price, this seems to be a pretty good deal.

 

DVDs:

 

“Elvis: The 25th Anniversary Concert” is the August 16, 2002 show held at The Pyramid arena in Memphis.  I saw that version of “Elvis The Concert,” and it was great, so if you haven’t seen a touring version of this multimedia event, the DVD might be an alternative to consider.

 

“Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Shows” is not just film segments of Elvis on the shows; it is all three programs in their entirety, plus lots of other goodies.

 

“Elvis: The Ultimate Film Collection” is a big ticket item but worth the cost.  It contains 9 DVD movies, 2 special DVDs (“Elvis: Black Leather Concert” and never before seen home movies), a music rarities CD, movie posters and photos, collectible booklets, a copy of the “Jailhouse Rock” screenplay, all presented in a fancy collectors case.  This one will definitely be on my next Christmas wish list.

 

“Elvis By The Presleys”  The four-hour TV special on CBS is now available as a double-DVD which also contains four new special features.

 

“’68 Comeback Special – Single disc DVD.”  We had the original video, and then the four-DVD release showing every outtake during rehearsals.   I guess this is something in between.

 

“Aloha From Hawaii – Single disc DVD.”   Same history as the Comeback Special.

Books:

 

“Me And A Guy Named Elvis”, by Jerry Schilling.   This is another long-time Elvis buddy, and he held off doing the inevitable Elvis book for 29 years.  This title has been very successful.

 

“GRACELAND: An Interactive Pop-Up Tour.”  I kind of dismissed this one until I watched a film clip about it on www.elvis.com.  Now I think it is a really cool idea, and it is very well done.

 

“Remembering Elvis” by Joe Esposito.  The man who was Elvis’ best friend and tour manager has done other books, but “Remembering Elvis” is a cut above.  It is a classy book with tons of content that you won’t find anywhere else.

 

“Elvis At 21 – New York to Memphis” by Al Wertheimer.  There have been a few good ‘coffee table’ books done about Elvis, but this one is the Grand Champion.  The book is an absolutely spectacular presentation of hundreds of the photos Wertheimer took of Elvis in 1956.  If you get “Elvis at 21” don’t just look at the pictures.  The text by Wertheimer adds wonderful insight into the life of Elvis during the year he burst on the national scene.

 

Needless to say, there are dozens of other books (and CDs, and DVD’s) about Elvis that came out last year, but space doesn’t allow covering all of them here.

 

Other New Products:

 

Elvis Coffee and Hot Chocolate.  How about a cup of “Love Me Tender” Easy Roast” or “Double Trouble” Elvis Hot Chocolate. Four other flavors, as well.

 

New wines from Graceland Cellars.  New selections include “All Shook Up” California Brut Champagne for $12.99, and “Velvet Elvis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for $99.99.  Wow – $99.99.  That’s what the press release says.  I’ve got to do some research on this on.

 

 

So, all in all, there was a lot going on in Elvisworld in 2006.  We can expect more of the same in 2007, as the 30th Anniversary year unfolds.  Elvisblog will do its best to comment on all of them as they happen.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net