Monthly Archives: February 2017

Elvis’ Fashion Legacy

Elvis Presley Wearing Long Black Leather Coat

Sometimes I am sent a comp copy of a new Elvis book about to be released. ElvisBlog does not make a practice of giving free publicity for things. However,if a book contains something unique that I can build a blog article around, I’ll go with it.

Elvis Style Book Cover

I’ve already used one chapter of Elvis Style by Zoey Goto for a blog post back in September. This fascinating book covers Elvis’ history and influence on design and fashion. The last chapter is titled Elvis’ Legacy, and with the author’s permission, I reproduce it here, illustrated with a lot of photos. Here’s what famous fashion and design journalist Zoey Goto had to say about Elvis.

Elvis and Zoey Goto

Elvis and Zoey Goto

Elvis’ career and personal style were bookended by sheer brilliance. In the mid-1950s, Elvis Presley managed to singlehandedly change the way that America, and much of the world beyond, dressed.

Elvis 1960 Tied Shirt

 

From his clothing to his hair and home, he wrote the rulebook on how to use cultural appropriation with panache.

Elvis in Pink and Black

 

As a master of reinvention, he shape-shifted into a dapper Hollywood leading man in the 1960s and, just as others were writing him off as irrelevant, Elvis set the record straight with the legendary ’68 Comeback Special.

Elvis Backstage in Black Leather Suit

 

The pure drama of the subsequent Las Vegas era opened the floodgates for a wave of androgynous glam rockers…

androgynous glam rockers

leather-clad punk rockers, and attention-grabbing male peacocks.

leather-clad punk rockers

 

Certain aspects of Elvis’ lifestyle were ahead of the curve. He had a fondness for eclectic and kitsch interiors before the Postmodernism movement had truly taken hold. Elvis was also devoted to Southern-style cooking, decades before bearded hipsters would flock to cosmopolitan restaurants to sample it. It is, however, in the worlds of fashion and entertainment that Elvis continues to have the most tangible and direct influence.

Cool Elvis Out the Sun Roof

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“There isn’t a costume designer alive who hasn’t been inspired by Elvis,” acknowledges Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the regarded designer who created Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller costume and the wardrobes for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Deborah Nadoolman Landis and Indiana Jones Outfit

Deborah Nadoolman Landis

She is, however, quick to note that although Elvis’ style was very distinctive, he is also part of a larger continuum of showmen and women. Having been influenced by the theatricality of performers such as the great Liberace,

Liberace

Elvis in turn inspired a subsequent generation of style icons that bring us up to the present day.

“What do we ultimately have to work with as costume designers? Silhouette, colour and reflection. Elvis was able to harness all of these, but he certainly wasn’t the first person to do this. He is part of a long tradition of performers who use clothing as a tool – Michael Jackson, Madonna and Lady Gaga have all done this since.”

Michael Jackson Thriller jacket

For Nadoolman Landis, Elvis’ style bequest was showing men how to power dress. “Elvis’ 1970s stage-wear was almost a military look and the high collar was incredibly powerful.”

Elvis Presley Chain Jumpsuit

This is what he’s remembered for,” she states.

 

For Patricia Fields, fashion stylist for the hit television show Sex and the City,…

Patricia Fields and Sex and the City Costumes

Patricia Fields and Sex and the City Actresses

Elvis’ lasting legacy was the freedom of expression that he initiated. Nicknamed ‘The Great Seducer’, Elvis’ gyrating stage act was considered so sexual that his 1957 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was censored from the waist down.

Elvid on Ed Sullivsn Show Singing Dont Be Cruel

 

By challenging the social and moral values of his era, Elvis paved the way for erotically charged pop videos and stage acts that have since become customary. “Elvis made the girls scream and he made sexy cool. That is why he is The King,” Fields observes.

 

Barely a fashion season passes without at least a handful of designers tapping into the early Elvis rockabilly style. Alex Bilmes, editor of Esquire magazine

Alex Bilmes of Esqure Magazine

Alex Bilmes

recognizes that Presley’s style heritage has influenced contemporary musicians as much as everyday street wear. “Elvis’ influence on men’s style is incalculable. He is one of a handful of icons of mid-century Americana and you can still see his legacy everywhere.”

Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)

For example, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys is channelling the ‘68 Comeback Special even when he’s just popping to the shops for cigarettes,” Bilmes comments. “Elvis’ legacy can also be seen in the enduring appeal of jeans and jackets: that indefinable but instantly recognizable point where preppy meets rocker meets work wear meets tailoring,” Bilmes concludes.

 

Elvis may have dipped in and out of fashion throughout his career, but he always retained his natural style. All that Elvis was – from his fondness for camp interiors to his commitment to Southern home cooking, from his pastiche outfits to his theatrical shopping trips, was an uncompromising expression of his unique identity – now that’s true style!

Graceland's Elvis Fashion King ExhibitElvis Presley Fashion King Exhibit

Graceland has also been aware of Elvis’ fashion legacy. They launched this exhibit on March I, 2010.

 

The Elvis’ Legacy chapter in Elvis Style ended with several photographs. Here are a few along with the accompanying text.

Gold Suit

Liberace may have worn it first, and Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber since, but Elvis still remains the most famous star to step out in a dazzling gold suit. This recent reincarnation was sent down the runway by the Italian fashion house Costume National.

 

Elvis understood the power of attention-grabbing stage wear, memorably using it for the tailored suit worn for the ’68 Comeback Special. The high-street retailer H&M created a similar, Southern-plantation-style suit for their eco-conscious collection in 2013.

 

Shift Dress Printed with Elvis' Portrait

Ashley William’s’ debut collection at London Fashion Week took early Elvis as its inspiration. Williams experimented with double-denim, cigarette pants, teddy bear bags, and shift dresses printed with Elvis’ portrait. The nostalgic Americana collection also featured the embroidered catchphrase “My heart belongs to Elvis Presley.”

 

The source for this post, Elvis Style, by Zoey Goto has been a very successful book. If you’d like to own a copy, click here.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Remembering Marty Lacker

Marty Lacker and Elvis Presley

On Tuesday, this appeared on Graceland.com/news:

“The staff of Elvis Presley’s Graceland wishes to send its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marty Lacker, who passed away yesterday.

“A member of Elvis’ inner circle, known in the fan world as the Memphis Mafia, Marty’s friendship with Elvis stood the test of time. Among his contributions to Elvis’ legacy, he served as one of the best men at his wedding to Priscilla Presley and connected Elvis with famed American Sound producer Chips Moman.”

I’m sorry, but Marty Lacker was a special trusted friend to Elvis, and he deserves more than a four-line biography.

Priscilla and Marty Lacker at the Wedding

To be fair, Graceland.com did include a photograph of Elvis, Priscilla, and Marty at the wedding.   The shot above shows Priscilla and Marty at the reception. The first photo in this post is a color shot of the occasion. For some reason, most of the ones circulating around are black-and-white.

They also could have shared a photo of Marty along with Chips Moman at the famous American Sound Studios recording session, like this one:

Marty Lacker and Chips Moman

 

The Memphis Commercial Appeal put it this way:

Memphis Commercial Appeal on Marty Lacker

Two of the other songs were hits and should have been mentioned: “Kentucky Rain” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.” Elvis recorded a staggering total of 35 songs in the two sessions at American Sound.

 

Here’s a picture of Elvis and Marty Lacker on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style. Have you ever seen this one before?

Elvis and Marty lacker on set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style

 

Elvis fans deserve to know more details about Marty’s life and death. Here’s a good explanation from website EIN:

“Marty’s passing so easily demonstrates the fragility of life. His death being caused by a simple home accident (he fell over while doing laundry) which caused him to be hospitalized with internal bruising and eventual kidney failure. Marty was such a character that he even apologized for being in hospital and not replying to all his friends emails!

“Marty Lacker was born in Brooklyn, NY but grew up in the South Bronx until he moved to Memphis in 1952. In 1953 he transferred to Humes High School where he became aware of Elvis because they both dressed alike which was unlike most of the kids back then. Carrying his NY influences Marty would also wear bright, loud color clothes with collars up and had semi longer hair than the regular crew-cuts of the time. It was later after Marty’s time in the army, early 1957 that he started going over to Graceland.

“While Elvis was in the army Marty became Production Director for Memphis WHHM Radio, and it was only in 1961 that Elvis persuaded him to join Elvis’ core team full-time.

Unlike many others in the ‘Memphis Mafia’, Marty Lacker managed a separate career (working for radio stations as well as starting his own label Pepper Records in late 1967 before becoming VP and General Manager of Chips Moman’s American Studios in 1969) as well as staying a best friend to Elvis.”

 

Gold and Diamond Ring Elvis Gave to Marty Lacker

As research for this memorial to Marty Lacker, I searched for him in the ElvisBlog archives. I found the ring above in a 2012 article about the Ultimate Elvis Auction held by Heritage Auctioneers. The website printed this recollection from Marty:

“One night in the 70’s, I was upstairs at Graceland with Elvis, and he was going through his jewelry case. He turned around came over to me and said ‘let me see your hand’. I had no idea what he meant so I put my left hand out and he slid this ring on my finger. I thought it was a good looking ring. I looked at it and started to take it off to give back to him and he said, ‘keep it, it is now yours.’ That was a typical move for Elvis… I have worn it on my left hand every day for the last 40 years.”

The ring sold for $5,250, including the auctioneer’s premium.

 

Another gift from Elvis to Marty showed up at the Heritage Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction in 2013: For some reason, the number of clothing items Elvis gave to other Memphis Mafia members like Charlie Hodge, Red West, and Richard Davis was substantially more than what Marty Lacker got. Maybe he wasn’t so interested in fashion.

Elvis Wearing Shirt he later Gave to Marty Lacker Heritage August 2013 $3,000

This photo verified the shirt had been worn by Elvis before he gave it to Marty. It may be a shot you haven’t seen before. The shirt sold for $3,000.

 

Elvis and Priscilla's Marriage Certificate

Believe it or not, Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage certificate actually showed up at the first Auction at Graceland in August 2014. You will note the signatures of Elvis’ two co-best men, Joe Esposito and Marty Lacker. The pre-auction estimate was $40-60,000, but it didn’t even bring the minimum of $15,000. Seems like somebody would have considered it worth that much.

 

Elvis-Autographed-Americas-Ten-Outstanding-Young-Men-Program

Remember when Elvis was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1970 by the Jaycees? Elvis’ entourage at the ceremony included not only Marty but his parents.

Elvis Signed Program for Marty Lacker's Parents

This is Elvis’ inscription and autograph on the Lacker’s program.

 

Elvis Shooting Robert Goulet on TV

Marty Lacker is credited with revealing what happened when Elvis shot up a TV. This is the story published some years ago on www.elvisinfonet.com

“Elvis harbored some bad feelings about Goulet from back in the late 50s when he was in the Army. Elvis’ girlfriend Anita Wood was a singer and she did shows with Goulet and Buddy Hackett. Anita would often write Elvis in Germany, and one time Goulet added a postscript to one of them telling Elvis in a sly way that he was personally taking care of Anita. Elvis didn’t like that and he never forgot, so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.”

 

In closing, I would like to share these sentiments from my friend Jeff Schrembs at ElvisCollector.info:

“Along with being a trusted friend, Marty worked with Elvis in several positions including bookkeeper, secretary, and “sounding board”. However, no “title” can fully/adequately define the relationship between Elvis and Marty that endured for three decades.”

 

Older Marty Lacker

 

Good bye, Marty Lacker. We’ll miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

(Editor’s note:  Recently ElvisBlog received a message from Marty Lacker’s daughter.  Here it is:  Phil….sincere thanks for your tribute to my father and highlighting his very endearing roll in Elvis’ life and the deep and abiding friendship that my father and Elvis mutually had for each other. Many people, especially those most closely associated with the estate, like to negate or ignore Marty’s place in the Inner Circle and the many honors both pre and post Elvis’ passing that my father was responsible for creating and/or facilitating…but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because his family, his best friends Billy and Jo Smith and he and Elvis know the truth and that will never change…and for that I am comforted. Again, heartfelt appreciation for your kind memorial to my father, Marty Lacker—may he and his buddies passed be having a wonderful reunion now. 🙂)

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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Elvis’ Oddball Antics on Stage

Elvis Laying Next to Nipper

You have probably seen this photo before, but do you know the story behind it? The dog is a large replica of RCA Records’ Nipper, and he sat on the stage as Elvis preformed in Los Angeles on October 28, 1957. When Elvis got to “Hound Dog” on the set list, he started singing it to Nipper.

Elvis and Nipper

As things reached the finale, Elvis rolled on the stage with Nipper. This caused so much commotion that the next day Dick Williams, entertainment editor for the LA Times Mirror, used this headline on his review: 6000 KIDS CHEER ELVIS’ FRANTIC SEX SHOW. I wrote a blog post back in 2008 about the whole episode. Click here to read more.

 

Wearing Helmet and Goggles on Stage

Elvis usually managed to have some fun time while performing on stage, especially during the 70’s. I have no idea what the story is behind this strange-looking helmet and goggles. If anyone knows, please share it on Comments below. I wonder if the items were tossed up on stage, or did Elvis bring them out himself.

 

Elvis Holding Up Bra

There’s no doubt this bra was thrown up on stage by a fan. You can’t blame Elvis for having some fun with it.

 

Elvis Holding Rubber Chicken

Talking about things being tossed up on stage, here’s an odd one. Why would anyone carry a plastic chicken to an Elvis concert? Is there a message here I’m missing?

 

Elvis on Stage with Duck

This appears to be a live duck. Why??

 

Elvis with Strange Expression on Stage

Let’s see some good shots of Elvis interacting with his audience. His expression here makes you wonder what the little girl said to him, doesn’t it?

 

Elvis - Hey, Look

This look appears to be in response more to something touched, rather than something said.

 

Elvis and Very Chummy Friend

I wonder how many times when Elvis got in this position, and the girl didn’t grab for the scarf.

 

Elvis Peaking Under Curtain

Whoops!

 

Elvis Squatting on Stage

I guess Elvis was trying to get up close and personal with the ladies on the front row.

 

Elvis and Chummy Fan 2

He’s certainly doing that here, but what is the fan doing? Looks like a belt in her hand. Whatever it is, Elvis seems to enjoy her attention.

 

Elvis Sitting on Stage

Another shot of Elvis sitting on stage. In 2013, I did a blog post on Elvis’ stage contortions and moves. There were no sitting shots there, but lots of great kicks and stuff. If you haven’t read that one, click here to check it out

 

Elvis Reading Song Lyrics

Looks like Elvis could have used some reading glasses for this. Hopefully, he isn’t reading the lyrics to the song he is singing.

 

Elvis Climbing off Loading Doc

Yes, I know Elvis is not on stage here, but this picture is so strange, and I have been looking for an excuse to use it for years. Elvis is obviously climbing down a loading dock, but look at the trash. Certainly not a highlight of that evening.

 

Elvis with Four Mics

Here’s two images snapped at the same concert. Elvis has four mics.

Elvis with Mics in His Ears

Now he has two in each ear.

 

Elvis Wearing Big Glasses

I’m sure you’ve seen this one before, but it always gives me a laugh, so here it is again.

 

Elvis with Guitar Pick in Mouth

This one is not so well known. From back in the seats, that guitar pick must look like a big buck tooth. Yes, Elvis always managed to have some fun on stage.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Happy 12th Birthday, ElvisBlog

Happy 12th Birthday

Do you know how long internet blogs have been around? At least since late 2004, when I read a newspaper article about this new thing called blogs. It said they were popping up devoted to all sorts of topics, so I thought to myself: I would like to read a blog about Elvis. I wonder if there is one.

So, I Googled Elvis blog, but nothing even close came up in the results. Hmmn. I’m a writer and Elvis fan. I should start one. And I did. On January 31, 2005, ElvisBlog was born. Because it was the first, I created a silly handle for myself: Original ElvisBlogmeister. Nobody has ever challenged this claim, so I guess it’s mine to keep.

 

ElvisBlog - Elvis Jukebox Rankings

This was the first post, all 228 words of it. There were no pictures until two and a half years later when I posted an article on Elvis outfits and wigs.

ElvisBlog - Being Elvis for Halloween

Today, pictures and photos are the main appeal of ElvisBlog, with a bit of text to add interest and sometimes a little humor.

 

Happy Birthday ElvisBlog

Every two or three years I publish a Happy Birthday, ElvisBlog post. The above from the 2007 mentions 108 blog articles so far. Now the total is 730 posts.

ElvisBlog - 730 Posts

 

Also, on the second birthday post, I mentioned that the total hits over the two-year period had reached 80,000. For the year 2016, the total was 301,336, up 4.4% from the previous year.

2016 ElvisBlog Stats

Visitors is a more important number to me. People accessed ElvisBlog almost 168,000 times last year. I am very proud and grateful for this support. Thank you.

 

Elvis Blog on Google Search

Please indulge me with one more brag. Today, the results are much different than in 2004 when you search for Elvis blog. 18 million results? The brag is that for the time being, ElvisBlog is higher in the results than Graceland’s official Elvis Blog. I am sure this position will reverse sometime soon, with their huge mailing list and Graceland Insiders membership. I have praised this blog in several posts and provided links to it. It is quite good, and you should check it out. (but don’t skip this blog to do that).

 

Here’s a list showing the international spread of ElvisBlog readers.

2016 ElvisBlog Stats by Country

Japan used to be in the top 10 ten, but they have dropped off and Brazil has moved in. I have no idea why.

2016 ElvisBlog Stats - - Minor Country

This is the bottom of list (cut off at a minimum of 20 page views). Somebody in Iraq has been checking in to read ElvisBlog. Do you think they run the risk of being beheaded if they are caught reading about Elvis?

And where in the world are Guernsey and Reunion located?

 

There is one last picture I would like to show you. This fall, I will be introducing another book: BIG E and the SANTA MAN – Part 2. Here is the artwork for the cover.

Big E Flying Caddy Jet Sled

Isn’t this outstanding? I am so grateful to Carol Stephens at 2D Creative Designs for her brilliant work creating this picture of Big E’s gold Cadillac jet sled. He and Santa will be flying around in it to defeat another plot by Scrooge to ruin Christmas. After the success of the first book, I was moved to write a sequel. Stay tuned for more news on BIG E and the SANTA MAN – Part 2 as we get closer to the Christmas season.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.