Elvisworld was a busy place again in 2007, the 30th Anniversary year. Let’s take a look at the most significant events and the new offerings of Elvis DVDs, CDs, books and other products.
We Lost Another Elvis Buddy: Musician Boots Randolph played sax on twenty-one Elvis recording sessions in the 60s. He was also an Elvis Week fan favorite who performed at many of Darwin Lamm’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concerts. Boots passed away on July 3 at age 80.
Also leaving us in 2007 was Roy McComb. He and his wife Janelle were long time friends of Elvis and his family. Composer Ben Weisman, who wrote “Follow That Dream” and over 50 other songs Elvis recorded, passed away at age 85. Milo High, former pilot of Elvis’ “Hound Dog II,” JetStar plane, also left us in 2007.
Significant Events: In January, EPE started up Elvis Presley Central, an official channel for Elvis videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, it is a year later, and only four videos have been posted. You know EPE has lots more stuff, so lets see it. In February, Graceland Harley-Davidson opened in the heart of the Elvis After Dark Plaza. The Jungle Room in Graceland provided the background for one of twenty beauties in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
On March 1, the fabulous exhibit “Elvis Jumpsuits: All Access” opened, featuring 56 of Elvis’ jumpsuits. Later in the month, Graceland unveiled a special creation by Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light: “Graceland, 50th Anniversary.” The event was part of two-days of receptions, tours, and, of course, big-ticket sales. Also in March, PBS affiliates aired the DVD Elvis Lives – The 25th Anniversary Concert Event. If you missed the broadcast, get the DVD. It, and the whole show, are technical marvels.
In April, EPE introduced a new ad campaign to lure people to Graceland. “Discover Your Inner Elvis” was a slick piece of video trickery in which a soccer mom morphs into a singer wearing the American Eagle jumpsuit and does Elvis moves on stage. Rolling Stone magazine issued a 40th Anniversary issue containing their selections for “40 Songs That Change the World,” and “That’s All Right” made the list. However, weeks later, they listed their readers’ 40 choices, and the song was not on the list. I’m sure their readership base is too young to have a full appreciation of the huge significance of “That’s All Right.”
On July 26th, cable channel TV Land and the city of Honolulu, Hawaii honored Elvis during the 30th anniversary year with a life-sized bronze sculpture commemorating the King’s 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii.”
Elvis Week 2007 (August 11-19) was the biggest ever, and it was filled with new events like Elvis Music and Movies on the lawn at Graceland, The Elvis Expo, and The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, as well as returning events like The Elvis Insiders Conference, the Candlelight Vigil, and Elvis: The 30th Anniversary concert, that sold out FedExForum.
On September 18, ABC TV aired “Elvis: Viva Las Vegas.” The two-hour TV event in High Definition was touted as examining how the King of Rock-and-Roll reinvented Las Vegas — and how it reinvented him. However, most fans felt it had too little Elvis and too much of other folks talking about him or singing his songs.
CDs: 2007 was a huge year for new Elvis CDs. The Follow That Dream (FTD) family of releases for serious collectors grew by eight. Look at this list:
Live in LA – 1974 concert
An American Trilogy – 1972 Las Vegas concerts
50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong Classic album reissue
Raised on Rock — Classic album reissue
I Sing All Kinds – The Nashville 1971 sessions
Easy Come, Easy Go – Movie soundtrack reissue
Pot Luck – Classic album reissue
Girls, Girls, Girls – Movie soundtrack reissue
Wild In The Country – Movie soundtrack reissue
As usual, the soundtrack and studio albums have alternate takes, first takes, out- takes, and studio chatter.
There were several interesting Sony/BMG releases in 2007. “Elvis at the Movies” contained 40 songs from Elvis’ 31 movies. This sure seems like the kind of stuff that FTD specializes in, so I guess they just let Sony/BMG beat them to the concept. “ELVIS: Viva Las Vegas” features music from the ABC TV special that aired on September 18. It includes 15 live performances from Elvis’ prime Las Vegas years. “The Essential Elvis Presley” is a 40-song two CD set, another in the long line of repackaged Elvis hits.
DVDs: There were plenty of new Elvis DVDs for us to buy in 2007, although most were spiffed-up versions of old favorites. Warner Home Video released “Deluxe Editions” of Viva Las Vegas, Jailhouse Rock, and a “2-Disc Special Edition” of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, all with lots of bonus features. Warner also released This is Elvis on DVD for the first time (what took so long?).
Warner and Paramount each issued DVD sets of old Elvis movies in collectible cases. Warner called theirs Elvis: The Hollywood Collection, and it contained six films never before on DVD: Charro, Girl Happy, Kissin’ Cousins, Stay Away Joe, Tickle Me, and Live A Little, Love A Little. Paramount packaged eight classic Elvis titles in a blue suede case. The Lights! Action! Elvis! Collection contains King Creole, G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Roustabout, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Fun In Acapulco, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and Easy Come, Easy Go.
Books: 2007 didn’t see the release of the usual number of top-drawer books about Elvis. Most notable was “The Gospel Side of Elvis” by Joe Moscheo, long-time member of Elvis’ backing group The Imperials.
New Products: In April, EPE announced that a new line of Elvis shoes would hit the market. Produced by PSDI USA, there are four styles of casual shoes in male and female models. Marie Osmond unveiled her baby Elvis doll “The King,” complete with a little jumpsuit. Talking Presidents Inc. released the first two of a line of “talking” Elvis action figures. Standing 12 inches tall, the figurines have fully pose-able bodies and they “talk” in Elvis’ own voice. They are displayed in collectible gift boxes with pictures of Elvis that clearly show how the figurines don’t look much like Elvis, at all.
Press Pass offered the latest in their line of Elvis trading cards. Elvis: The Music is built around a base of 81 cards, and each pack offers the chance to get one or more of a dizzying array of bonus cards. And finally, EPE announced a line of sixteen items containing images of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his #8 and “Elvis 30” in the paint schemes. These were produced in limited quantities and may have good collectible value someday, because Earnhardt has lost the number 8 for his racecar and “Elvis 30” will be replaced with some new theme this year.
So, all in all, 2007 was a huge year for Elvisworld. 2008 promises to be quieter, but whatever happens, Elvisblog will do its best to comment on all as it happens.
© 2008 Philip R Arnold All Rights reserved www.elvisblog.net