Category Archives: LISTS

Colonel Parker's Secret Rules for Elvis Scriptwriters

Everybody knows that Colonel Parker killed Elvis’ chances of becoming a serious actor.  All Parker wanted was simple, light-weight plots with lots of songs.  To him, the movies were simply a means to sell soundtrack albums.  Of course, the films made a nice profit, too, for a long time, as the fans kept coming no matter what was served up to them.

What is not so well known is that Colonel Parker had a secret list of seven rules which all potential screenwriters had to comply with if they wanted their scripts to become Elvis movies.  Recently, Parker’s secret rules list was uncovered, and a friend of ElvisBlog divulged it to us before anyone else.  Let’s take a look at Colonel Parker’s seven rules for Elvis movies and note a few of the rare exceptions.

Rule #1:

Elvis plays the main character in the movie.  His occupation is one that allows him regular access to one of the following: race car, motorcycle, airplane, or speedboat.  A racing contest in one of these vehicles will occur near the end of the film, with Elvis winning the contest.


Wow, how many Elvis movies can you think of that fit this rule perfectly?  The Colonel really had those screenwriters trained, didn’t he?  I can think of only one race Elvis didn’t win.  Brutus, the 200 pound Great Dane, beat him in a race on the beach in Live A Little, Love A Little.

Rule #2:

Elvis must have a strong, All-American, regular guy kind of name… like Lucky Jackson, Rusty Wells, Mike McCoy or Tulsa McLean.

Of course, four smart screenwriters figured out the best way to have the Colonel pick their screenplay was to use those exact names for Elvis’ characters in Viva Las Vegas, Girl Happy, Spinout, and G.I. Blues.  My pick for the two worst names for Elvis characters are Toby Kwimper from Follow That Dream and Walter Gulick from Kid Gallahad.  I wonder how those two slipped through.

Rule #3:

Elvis’ character must be given ample instances to sing songs.  There will always be one or more of the following:  a party, carnival, soda shop, or public bazaar, thus giving Elvis an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd.

Well, as it turned out, there were other acceptable locations for Elvis to sing.  Bars and clubs showed up in a lot of Elvis movies, and he sang in all of them.  There were a few swimming pool scenes, too, and Elvis never missed a chance to sing there, either.


And, how about singing on the beach?  Elvis did a lot of that.  Sometimes it was at big parties, sometimes it was the more intimate two-people variety.  Either way, the music of a full band, nowhere in sight, backed him up.

Rule #4:

If the leading female character is not in love with Elvis at the beginning of the picture, she will be by the end of the film.

Although this rule was almost always followed, there was a strange variation of it that managed to get Colonel Parker’s approval.  In Spinout, three women in love with Elvis early in the story all end up marrying other men at the end of the picture.  It must have been one heck of a pitch that convinced Parker to go along with that odd development.


Rule #5:

The movie may have one male supporting role whose function is to be either Elvis’ friend or rival, occasionally providing comic relief.

Spinout managed to overload that rule with two buddies and a rival. 

Rule #6:

Every business venture, contest, race, lottery, scientific inquiry, game of chance, or bar-room wager that Elvis enters must be won by Elvis.

Believe it or not, there actually was a scientific inquiry in one of Elvis’ movies.  In Clambake,   Elvis tried to find a special hard coating to help his speedboat win a race.  He gave his invention a highly technical name: Goop. 


There was also one business venture that bombed for an Elvis character.  In Stay Away Joe, Elvis played a Native-American living on a reservation.  His people received a herd of cattle from the government under a program to prove that Indians on reservations were not lazy, heavy-drinking, girl-chasing screw-ups and could care for and grow the herd.  Unfortunately, Elvis and his Indian buddies had a big drunken party and barbequed their only bull.  So much for growing the herd.

Rule #7:

Elvis must engage in at least one fistfight per movie.

Usually, it was more than one fight in most of the Elvis movies.  Can you name one film that did not have a fight?  My favorite fight is in the soda shop scene in Loving You.  Elvis knocks the local smart-ass around pretty good while Elvis’ hit “Got a Lot of Living to Do” blasts from the jukebox the whole time.

Who knows where Elvis’ acting career would have gone if it wasn’t for Colonel Parker.  He even turned down a role for Elvis co-starring with Barbra Streisand in a major movie, A Star Is Born.  I think Parker also had an unwritten rule:  If anyone comes to Elvis with an idea for a serious acting role, kill it.

©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Editor’s Note:  If you ejoyed this article, hopefully you won't be too upset to learn that it is a work of fiction.  Colonel Parker did not have a list of rules for Elvis movies.  However, James Allenspach at had one in a blog article five years ago.  It was the inspiration for this story.  You might want to check out his site at




Elvis fans seem to be interested in every facet of his life, including some pretty obscure ones.  So, what do these folks do to satisfy their curiosity?  They Google it, of course.  When the Google page opens up with a list of the top ranked websites covering the subject, hopefully one of them will have the information you search for.  Apparently, ElvisBlog is now a favored source for many Elvis-related topics, including some pretty weird ones.  I became aware of this when someone linked to ElvisBlog from a Google search on “Elvis pimples.”

I can’t imagine why anyone would even care about Elvis’ pimples, but somebody did.  And guess where ElvisBlog showed up on the Google list?  #2, beaten by a site with this news release, “National Pimple Center To Stage The Largest Charity Show In Singapore Next Year.”  Wow, who knew there’s a National Pimple Center?  One of the scheduled entertainers at the show was an Elvis Tribute Artist, so Google was merely connecting the two words pimple and Elvis, even though they were not used together in the story.  Dead end.

On the other hand, ElvisBlog had a legitimate reference to Elvis pimples. In a June 1, 2008, column titled “Never Before Told Elvis Secrets,” I made fun of a 1977 Midnight Globe story that quoted Elvis’ stepbrother Rick Stanley.  One of his so-called revelations was this, “Until he was well into his 20s, Elvis had a terrible skin problem – just like a lot of young people.  Pimples were his curse.  He even had them on his back.”  I hope that information was of some value to the person who Googled.

From that point on, I saved other strange Elvis search topics on Google.  Here a few of the more interesting ones.

“Elvis impersonator movie where lady meets guy who looks like Elvis and she has a kid and she goes away with Elvis”:  This one certainly gets the award for the longest Google search topic about Elvis.  Does anybody know what movie she is describing?  I sure don’t.  ElvisBlog came up #1 on the results, but simply because it had used more of the key words in that long string than any other site did.  It doesn’t look like anything that Google found solved the mystery.

“is Elvis' body preserved?:  ElvisBlog could do no better than #8 on this one, but that’s fine by me.  Google simply found the words body and Elvis in the same article.  However, Elvis World-Japan actually got into the topic.  I was pleased with their quote, “Graceland CEO Jack Soden said there are no cryogenically preserved tissue samples of Elvis.”  But, then they went on to discuss other possible ways to clone Elvis.  No!  Please, please, no!

“Elvis fly sandwich”:  This probably shouldn’t be mentioned here, because it is not about a sandwich made of flies, as I originally thought.  It just sounded like that.  It was actually about the Fool’s Gold Sandwich, which Elvis flew from Memphis to Denver to get.  Google got it right, when the top of their list was the April 15, 2007, ElvisBlog article about this unique Elvis story.  The person who Googled this one didn’t have to go anywhere else to get the information they wanted.

“Elvis Presley chest hair”:  Sadly, nine different websites beat out ElvisBlog on the Google results for this one.  #3 was a site with an article titled, “Did Tom Jones Insure His Chest Hair?”  (The answer is yes – for $25 million.)  The ElvisBlog article on the Google list appeared just two weeks ago as part of the bare-chested Elvis story.

“Speedway, Viva Las Vegas and Easy Come, Easy Go, all have something in common what is it?” : Was the person who Googled that trying to get the answer to a trivia question that stumped her, or was she trying to stump Google?  If the latter, it worked.  None of the sites on the Google list gave the answer.  They were there because they had seven or eight of the words somewhere in their contents.  ElvisBlog had ten of the words to rank #1.  Does anyone know the answer to this question?

“diabetic Elvis impersonators”:  Why would anyone care?  And Google couldn’t find anything to cover the subject.  However, the site at the top of their list had an article with an interesting title, “Calling all Elvis and Popeye Impersonators.”  I had to read that one to find out about Popeye impersonators.

“what Elvis and Ann Margaret movie was translated into Italian?”:  Well, let’s see… There are so many choices.  I’ll just have to make a guess.  How about Viva Las Vegas?  Score another #1 for ElvisBlog with the March 23, 2008 article titled Delinquente del Rock & Roll, which covered the titles of all of Elvis’ movies on Italian DVDs.

“Ancient Egyptian Boonta”:  Sometimes when I see these search subjects, I try to guess what ElvisBlog articles the words have been pulled from.  Ancient Egyptian was easy; it came from my review of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep.  Boonta stumped me.  It turns out the Boonta Eve Pod Race from The Phantom Menace was the source for half the photos when we compared a Star Wars race with the Elvis race in Viva Las Vegas.  There really was a Boonta in ancient Etheopia, and it is covered by several sites that ranked ahead of ElvisBlog.

“black midget Elvis”:  Apparently there is no such thing.  Many sites, including ElvisBlog, made reference to both Black Elvis and Midget Elvis, but apparently no enterprising black midget has tried to become an Elvis Tribute Artist.  Will someone please step forward and fill this gaping void?

“what color pants did Elvis split while recording ‘Heartbreak Hotel’?”:  Another attempt to stump Google, and it worked.  There was nothing on their list that led to an answer.  To my knowledge, the only time Elvis split his pants was while performing “Poke Salad Annie” and wearing a jumpsuit on March 21, 1976, in Cincinnati.  Although this was covered in Elvis Commentary Mini-Nuggets #7, Google missed it.  Instead, they found a combination of words from the search topic, including Bill Black’s split from Elvis.  I’ll still take the #1 rank on their list, thank you.

“Elvis picking his nose”:  We might as well end this column on a high note.  Not one choice on the Google list actually addressed this subject.  They had references to Elvis, and nose, and picking, but fortunately picking always referred to a guitar.  As I said at the beginning, Elvis fans seem interested in knowing about every facet of his life, but I think we’d be OK if we skipped this one.

Well, that covers about half of my list of strange Elvis searches on Google, so I guess someday there will be a Part 2.  It occurred to me that maybe some of the folks who did these weird searches and then linked to ElvisBlog may have become regular readers.  If so, I hope you didn’t mind me making fun of your stupid search topics.

©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved



Have you ever visited Graceland and written a message on the fieldstone wall that surrounds the property?   This phenomenon started while Elvis was still alive, and the grounds keepers worked diligently to keep the wall clean.  After Elvis died, the volume of fan graffiti proved overwhelming, and the estate decided to leave the wall alone.  Only crude messages were pressure-washed off.  The rest would last a year or so until exposure to sun and rain faded them, giving newer visitors a chance to add their thoughts.


A few years ago I purchased a small book called “Dear Elvis:  Graffiti from Graceland,” written by Daniel Wright, and It contained a selection of messages from fans.  Mr. Wright returned to Memphis numerous times between 1989 and 1996 to record and photograph the ever changing Graceland graffiti for his book, and I would like to present some of the best here.

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If this was Disneyworld, I’d buy a pair of Elvis ears!


Elvis.  I wish I was your belt buckle for a day.  Gina


Please quit writin’ on my wall.  Thank you, thank you very much.  “E”


George Burns is bringing cigars and news about Ann-Margret!


Elvis, yesterday I realized how much I love you, so I broke off my engagement to Adam.  Please come home to Mama! – Monique


Elvis, you had great taste in women.  Priscilla is a babe! – Dave


Elvis kicks butt!


You had a weird decorator.  Thank God he didn’t write music! – Connie


Elvis, Elvis, let me be.                                                                                                

Keep your pelvis far from me!


Elvis, thanks for helping me celebrate my fortieth birthday.  Too bad you missed the party!  Sheila


Elvis, I’m bearing your ghost child, and I’m confused because I’m a man!


We love you, and so does the rest of Oz! – Melissa


You wouldn’t have liked the way Caddies look today, anyway. – Mary Lou


“If you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair”?!?  Ouch!


AGB – Atomic Graceland Babes


I can’t believe I’m doing this!  Please don’t sandblast me! – Riedy


Elvis makes me hot! – Jerrie


Dear Gladys & Vernon – YOU DONE GOOD!


Elvis I came for a short visit, but a part of me will always remain… Jen




Elvis, it’s me again in ’93.  Remember?


Hey Elvis:  Lisa Marie made a big mistake.  Come back and straighten her out.  Mary, 1994


Dear God:  Bolton and Cyrus for Presley?!?  Let’s TRADE!!!


Can Elvis come out and play??  Jewels


Elvis, please call Kevin.  He heard you were dead and he’s BUMMED.


Elvis, your burning love left a hole in my heart.


THANK YOU dear Elvis for all the happiness and the miracle.  Wish I could stay forever.  I will come back… Hatice


I love you now and forever.  I will be with you someday.  I will dream of you until then. — Jen


We travelled a long way, but, for you, we’d do it again in a minute!  T.L.C!


You are fantastic!  I never got to see you, but I have come to Graceland each August for 15 years.  It still hurts, but the love from your fans all over this world helps mend these broken hearts.  Thank you, Love, for your music and all the wonderful things you did and will forever do.  You bring the world together in friendship and love.  The world is full of beautiful people.  Elvis, you are the most beautiful in every way.  The world has learned, and always will learn, much from you and be grateful always.  Till next year.  You sing forever in our hearts.


©   2008   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved


You have probably seen different types of Rock & Roll lists presented in the media. Over the years, I’ve been able to write a full ElvisBlog column about three of them.  They all had to be categories that interested me, of course; serious polls like “The 50 Most Awesomely Dead Rock Stars” and the “Sexiest Rock & Roll Artists of All Time,” and the “100 Most Outrageous Moments in Rock & Roll.”  There was lots of Elvis stuff in all three, so they were fun to write about.

However, the rest of the lists I’ve come across have been put in a file folder for extended languishing.  Now it is time to empty the contents of that list file and make a few comments as we go.

The results I am happiest with are on a list from Q Magazine: the “Top Ten Singers Ever”.  Elvis heads the list, just ahead of Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra.  Aretha was the only woman.  Number 4 was a big favorite of mine, Otis Redding.  I remember going to parties in the late 60s and dancing to Otis Redding songs for hours.  If your music horizon doesn’t go back far enough to include Otis Redding albums, you need to learn about this great performer.  Get some of his CDs; his live concert recordings are incredible.  Number 10 on the list is Tim Buckley, and I don’t think I’ve ever listened to his music.  I guess I need to follow my own advice and get a Tim Buckley CD and find out why he ranked so high.

Here is the award winner for the list with the longest name: “Best Ever Acting Performance By A Musician,” put out by Contact Music.  Elvis got nudged out by Frank Sinatra for his performance in From Here To Eternity.  We all know Frank did a superb job in that role, so I’ve got no problem with Elvis coming in second for his work in Jailhouse Rock.  But, look at who came in next: Eminem, in his only acting job, 8 Mile.  I haven’t seen it, so I really can’t say anything, but if he’s such a good actor, why hasn’t he made any more movies?  Even though I’m pleased that Elvis’ acting in Jailhouse Rock was so esteemed, I can’t imagine why Elvis in King Creole didn’t make the Top 10 on this list.  For my money, the best acting job Elvis ever did was in King Creole.

Billboard has done a number of lists, and they have some credibility when it comes to making their picks.  However, they won’t get me to accept Elvis as #4 on their list of “The 100 All-Time Top Artists.”  Maybe I won’t quibble with The Beatles being picked as #1, but Madonna and Elton John are not above Elvis. He wasn’t the only one given a bum rank.  The Rolling Stones came in #10 – behind Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.  No way.

VH1 produced two of the lists in my file, and one of them just amazes me.  They selected the “50 Greatest Teen Idols,” and you’ve got to figure Elvis would do great in a poll like that, right?  Well, he did not.  In fact, he didn’t make the cut.  I read that list three times to make sure, but Elvis’ name was not to be found.  That’s ridiculous.  They had top winners Britney Spears (1), David Cassidy (2), and N’Sync (3).  All big teen idols for sure, but nothing compared to the idolatry Elvis received in the 50s.  How in the world did anyone think Rick Springfield, Scott Baio and Corey Feldman were bigger teen idols than Elvis?  To show you how skewed against older icons this stupid list was, it did not even include James Dean.

To their credit, VH1 partially made up for their omission by placing Elvis #3 in another list: “100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons.”  He was behind Oprah Winfrey and Superman, and ahead of Lucille Ball.  They sure must have had an older group of judges for this one.  There were older icons all over this list.  I’ll bet that when the judges picked Elvis, they were thinking about him in white jumpsuit and cape saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

I just noticed something interesting on one of the pages in my list file.  It shows that VH1 has also produced “The Greatest: 40 Hot Rock Star Girlfriends” and “The Greatest: 100 Most Wanted Bodies.”  Elvis had dynamite girlfriends and young Elvis has to rank pretty high in that bodies list.  I need to check out these two polls and see if there is enough there for another column.  They sure sound interesting.  Don’t know how I missed them before.


© 2008  Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved



Back on August 16, 2002, cable network CNN did something interesting to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death.  It ran an article on one of its websites – — titled Viva the Elvis Portfolio.  The article started like this:  “Elvis may have left the building, but you can find a way to make him stay in your stock portfolio.”


CNN/Money listed 13 stocks for Elvis fans who wanted to invest in the King.  The stocks had a connection to Elvis, although a few would have to be considered a stretch.  Nike (NKE) had one of the strongest connections, because it had commercials running at the time using Elvis’ song  “A Little Less Conversation.”  Walt Disney (DIS) was another, because its recent hit film Lilo & Stitch featured six Elvis songs.  NBNA (KRB) also had a strong connection, because it was the bank that had issued Elvis credit cards.


Other good choices included:  American Greetings (AM) that produced greeting cards and Christmas tree ornaments with Elvis’ image; Department 56 (DFS) that marketed Graceland Christmas collectibles; International Game Technology (IGT), manufacturers of Elvis slot machines; MGM (MGM), the producer of Elvis movies; and Hilton Hotels, where he performed in Las Vegas.


In my opinion, the other five companies had fairly weak connections to Elvis:  Mattel (MAT), General Motors (GM), J.M. Smuckers (SJM), Mead/Westvaco (MWV), and Guitar Center (GTRC).  Mattel had a Barbie Doll wearing a poodle skirt with “Elvis” stitched on it.  Elvis owned Cadillacs made by GM.  Smuckers made grape jelly and peanut butter.  Mead/Westvaco, a huge paper company, had a tiny part of their business coming from Elvis calendars.  And Guitar Center was a place where Elvis ‘could’ have bought a guitar according to CNN/Money.


What if any loyal Elvis fans had followed CNN’s advice on August 16, 2002 and invested in the eight stocks with true Elvis connections.  How well would they have done? 


Keep in mind the trend in the stock market at that time.  Because of 9-11 and the collapse of the dot-com bubble, the market had been in decline for almost two-and-a-half years.  Most stocks and the major indexes bottomed out during the fourth quarter of 2002, and the trend since has been generally up.  So, we would definitely expect the ‘Elvis stocks’ to have made money.  Here are the results:


                                   8/16/02            4/26/07            Change


Nike                             $20.76             $53.84             +159%

Walt Disney                  $15.08             $35.18             +133%

American Greetings       $16.93             $25.61             + 51%

Int. Game Technology    $15.48             $39. 50            +155%

MGM                            $18.33             $70.53             +285%

Hilton Hotels                 $11.85             $35.19              +197%


Wow!  That’s impressive.  The CNN/Money article never actually advised people to buy these stocks, but that sure would have been a good call.  Two stocks could not be listed above because they no longer exist as separate corporate entities.  NBNA was part of the merger/acquisition trend to bigger banks, and Department 56 became part of the Lennox Group family of giftware and housewares. 


Stock performance is often measured against the major market indexes.  For the same period, the Dow is up 49%, the S&P 500 is up 61%, and the NASDAQ is up 88%.  So, relative to the broad market, the group of ‘Elvis stocks’ did great.  


Today, you actually can invest in Elvis.  EPE, Elvis’ estate, is now 85% owned by Robert Sillerman’s media empire CKX Inc.  (CKXE).  Back on March 20, 2005, in an Elvisblog article, I recommended buying some CKX stock.  It was selling at $26.73 at the time.  How good a tip was that?  Three months later, the stock was selling for $13.72.  Since then, it has bounced around and now sits at $11.73.  I don’t get it.  CSX also owns American Idol, and that is a money generating machine.  With Elvis Cirque du Soleil coming, as well as the projected new attractions at Graceland, I still feel like CKX has to be a growth stock.  However, it might be smart to follow CNN/Money’s recommendations rather than mine.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


VH1 has filled hundreds of hours of viewing time with their various lists.  Many of the lists had Elvis in there somewhere, but he never got enough respect in my opinion.  In a 2003 Elvis International Magazine article, I slammed VH1 for the shabby treatment they gave Elvis in these lists:  100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll (#8), 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll (only one, “The Sun Sessions – #21), and 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll (only four, “Jailhouse Rock” – #18, “Hound Dog” – #31, “All Shook Up” – #68, and “Heartbreak Hotel” – #71).


Well, VH1 has done it again, but maybe we should be thankful that Elvis doesn’t rank too high in the most outrageous rock & roll moments.  Five of the top six on the list were violent deaths:  Marvin Gaye (1984), Curt Cobain (1994), John Lennon (1980), a fan at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, CA (1969), and eleven fans at a Who concert (1979).  Breaking up that string of deaths is Michael Jackson getting charged with child molesting (1993).  Who wants to be in a group like this?


Elvis is on the list three times.  #99 is “Elvis Presley meets President Richard Nixon (1970).”  I don’t think of that as very shocking.  However, not many people could show up at the White House unannounced and get in to see the President, so, in that respect, it is somewhat outrageous.  I’m glad it made the list and have no problem with it being #99.


#21 is “Elvis Presley Dies (1977).”  This was very big news when it happened, but fortunately it lacked the violence that propelled those other rock deaths into the Top 6.  However, it should have at least ranked ahead of at the three picks immediately in front of it on the list: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex video (1996), Michael Jackson getting burned while filming a Pepsi commercial (1984), and Ozzie Osbourne biting the head off a dove (1981).


VH1 decided the14th most outrageous moment in rock & roll was “Elvis Presley shakes his hips on national TV (1956).”  When I saw the website promo, I thought, “Oh man, they’re going to get it wrong again and talk about the Ed Sullivan show.”  Well, I was very pleased when the narrator cited Elvis’ June 5 appearance on the Milton Berle Show.  They showed the whole clip of him singing “Hound Dog,” and it’s easy to see what set off the national outrage.  Near the end of the song, Elvis switched into a slow, bump-and-grind bluesy version.  It would be nothing today, but back then, Elvis scared the heck out of most parents.  They were sure he was leading the nation’s teenagers straight into juvenile delinquency.


VH1 did get one thing wrong.  They made reference to the three Ed Sullivan Shows that came later, but said Elvis was filmed from the waist up in all three.  Actually, it was only the last show in January 1957.


I’m OK with Elvis' appearance on thr Milton Berle Show not ranking up there with those violent deaths at the top of the list.  But, relative to the times when it occurred, the furor over Elvis shaking his hips on TV in 1956 should rank in front of these selections:  Madonna’s racy book “Sex” (1992), John Lennon saying, “We’re bigger than Jesus” (1966), Sinead O’Conner ripping the Pope (1991), Woodstock ’99 turning into a riotous mess (1999), and Milli Vanilli getting exposed for lip-synching (1990).


VH1 has been compiling these lists for almost a decade, and they are running out of good categories.  They have regressed to stupid subjects such as “The 40 Worst Celebrity Mug Shots.”  I have a suggestion for them: “The 40 Best Elvis Jumpsuits.”  Now that would be fun.


©  2006   Philip R Arnold



It’s doubtful that many Elvisblog regulars have ever read Blender Magazine.  Until a week ago, I had never even heard of it, but that’s not surprising.  It’s a rock & roll magazine aimed at a much younger audience.  Some of the acts it has featured lately include the bands Gorillaz and People In Planes and the singers Christina Malian and Ghostface Killah.  Have you heard of any of them?  Me neither.


Blender Magazine likes to compile strange rock lists.  A few months back they had “The 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music.”  #10 was Colonel Parker getting his hooks in Elvis in 1955.  They call him the Slobodan Milosevic of artist management.  Later came “Rock’s Most Awesomely Differently Abled,” which is a painfully contorted title for a list of rock stars who overcame serious maladies and physical afflictions.  (For example, Neil Young survived polio as a child)  The magazine seems to be fond of the word ‘awesomely’ because they currently feature a list of “The 50 Most Awesomely Dead Rock Stars.”


So what does most awesomely dead mean?  The lead-in to the list says this:  “For many musicians, death in not a final reckoning – it’s the best career move they ever made.  So which immortal souls are raising the most hell in 2006?”  Most awesomely dead seems to be a loose characterization for still having one’s name in the press, still racking up record sales, and still making lots of money.


Well, Elvis certainly fits that description, but he is not #1 on the list.  He is #3.  Surprisingly, the commentary about him by Blender sounds like he should be their champ:  “Dead, he earns 10 to 20 times more than he did alive.  With licensing, merchandising and CD sales … the Elvis industry is worth $45 million a year.  Graceland draws 600,000 pilgrims a year, there are 500 active fan clubs and 35,000 professional impersonators.  Elvis, the blue chip stock of dead rockers.”  That doesn’t sound like #3 to me.


Who beat Elvis?  #2 is rapper The Nororious B.I.G.  Give me a break.  What has Biggie accomplished since he was gunned down?  One album that sold 10 million copies followed by one that sold 2 million.  That’s it, plus he is considered the inspiration for the next generation of New York rappers.  How can anybody think this beats Elvis?  Totally stupid.


Number 1 on the list is Johnny Cash.  A few years ago, he was probably way back in the pack, but his legacy is on a roll right now.  His posthumous Unearthed CD box set scored big on the immediate sympathy wave.  Later, his career-spanning compilation, The Legend of Johnny Cash became a chart staple.  Of course, his big bang was the recent biographic movie “Walk The Line.”  Blender describes it this way: “Walk The Line” does a good job of sexing up the craggy Cash and his late wife June while boosting his early music.”  They also declare he thrives as a touchstone of cool.


OK, I’m not going to fuss about Johnny Cash beating out Elvis as the most awesomely deal rock star in 2006.  But, I’ll bet if Blender Magazine does this list again in five years, Elvis will be ahead of him.  He certainly will be ahead of Notorious B.I.G.


©   2006   Philip R Arnold


Earlier this year the Discovery Channel cable network presented their list of the 100 Greatest Americans as determined by their viewers’ votes.  To the surprise of many, Ronald Reagan came in first, just ahead of two other rather significant presidents, George Washington and Abe Lincoln.  Perhaps some folks might have been equally surprised to see Elvis ranked Number 8, but not us fans.


Inspired by the Discovery Channel list, I dug through some boxes in storage and found the 1994 issue of Life magazine containing their choices for the “100 Most Important Americans of The 20th Century”.  Without any 18th or 19th century notables, the list looked much different, but there were no specific rankings.  Of course, Elvis was included.  In the eyes of the Life editors, Elvis was right up there with such notables as Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., and Douglas MacArthur.  That’s some pretty select company.


Each person honored had a page devoted to him/her, containing a picture, a 200-word review of their accomplishments, and a short subtitle at the top of the page.  Many of these capsule subtitles bordered on corny.  Elvis’ was pretty good: “The King Of Rock And Roll Led A Teenage Rebellion.”  But other entertainers on the list didn’t fare so well: Bing Crosby (The Crooner Who Begat Easy Listening), Bob Dylan (Electric Minstrel Of Times That Were A-Changing), and Louis Armstrong (With Mr. Jazz The First Truly American Music Came Marching In).


Unfortunately, reading about these 100 most important Americans made me feel a little stupid.  There were 28 people I had never heard of, but maybe I’m not alone.  Do you know these names?  Robert de Graff (invented paperback books for Pocket Books, Inc), James D. Watson (DNA Code), Frank MacNamara (father of the credit card), John Von Neumann (early computer innovator).


All of the men and women selected were pioneers in their fields and brought significant changes to American life, but so did one other man I would like to suggest — Sam Phillipsand my subtitle would be “The Man Who Discovered Elvis And Changed American Popular Music Forever.”


© 2005  Philip R Arnold


In the 24th Anniversary issue of Elvis International magazine, this writer hammered cable channel VH1 pretty good for their shabby treatment of Elvis in their various Top 100 Greatest lists.   So, it's only fair to give them praise for their “100 Sexiest Artists Of All Time.”

Elvis ranks #2 on the list, trailing only Madonna.  As the sexiest male rocker of all time, Elvis is followed on the list by Mick Jagger, Prince, Jim Morrison, and Sting.  For once, Elvis killed the Beatles on a VH1 list.  They rated only the 25th sexiest artists.

However, VH1 left me shaking my head with the corny comments in their web-site feature on the Top 100 list.  “Even before 50's teens had seen Elvis' bad boy good looks, the languid drawl of “That's All Right Mama” made them aware of a world spinning below their belts.  When he finally hit the TV screen, he became Public Enemy # 1 of sex.” 

What the heck does that mean?  It is obviously from the reference point of teenage girls, but I can speak for the teenage boys of the day,  We wanted hair like Elvis, attitude like Elvis, clothes like Elvis.  Basically, we wanted the sex appeal of Elvis.  He was our Public Envy # 1.

© 2005  Philip R Arnold