Category Archives: THE MOST UNUSUAL ELVIS ARTICLES ON THE WEB

An Elvis Movie You’ll Want to Skip

Elvis Lives Poster

When the movie Elvis & Nixon was released last year, I grumbled in an ElvisBlog post about how it featured an ugly-looking Elvis.

Michael Shannon as Elvis in Elvis & Nixon

Michael Shannon as Elvis.

In the blog article I questioned the why producers would portray an ugly Elvis when he was one of the best-looking men that ever lived. Well, they’ve done it again.

Elvis Lives Actor as Elvis Close-up

If this guy was an Elvis Tribute Artist would you pay money to see him? No, and you don’t want to watch him in a movie either. At 10pm on Wednesday, August 16, that movie, Elvis Lives, will appear on cable channel AXS TV. This network offered two good Elvis documentary movies in the preceding weeks: ELVIS That’s The Way It Is (Aug. 1), and This Is Elvis (Aug. 8), and the following week: Elvis On Tour (August 22).

But on the big day, the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death, they will show a movie the New York Times website review slammed. Elvis is portrayed as “paranoid, delusional and rabidly opposed to illegal drugs, though he shovels in the prescription variety like candy.”

Actor as Elvis Popping Pills in Elvis Lives

This is one scene of Elvis popping pills, and there are many others throughout the movie. In fact, Elvis’ first line of dialog is “I want my pills.”

The film degrades Elvis’ memory even more with scenes of him screwing up song lyrics, and drinking hard liquor (which shows how little the script writers actually know about Elvis).

Actor as Elvis Drinking hard Liquor

 

So who is this guy they chose to be Elvis in the movie? His name is Johnathan Nation, and when I searched for publicity photos of him, they all seemed to be from several years ago.

Jonathan Nation

I never heard of him, so I checked out his film credits on IMDb (a great website you should check out if you want to know more about a movie or TV show). Here are some of the highlights of Johnathan Nation’s career.

Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus

Johnathan Nation had fourth billing in this 2009 movie. Do you think he got better rolls in better movies in later years?

Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills

In 2015 he had eighth billing in Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills. Uh, oh. Going the wrong way. So, AXS TV hardly got themselves a hot actor to portray Elvis.

Part of the movie takes place six months after his supposedly faked death. Picking up on one of those fantasies that permeated Elvis world for a few years, Elvis is in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program. And guess what name they give him for his new life — Jesse Garon. Give me a break. Of course nobody would suspect he was Elvis using that name. Well, actually they might not, because the guy looks like this.

Actor as Elvis without Hair Dye

 

Here is why Elvis supposedly needed to disappear and start a new life:

FBI Catches Mobster with Help from Elvis

Now the whole mob, called the Fraternity, is out to get Elvis.

Actor in Elvis Lives Holding Gun

 

So, unless you have a morbid curiosity or are a glutton for punishment, be sure to skip Elvis Lives on August 16. There are so many better ways to honor the memory of Elvis Presley.

 

There are a couple of interesting things associated with this movie.

Billionaire Mark Cuban is the founder and CEO of AXS TV, the cable channel showing it. The press release says, he commissioned the film after working with The Asylum [the production company] on Sharknado 3 (2015), in which he played Marcus Robbins, the President of the United States.

Sharknado 3

The Sharknado movies have been branded as “proudly, shamelessly, and gloriously brainless” by movie website Rotten Tomatoes. In spite of this, a press release from Asylum’s president says, “we intend to do for the life of Elvis Presley what Sharknado did for flying sharks.”

That’s just what Elvis fans want, right?

And there’s more stupid stuff. Before he decided to actually run for president, Donald Trump tried to get the part as the president in Sharknado 3 that eventually went to Mark Cuban.

Donald Trump Wanted to Play the President in Sharknado 3

And last, (and definitely least) Sharknado 3 features a cameo by Anthony Weiner.

 

Here’s one more thing that emphasizes my opinion about the movie that’s the topic of this post. Neil Genzlinger, the NY Times website movie reviewer suggested they make a sequel to Elvis Lives and call it

Elvis vs. Mega Squid in the Bermuda Triangle

 

It might be an improvement.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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Elvis’ First Guitar — Part 2

Elvis Presley's First Guitar in front of Picture

When I posted the article last weekend on Elvis’ first guitar, I had no idea of what was to follow. There were more favorable comments on this post than any other in a long time. For example, Collette C. sent in this:

Oh, this story was fantastic. I can see his mama grinning from ear to ear when she got her way. As a mom I know how she felt! I just love this blog. Thank you so much.

Selma S. had this to say:

Phil, I am relatively new to your blogs, and as a lifelong Elvis fan, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your email landing in my inbox.

Your dedicated research, your ability to write a logical story and your way of bringing the emotions to life are matched by the fresh information you bring.

As much as I appreciated these, I was more intrigued by this comment made by an unidentified member of the Tupelo Elvis Fan Club:

I believe Mr. Larry Moss of Memphis owns the original guitar.

Larry Moss at Tupelo Hardware with Elvis Presley's First Guitar.

Larry Moss with Elvis’ first guitar in Tupelo Hardware, June 2017, at Tupelo Elvis Festival

I replied to the comment and asked a few questions about Larry Moss. Within hours, I heard from him:

Great story and great due diligence. I am the person who owns the “Tupelo Special” guitar as some people call it… I’ll gladly discuss the details, if you’re interested…Larry Moss.

I jumped at the chance to learn more about Elvis’ first guitar, and Larry and I talked for an hour on Friday.

Larry Moss Collection 1

It turns out he and his wife Judy are major collectors of all sorts of Elvis memorabilia. They are kept in a secure, private location, but Larry has been known to let special people view his collection. When I get back to Memphis again, I will be thrilled to take up his offer for a guided tour.

Larry Moss and his wife started collecting back in 1973 when they got boxing champ Joe Frazier’s autograph on a dollar bill.

Elvis Presley's Contract with Col. Parker

Now Larry and Judy’s collection amounts to hundreds of Elvis items, a very eclectic mix. For example, Larry owns the original contract Elvis signed with Col. Parker in November 1955. Vernon and Gladys also signed because Elvis was a minor at the time.

 

There is an interesting history to Elvis’ first guitar between the time Elvis had it and today when it occupies a prime space in the Moss’ museum-like collection.

Red West And George Klein with Elvis first guitar

Red West and George Klein with Elvis’ first guitar

Elvis and the guitar were inseparable during his time in Tupelo, throughout high school in Memphis, at the first recording sessions at Sun records, and on the road performing early in his career. Back in the summer of 1955, Elvis and the band toured throughout the South. Red West was Elvis’ friend from their high school days, and Elvis asked him to travel with them. During off-time, Red took an interest in guitar playing, and Scotty Moore taught him the basics.

As the end of summer approached, Red told Elvis he would be leaving to attend Jones County Community College in Mississippi on a football scholarship. Elvis bought his friend a used Ford Model A or Modal T (a forerunner of things to come). By that time, Elvis had purchased better guitars, so he also gave his first guitar to Red so he could continue to master the instrument.

Red’s best friend and roommate in college was Ronnie Williams, another scholarship football player. He was a fan of Elvis because he liked all of the first Sun releases. Ronnie would talk to Red all the time about Elvis.

Even with a scholarship, Red found himself financially unable to stay in college. He sold the car for $50 and gave the guitar to Ronnie Williams. He later stated that the reason he did this was because Ronnie was such a big Elvis fan (plus Red couldn’t afford a case to properly carry it around). Red went back to work for Elvis as a bodyguard.

Shortly after that, Ronnie Williams transferred to Florida State. Later, he was killed (possibly shot by the police, details are fuzzy.) The guitar ended up with his brother, Bill Williams, who in 2011, tried to sell Elvis’ first guitar at Guernsey’s Auction House in New York.

Guernsey’s February 2016 Guitar Auction

Guernsey’s February 2016 Guitar Auction

The guitar had a minimum bid of $200,000, or possibly $250,000 (details are unclear), but no bidders wanted to pay that much for a guitar with absolutely no validation presented. There was no documentation to tie it to Elvis, particularly no photo of Elvis holding the guitar.

This is where the current owner, Larry Moss, came into the picture. He had an association with Guernsey’s Auctions from when they held the Archives of Graceland Auction in Las Vegas in 1999. Gurnsey’s Arlan Ettinger contacted Larry and gave him the name and phone number of the man who had put the guitar up at auction. Over several months, Larry Moss and Bill Williams negotiated, and finally, Larry Moss became the owner of Elvis’ first guitar.

He took a gamble, but had a connection he figured would help him prove the provenance of the guitar. His father played football at Humes High with Red West’s dad. Larry conducted interviews with Red in 2013 and 2014, and has nearly a half-hour of tape where Red provides valuable confirmation that the guitar is in fact Elvis’ first guitar. Larry is in negotiations with Graceland right now, so no more details can be given.

 

Scotty and Larry Moss with Guitars

Photo by James V. Roy

Larry Moss owns several other prized guitars. In the 2013 photo above, Scotty Moore holds a Gibson ES-295, the one he played when “That’s All Right, Mama” was recorded. This is Larry’s second most valuable guitar. You can spot it in the next photo (taken before Larry acquired Elvis’ guitar).

Larry Moss Collection Guitar Close-up

Photo by James V Roy

 

The collection also includes many items of Elvis’ wardrobe and five of his rings, which will be featured at a later date in a special edition of the ElvisBlog series, “Elvis’ Fabulous Rings.” Here are some of Elvis’ clothes and movie wardrobe.

Jacket Elvis wore in Million Dollar Quartet

This is the jacket Elvis wore when the guys jammed around in Sun studios, creating the iconic Million Dollar Quartet.

Million Dollar Quartet

 

Larry Moss’ collection includes another famous Elvis jacket — the one he wore during the Jailhouse Rock dance sequence.

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Dance Outfit

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Dance Outfit Placard

 

Do you know what was Elvis’ first jumpsuit to have a cape? It is called the White Fireworks Suit, and Elvis wore it in 1971 and 1972. It now is a star in Larry Moss’ collection.

Elvis Presley's First Jumpsuit with a Cape - Front

Elvis Presley's First Jumpsuit with a Cape - Back

 

As stated earlier, ElvisBlog will soon do a feature on the Elvis rings in Larry Moss’ collection. There are great stories to tell about some of these rings. There will also be a post about Elvis’ third cape for his American Eagle jumpsuit. Yes, the third. There’s a great story here, too.

Elvis Presley's American Eagle Cape

 

 

Like I said at the start of this article, I had no idea what last week’s post on Elvis’ first guitar would lead to.

Elvis Presley's First Guitar in Case

Photo by James V Roy

 

Now, thanks to Larry Moss, I have a treasure trove of stories and pictures to share with you.

 

The photos above credited to James V Roy appeared on www.scottymoore.net. If you want to see more photos, go to Scotty’s site.  Scroll to the bottom of the home page and type these into the search box: Elvis’ First Guitar, The Moss Collection, and The George Klein Interviews.

 

© 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.

 

Elvis’ First Guitar — A New Twist on a Old Story

Two new Elvis Statues in Tupelo

Every ElvisBlog article involves research on Google/Images. Sometimes I will scroll down well below the pertinent pictures just to see what new-to-me Elvis photos might show up. That’s how I found the one above.

The two statues are part of the several attractions added to make the visit to Elvis boyhood home in Tupelo a bigger experience. They were unveiled in 2012 as part of the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ passing. I like the contrast of young Elvis with his simple acoustic guitar in front of adult Elvis in all his jumpsuit and cape splendor.

Elvis at 13 Statue in Tupelo

There is another statue of young Elvis in the complex now known as the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum and Chapel. I’ve never visited it, but by the time I do, I’ll bet even more stuff is added.

Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum

 

Let’s go back to the statues for a minute. Both young Elvis statues have him holding a guitar.  Tupelo is not only where Elvis was born, it is also where he got his first guitar. Just about every fan knows he bought it at the Tupelo Hardware Store.

Tupelo Hardware

Tupelo Hardware Inside

 

The story most people know about Elvis’ first guitar runs pretty close to the one in Elvis Day by Day.

Elvis Day by Day

The book’s authors, Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, are two highly esteemed Elvis historians. Guralnick is a guest speaker at Elvis Week this year, and Jorgensen has had the same honor previously. They have done decades of research on Elvis and written several other books about him. So, what you read about Elvis in their books can be trusted as factual. Or at least factual according to their research documents as of 1999 when Elvis Day by Day was published. Here is the entry for January 8, 1946:

“On Elvis’ eleventh birthday, his parents buy him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As Gladys Presley later tells the story, Elvis wanted a bicycle, but she was put off both by the cost and by her fears that he might get hurt.”

Color Picture of Elvis' First Guitar

Last year, a fellow Elvis fan named Carol Austin sent me a copy of a book written nine years after Elvis Day by Day. It states two things that differ from the earlier book – he did not go into the store wanting a bicycle, and it was not on his eleventh birthday. Why should we believe this different version of the story?

Book We Remember Elvis

Because the book, We Remember Elvis, was written by four people who were boyhood chums or relatives of young Elvis in Tupelo. If you want to fully understand the hardships that Gladys, Vernon, and Elvis went through prior to moving to Memphis, you can’t do better than this book. These four authors lived that life too. But, there were many happy moments as well. Chapter 33 – Elvis’s Christmas Wagon begins:

“Christmas of 1945 was great…. Elvis had gotten a glossy wooden Wagon Master…. That wagon was a spectacular model. The frames on the side slid in and out of metal holders.”

Elvis 1945 Christmas Present -- Wagon Master

Image from book – similar to Elvis’

Elvis took almost every child in his playgroup for rides in the first days after Christmas. On the last Saturday of the year, Elvis and his two best buddies, Odell Clark and Guy Thomas Harris, took turns pushing the wagon up the hill on Kelly Street and riding it down. They would give the passenger a huge shove and watch their friend take a roller coaster ride and hear the squeals of laughter.

When the boys tired, they rode the wagon down Kelly Street to the Assembly of God Church (since moved to the Elvis birthplace complex).

Elvis - Assembly of God Church Tupelo

In 1945, there were wide sandy ditches of the sides of the road, and the three boys parked the wagon and played in the sand with toy metal trucks carrying on a make-believe construction job. Then disaster hit, as described in the book:

“Coming along the road was a big dump truck filled with scrap metal driven by a neighbor named ‘Peanut’ Gamble.’ … He and some of the Randle boys pulled big pieces of metal out of grown up weeds on the back property lines. … [Gamble] then backed his big truck back onto the roadway. Unfortunately, Elvis’ new wagon was right behind the truck’s big wheels.”

The boys screamed “stop,” but it was too late and the wagon got crunched. Elvis picked up several broken pieces and stared in disbelief. Then he began hysterical crying and ran toward home.

“’Mama, Mama, Mama,’ he cried….Mama could fix anything! Gladys had heard his cry and was running toward her son. Her face was blood red and her breath was sporadic as she rushed to her child….Gladys grabbed Elvis into her arms, pulled him tight to her chest, but she trembled with the power of her emotions.”

Peanut Gamble caught up with them and apologized over and over. He took out his wallet and gave Elvis every bill he had. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see it.”

Gladys carried Elvis all the way home as he clutched the money tightly. He had his chin resting on her shoulder and his arms and legs wrapped around her body. He was thinking of getting a new wagon, but another thought seeped in – maybe buying new rifle instead.

 

Let’s look at two calendars to get a sense of the timing of this story.

December 1945

The two dates circled are when Elvis got the wagon and when it got crushed.

January 1946

You all recognize January 8 as Elvis’ birthday. But the 5th of January is when Elvis went to Tupelo Hardware. As the book says, “The next Saturday was the day to go to Tupelo to replace the broken toy.” (The Presleys actually lived in the village of East Tupelo, now annexed into the city of Tupelo.)

By then, Elvis was committed to try to buy a 22 rifle with his money. Gladys wouldn’t hear of it, and doggedly maintained they were going to buy a wagon. Once in the store, Elvis took her hand and dragged her in the direction of the rifles. She continued past them and pulled him toward the wagons. Then something caught her eye and she looked up. Elvis’ eyes turned to see what she was looking at. It was a display of guitars.

The salesman saw the interest and asked, “Do you play the guitar, Mam?” Elvis made a quick glance back to the rifles before giving his full attention to the glistening guitar.

“The smart salesman immediately climbed the sliding ladder to take down the smallest of the instruments [it was a 1940s Kay model]. He slid the strap over Elvis’ head and adjusted the guitar at the perfect angle to fit Elvis’ young body. He handed him a small ivory pick. The child immediately placed his slender fingers on the proper frets as his Uncle Vester had taught him. When he strummed the strings with the pick, there was just enough harmony for the salesman to brag generously on the child’s talent.”

Elvis placed his money on the counter and got two one-dollar bills back. He strolled out of the store with the guitar still hanging over his shoulder. We can assume both he and his mother had big smiles on their faces. Gladys had to be happy that Elvis wasn’t carrying a rifle, and Elvis had to be thrilled with his new guitar.

January 1946

So, that’s how it all started. I am absolutely confident that Elvis told the story of his trip to Tupelo Hardware to his buddies numerous times, and they have recounted it in the book We Remember Elvis. This is the real story of Elvis’ first guitar.

 

Guernsey's Auction Sept 14, 2011

Elvis’ first guitar went up for auction at Guernsey’s on September 14, 2011 in New York City. I have spent entirely too much time on Google trying to find out what it went for, or if it even sold at all. If anyone knows, please put a message on Comments.

 

© 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.

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Celebrating National Selfie Day with Elvis

National Selfie Day

Elvis did not live during the age of smart phones with cameras, but it’s fun to think of the selfies he might have taken if he’d had that opportunity back then. In a slightly late homage to National Selfie Day on June 21, here are some ideas I’ve come up with.

 

Elvis Selfie 1

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Elvis Selfie 2

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Elvis Selfie 3

 

Elvis Selfie 7

 

Elvis Selfie 5

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Elvis selfie 4

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Elvis Selfie 8

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Elvis Selfie 9

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Elvis Selfie 10

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Elvis Selfie 12

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Elvis Selfie 11

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Elvis Selfie 13

 

Don’t you wish you could have taken a selfie with Elvis?

 

 

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

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Celebrating the 50th Birthday of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band — Elvis Style

Sgt. Pepper Cover With Elvis

Can it really be a half century since the Beatles released their landmark album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band? Yes, it hit the stores on June 2, 1967.

Much of the print, TV and internet media is now covering this milestone, so ElvisBlog will, too – with an Elvis slant, of course. In the picture above, Elvis fits in nicely with the Fab Four. Carol Stephens, who did the fine cover for my book, Big E and the Santa Man, added Elvis wearing a costume from his film Frankie and Johnny.

Sgt. Elvis' Lonely Hearts Club Band

I found this picture on the internet. It must have taken somebody a long time to replace three-dozen people with Elvis shots. It’s fun to pick out the photos from his movies and the notable events in his career. See those two concrete busts at the bottom of the picture? I have one of those out on my back deck. The squirrels often sit on his head and eat acorns.

 

Monkees Lonely Hearts Club band

Sgt. Peppers is one of the most photoshopped album covers ever. This one featuring the Monkees has lot of recognizable faces.

 

Brexit Lonely Hearts Club Band

This is an interesting composite.  It pays homage to all the celebrities who died in 2016, plus Brexit.  David Bowie and Prince are easy to spot, but can you find Glenn Frey?

 

Phish Lonely hearts Club Band

Back to rock bands again. Is that four Elvises in white jumpsuits and shades on the top right?

 

Lego Lonely Hearts Club Band

How do you like the Lego figures replacing the Beatles in this one? They also replaced Elvis in another of the most altered album covers.

50,000,000 Lego Fans Can't Be Wrong

 

Let’s take a look at some more variations of Elvis’ album 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong.

9,000,000 Facebook Fans Can't Be Wrong

Only 9,000,000?

 

50,000,000 Elvis Costello Fans Can't Be Wrong

Uh, oh. The wrong Elvis.

 

Rod Stewart - Body Wishes

Red leather(?). Not as cool as gold lame.

 

Hail to the King All star Tribute

They put Roy Orbison, Link Wray, Jeff Beck, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis in gold lame suits. I wish they had done Little Richard, too.

 

50,000,000 Santa fans Can't be Wrong

There are Santa fans.

50,000,000 Elves Fans Can't Be Wrong

And even Elves fans,  Don’t you like Santa in gold lame?

 

100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong

Bon Jovi upped the ante to 100,000,000 fans.

 

I guess this post got a little off subject. Let’s get back to the Beatles.

300,000 Beatles Fans Can't Be Wrong

Yeah, I paired up the Beatles and Elvis again. Here is the last time.

Elvis Looking Over The Beatles

I really like this image.

 

Happy 50th birthday, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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© 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.

 

Soundstage A — The New Epicenter of Elvis Week

Elvis Presley's Memphis Under Construction with Graceland Plaza in Front

I posted this aerial shot last week to show how much bigger Elvis Presley’s Memphis is compared to Graceland Plaza. Then I got curious about what the different buildings are. So I went to Graceland.com and found this:

Map of Elvis Presley's Memphis

Wow, there’s numbers in blue squares, more numbers in black circles, letters in black diamonds, and other symbols. And to figure out what is what, this code was provided:

Map of Elvis Presley's Memphis - Copy

Okay, let’s see. There are 15 attractions and exhibits and four places to eat. Then there was a separate list of six stores. I went back and forth to figure out what was what, but finally had to create this:

Finished Map of Elvis Presley's Memphis

 

Maybe in a later post we’ll look at the exhibits in detail. For now, just note the new auto museum on the top left, the huge Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum that’s got all the stuff they moved from across the street, and finally Soundstage A with the circle around it.

SoundStage A

 

This theater is huge. It seats 1,700 people; nearly quadruple the 464 at the Graceland Guest House Theater. The website says this about Soundstage A:

The Soundstage will be an extraordinary venue for live music performances, movie screenings and premieres, video productions… It will also be usable for private events, corporate meetings, conferences and trade show exhibitions.

During the Grand Opening, Soundstage A played host to a variety of live music acts that showcased the history of music in Memphis and the best of Memphis music today.

 

Side View of Soundstage A

This is Soundstage A from the side. It’s a big building, 20,000 square feet. You go through the gate and up to the ticket office. Turn right there and you are headed toward the theater entrance.

Walk to Ticket Office at Elvis Presley's Memphis

 

I think it is fair to say that Soundstage A will be the epicenter of Elvis Week festivities this year. It will host fifteen different events over a nine-day period. Here’s the list:

Elvis Week 2017 Fifteen Events at Soundstage A

EPE did a fine job scheduling two big parties on the first day, Friday the 11th. This should encourage some folks to come early.

So, there are five concerts: a gospel music show, three Ultimate Elvis contests, A Band of Legends Remembers Elvis, and The Ultimate Return.  I love that title, and it works because the concert features ten past Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winners. That should be quite a show.

Those four different 10 AM Conversations all sound good.

Elvis 101 could be a sure thing for me. It’s got some guests I’d like to hear. The Salute to Sam Phillips is half talk and half music.

 

Hopefully these brief comments have made you want to know more. For full details on all of these events at Soundstage A, please click here.

There, you can also read about the events at the Guest House Theater and ballroom, The Fedex Forum, and the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent. The tent will be at Graceland somewhere, but right now they can’t tell you. That problem surely will be solved by Elvis Week.

Soundstage A and Exhibits

 

Yes, there are other strong Elvis Week events not at Soundstage A. But it is going to be one busy place. Fifteen events in nine days. Sounds like the epicenter of Elvis Week to me.

 

 

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.

 

Say Goodbye to Graceland Plaza

Drawing of Graceland Plaza

If you’ve made the pilgrimage to Graceland you have certainly sent time in Graceland Plaza across the street. You probably have memories of eating at the Chrome Grill, shopping in the Elvis After Dark shop, or enjoying At the Movies with Elvis. Well, that’s all gone now.

Elvis Presley's Memphis Under Construction with Graceland Plaza in Front

In the bottom left of this aerial photo you can see Graceland Plaza. But look at the much larger complex of buildings under construction behind it. This is Elvis Presley’s Memphis, and all the good stuff has been moved here. It opened in March, and since then, the empty Graceland Plaza has been surrounded by a chain link fence.

More Buildings to the Left

Now demolition has begun and will be completed soon, if it hasn’t already. Graceland Plaza will be replaced by a park setting with lawn, bushes, and trees. It will provide a nice buffer between Elvis Presley’s Memphis and the busy street.

Current Graceland Plaza in Memphis

This is the ‘before’ shot showing what the above section used to look like.

 

Elvis Car Museum at Graceland

This is the car museum at the far left end of the plaza.

Old Car Museum with No car out Front

And this is it prior to demolition. Note that the shrubbery is gone and the Caddy has been moved from the stage.

 

Still More to the Left

This photo is taken from farther down to the right.

Graceland Plaza 3

The hedge and trees are gone.

 

Farther to the left

The demolition equipment is in place.

 

Graceland Plaza 2

The following are several shots of this section under demolition.

Graceland Plaza Demolition 5

Graceland Plaza Demolition 3

Graceland Plaza Demolition 2

Demolition of Graceland Plaza to the Left Of Airplanes

All gone.

 

Graceland Plaza Demolition 1

This picture is of the area just to the left of the airplanes.

Graceland Plaza 4

We’ll finish with a last look at what Graceland Plaza used to be. From the car museum in the upper left to the airplanes at the bottom right, Graceland Plaza had much to offer. It is part of our memories made during visits to pay tribute to Elvis. Now we have to go to Memphis again and see all the new stuff they’ve built. (Bring lots of money. It isn’t cheap.)

 

Many thanks to Scooby on Phoenix – The Elvis Forum for discovering a few of these photos on Facebook. His forum post on May 9 alerted me to the current demolition. I also checked on YouTube and found a walking tour filmed on May 9. Click here to view the footage.

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© 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 Star Wars Day — Elvis Style

Star Wars Day

By now you have probably heard that today, May 4th, is Star Wars Day. ElvisBlog is happy to join in this celebration, so this article will be a few days earlier that the usual weekend post.

So, what does Elvis have to do with Star Wars, you might ask. To be honest, not much, except in the minds of clever Photoshop jockeys.

Darth Vader 68 comeback Special

I don’t know someone came up with this idea, but I love it. Darth Varder in Elvis’ black leather outfit. Too cool.

Here’s another Vader image inserted into a classic Elvis photo:

Elvis-Darth Vader

There’s another version of this where Darth Vader replaces Elvis, not Nixon, but that’s lame compared to this.

 

He isn’t the only Star Wars character to get the Elvis treatment:

Yoda Elvis

How about Yoda in an Elvis jumpsuit? I don’t think the artist totally captured Yoda’s face here, but it is so much better than this next one.

Elvis and Yoda

Yoda looks like an escapee from the Muppets, and Elvis/Luke Skywalker looks part Asian.

 

Remember this famous photo of Han Solo?

Famous Han Solo Picture

Could anything be more natural to get the Elvis treatment?

Elvis-Han Solo

And here is Elvis/Han with a different Elvis head.

Triple Elvis-Han Solo

Of course, you recognize the overlapping multiple images pioneered by Andy Warhol. Like this:

Andy Warhol -- Double Elvis

Why not steal this technique with Han Solo images?

Double Han Solo - Andy Warhol

 

Do you remember the Gamorrean guards who were employed as security forces for Jabba the Hutt? How do you like them guarding Elvis and Graceland?

Elvis and two Gamorrean guards

Of course, Jabba the Hutt was a bad guy who tried to make Luke Skywalker walk the plank into the dreaded Sarlacc Pit. How did somebody get the idea to replace him with Elvis? In the gold lame suit, no less.

Elvis at the Sarlacc Pit

 

Elvis even replaces Princess Leia in one Photoshopped picture. Remember the hologram image where she tells Luke and Obi-Wan about the Empire taking her ship and then passing on her father’s instructions to them?

Elvis as a hologram

 

I thought Elvis replaced someone in this shot at Chalmun’s Cantina in the pirate city Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine. However, I watched the clip on youTube, and Elvis was added into the empty space next to Han.

Chalmuns Cantina located in the pirate city of Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine

 

This next picture is LEGO Elvis in a Star Wars storm trooper/jumpsuit combo outfit. How else would you get Elvis Troopers?

StormTrooper-LEGO-Elvis

 

And finally, do yo you remember this from the beginning of the first Star Wars movie?

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away

Well, even it has been copied for the design of an Elvis T-shirt.

Elvis Has Left the Planet

It’s been fun discovering the many ways two major forces in pop culture could be connected.  I hope all ElvisBlog readers have a happy Star Wars Day.

 

May the force be with you

 

 

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

 

 

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Elvis’ Fabulous Rings — Part 8

Elvis -- Diamond and Opal Ring - Side View

The past two Auctions at Graceland have been loaded with Elvis rings. The one on January 7 (during the celebration of Elvis’ birthday) had five rings, and the one on March 4 (during the opening celebration for Elvis Presley’s Memphis) had six. And one ring at first appeared to have been sold at both auctions, but a closer look revealed they are examples of Elvis purchasing multiples of the same or similar rings from his favorite jeweler, Lowell Hays. First, here are the rings sold in January.

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Diamond Cluster Cocktail Ring:

Elvis -- Diamond Cluster Cocktail Ring

The auction website had this to say about this gentleman’s cocktail ring:

Elvis’ star shone bright and part of that sparkling came from the jewels that adorned his fingers. The offered flower-shaped seven-diamond cluster ring was worn on stage by Elvis as documented in photographs from the period. The 10k gold ring weighs 6.5 grams with seven diamonds, one weighing 0.18 carat and measuring 3.5 mm while the remaining six each weigh 0.12 carat and measure 3 mm.

Although they mention Elvis was photographed wearing this ring, no picture was offered as verification. Instead, a Letter of Authenticity from Joe Esposito was included to prove Elvis actually wore the ring. But the LOA included something strange. Instead of saying Elvis gave him the ring, Joe states “This ring was given to a particular friend.” I wonder who that might have been, and why the name wasn’t given.

The ring fell a little short of the $10-15,000 estimate, going for $9,375 (which includes the 25% auction house fee).

 

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Gold and Diamond Lion Head Ring:

Elvis -- Gold and Diamond Lion Head Ring

The next four rings were all originally given by Elvis to Charlie Hodge. It is part of a group of twelve rings Charlie sold to an unnamed man is the early 80s. Here is a portion of the man’s letter describing the event:

At one point in the very early 1980s there was an event in Antwerp, organized by the Belgian fan club, that featured Charlie Hodge as the headliner. He was one of the very first people who had known Elvis up close to come to Europe to speak at an Elvis event. I found Charlie in one of the hallways at one point and talked to him for about twenty minutes. He was a bit shocked to hear a teenager asking if he had any of Elvis’ stuff for sale, but I convinced him that I was very, very serious about expanding my Elvis collection with as many personal items as possible. He told me to visit him at his hotel the next morning.

He showed me a small black box full of rings, and said Elvis had asked him to hold on to them at some point in the early 70’s and then had never asked for them again afterwards. He said this kind of stuff would happen all the time, because Elvis would go through a lot of rings and other jewelry all the time. He asked me if there was any ring I liked best, that I was most interested in buying from him. I could not take my eyes off the box and immediately knew I wanted the entire thing! Within minutes we agreed on a price for all 12 rings that were in the box. I was short so I borrowed some money from my parents, and we left with a dozen of Elvis’ rings!

The gold and diamond lion head was the star of the Elvis jewelry at this auction. It blew past the estimate of $10-15 and topped out at $37,500 (including the auction fee).

 

White Gold and Star Sapphire Ring

Elvis -- White Gold and Star Sapphire Ring

This is another ring Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. Elvis had a fascination with sapphire jewelry, perhaps because of the special significance of sapphires in numerology, of which Elvis was an enthusiast.

This 14 karat white gold ring has a black star sapphire, which weighs 14 grams, mounted above two sapphires each weighing 0.08 carat. While the estimate was for the same $10-15,000 as the lion head ring, it sold for only a fourth as much, topping out at $9,750.

 

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 $2-1/2 Indian Head Gold Coin Ring

Elvis -- 1911 Indian Head Gold Ring

Elvis had a number of rings made with gold coins. This one is a U.S. 1911 $2½ Indian Head gold coin. Rings of this ilk were worn during many of Elvis’ hallmark moments on stage and screen, including during the filming of the 1970 documentary film Elvis: That’s the Way It Is.

The coin is set in 17 grams of 14-karat gold. I’m surprised the ring did not blow past the estimate of $10-15,000. Somebody took it home for $9,375.

 

Gold and Diamond “Pyramid” Ring

Elvis -- Gold and Diamond “Pyramid” Ring

This is the last of the four Elvis rings given to Charlie Hodge and sold at the January 7, 2017 auction. However, there are four more coming up in the March 4, 2017 auction.

Elvis showed this affinity for jewelry by wearing and gifting a hundreds of rings in the 1970s. This 14-karat gold men’s ring weighs approximately 9.5 grams and contains a 0.18 carat diamond.. The diamond is centered in a starburst, which is centered in a pyramid-shaped concentric surround. With just one small diamond, this ring brought in a modest $8,125.

 

The March 4, 2017, Auction at Graceland provided multiple phots of the rings, but no shots of Elvis wearing any of them.

 

Gold and Diamond Panther Head Ring

Elvis -- Gold and Diamond Panther Head Ring

This 14-karat yellow gold panther head ring has marquise-shaped diamond eyes that each weigh 0.18 carat, a diamond in the panther’s mouth that weighs 0.20. It was gifted by Elvis to Tom Hulett who, with Colonel Parker, managed Elvis’ live performances in the 1970s.

Elvis -- Gold and Diamond Panther Head Ring - Front

The auction website had this to say:

The ring is a stunning example of the kind of dramatic touch that Elvis was always seeking in his wardrobe and especially in his jewelry. Elvis adored larger rings later in his career, and since the symbolism of the panther represents courage, valor and power, this ring would have been a perfect choice for Elvis in his career.

Like most of Elvis’ rings in this auction, it had an estimate of $10-15,000, and it did go for $15,000.

 

Diamond and Blue Sapphire Owl Ring

Elvis -- Diamond and Blue Sapphire Owl Ring

Back to the rings Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. According to the auction website, the owl is known to symbolize wisdom and it was a favorite of Elvis’, who would wear jewelry adorned with the depiction of an owl. Of the eighty Elvis rings featured in these ElvisBlog posts, there have been three owl rings.

Elvis -- Diamond and Blue Sapphire Owl Ring - Front

This 14-karat yellow gold ring weighs 12 grams and has two round blue sapphire eyes which each measure 2.9 mm and a singular V-shaped brow of 15 1-point diamonds. This owl ring is 14K and has gold-feathered texture surrounding the eyes, brow and beak. It had the usual $10-15,000 estimate, and thirteen bids ran the price up to $13,750.

 

Gold and Diamond Cocktail Ring

Elvis -- Gold and Diamond Cocktail Ring

This ring is another that Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. Remember the first ring in this post that Elvis gave to a “particular friend.”  Here it is again:

Elvis -- Diamond Cluster Cocktail Ring

And here is one given to Dave Hebler covered in Part 7 of this series:

Elvis Presley's Diamond Circular Ring from Julien's May 2016

The auction website stated: “When Elvis discovered a style he liked, he would often acquire several examples of the piece of jewelry.” This flower-shaped diamond cluster ring is certainly a good example of that. Who else but Elvis would buy rings in bulk to give to people?

The Charlie Hodge version on this ring is only 10-karat, but it contains seven champagne-colored diamonds, one weighing 0.12 carat and the remaining six each weighing 0.15 carat. The gold in the ring weighs 7 grams. Of the three versions shown here, the Charlie Hodge had the highest bid of $16,250.

 

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Diamond and Black Sapphire Ring

Elvis -- Diamond and Black Sapphire Ring

The auction website says, “The shimmering rays of the star effect in the star sapphire is called asterism, from the Latin word astrum, or “star.” Black star sapphires owe their stars to the included crystals of the shiny, dark mineral hematite.”

Elvis -- Diamond and Black Sapphire Ring - Side View

This diamond and black star sapphire ring was a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing this style as he was for gifting it to friends and family. The men’s yellow 14-karat gold ring, with black star sapphire weighs 10 grams and is mounted in a nugget-style setting that is marked 14K and “Heirloom” on the interior band. The ring measures approximately size 10 with three diamonds each measuring 1.5 mm.

This diamond and black star sapphire ring was a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing this style as he was for gifting it to friends and family. The men’s yellow 14-karat gold ring, with black star sapphire weighs 10 grams and is mounted in a nugget-style setting. The three diamonds each measure 1.5 mm. It sold for $11,875.

 

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Diamond and Opal Ring:

Elvis -- Diamond and Opal Ring

This large white opal ring got fourteen bids, the most of any of the rings in this auction. Bidders must have liked the big size of the emerald-cut opal (19.5 x 14.5 mm). There are 40 diamonds surrounding the center stone which each measure .01 mm. The 24k gold ring weighs 10.5 grams. Elvis gave it to his concert tour promoter Tom Hulett during the 1970s. Hulett certified that Elvis wore it both on and off stage. “Opal held a special meaning for Elvis and wore it often.”

Unlike the other rings in the auction, this one had a lower estimate of $8-10,000, but fourteen bids ran it up to $15,000.

 

Gold and Red Star Sapphire Ring

Elvis -- Gold and Red Star Sapphire Ring

I get a kick out of the auction website that says, “Star sapphires were one of Elvis’ favorites.” They have said that about black onyx, opal, diamonds, lions, tigers, owls, horse heads and many more. It seems like everything was an Elvis favorite.

Elvis -- Gold and Red Star Sapphire Ring - Side view

A star sapphire is named because it has needle-like inclusions that refract a star-shaped pattern in effect known as “asterism.” Star sapphires are typically blue—but this is the less common red star sapphire . This 14-karat white gold, oval cabochon red star sapphire measures weighs 9.5 grams. The star sapphire is mounted in a textured white gold setting with two channels down either side.

There must have been many bidders hoping to score an Elvis ring without paying big bucks, but fourteen bids ran the price up to $6,875. If the winner ever finds a photo of Elvis wearing it, it will be worth a lot more.

 

 

The next ElvisBlog post or the one after it will also cover Elvis items sold at an auction. But this is a unusual one that has a Smith & Wesson revolver expected to bring $160-225,000, a diamond and ruby studded sheriff’s badge ($50-75,000), plus Elvis’ contract to purchase Graceland, two more guns, and two Nazi knives. Stay tuned.

 

© 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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