Monthly Archives: February 2006

ELVIS THE WRITER, ELVIS THE ACTOR

As I mentioned in an earlier article, many of the items on display at ELVIS-A-RAMA were placed so low in the cabinets that it created an exercise regimen for determined visitors like me.  My knees were hurtin’ from squatting up and down to read everything, so when I came to something that really interested me, I just sat on the floor and took my time.

 

One thing I liked was a love letter Elvis wrote while stationed in Germany to old girlfriend Anita Wood in November 1959.  It was four hand-written pages long, and Elvis’ penmanship made it difficult to read, but the entire text was reproduced on a brass plaque.  If Elvis wrote it without help, he deserves credit as something of a romantic poet.  See what you think.

 

“I want you to know that in spite of our being apart, I have developed a love for you that cannot be equaled or surpassed by anyone.  My every thought is of you, my darling, every song I hear, every sunset reminds me of the happy and wonderful times we’ve had together.”

 

You know, that’s pretty nice.  Toward the end of the letter, Elvis perhaps revealed some other thoughts on his mind as his discharge from the Army quickly approached.

 

“I can’t explain to you how I crave you and desire your lips and your body under me, darling.”

 

I guess Col. Parker never saw that, or he would have licensed it to Hallmark for a line of Elvis Valentine’s Day cards.

 

Another thing that intrigued me was an open page in the screenplay for “Jailhouse Rock.”  Do you remember the early scene in a bar when Elvis’ character Vince Everett tries to sing but is heckled by a drunk guy named Ken?  When Vince confronts Ken, the jerk pours beer down the front of Vince’s shirt.   Here’s what follows in the screenplay.

 

“Unwittingly, Ken has tackled a ring-tailed terror. Vince fights with a strange and incongruous fury. It is apparent that there are deep wells of hatred and resentment within him waiting to be tapped.  He punches with accuracy and jolting power; Ken’s hands drop as the blows drain his strength.  Vince sets him up with a left hand to the belly that goes in wrist-deep.”

 

Wow.  And people said Elvis couldn’t act.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

Benjamin Keough and Michael Lockwood

(Editor's note:  If you want to see photos of what Elvis' grandson looks like, click here to go to a 12/21/07 Elvisblog article with three photos of fifteen-year-old Benjamin Keough.)

 

The blogware platform that brings you Elvisblog offers a number of features.  One I especially like is “Referrer Summary,” which shows the search entries on Google, etc. that lead folks to your site (as opposed to typing in www.elvisblog.net or clicking on it from a list of favorites).  To my great surprise, 67 people searching for Benjamin Keough, Elvis’ grandson, visited Elvisblog this past Thursday, February 16.

 

I had to assume there was something in the news that had piqued people’s interest in Benjamin Keough.  After all, the only Elvisblog reference to him was a short paragraph in a February 6, 2005 article about his sister Riley Keough Presley.  I went to my favorite Elvis references to see what was up, and the answer was the same at www.elvis.con, www.elvisnews.com, and www.elvisinfonet.com.  Benjamin Keough had been one of the groomsmen at the recent wedding of his mother, Lisa Marie, to guitarist and record producer Michael Lockwood.  The ceremony actually took place on January 22 in Kyoto, Japan, so the celebrity press obviously missed out on this event.

 

Riley was the maid of honor at her mother’s wedding.  People have been Googling her and coming to Elvisblog a lot for the past year.  The record for Riley Keough Presley hits was 322 on March 29, 2005, when she was all over the news with articles about her modeling career.  This was two days after I had posted my second blog article about her.  Anyway, interest in Riley on Elvisblog has dropped off as people discovered there are several sites with more stuff about her (and pictures).

 

However, having Benjamin Keough in the news for the first time seems to have started the same cycle of interest for Elvisblog.  On Friday, February 17, there were 151 hits for Benjamin, 22 for Riley, and even four for their father, Danny Keough, who, by the way, was best man at his ex-wife’s recent wedding.

 

The wedding news also gave me something new to look into – the groom, Michael Lockwood.  If you want to find out more about him, check out his website www.michaellockwood.com.  The news pictures of the wedding show him wearing an oversized hat, as do most of the pictures on his site.  He seems to have quite a collection of them.  He has recorded and toured with Lisa Marie and some other high-level female singers, including Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, and Carly Simon.

 

Let’s all wish Lisa Marie and Michael the best of success with their marriage.  The odds-makers probably won’t give it much chance, but who knows.  Maybe this time it will work out.

 

Back to Benjamin Keough.  He will turn fourteen this October.  He and his sister Riley sang back-up vocals on Lisa Marie’s last album, “Now What?”  Other than that, my internet search turned up very little information about him.  I hope interest in him continues and grows, because it sure helps bring people to Elvisblog.

 

Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie, and his granddaughter, Riley, already have successful careers, so isn’t it logical to expect something similar from Elvis’ grandson?  The day Benjamin Keough steps in front of a mike to perform, I’d love to be there.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

TWO NEWS SCOOPS FROM THE ELVIS-A-RAMA BUS DRIVER

One of the features offered by ELVIS-A-RAMA is a free courtesy bus that shuttles fans from the major hotels on the Las Vegas strip to the museum.  During my visit two weeks ago, there were only eight passengers, so we all sat up front, and the bus driver shared a several good stories with us.  Since you haven’t seen this on any of the other Elvis websites, here are two Elvisblog exclusives.

 

Two years ago, thieves broke into ELVIS-A-RAMA and stole nine articles valued at $300,000.  In addition to a gold-plated Smith & Wesson .38 special, the haul included Elvis’ Humes High School ring, a Louisiana hayride “E. Presley” ring, a watch, a bracelet, a 41-carat star ruby and diamond ring worth $77,000, a $65,000 gold and black onyx medallion that spells “Elvis” in diamonds, and an 18-carat gold and diamond medallion with the initials “E P” on it.

 

The museum owner, Chris Davidson, assumed they were gone for good.  After many months, the police and FBI could not track down the thieves, so he accepted the insurance settlement.  Recently, the bumbling thief tried to sell the hot merchandise to a retired Elvis impersonator while he stood in line at a Las Vegas pharmacy.  He convinced the thief to come back in 24 hours to his employment agency office, at which time the police made the bust.

 

All the stolen goods except a scarf were recovered.  In the time between the robbery and the recovery, Davidson sold ELVIS-A-RAMA to CKX Inc, the folks now in charge of the Elvis Presley Estate.  So who got the recovered Elvis jewelry and gun?  Not CKX Inc. – they bought only the inventory at the time of the sale.  Not Chris Davidson – he accepted the insurance settlement.  According to the bus driver, it looks like the insurance company is now the proud owner of eight excellent Elvis collectibles.  You can bet they will show up in some future auction.

 

The other story regaled by the bus driver has to do with the plans CKX has to create an Elvis-themed attraction in Las Vegas (as covered in an Oct 2, 2005 Elvisblog article).  According to the driver, CKX has purchased a two-block long property on the strip between the Harley-Davidson Store & Restaurant and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino.  My wife and I took a walk up to look at that property, and it’s obvious that sooner-or-later somebody was going to buy it and build something big on it.  It’s like throwback to earlier simpler times, much as you would find in a beach town:  mini-marts, McDonalds, a tattoo parlor, T-shirt shops, an ear-piercing studio, and a two-story Travel Lodge Motel.

 

These modest establishments, in the shadow of huge hotel/casinos like the Aladdin and the Monte Carlo, seem so out of place.  I think many folks will miss this little island of normalcy when it is gone, but I will certainly look forward to enjoying whatever Elvis attraction takes its place.  For sure, there will be a restaurant, full of memorabilia on the walls.  Of course, a big gift shop.  Maybe a theater, like those in Branson, MO.  The big question is whether there will be a hotel and casino, but don’t rule it out.  Hooters and Planet Hollywood just got into the hotel/casino business in Las Vegas, so why not Elvis World?

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELVISBLOG

Man, what a fast year.  Things started on January 30, 2005, when I posted the first article to Elvisblog.  There was some pressure of course, since you don’t know for sure if you can come up with a new article every Sunday.  It is now 53 articles later, so it looks like Elvisworld provides an abundance of story ideas.  .

 

The original plan was to post articles containing 250-300 words, in keeping with the site’s subtitle “Nuggets of News, History, and Commentary About Elvis.”  Now they run from 450-550 words.  Elvis is really fun to write about, so they may get even longer.

 

In addition to the weekly articles, Elvisblog now contains reprints of 22 longer pieces from Elvis International, The Magazine.  There are also two short stories of Elvis fiction:  “The Bootleg Album” and “Elvis Claus — Santa’s Favorite Brother Gets A Present.”  Check them out if you haven’t already.

 

In November, Elvisblog switched to a new blogware supplier and a new internet address, www.elvisblog.net.  Since February 1, the old address no longer automatically forwards to the new, so I’ve lost a few readers.  Hope they find their way back to Elvisblog.  If you haven’t bookmarked www.elvisblog.net, please do so.

 

During it’s first year, 34,000 fans visited Elvisblog, so, I say to you all, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

(c)  2005   Philip R Arrnold   www.elvisblog.net

OK, I FINALLY VISITED ELVIS-A-RAMA

Thanks to my company’s annual trade show in Las Vegas, I finally got to see ELVIS-A-RAMA.  None too soon, either.  The museum will shut down for good on August 15 this year.  Do you think there’s any significance that the death of ELVIS-A-RAMA will come one day before the anniversary of Elvis’ death?  The good news is that the memorabilia will not be permanently lost to us fans.  It will be sent to Memphis, added to the extensive EPE collection, and ultimately will be part of Elvis-themed attractions in Las Vegas and other major cities.

 

I’m glad I took in ELVIS-A-RAMA, and I got my money’s worth for the $13 admission cost.  Visitors with only a casual interest in Elvis could probably blow through the exhibits in 30 minutes, but I stayed there for over two hours.  The 4 cars, 3 rings, 9 pendants, 4 guitars, 9 layman badges, 4 guns, 2 jumpsuits, and dozens of other clothes items catch every visitor’s eyes.  Plus, there were brass plaques that gave the history of nearly every significant item.

 

Some folks barely noticed the wall covered with every Elvis 45 and album released during his lifetime.  Not me.  I loved the year-by-year approach, each with a plaque telling that year’s highlights in record rankings and sales figures.  Below the plaques were the releases.  I learned that Elvis’ five Sun Records singles came with printed picture sleeves.  I had never seen them before.

 

I spent a lot of time with all the paper documents contained in eleven, tall, freestanding, two-sided display panels.  There were tickets, contracts, letters, receipts, photos and all kinds of other stuff.  I took time to read all the descriptive plaques and really studied the items on display.  Now I know that Elvis’ phone bill for the entire month of May 1963 was only $6.84, for example.  I do have one complaint.  Each side of the displays had three framed sections.  The top one was a little high for comfortable reading.  The middle one was perfect, but the bottom one was only 6 inches off the ground.  My knees were so sore after squatting up-and-down to read everything.  Several times I wished I had a flashlight, because it was tough to read the plaques when they were at the very bottom.

 

The sources for much of the museum’s collection were revealed in the various plaques.  As mentioned in a previous Elvisbog article, some key items came form Jimmy Velvet.  Norman Taurog, who directed eight Elvis movies, provided much of the movie memorabilia.  A lot of Elvis’ personal items were purchased from Trish Henley, who was his nurse for eleven years and lived behind Graceland with husband, a guard for the mansion.

 

Of course, there is a gift shop as part of the ELVIS-A-RAMA experience, but it’s pretty cool.  In addition to the usual coffee mugs, pocketbooks, and T-shirts, there is actual memorabilia for sale.  One of the most expensive was a shirt owned by Elvis going for $4,000.  The price includes two 1973 photos of him wearing the shirt.  I was impressed with the presentation of a ticket from Elvis’ 1956 concert in Tupelo ($1.50 face value).   For $99 you can buy it in a large framed and matted collection of photos and other mementos of the event.  A similar framed presentation was used to offer a set of five Sun Records colored-vinyl 45’s.  It is an impressive sight, but the price was $875.  That seems pretty steep for bootlegs. 

 

All in all, I’m glad I finally got to visit ELVIS-A-RAMA.  If you travel to Las Vegas in the next seven months, be sure to see it.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net