Back in early August, the Elvis websites with news sections all carried the story about his famous Peacock Jumpsuit selling for $300,000. I printed out a few articles with good intentions of finding a different twist on the story to do on ElvisBlog. However, those plans got waylaid. The first thing to distract me was Elvis Week. Then there was the discovery of some good stuff on the web that encouraged prompt creation of columns on the comic book series “Elvis Shrugged” and on the unique 1955 concert starring Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.
Then my wife had open heart surgery, which meant I didn’t even think about writing any ElvisBlog articles for three weeks. As she slowly recovered, I gradually got back in the old groove by doing easier, less challenging subjects. By then, I had forgotten about the Peacock Jumpsuit story. However, a recent effort to clean up the stuff on my desk uncovered the old articles I had saved. It was time to do something on Elvis’ famous Peacock Jumpsuit.
This is the picture supplied by auctioneer Gotta Have It Collectibles that sold the jumpsuit to an unnamed “Big Elvis Collector.” It may be the only jumpsuit design that goes from the back around to the hip and all the way down the left leg.
Here is a front shot. Although the huge belt covers part of the design, we can tell it is a duplicate of the back design with the tail feathers continuing down the right leg.
Here is a close-up of the peacock. Look at all those jewels and studs. No wonder it cost Elvis $10,000 to have it made by Bill Belew, the man who created his stage costumes from 1969 to 1977. The auction house press release says, “It captured the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s fascination with peacocks as a good luck symbol.” I’ve looked for some confirmation of this fascination, but all I’ve found is the beautiful stained-glass peacocks in front of the piano room at Graceland.
Elvis first wore the Peacock jumpsuit on May 11, 1974, at the Forum in Las Angeles. Here is a list of the other 1974 concerts where it is certain he wore the suit, but there probably more shows that need confirmation:
June 15 – Tarrant City Center, Fort Worth, TX
June 21 – Convention Center, Cleveland, OH
June 22 – Civic Center, Providence, RI
June 23 – The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
June 26 – Fair & Expo C-Hall, Louisville, KY
June 30 – Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE
August 19 – Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
September 27 – College Park Field House, Baltimore, MD
October 2 – Civic Center, St. Paul, MN
October 8 – Convention Center, San Antonio, TX
Here are two photographs of Elvis performing at those concerts. The belt design seems to be different than on the second photo above.
The Peacock Jumpsuit has been featured on the cover of albums, both an official RCA release and bootlegs. Here is the 1975 release Promised Land. Note that the back cover features the American Eagle Jumpsuit.
Here is the Live in Louisville bootleg CD and the book Elvis 1935-1977.
The $300,000 paid for the Peacock Jumpsuit is reported to be the highest price for an Elvis collectible, narrowly beating his 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark ll that went for $295,000. The last two jumpsuit sales we know of went for considerably less. The Nail Mirror Jumpsuit sold for $125,000 at the Elvis Empire Auction in Beverly Hills in 2006, when Regency Superior auctioned off the entire private collection of Jim Curtain and brought in over $2 million. In 1999, the famous Aloha Cape was sold at Graceland by auctioneer Guernsey’s for $105,250.
Not only is the original Peacock Jumpsuit the most expensive ever sold, the reproduction of it brings a top price, too. The online catalog for B&K Enterprises lists it at $5,500, beating out four others tied at $4,300: Sundial, Gypsy, Inca, and Alpine. Here is the picture of the Peacock Jumpsuit from the BK catalog.
I don’t know where the cape came from, because none of the photos of the original suit show a cape. Maybe B&K Enterprises just thought that would be a cool addition to the ensemble. However, if you want to stay true to the original, you can skip the cape and buy the suit for just $3,750. Wouldn’t you like one of those for Christmas?
© 2008 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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