Monthly Archives: November 2013

Elvis’ Custom-Made “SuperTrike”

On November 14, Elvis.Com/News announced a new exhibit of Elvis memorabilia at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The press release says it “provides a compelling look into Elvis’ Army career, the 1968 television special and his appearances in Lake Tahoe.” However, look at the two photographs used to illustrate the announcement.

Elvis.Com -  Announcement of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Exhibition

 That’s a shot of Elvis performing in the early days, plus a three-wheeled motorcycle. Because neither had anything to do with the Army days, the ’68 Special or the Lake Tahoe performances, I clicked on the link that takes you to the Hall of Fame website. Here’s another photo shown in the Hall’s announcement about the exhibit.

Elvis & Linda Thompson on SuperTrike 1975

You’ve probably seen this shot of Elvis and Linda Thompson on what is called Elvis’ SuperTrike. I have it in my digital files along with some other interesting ones. Here’s a rarer picture showing an alternate perspective from that day of cruising around in Memphis.

Outside Graceland  on SuperTrike with Linda Thompson

Here, Elvis is turning into the Graceland drive (notice the Graceland wall on the left).

Linda wasn’t the only person Elvis drove around on his SuperTrike. Here is cousin Billy Smith in the second seat. Doesn’t look all that comfortable, does he?

Cousin Billy Smith Riding with Elvis

And here is a picture of Elvis giving a ride to an unnamed fan on September 15, 1975.

Elvis with Fan on SuperTrike

 

So, I wondered what’s the story behind this strange-looking motorcycle. A little research turned up lots of interesting stuff about Elvis and his SuperTrike.

Elvis and His First Big Bike Harley-Davidson FLH

This is a shot of Elvis with his “first big bike”, a black 1957 Harley Davidson FLH purchased from Barfield’s Harley-Davidson in Memphis. Pictured with Elvis are B. W. Barfield (owner) on the right and Big Al McAlexander (Sales and Service Manager). Not pictured is the mechanic who actually prepped the bike for Elvis. His name is Earl Smith. Nineteen years later, Smith worked at a Memphis company called Super Cycle, and he did the prep work on Elvis’ custom-made Volkswagen powered SuperTrike. Here is the check that paid for it.

Check for Elvis' SuperTrike

You will note three things about the check. Vernon, not Elvis, singed it. The sale price was only $3,100, which sounds like Elvis got a real bargain. And finally, the date is August 16, 1975, exactly two years before Elvis died.

Back in 2007, Mr. Smith, at age 87, still worked at Super Cycle, as did the men who had built Elvis’ SuperTrike and the man who painted the unique design on it. These old-timers embarked on a project to build a replica of it. This is a photo on the website about the replica project, but it doesn’t really look like the original. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any update about the success of the project.

 2005 Replica of Elvis' SuperTrike

 

Photos have shown up on the internet suggesting that Elvis owned other three-wheel motorcycles.

Another Elvis Three-Wheeler

This one is parked in front of Graceland (note the white lion statue on right). If Elvis didn’t own it, he at least drove it, as evidenced by this photo.

Elvis Driving Three-Wheeler Trike

 

And the website for ELVIS – The Private Collection of the King on Tour, an attraction that travels around to fairs and festivals, shows this as an Elvis-owned trike.

Moody Blue Supertrike from The Private Collection of the King on Tour

Maybe the exhibit includes some information on the Moody Blue Supertrike and some photos of Elvis on it, but the website does not.

 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition sounds like it might be pretty good. Graceland has loaned them more than forty artifacts, including:

A selection of Elvis’ personal jewelry
The “If I Can Dream” white suit from the “’68 Comeback Special”
A rehearsal schedule for Lake Tahoe performances in 1971
ID bracelet and several rings
Official U.S. Army induction portrait (wallet size) that was taken and issued upon his arrival for basic training in 1958

However, if you go to Graceland in the next few months, you will note that Elvis’ SuperTrike will be missing from this display in the Car Museum.

Elvis' SuperTrike in Display at Gracland

 

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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According to Wikipedia — The 10 Weirdest Elvis Presley Memorabilia

It would be impossible to come up with new ElvisBlog topics each week with the helpful tool of Google searches. Also, if there was a Guinness World Record for the most different Elvis searches, I might qualify. The cool thing is that you never know what you’ll find if you scroll down the search results far enough, especially the Images results. For example, how about this photo?

Xray of Elvis' Arm

 

When I clicked on the picture above, I linked to this:

Wikicollecting

Have you ever heard of Wikicollecting? It’s a new one to me. Like everything else on Wikipedia, Wikicollecting lets anybody post, update, edit, and illustrate any topic. So there is no way of knowing who created “The Top 10 Weirdest Elvis Collectibles” in 2012, and named the x-ray images above as the sixth weirdest. 

Whoever it was, they actually listed eleven items, including an honourable mention (looks like our list provider is from England, or at least doesn’t know how to spell honorable). He provided pictures of just four of the eleven items, and they were all rather small and posted out of sequence. So, here is the Wikicollecting list “The Top 10 Weirdest Elvis Memorabilia,” with additional text and images thanks to the magic of Google.

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Honorable Mention —  Medical Swab:

Elvis Swab

A medical swab used on Elvis was sold by Julien’s Auctions for $468.75 in 2010.  The swab was taken at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis on December 20, 1967 and was obtained by a medical technician at the hospital.

 

# 10  —  Signed Cast:

Elvis' Twice-Signed Cast

A cast signed by the King of Rock and Roll is being offered for sale by Elvisowned.com, a company specializing in the sale of items once owned by Elvis Presley. The asking price is $1,700. The cast belonged to fan Diana Henry who saw Elvis in concert in the Las Vegas Hilton in 1975. According to the website Elvis stopped his show and went into the crowd to sign Diana’s cast.

You will note that Elvis signed the cast twice. That’s because a drop of Elvis’ sweat fell on the autograph below the elbow and smudged his last name. Diana begged Elvis to sign it a second time, which he did.

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# 9  –  Strand of Hair:

(Could not find a picture of this one)

A single strand of Elvis’ hair was sold for $1,700 at a Henry Aldridge & Son auction in 2009.

The auction house said the strand was owned by Thomas B. Morgan Jr., an Elvis fan and former administrator at Shelby County sheriff’s office. Morgan told auctioneers he received the hair follicle from Homer Gilleland, Elvis’ personal Hairdresser for more than 20 years.

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# 8  —  Horse Blanket:

Elvis' Red Horse Blanket for Rising Sun

Another item available from ElvisOwned.com is a red horse blanket used by Elvis for his horse Rising Sun and his black horse. It was also used on Priscilla Presley’s horse and the website claims that hairs from the horses are still visible on the blanket. It has been in storage since 1977 and is offered at a price $1800.

Elvis’ cousin Harold Lloyd gave this to his friend Rhonda in 1977. Rhonda’s sister dated Charlie Hodge for almost 4 years. Rhonda is in the background of the last picture taken of Elvis Presley returning home from the dentist in the morning hours of his death. She had actually stopped by to see Harold when Elvis came home for his last time.

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# 7 — TV Remote:

(Could not find a picture of this one)

Elvis’ TV remote is being offered for sale by ElvisOwned.com for $1,800. The large remote, for an RCA 2000 television set, was owned by Greg Page, who owned the television after Elvis.

This remote must have sold since the Wikicollecting list was published, and its listing and picture disappeared from the website. Even the magic of Google search couldn’t come up with a photo of it.

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# 6 — Wrist X-ray:

Xray of Elvis' Arm

A set of x-rays of Elvis’ arm sold for $3.500 at a Farm Bureau auction in 2008. The x-rays showed a wrist fracture that Elvis suffered during a karate session.

 

# 5 — Benadryl Prescription Bottle:

Elvis Spare Dental Crown

A prescription bottle for Benadryl 50mg, prescribed to Elvis Presley on 8/15/77 sold for $7000 at a Julien’s Auctions sale in 2009. The bottle was prescribed by Elvis’ personal physician, Dr. Nick (Dr. George C. Nichopoulas) the day before Elvis’ death.

 

# 4 — Dental Crown:

Elvis Spare Dental Crown

Elvis Presley’s porcelain dental crown, which came to be known as the ‘King’s Crown’, was bought by a dentist for $8,150 at Omega Auctions in March 2012. Presley had a gap between his teeth, which he found embarrassing. He decided to have one of his front teeth crowned to hide it. This crown was created by Henry Weiss, Presley’s dentist until 1971.

Weiss always kept an extra copy of the crown. When Elvis cracked his crown on a microphone during a performance, Weiss’s son, S. Lewis Weiss, flew the replacement crown to Las Vegas.

 

# 3 — Exercise Bike:

Elvis' Exercise Bike

An exercise bike owned by Elvis was sold by Guerney’s Auctions in 2008 for $12,000.

The gold exercise bike has a tension control knob and speedometer/odometer between handlebars. Odometer reads 69 miles. Manufactured by Barkleigh. In fine condition, with some light wear, the bike was accompanied by a COA from Greg Howell, the exhibition and collection manager of Graceland.

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# 2 — Autopsy and Embalming Tools:

Elvis Autopsy and Embalming Tools

In 2010, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers announced that it planned to sell the autopsy and embalming tools used on Elvis. The tools were offered for sale by an anonymous retired embalmer from the Memphis Funeral Home, and they were expected to bring $14,000. Shortly after the planned sale was announced, the parent company of the funeral home, Service Corporation International, claimed ownership of the tools. Due to this dispute over ownership, the items were withdrawn from the sale and have not appeared on the collectors’ market since.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers had two lots of Elvis’ funereal memorabilia slated for the auction, including funeral invoices, a toe tag once attached to the King’s corpse, embalming needles, forceps, lip brushes, needle injectors, an arterial tub, and an eyeliner pencil allegedly used to prepare the body for the funeral.

The embalmer said he kept the items after embalming Elvis the night of Aug. 17, 1977. Service Corporation International, the corporate parent of Memphis Funeral Home, had questioned the authenticity of the items and said the embalmer had no right to take them from the business. “Rather than argue with anyone, it’s better to just withdraw the item,”

My Google Images search did not come up with a photo of toe tag, actually marked “John Doe.” This was used as a replacement after the original was stolen by an eager fan during the chaos at the hospital. Unfortunately, the original will probably show up for sale someday.

# 1 — Lockheed Jetstar Jet:

Elvis' Jetstar

The last jet Elvis ever owned, a 1962 Lockheed Jetstar JT 12-5, was sold for $700,000 in 2008 by Kruse International. During his lifetime, Elvis owned three jets. The other two are in the Graceland Museum.

 

Okay, that’s what one person calls the ten weirdest Elvis memorabilia. I really don’t see what’s so weird about the TV remote, the horse blanket, or the exercise bike. The weird thing to me is some of the prices mentioned. $468 for the medical swab – you can buy Elvis autographs for less than that. $1,700 for a strand of hair – way too much.

Maybe the signed cast is worth $1,700 – it does have two Elvis autographs on it. I’m not sure about $700,000 for the Jetstar. Maybe if it came with photos of Elvis inside it or standing in front, but think about all the Elvis memorabilia you could buy for that kind of money.

The arm e-rays are certainly weird, as is the replacement tooth crown. And finally, two items are not just weird, but also in horrible taste. How sick is it to spend $7,000 on Elvis’ bottle of Benydryl? And the embalming stuff is just too grisly. I hope that Service Corporation Inonaternatil destroyed them after pulling them from the auction

 

 

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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What’s In A Name?

It might be impossible to prove, but the case could be argued that Elvis was the most photographed man in history. Certainly, his image has been posted on the Internet more than anyone else. I searched Google Images for Elvis Presley, and there’s not enough hours in a day to scroll down to the last of pictures.

Google Images search for Elvis

Here’s another category Elvis probably leads in – the most interesting presentations of his name by graphic artists. Here’s a selection from the incredible array of designs used for ELVIS.

Blue Script Elvis

Colorful Elvis

Elvis Hilton Summer Festival Banner

ELVIS in Red Lights

Elvis in the 60s

Elvis Postcard

Elvis the legend

Elvis with Sihloutte

Flames Elvis

Genuine Elvis

Guitar Pick Elvis

Matinee Majesty Elvis

Multicolor Elvis

Multi-color Elvis

Oriental looking Elvis

Patriotic Elvis

Red Script Elvis

Shiney Blue Elvis

Sparkly Elvis

©  2013    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.

 

Be Sure Not to Offend Anyone with Your Halloween Costume

Two weeks ago, the dean of the University of Colorado – Boulder sent a letter to students condemning offensive Halloween costumes.  “If you are planning to celebrate Halloween by dressing up in a costume, consider the impact your costume decision may have on others… “  The letter criticized any costumes that “reinforce negative representations and crude stereotypes.”  Yes, now even Halloween has to be PC. Well, take a look at this:

 68 Special Haloween Elvis Costume - Back

As a loyal Elvis fan, I’m offended.  If this isn’t a negative representation of Elvis’ in his ’68 Comeback Special black leather outfit, I don’t know what is.  Here’s what the real deal looked like.

 68 Special Black leather Suit - Back

 

Here’s a front view of this lame costume:

68 Special Haloween Elvis Costume - Front

This is supposed to be a one-size-fits-all costume, but it sure doesn’t fit this guy.  Compare it with the sharp-fitted original:

Elvis 68 Special Black Leather  Suit  - Front

The college wants people to consider the impact a costume may have on others.  Well, for those skeptics who look down on Elvis fans, this black leather costume will just make them even more smug.  However, the impact on us Elvis fans is to make us want to cringe.  What we need for costumes depicting the King is not PC, but EC (Elvisly Correct).

EPE has sued several manufacturers of Elvis merchandise, contending their products are detrimental to the image of Elvis.  Graceland slipped up on this one and let it be offered by ShopElvis.com, their marketing partner.

 

Because we are on the subject of Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special, here are some of my favorite images of that great black leather outfit.

 Elvis Backstage in Black Leather Suit

This photo of Elvis relaxing backstage with a young boy reminds me of the casual, off-guard shots Al Wertheimer took back in 1956.  Elvis certainly didn’t pose for this one.

 Elvis 68 Special Black Leather Suit - Image for Standee

This shot was later turned into a life-sized cardboard standee you can buy for about $40.

 Elvis Black Leather Standee

 

How about a really cool profile shot.

 Elvis 68 Special Black Leather Suit - Back

 

 Special Warhol-Type Print

This multi-image print wasn’t done by Andy Warhol, but it sure was inspired by some of his Elvis creations like this:

Andy Warhol Print- Multiple Elvis

 

If there was such a thing as a Halloween Tree, this black leather Elvis ornament belongs on it, not a Christmas tree.

68 Special Elvis Christmas Tree Ornament

 

It looks like something from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, and hopefully no Elvis fan has ever wasted their money on one.

 

The University of Colorado – Boulder also railed against Halloween costumes that portray particular cultural identities as overly sexualized, such as geishas and squaws.  I wonder what they would think about this one.

 Sexy Female Elvis

She’d get lots of candy if she came Trick or Treating to my house.

 

©  2013    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.