Elvis Left the Building but Still Brings Down the House

by MSO

Thirty-five years ago, on August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died at the age of 42.

He has over 6.5 million global fans on Facebook, 428 official fan clubs in 43 countries, more than 7,000 products in the marketplace and has sold over a billion records; three which were certified gold and two which went platinum in the last year alone. Thirty-five years after his death on August 16, 1977 Elvis Presley remains indelibly marked in America’s pop culture psyche.

Whether he would have been as popular in life as he has been in death is hard to say. A random telephone survey taken in 2011 showed that 70% of respondents considered themselves an Elvis fan and 10% claimed to have purchased Elvis’ music or merchandise recently. Hundreds of thousands of people continue to visit Graceland, Elvis’ mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, every year and  Elvis Week, held annually in August  draws crowds of more than 75,000 people. Elvis’ Q score rating, which measures celebrity brands, recently jumped 23% with the largest increase in the 18-24 year old demographic.

In 1977, when Elvis died, there were about 170 Elvis impersonators who performed around the world. Today it’s estimated that there are approximately 85,000 who try to make a living being Elvis. Growth experts predict, tongue in cheek, that by 2019 Elvis impersonators will make up about one third of the world’s population.

And then there are the Elvis sightings that have continued to multiply since his death. Hundreds of thousands of people believe that Elvis is alive. Some believe he’s alive and working as an undercover agent, others say a Lloyds of London life insurance policy was never cashed in so he must be alive, many believe the famous picture National Enquirer published of Elvis in his coffin was not him, others even believe he is in the witness protection program and countless more believe that one of these theories is true because of the secrets surrounding his funeral and entombment.

Fans held vigils at Graceland from the moment his death became public and many of the estimated crowd of 75,000 even got a chance to pay their respects to the King in his coffin. It took 100 vans five hours to bring the flowers left at Graceland to the cemetery on the morning of the funeral. Elvis’ funeral took place on August 18, 1977 at 2 p.m.. His body, which had rested at Graceland for two days, was placed in a gleaming white 1977 Miller-Meteor Landau traditional Cadillac hearse.  Sixteen white Cadillac limousines followed carrying the mourners to the Memphis Forest Hill Cemetery where he was interred beside his mother Gladys in a private ceremony.

The conspiracy stories began when Elvis’ body and that of his mother, were secretly removed and reburied at Graceland in October of that year. Some say that a body-snatching attempt prompted the removal while others believe that Elvis had to be temporarily entombed until burial permits could be obtained so Elvis and his mother could be buried at Graceland. That’s when “Elvis is Alive” became one of the largest money generating headlines in tabloid newspaper history. Though Elvis sightings are still posted on the thousands of Elvis websites, people are finally beginning to believe that the King is dead.

Elvis Presley In Concert, which has been touring since 1998 to packed venues in Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Germany and France is an amazing production that reunites former Elvis band members live on stage with a state of the art video-projected Elvis. The tour’s success has led to a new marketing idea for Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Elvis once said, “Every time I think that I’m getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens,” and it has. Elvis’ popularity has prompted Digital Domain Media Group, the company that created late rapper Tupac Shakur in 3D holographic form for a performance with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, to begin talks with Elvis Presley Enterprises in a bid to reincarnate Elvis so he can return to the stage. Considering that companies like Budweiser, Coca-Cola, FedEx, American Express and more are still promotional partners today that use Elvis’ likeness or music to promote their products, returning Elvis to the stage could be very profitable for all concerned judging by the success of the Elvis video tours.

On this anniversary of his death, Elvis’ popularity just keeps on growing. Elvis still holds the record for the most top ten hits, at 38 and he has had more songs written about him than any other performer in history. From U2′s A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel to Neil Young’s He was the King over 220 songs are still telling the King of Rock and Roll’s story thirty-five years after his death.

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