Where have all the Elvis fans gone?

On 21 June 2007 we published this news item and asked for your comments:

Last year we reported on the lack of interest in specialty Elvis licence plates in Elvis' home state, Tennessee. Yesterday we reported the stage play "Elvis People" is to close after only 4 performances. Is interest in Elvis waning or is it a case of simply too many competing products? Tell EIN what you think

The Elvis licence plates were given a 12 month reprieve but weith only 3 months left demand is still well short of the minimum number (a reasonably small 1,000) required. Here is the story:

Organizers of a campaign to get an Elvis Presley specialty licence plate may be rallying for the King, but they’re taking a cue from the Beatles’ ‘‘With a Little Help From My Friends.’’

Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Regional Medical Center at Memphis will launch a media blitz to attract the 1,000 purchasers they need for the state to begin production of the Elvis plate. Proceeds from sales of the plate would benefit the medical centre’s Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center. The drive kicked off in October 2005 with organizers expecting to quickly meet the 1,000 threshold. But the effort has fallen flat.

After the first deadline passed last summer, the medical centre was given a one-year extension. Hospital spokesman Kathy Stringer said last week that 750 Elvis fans and hospital supporters have signed up, leaving 250 to go before the June 30 deadline.

‘‘We’re planning a radio blitz to try to reach the goal,’’ she said. Radio spots already have run in Memphis, and Stringer said more spots are scheduled to run in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

If the centre fails to sign up 250 more buyers by the end of the month, it can seek a sponsor for special legislation to grant another extension when the state legislature begins its next session in January.

Specialty plates are a highly competitive business in the state with 150 groups, ranging from wildlife supporters to hospital foundations, vying for the loyalties and tax revenues generated by the plates.
Efforts by the National Civil Rights Museum and the Memphis Grizzlies to get 1,000 orders were abandoned when they failed to meet deadlines. Specialty plates cost about US$35 more than regular licence plates. The medical centre estimated last year it would receive roughly $20 in revenue for each plate sold. (News, Source: Amherst Daily News/EIN)

Your feedback

Ida Ritter: am an Elvis fan since a teen, or since I remember,  I love his music, I was so privileged to see him in Vegas and in Chicago where I reside.  I own even some of his 69 and 70's original LPs. and continue to buy anything that he recorded that I do not have or never heard before. I buy his concert dvds that I can get my hands on if I consider them viewable enough or historic.  I own some very special photos too.  I consider myself a true Elvis fan, but not a fanatic.  I call a fanatic an individual that buys just anything and everything and collects everything even when not even been able to afford it.
I am very selective about what I buy, what I read, and what I see,  plus as many others said I cannot afford to go out there and buy everything that comes out, especially when repetition is done even in cds.  So much have been done to profit from his memory and his music that I believe it has gone out of proportion.  My opinion,  we fans are still here, we are just more cautious about how we spend our money, plus not all of us buy just everything. 

Armond: We're still taking care of business, with a flash! I for one love to put my hard earned cash down on quality Elvis CD's. To me, the music is what keeps my interest in Elvis strong. Oh yeah, give me a couple of top quality DVD's, and I'll stick around. Just watch how many people snatch up "This Is Elvis" and all questions regarding fan whereabouts will be laid to rest.

In regards to the plates, can most people in Tennessee afford to buy them? With Elvis on every other billboard within 500 miles of Memphis, is a specialty plate worth the money just so the guy behind you can look at it?

zzzzzzz: its stuff like this that drives me up the wall, listening to the fans bitch when we've never had it so good and this rediculous premise in the first place. Almost 18,000 fans will be pouring into the Fed-Ex center to see Elvis projected on video and many more will be attending Elvis Week, so because the state of TN cant sell 1000 license plates, you set out a 4 alarm fire wondering whats happened to all the Elvis fans? please! See, this is why its embarrasing sometimes to be an Elvis fan. All the alarmists and whiners come out of the woodwork because they have obviously too much time on their hands and the sensible ones are burying their head no one sees. The man's been dead for 30 yrs now, why don't you go put in the deluxe 50,000,000 FTD or Tupelo's Own and crank it. It will be ok and get a grip!! MAN!

Tom Cercone: I am a fan of elvis and his music, not of all this overpriced items. I prefer spending money on
concert cd's. ftd could offer more reasonable pricing on concert cd's. I have been able to
purchase many cd's at less cost online from other sources. so , in response to where
have all the elvis fans gone ? - this fan only buys elvis music and not overpriced items.

Bob K: We don't need Elvis boobleheads or toilet paper!!!! Just give me his music.

Cherylmac: Too much monkey merchandise for me to be involved in.

KathyB: If they had let fans from outside of Tennessee buy them just for collectibles they would have been sold out. I contacted them and try to buy one and they said noooo

Guillermo Perez Arguello, Nicaragua: On the issue of the license plates, 1,000 is not such a a small number, since, as mentioned in the article, there are another 90 different options for Tennesseans to choose from, as far as singing up for a speciality plate.   A Martin Luther King-related plate, and the Grizzlies's own,  did not make it either. And then there's a competition from Elvis himself, as far as products is concerned. I bet a lot of Elvis fans in Tennessee ( not that that state is where the greatest concentration of his fan live...), preferred to use their cash for buying this, or buying that.  As to the play, "Elvis people", well, again, the competition, both from Elvis product, as well as from elsewhere,  is pretty much to blame for. I saw the play at the Astoria, in London, in 1979, with Shakin' Stevens, and loved it.  In fact, I saw it thrice.  And, had I been at the right place when plays like "All shook up", or "Jailhouse Rock" were being shown, in theaters, both in England, the US, or wherever,  I may have gone to see them, but not necessarily.  And I have the time, the disposition, and the funds to back up any wish I may have, as regards to Elvis. And there is no one in my country, I would say, in allmof Latin America, who's bigger fan of Elvis than I am. I would have preferred, say, to see an Elvis-related  play like "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" instead, to be quite frank, even if it cost me US$150 dollars to see it, once.  "Elvis the Concert", which is  much more of the real thing, as far Elvis-related product  is concerned, is something I would not miss.  But going back to the competition issue, add the 19 movies about Elvis, or segments of his life (made for TV and for theathers) that are there, many on DVD, VCR, and is therefore plain to see why  something like "Elvis People" can not really attract  as many customers as their producers wished. Warmest regards from Nicaragua, and keep up the great effort!

Jenny: Your right there's to many Elvis items all competing with each other to buy.

Peter Withers: My mind boggles when I read how many Elvis items are available! What is Bill Gates'' phone number?

Basia Blank: I am a uni strudent and I love Elvis. But I cannot afford every new Elvis item that comes out. There should be a smart policy on Elvis releases, not one motivated by the quick buck and greed.

Gary Wilson: Why is it surprising? EPE has lost the plot and totally forgotten fans in Elvis' heartland.

Tania Thompson: The fans are still here but we are voting against the sell out of Elvis by his estate. Elvis is turning in his grave as they desecrate his memory and his music!

Sally G: A lot of the Elvis memorabilia is not in good taste. This is why fans are not buying it. Graceland should talk to the real fans and find out what we want.

Jerry Michaels: Well, we're getting older.  My Dad got me started on Elvis when I was six.  I'm now 57.  Some fans have passed on.
I used to buy a lot of Elvis stuff (books & music), but now I'm very selective about what I buy.  I don't plan on buying any of the mainstream Sony/BMG releases coming for the 30th.  I don't need any of what they're offering.
As far as the EPE licensed merchandise is concerned, I've never bought that stuff.  The only things I buy from EPE are the "classic" album releases from FTD.  Even if you are a fan who's into the merchandise there's too much of it.  It's ridiculous.
Yes, I think interest in Elvis is waning,  Though it will never die.  He's been gone almost 30 years.  It's unrealistic to expect that this generation or those that follow will feel about Elvis as we "oldsters" did (and still do).  My daughters were brought up around all things Elvis.  They appreciate who he was and what he did, but they don't feel about him as I do.  They've got their own things.
EPE/Sony/BMG are desperately trying to market Elvis to a new generation and that's understandable, but I feel it will be largely unsucessful.  Why? Because they're marketing memories.  A "ghost."  An icon who isn't here to help.  Baby boomers like me got hooked Elvis because he was here.  A living, breathing entity that we listened to, read about and most importantly actually saw in the flesh on TV. in the movies, or in concert. Just my random thoughts.

AJ: Where have all the Elvis fans gone?? We're right here ,waiting for the world to catch up. We're tired of the negative image portrayed by the media & message boards. Most seem to forget all the good things he did, but like to focus on the negative. Until "they" figure it out ..we'll just enjoy the music.

V111111v@aol.com: I wish they would have been made available to fans in other states.  I would love to have the plates.  I live in Texas!!!

Frankie'n'Johnny: Fans arent as passionate as they used to be. Some are getting older and dying others are into other things.

Jim Turner55: EPE has got too greedy. The prices of Elvis things has skyrocketed and none of us can no longer afford to buy them.

Grahame Pulson: Many of Elvis's fans are getting old. They already have their Elvis collections and aren't interested in all of the so called limited edition items. Can't EPE see that?

Jim: Big business = big profits = disaffected fans

Tony K: Most of the new releases aren't worth buying. Its more of the same and why do we need more of the same?

Jeremy: Profit! Profit! Profit! All Graceland cares about is parting us from our hard earned dollars. I have never bought their tacky Elvis dolls or bobbleheads and I never will. Elvis was about something much more important than that!!! Doesn't Graceland realize Elvis was about his music. Why can't Gracceland see that!!!!!!

Mary Smith: I have over 100 porcelain Elvis collectors plates and I will keep on buying then until I die!

Rockin' Rebel: There's far too many new Elvis items each year. Most fans aren't rich. It's high time EPE realised they're turning off their main buying group.


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