Sanja Meegin, EIN's roving reporter, is back once again to give us all the inside scoops on Elvis Week 2005 - so watch out Memphis 'cos 'The Walls Have Ears'!
August 17th - Final update from Memphis:
While it seemed likely that all the devoted fans would be drifting away and heading back to their jobs surprisingly the Graceland Crossing Tent was still buzzing with excitement last night. The Commercial Appeal stated that this year’s crowd was 10,000 strong. While this is lower than EPE’s quote this is still a large number of fans for a subdued year. ‘The Images of The King’ winner was the sensational Mario from England. He has come second before but Mario is quite spectacular and deserved his hard-earned win.Jim Curtin announced that he is selling his entire Elvis collection! This includes 25,000 photographs, three genuine Elvis stage costumes, 1000+ SUN & RCA original singles - some autographed, and an extremely rare one–off ‘I’ll Be Back’ white-labelled 45rpm single made specially for the 1966 Academy Award nomination. The auction will take place December 2-3rd, Crown Plaza, Beverley Hills.
Signing off until next year
Memphis - 3am Tuesday 16th August
It is 3am on this very special day and so it is really hard not to blur one’s feelings with emotion. It is also an incredible 90F at this time of night - the predicted, regular, downpour of cooling rain just didn’t happen this year.
The centrepiece of Monday was of course The Vigil, which I have just returned from – and I do hope that you all got a chance to see it via the Internet. Todd Morgan was very pleased that it was being broadcast on PBS & to local TV stations this year – and what a special evening it was.
The lead-in was a totally stunning performance by The Stamps in the Graceland Crossing Tent. Ed Enoch thrilled the absolutely packed audience with stories & harmonies as he raised the heavenly feelings amongst the faithful. I’m not sure how they managed in the scorching heat, but it certainly was a highlight of the whole week.
However the emotions of the entire crowd were totally encapsulated by the announced presence of The Presley family! And it was truly moving to see Priscilla’s family standing on the Graceland lawn, for all to see, taking part in this lovely ceremony. If only Lisa Marie & Priscilla had the strength to join them – maybe for 2007?
After the final song the front-row fans (who had been camping out for over 27 hours) started to file silently & reverentially up the driveway and past the grave. While I felt that the numbers were lower than last year, and around the 4000 mark, the end of the line had still not passed the entrance gate by 2.30am!
For minority of fans who only attended the ceremony, the Hard Rock Café was playing the ‘68 Special’ on the big screen – and they now have Elvis’ 68 special original guitar framed for all to see. It looks very nice!
Outside the ceremony & cooling in the pool, other Elvis "family" I met over the last 2 days included Elvis’ cook Nancy Rook (who was there signing her new book), Elvis’ nurse Marion Cocke, and even Scotty Moore who dropped in to check out the Memorabilia display. And did I tell you that I talked to Patsy Presley who informed me that she is also writing a book of her experiences in the Elvis family? Now that will be a fascinating read.
While the thrill of seeing ‘The Memphis Boys’ in action (Elvis’ American Sound Studios band) was possibly the musical highlight of Elvis week, overall this year seems to have ended on a bit of a low vibe as there is no Special 'Elvis Event' tonight to celebrate this crucial day. Surely The Memphis Boys should have been playing tonight? And without the TCB band or a Pyramid concert to celebrate Elvis’ life & legacy there is a kinda’ emptiness around.
This was also reinforced for me when I walked by Vernon’s house and discovered it all boarded up.
But I am sure that you can tell that overall it has been an amazing week as always, with too many emotions & too many friends crammed into too short a time.
For me today will be a peaceful visit to the Graveside and a special time , without the crowds, reminiscing on what happiness, friendship and meaning Elvis has brought to my life.
Signing off - ‘What now, my love?’
Memphis - Sunday 14th August
So much is happening at Elvis Week, and there’s only so much time a reporter can stop roving for long enough to hit the keyboard.
Friday night found the Elvis faithful E-chat group at our 7th annual reunion and Saturday was another late night cruisin’ a very packed Beale Street. Interestingly the majority of the crowd seemed to be locals soaking up the Blues – and there ain’t nothing wrong with those fabulous vibes since we all know how Elvis started out. I also met up with Sonny West down at the Hard Rock & a chance to share a ‘Marguerita’.
While you really should have been there for the all day experience there were plenty of highlights I just might tell you
Before leaving I talked with Paul Beaulieu about his lovely bracelet and whether he knew when Priscilla & Lisa Marie would want to participate in these emotional gatherings. He said that he really didn’t know but was asking himself the very same question.
Surfacing from of the poignant emotion of talking with Elvis’ family, I rediscover that the life-affirming spirit of Elvis is still alive & well and within all his fans. The Graceland crossing Tent is absolutely full, across the border the Tunica Casino shows are packed out and on Sunday night at 6pm fans are already lining up, reserving their front spots for The Vigil which is still 27 hours away.
‘Seeing Is Believing'
Memphis - Saturday 13th August
EIN EXCLUSIVE - October FTDS confirmed
EIN roving reporter Sanja Meegin spoke to Roger Semon who confirmed that the FTD October 2005 releases will be the 'Loving You' extended Soundtrack, 'Something for Everybody' in the classic album series, as well as the already confirmed 'Summer Festival' live concert.
At the Insiders Conference they played fantastic new samples, never heard those takes before. Everyone was screaming. Roger Semon played all this footage of him and Ernst in the recording studio, finding all these reels of stuff - 4 versions of Blue Moon never heard by anybody in the world before. It was sensational.
Memphis - Friday 12th August
Hi from Memphis and it’s as hot as hell! I’m talking 95F every day, ‘All I Needed Was The Rain’ - so thank God for that cooling pool.
At last the Elvis faithful have arrived and town is pretty crowded now. It was like a ghost town the first couple of days so I’m relieved to see it fill up and with plenty of old friends to party with.
I paid my first visit of the week to Graceland. There is a new VIP Tour you can join, and a girl like me does need her very own shuttle bus over to the mansion! The extras included are a small tour of behind the mansion to see the houses where Joe Esposito and Charlie Hodge lived, but not much more.
Also noticed that one of his 3 Grammy awards is missing from the hall of gold, don’t know if that’s on loan to someone maybe?
Bumped into some more old friends. Sonny West is here doing his show at the Clarion while Terry Mike Jeffrey sang at the tent at Graceland Crossing last night and he was awesome! Just him plus guitar and he sang heaps of obscure movie songs – a wicked job. He also did a spectacular rendition of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. The tent was at absolute capacity.
As reported in EIN news previously, the huge buzz around town is about the hours of TTWII outtake footage that is floating around. This is material that EPE should release as soon as possible. For instance, when Elvis is driving in the big black car onto the MGM lot - on the released stuff you see him from the outside - this has the camera on the inside of the car and you see things from that angle. Also Elvis in rehearsal, eating his lunch, rehearsing Polk Salad Annie in the pink-coloured shirt, all unbelievable to watch.
The Elvis Convention at the Clarion is very good this year with lots of concert photos on display for sale, including from Keith Alverson, Harold Newton (who are both there in person selling them) and Derek Phillips who has a very impressive display of the George Hill collection of photos.
Tonight I’m heading to our big E-Chat reunion dinner at Marlowes, followed by a quick trip to see the 2002 ‘Images of the King Winner’ Brandon Bennett at the Tunica casino. Ahhh the ‘City By Night’ - I can’t wait.
There is just too much for a girl to do with the Insiders Conference tomorrow including James Burton as a late added guest.
‘I Think I’m Gonna’ Like It Here’
Report #1 Memphis - Tuesday 9th August
The weather is hot, steamy & overcast and Memphis seems relatively quiet so far. This year Elvis Week is starting one day later than normal, with the main features planned over the weekend.
More announced attractions are a chance to meet the daughters of Elvis’ double-bassist Bill Black (they should have some great stories to tell) and also The Stamps will be performing at the Graceland Crossing before The Vigil, celebrating Elvis’ Sweet Sweet Spirit. Now that will be a highlight.
Down at the Plaza, Sirius Radio is booming out all-day Elvis setting an excellent atmousphere for shopping & Elvis cruising. The Graceland Tent is already rockin’ with Elvis Tribute Artists, previous finalist Mario, from England, leading the way so far.
Paradise Hawaiian Style’s Suzanna Leigh is back again signing books & photos but there is a definite buzz around the appearance this year of actor Jeremy Slate – "Wesley" from Girls, Girls, Girls.
As you may have heard the independent ‘Memories of Elvis’ is being closed down and there are some fabulous bargains to be had – get shopping girls!
Arriving late back at the Hotel it was still Tennessee hot & steamy so I suggested a dip in the pool. Coming over all innocent and ‘Laurel Goodwin-like' & expecting Ross carpenter to join us at any minute, I jumped into the cooling pool. With plenty of fun causing ripples in the water I exclaimed, "I Don’t Wanna Be Tied" - well, after all there is the whole week to go!
Great to be back in Memphis, signing off until tomorrow
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)