EIN’s exclusive final report from Elvis Week 2004

The last we heard from our intrepid roving reporter, Sanja Meegin, was as she headed for some ‘Smorgasbord’ with James Burton & friends. Here is the final report of her last few days, soaking up all that is glorious in Memphis during Elvis Week.

The only way to recover from all my ‘Rock-a-Hula’ fun of Friday night was to check out Beale Street & to share a few Saturday champagne cocktails with my friend Lucky Jackson. A lot of fans were disappointed this year as, without the focus of E.P's Memphis, it felt ‘Too Much’ like a ‘Lonely Street’! Alfred’s seemed over-priced and even the Elvis Karaoke night at Wet Willies was uninspiring. While the small Elvis store is still operating at E.P's Memphis, the focal point this year was definitely the main tent at the Graceland Crossing.

By now I was coming over all “Ann-Margret” but with perfect timing made my rendezvous with Sonny West. Sonny and I talked about Elvis, life, as well as his desire to visit Australia to see the fans down here.

He said ‘Hi’ to all EIN members and hopes to see you soon.

We talked of ‘Today, Tomorrow & Forever’ and Sonny agreed that Saturday night seemed perfect to visit Memphis’ Overton Park Shell as the weather was ideal for an open-air show.

While there can only be one Elvis, Jamie Aaron Kelley is a sensational ETA who was performing the Overton benefit concert. He is a total professional and has Elvis’ moves down to a ‘T’, as well as having the most amazing voice. He sounds so much like Elvis it’s uncanny. Elvis played here on July 30th 1954 so it was almost 50 years to the day! It felt nostalgic and kind of spooky sitting in the very same bleachers that those fans did all those years ago.

The evening was extremely entertaining and all proceeds went towards saving the Shell - which, if $500,000 isn’t found in a hurry, may be history very soon. The last place Elvis ever played has been torn down, lets hope the first place he ever played doesn’t meet the same fate. What else could a good girl do on Sunday but head for the ‘Memorial Mass for Elvis’ at St. Paul’s Catholic Church?

After my exotic week I was in need of some salvation and the choir soothing me with some Elvis gospel songs was soul-saving. Featured songs were, His Hand in Mine, Let Us Pray (the 200 strong congregation were reeling & a’ rockin’ in the pews to that one) and we finished up nicely with How Great Thou Art.

Then of course to The Vigil. ‘I Love You Because’ was the theme song and this year all the music played matched the video clips on the huge screen, which was very effective.

A lot was featured from the 68 Comeback and Aloha to plug the new DVDs.

The night was buzzing with 8000 devoted Elvis fans in attendance (according to the papers), although the number seemed far greater. The Ceremony was short and sweet.

Some of the crowd were almost wiped-out when a fire engine decided it had to go down E.P. Blvd and not another way! Heading right through the crowd, it was a matter of pick up your chair & candle or, see-you-later!

I once again bumped into my friends Jack Soden and Alfred Wertheimer walking up the driveway who told me that they had been at the Peabody Dance Party. As usual there were loooooong lines for the walk up to the grave & I finally arrived at the Meditation Garden around 2am. On our way down the line was still showing no sign of letting up. It was as moving and as emotional as ever, and luckily a cool night which was very welcome.

Monday August 16th - This year there was no special ‘finale’ which was a shame, since ‘Leather & Leis’ last year was the perfect Elvis positive after the emotion & importance of The Vigil. Instead I went to Forest Lawn Cemetery to see where Elvis' body used to lay in the mausoleum before it was moved. Disappointingly, it seemed very dirty and unkempt this year.

Needing an “Elvis boost” I visited a display of never before released concert photos from the collection of George Hill. Derek Phillips has bought George Hill's entire collection (well over 1000) photographs of Elvis in concert from 1972-1977 and they have never been released before in any shape or form. They were AMAZING to see, just what I needed and I am sure most Elvis fans are like me- there is nothing quite like seeing a new photo of Elvis.

Prints of the majority are for sale www.imagesinconcert.com - what a treat. In the evening I joined the final walk up to the Elvis’ grave since it was yet another beautiful night for it. There were so many people that they had to extended the hours. I was stoked to see my special Elvis bouquet had been chosen, out of the hundreds from the previous night, to be displayed right alongside the one from Lisa Marie and Priscilla by the top of the grave. I was proud as punch - Australia was well represented. This was my final night and there was just enough time to say ‘C’mon everybody’ as we headed out for one ‘last farewell’!

As I departed Graceland Plaza I met, Branko Kavcic, the man who recently acquired the very first Stutz ever made - the be-all and end-all, we are talking the 1969 Prototype! The very car that Elvis drove, Frank Sinatra drove etc. While EPE has been trying to get hold of it, the original was there on tour this year for all to see. Branko said, “let’s Do The Vega” and try some ‘Nightlife’! Well, dear Elvis friends, what would you do? The Ann-Margret in me jumped in the Stutz and said, “You’re The Boss”!

Signing off from Elvis week 2004. "What’d I Say’’? ? For EIN & all Elvis fans, See you next year. - Sanja.

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