“Tribute to Elvis Aaron Presley”

(by Nigel Patterson, President, Elvis Information Network)

In September 1977 if you had asked anyone in the street, would the world remember Elvis in the year 2004, they probably would have looked at you with a mixture of quizzical wonderment and disbelief.

Yet, 27 years after the mortal passing of Elvis, his musical, and some would say spiritual, immortality is indelibly woven into the fabric of western and eastern cultures.

Fan clubs devoted to maintaining his memory continue to proliferate with more than 650 worldwide now registered with Graceland; outside of the USA the highest number of Elvis tribute artists is found in Asian countries; and in cyberspace web sites honoring the King of Rock and Roll number in the thousands. The impact of Elvis Aaron Presley on the world is immeasurable.

More than 1 billion records and CDs sold, more than any other recording artist or group; a film legacy much maligned, but one with considerable artistic merit if objectively viewed outside the very narrow constraints of mass media criticism; a live act unmatched in the past century; a rich legacy of giving to those not as fortunate as himself.

And as a result of these, but with a sum much greater than the individual parts might suggest, Elvis has left a living, evolving imprint on the daily life of society. A friend involved with BMG Australia’s Elvis catalog once remarked to me, "You know, I don't think I will ever escape the Elvis phenomenon. At a "Blondie" concert the other night, two people sitting behind me spent the whole interval talking about.......Elvis."

Should anyone be surprised about this incident? While many non-Elvis fans cannot understand why he has such a "power" over people 27 years after his death, to Elvis fans, of course, no explanation is necessary. There is a reality that no day goes by when we will not hear or see the name, image or icon that is Elvis Presley.

"Elvis", in one guise or another, will appear in radio and TV commercials, in our daily newspapers and weekly magazines, and of course his music is still played, not only on the "golden oldie" stations, but also by contemporary commercial radio stations providing the music of today's youth....these stations attracted to the funky Elvis re-mixes such as 2002's mega hit, A Little Less Conversation, and the "hot hit" of 2003, Rubberneckin'.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this supports research by the Elvis Estate that found the average age of fans is less than 35. Elvis Aaron Presley grew up in humble circumstances to become the world's greatest entertainer. As a young superstar he displayed considerable reverence to both his family and his country, and a vibrant spirit of fun that so many of us wanted desperately to embrace. In his final years Elvis became tired, perhaps disillusioned, and the spark that for so many years pushed him to great artistic heights was finally extinguished, at least in mortal form.

Despite Elvis’ physical demise, the Elvis phenomenon has flourished for more than a quarter of a century. As each year has passed the critics have pronounced the end of the phenomenon. However, today it is no longer a case of when Elvis Aaron Presley will disappear from sight.......inspiringly, it is a case of when will the next “funky” re-mix of an Elvis song be released, when will the next Elvis special or film be shown on TV, when will the next tribute artist be in town.

If the 50 Elvis related events held in Australia over the past week are anything to go by, Elvis Presley is truly alive, and doing very, very well. To borrow from another musical icon, Paul McCartney, Elvis may well say: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.

To those who have listened to or studied Elvis, what is apparent is his unique ability to touch people - people from very different backgrounds and walks of life, in countless countries on seven continents....to touch them deeply, and well beyond just the integrity or sound of his music.

It is that indefinable quality, some may call it charisma, that is the power of Elvis Presley. And that quality is the reason why, 27 years after his mortal passing, the world continues to remember. Elvis' creative career was short, its legacy the opposite. Elvis, we look forward to you continuing to touch each of us and the world around us.

Elvis Aaron Presley...we thank you...rest in peace.