Since his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has routinely been listed by “Forbes” magazine as one of the world's top-earning dead celebrities. Usually he holds the number-one position (Michael Jackson beat him out in 2010), and every year in the past decade, Elvis has at least been in the top-10. But even before the King left the building, Elvis Presley was a memorabilia machine, thanks to his career as a singer, movie star, and bona-fide cultural icon.
Elvis fans and collectors can track his life through his memorabilia. Some make pilgrimages to his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, to pick up souvenir patches and T-shirts. But the real action in early Elvis material is in the 45s and 78s cut at Sun Records in 1954.
The first Presley single for Sun was "That’s All Right." With Sam Phillips at the mixing board, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, Bill Black on upright bass, and Presley on vocals and rhythm guitar, the trio recorded the track live in the studio, with no overdubs or even drums. The single’s B-side was a Bill Monroe bluegrass tune from the 1940s called "Blue Moon of Kentucky."
Two more Sun singles followed that year, with another pair in 1955, for a total of five Sun singles containing 10 songs. RCA re-released them all when it paid Sam Phillips $35,000 for Presley’s contract. Dozens more RCA singles were released throughout the 1950s, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don’t Be Cruel," and "Hound Dog" from 1956, and "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock" from 1957—all of these charted at number-one.
RCA kept Presley busy recording albums, too. "Elvis Presley" in 1956 came first. It included covers of "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins and "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles, as well as a Rogers and Hart tune from the 1930s called "Blue Moon." The album reached number-one on the charts, as did the next two Presley albums for RCA (Elvis’ “Christmas Album” from 1957 remains the best-selling Christmas record ever recorded).
Another popular category of Presley records are the soundtracks for movies the singer made from 1956 (“Love Me Tender”) to 1969 (“Change of Habit”). “Jailhouse Rock” from 1957 can be found as an EP, with five tracks, including the Leiber and Stoller penned title. Parts of “G.I. Blues” were filmed when Presley was still an enlisted man stationed in West Germany, and the film and soundtrack (vintage vinyl collectors can acquire all 10 versions) were both huge hits when they were released in the summer of 1960.
The biggest music-movie crossover hit for Presley was “Viva Las Vegas,” which was released in 1964 as an EP of four songs, none of which, astoundingly, was the title track. Presl...
“Viva Las Vegas” is also one of Elvis’ most collected movie posters, while the Hatch Show Print music poster for an Elvis concert in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 10 and 11, 1956, is a classic of that genre.
Even though Elvis is associated with Memphis—he called Graceland home from 1957 until his death—Hawaii also claims the King. He filmed “Blue Hawaii” there in 1961, “Paradise Hawaiian Style” in 1966, and honeymooned on the islands with Priscilla in 1967.
Even the Hawaiian shirt he wore for the cover shot of “Blue Hawaii” has become a collectible—the design was called Tiare Tapa and it was manufactured by Shaheen. Other items that became fashionable because of Elvis include the Hamilton Ventura wristwatches he favored in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as the numerous Omega and Rolex wristwatches he wore thereafter.
Las Vegas was another home-away-from-home, especially in the early 1970s. Today, Elvis Presley belt buckles, poker chips, playing cards, board games, and figurines commemorate those years. So do Elvis charm bracelets and enamel pins. But perhaps no item of Elvis memorabilia captures the star’s appeal better than the 29-cent U.S. postage stamp issued in 1993 as a part of the U.S. Postal Service’s American Music Series.
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Recent News: Elvis Presley Memorabilia
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Elvis memorabilia: Graceland Too auction to be repeatedUSA TODAY, March 29th
JACKSON, Miss. — Fans of the Elvis collection stashed at Holly Springs' Graceland Too will have another chance to bid on their favorite memorabilia in May following problems with an online bid accepted during the first auction. "I deal with a lot of...Read more
Graceland brings Elvis back to his Las Vegas homeDallas Morning News, March 28th
Now, the Westgate Las Vegas hotel-casino will house a rotating display of Elvis memorabilia and artifacts rarely seen outside his famed Memphis, Tenn., Graceland mansion. The exhibit is scheduled to open April 23. Feel like getting married? Graceland ...Read more
Jerry's in Okolona officially closes Monday morning after nearly 60 years in ...WDRB, March 27th
It's more than just the food and atmosphere -- it's where you'll find Marilyn Monroe at the door and Elvis memorabilia. Henry says this about an Elvis statue: "They come in they just want to rub on his hands and his head. It's amazing. They identify...Read more
Graceland Too heads back to the auction blockWTVA, March 25th
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (WTVA) -- For collectors looking to get a piece of Elvis memorabilia from Graceland Too during an auction in January, you will get another change this coming May. Greg Kinard of Spur K Auctions in Meridian says an online bidding ...Read more
Blue Suede Memories V features Elvis tribute artists, special eventsWaterloo Cedar Falls Courier, March 22nd
There's also a big auction of Elvis memorabilia in May at New York's Hard Rock Cafe featuring his 1971 Stutz Blackhawk and U.S. Army winter dress uniform, among other items. Now more than 1,000 fans are expected to gather for Blue Suede Memories V on ...Read more
Two Words – 'Keep It' – At Core Of Elvis Memorabilia CaseInsurance News Net, March 19th
Legal analysts have made much of the fact that the challenge to health care reform in the King v. Burwell case now before the U.S. Supreme Court hinged on four words: “established by the State.” An appeals court, however, recently upheld a jury's...Read more
Elvis Memorabilia Stays With Collector's NurseCourthouse News Service, March 10th
(CN) - The former president of Elvis Presley's fan club, a disabled man and personal friend of Presley's, gave his large Elvis memorabilia collection to his nurse and fellow Elvis fan, the 8th Circuit ruled, rejecting a challenge by the collector's...Read more
Judges: Elvis fan's heirs have no claim to collectionUSA TODAY, March 9th
The ruling from a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a jury's June 2013 verdict over the ownership of Elvis memorabilia amassed by Sterling Gary Pepper Jr. Pepper lived for a short time in a Cedar Rapids nursing home...Read more