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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Friends turn antique collection into new businessLompoc Record, October 5th
The pair rotates collections, some for sale, some not, along with items that on any given day may include a piece of Santa Maria Valley history or a bit of Elvis memorabilia. "We've made this place like you would like a museum," Arnold said. "People...Read more
Elvis and a Big Hunk o' Tax BreaksWall Street Journal, October 5th
A planned 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex would house Elvis memorabilia, shops and restaurants. Memphis and the state of Tennessee are helping pay for the project in three ways. Some of the sales taxes collected at Graceland, half of future ...Read more
Kirby: Who'll buy my underwear when I die?Salt Lake Tribune, September 27th
Elvis memorabilia still sells (although the same cannot be said for my parents' home). A hankie with certified Elvis sweat on it recently sold for $2,500. Somebody else got $800 for six strands of his hair. Dirt from the exact spot where Elvis did...Read more
The 10 best things about the Porthcawl Elvis Festival 2015 and its Elvis ...WalesOnline, September 26th
Staff at the shop always make the most of the Elvis Festival, and this year was no different. Emily was stood outside selling masks, glasses and Elvis memorabilia to festival goers who had left it to the last minute. She said: “We always do something...Read more
Elvis' famous Russian Tsar claw crest ring set to sell for $40000 at auctionNew York Daily News, September 22nd
Elvis Presley's famous Russian Tsar ring that he gave to a fan is expected to sell for an estimated $40,000 at auction. The 14-carat gold and diamond claw crest ring was one of Presley's most prized possessions as it was a gift from his father Vernon...Read more
Elvis Presley's Russian Tsar claw crest ring set to fetch £25000 at auctionMirror.co.uk, September 21st
Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said: "This is such a unique piece of Elvis' memorabilia with unquestionable provenance. "I expect it will achieve a considerable sum." The ring originally belonged to Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, who passed it down to his...Read more
Elvis is backAlton Telegraph, September 16th
Alton Little Theater will hold an Elvis trivia contest during intermission, giving away complimentary tickets to ALT shows and holding a raffle for a “Gone But Not Forgotten Basket” of Elvis memorabilia, including the new paperback edition of “Elvis...Read more
5 Amazing Pieces of Elvis Memorabilia up for Auction at GracelandPeople Magazine, August 12th
First of all, what a necklace. Second of all, are you familiar with the relationship between Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis? From the eBay listing: "Once Elvis gave Sammy a black sapphire ring and told him, 'This is the biggest black star I've ever seen so...Read more