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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World's #1 Elvis Fan Leaves the Building... Now What to Do with It?WKNO FM, August 18th
In 1990, he opened his house to visitors to show off his enormous hoard of Elvis memorabilia. But it soon became clear that the real attraction was Paul MacLeod. Youtube videos show MacLeod guiding visitors through his house like a deranged carnival ...Read more
Elvis memorabilia snapped up at auctionSBS, August 15th
Many of the artefacts came from Greg Page, a founding member of the Australian children's band The Wiggles, who is among the world's leading collectors of Elvis memorabilia. "I never considered these my 'things',' and while it was difficult to part...Read more
Return to Sender: Lakeland Man Ready to Reclaim Elvis Scarf After Three ...The Ledger, August 14th
Adams said he intended to display the scarf in his Elvis memorabilia room. As he drove home after acquiring it, though, he said he glanced down and noticed the picture of the smiling boy lying on the car seat beside him. "I thought, 'If I was Dave, I'd...Read more
Vibe of Elvis museum changes after owner's deathReverb MSN Music (blog), August 12th
Since 1990, the perpetually caffeinated MacLeod had guided intoxicated college students, international tourists and other adventure seekers through his floor-to-ceiling collection of Elvis memorabilia. Graceland Too is not affiliated with Presley's...Read more
Elvis Presley's "Fool's Gold" sandwich was born in DenverThe Denver Post, August 6th
For the past 28 years, Nick and Kathleen Andurlakis have owned Nick's Cafe, 777½ Simms St. ( foolsgoldloaf.com, 303-238-9670) in Golden, where they still serve the Fool's Gold sandwich, $7, in a small room filled with Elvis memorabilia. The walls tell...Read more
Graceland Too operator to be rememberedNews Sentinel, August 5th
He was found dead of apparent natural causes in a chair on the porch of his home, which housed an eclectic lifelong collection of Elvis memorabilia that people would come from far and wide to see. Meanwhile, Holly Springs attorney Phillip Knecht, who ...Read more
Property displays Elvis memorabilia for public to viewSt. George Daily Spectrum, July 31st
Tony Freitas, of Oakdale, Calif., performs during the Las Vegas Elvis Festival in Las Vegas earlier this month. Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino offers Elvis Presley fans ways to remember him. (Photo: AP). CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAIL ...Read more
Elvis Memorabilia Up For Sale Including Cadillac and Rolls-RoyceChinatopix, July 23rd
On August 14, an auction will be held in Graceland during an annual event known as "Elvis Week". "Elvis Week" runs from August 9 to 17 to commemorate Presley's death anniversary on August 16. Like Us on Facebook ...Read more