Elvis Party River Cruise

Rollin’ On A River

‘Everybody Come Aboard’ and join us for an Elvis Cruise on the River Thames

Sunday 14th August 2016

 

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Arranged in association with Elvis in Essex, Strictly Elvis UK is pleased to announce the first of what we believe will become an annual event – a fabulous afternoon Sightseeing and Elvis Disco Cruise on the Thames.

Leaving at 2:00pm from a central pier our ‘double-decker’ modern vessel, the Pride of London, (probably from then on also known as Proud Mary!) will take us on a glorious “rollin’ on a river” cruise all along the Thames – as far as Greenwich and the Thames Barrier to the East, and Putney Bridge in the West. You’ll get a wonderful ‘ducks-eye view’ of all the major sights – from the towering buildings of Canary Wharf to the rotund O2, we’ll pass under Tower Bridge, alongside the Tower of London and HMS Belfast, have great views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Festival Hall. The London Eye, Houses of Parliament, the Tate Gallery, Battersea Power Station and hundreds more iconic sights as our 4 hour cruise swishes along this mighty waterway.

Fancy a dance – then go ahead as our top deck features an all-Elvis Disco with dance-floor . Like to be outside, then head for the open-air stern (back end to you non-sailors!) or just want to sit, relax  and listen to the Elvis music, then the comfortable lower deck has comfy chairs and tables plus large panoramic windows allowing you to see all the sights. You’ll love it.

The price of just £20 is inclusive of the Elvis Disco Cruise only. There is a licensed cash bar on board.

To book your tickets simply phone Strictly Elvis UK on 01473 621 564 or send a cheque payable to Strictly Elvis UK to Strictly Elvis UK, Unit D Bristol Court, Martlesham Heath Business Park, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP5 3RY. Credit/Debit cards incur a 50p per ticket transaction fee.

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JOE MOSCHEO PASSES AWAY

It’s with great regret that we have to pass on the very sad news thatjoe1 friend of Elvis’ and a good friend to all of the Elvis Family, Joe Moscheo has sadly passed away. This report comes from Joe’s former group ‘Elvis’ Imperials’:

“We are so sorry to inform you that Joe Moscheo lost his battle for life last night. At around 10 pm, Monday night, Joe entered eternity and the joys that heaven affords to all who call on the name of the Lord.
Please pray for comfort for the family as they deal with this heart-breaking loss.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe’s family and all of the Elvis Family at this sad time.

Rest in Peace our friend – your passing makes the world seem a far lesser place Joe. You’ll be missed by us all.

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Elvis on Ed Sullivan – A look back!

Exactly 59 years ago today, January 6th 1957, Elvis appeared on theed1 ‘Ed Sullivan TV Show’ he had previously been on the show on a number of occasions and had used it as a springboard to further his already groundbreaking career, these performances have gone down as benchmarks in TV history. In true Elvis fashion – before anyone did anything, Elvis did everything!

The Ed Sullivan show was a weekly variety show on CBS television which ran from 1948 through to 1971. It was an eclectic mix of all sorts of entertainment, a kind of vaudeville show for the 20th century, with opera singers, comedians and ballet dancers sharing the stage with popular music artists of the day, dramatic actors, puppeteers and even circus acts. Sullivan, a rather conservative and dour faced individual, was heavily criticised by the press as being a rather strange choice to host such a show “He got where he is not by having a personality, but by having no personality” was how one critic put it (Sullivan’s response was a letter to his protagonist simply saying “You Bitch. Sincerely Ed Sullivan”) but what Ed did have was an instinct for what the public wanted and he made sure there was something for everyone on each episode. He also had a knack for identifying and promoting talent and many saw the show as a major stepping stone to superstardom.

One man though was already on his way to superstardom long before appearing on the show. In 1956 Elvis was the hottest star in America, since the release of ‘That’s All Right Mama’ two years earlier he had trail blazed his way across the popular music and entertainment landscapes with a whole number of hit records creating a cultural revolution.

Elvis had already been on a number of national TV shows in 1956 before Ed Sullivan came knocking. In fact it’s safe to say that had Elvis had not played The Steve Allen show in July of that year (featuring the infamous ‘Hound Dog’ performance sung to a basset hound) then Sullivan would’ve stayed with his initial thoughts that he didn’t want to give Presley any airtime, stating the reason that he didn’t think “Elvis the Pelvis” was suitable for his family audience. However after the Allen show received almost twice as many viewers as Sullivan’s on the night that Elvis played, he was quick to change his mind, especially as the two shows were in the middle of a heated ratings battle. After negotiations with the Colonel, Sullivan paid an unprecedented $50,0000 for 3 appearances on his show (this despite the fact that some time previously Sullivan had the chance to book him for just $5,000). Starting with the September 9th broadcast it was to be a show business marriage made in ratings heaven!

Due to the filming of ‘Love Me Tender’ Elvis didn’t actually appear at the usual recording venue of the CBS studio on Broadway in New York, instead appearing live via a network linkup from CBS ined3 Hollywood (and in fact due to being hospitalised in a car accident, Sullivan also didn’t appear with presenting duties handed over to Actor Charles Laughton for the night). Despite paying such a hefty fee for Elvis and the fact that he would definitely win the TV ratings that night as NBC, realising that all eyes would be glued to CBS, pulled The Steve Allen Show and showed a movie instead, it would appear that Sullivan still couldn’t get over his first thoughts on Elvis. Ed Sullivan headliners always opened the show, but despite Elvis being the headliner he didn’t appear until later on, instead Sullivan subjected the teenyboppers in the audience to Laughton reading poetry before they got to see their snake-hipped hero. Laughton also gave a very straight introduction as if not wanting to build any anticipation to what the viewers were about to see. Standing in front of some gold records Laughton announced “These gold records, four of them are a tribute to the fact that four of his recordings have sold, each sold, more than a million copies. And this, by the way, is the first time in record making history that a singer has hit such a mark in such a short time. And now, away to Hollywood to meet Elvin Presley” Yes – despite being the hottest commodity in entertainment, Laughton still managed to mispronunciate his name!

As Elvis appeared on screen from the other side of the country, he cleared his throat and said “Thank you, Mr Laughton, ladies and gentlemen, This is probably the greatest honor I’ve ever had in my life. Ah. There’s not much I can say except, it really makes you feel good. We want to thank you from the bottom of our heart. And now Don’t Be Cruel”. After another short introduction it was followed by Love Me Tender before handing back to the New York studio. During these two performances Elvis appeared nervous, fidgety and, unlike previous TV performances, quite subdued. Compared to the tuxedo worn during his Steve Allen performance he was dressed down in a plaid jacket and an open-necked shirt. However he soon found his stride, and after enduring various other acts including acrobats and tap dancers, the audience get a second look at Elvis as he goes into an incendiary performance of ‘Ready Teddy’, backed by the Jordanaires. This is followed by a message to “Mr Sullivan” thanking him for the opportunity and wishing him a speedy recovery before continuing his serious tone by saying “As a great philosopher once said….You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog!” and then launching into his hit record. Elvis really finds his place during this performance, holding nothing back and snarling and gyrating. Due to the controversies from his earlier appearances on The Milton Berle Show during this number the camera shows Elvis more from the waist-up but not, as popular urban myth would suggest, completely as he is shown in full gyrating and thrusting detail during the earlier numbers. After just two verses the performance was over and the numbers soon confirmed that it was money well spent by Sullivan as the show managed to reach a record 82.6 percent of the TV audience, which equated to approximately 60 million viewers. As well as boosting Elvis’ stock with a more adult audience it pushed pre-release orders up to close to a million for the yet unreleased ‘Love Me Tender’ which a number of DJ’s around the country had taped from the performance to play on air. The performance however was not without controversy with a number of reviewers picking up on Elvis’ frenzied performance, including one who stated that Elvis “Indulged in wordless singing that was distasteful” and that “Overstimulating the physical impulses of the teenagers was a gross national disservice” But despite this and his initial hesitations it would appear that Ed and Elvis make a winning combination and it’s not long before his second appearance.

ed7In the 7 weeks between the first and second appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, Elvis’ career went into overdrive with him completing the filming of ‘Love Me Tender’, signing a new 5 year contract with RCA, performing a short tour in Texas and Variety magazine declaring him ‘A Millionaire in one year’. He evens finds himself caught up in an altercation at a gas station in Memphis which lands him an assault charge before his trip to New York for his  second Sullivan appearance.

October 28th 1956 – Elvis is in New York in a BIG way, quite literally as earlier in the day a 40 foot cut-out was unveiled on top of the Times Square Paramount cinema marquee announcing theed4 upcoming premiere of ‘Love Me Tender’, and later that night he stands beside Ed Sullivan (back hosting the show after recovering from his injuries) to give renditions of four of his biggest hits backed once again by the Jordanaires. Dressed in grey jacket, white shirt and tie and black trousers, Elvis gives a much more naturally confident performance from the get-go compared to his previous appearance. Despite being disciplined by Sullivan two days earlier during rehearsals for the ‘suggestive movements’, and the subsequent brouhaha in the media afterwards, he performed back in September, Elvis still gives a powerhouse performance full of his usual gyrating stage moves.

After the first and second numbers of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and ‘Love Me Tender’ Sullivan appeared next to Elvis to address the audience. Elvis began shaking his legs eliciting screams from the audience. After leaving the stage, Sullivan commented “I can’t figure this darn thing out. He just does this (shakes his leg) and everyone yells”. After a short commercial break Elvis sang ‘Love Me’ during which the camera moved in for a close-up of Elvis’ face, and then, as if on cue, he smiled and snarled his upper lip. The studio audience was driven wild.

After a performances by Broadway stars and Joyce Grenfell Elvis returned to the stage to perform his last number, another electrifying performance of Hound Dog. Full of energy and at nearly four minutes long this is perhaps one of his finest renditions of the track. Again though, despite the myth, Elvis was shown in full during the song.

Despite not hitting the peaks of the first outing on the show, round 2 was still a huge success with huge ratings to boot, and just like the first time, a fair bit of controversy too as Elvis was burned in effigy in Nashville and St. Louis. By now though Sullivan was starting to realise that ‘controversy creates cash’ as whether good or bad, the name of his show was constantly in the national press.

1957 wasn’t even a week old before Elvis was back in New York for ed9his final outing on Ed Sullivan. On January 6th Elvis appeared for the final time on the show, performing a staggering 7 numbers. This time round he dressed in a slightly more elaborate fashion wearing a velvet shirt he had worn whilst performing in Tupelo and a gold lame vest top that was a Christmas gift from Barbra Hearn as one reviewer put it “He was playing Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, with all the stops out” he did however don a more appropriate jacket for the closing gospel number of ‘Peace in the Valley’. Starting with a medley of ‘Hound Dog’. ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ before taking a break and coming back for ‘Too Much’ and ‘When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again’ and then closing with the aforementioned gospel number, one thing is noticeable and that is on this occasion Elvis was only filmed from the waist up. The exact reason is unknown, some say that after the previous two performances  the censors decided not to take any risks, but fear of him performing overtly sexual moves wouldn’t be the case on this occasion as other than the small snippet of ‘Hound Dog’ all the other numbers wereed5 ballads. There is rumour however that, following a disagreement between Col. Parker and Sullivan in which the former threatened to remove Elvis from the show if Sullivan didn’t apologise for telling the press that Presley’s gyrations were immoral, Sullivan decided to film Elvis from the waist up as a way of getting his own back.

Whatever the case, the earlier misapprehensions that Sullivan had over Elvis seemed to have vanished by the time he performed in 1957 as at the end of the show Sullivan came on, put his hand on Elvis’ shoulder and said “I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy. We have never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we had with you; you’re thoroughly alright. Let’s have a tremendous hand for a very nice person”. It was a ringing endorsement that, to many, legitmised Elvis with the adult mainstream audience.

Elvis never featured on the show again despite Sullivan contacting Parker several years later to get Elvis back on. In true Colonel fashion he gave Sullivan all kinds of instructions and conditions and a rumoured price of $300,000, after hearing all these demands Sullivan simply said “Give Elvis my best – and my sympathy” and then hung up. Elvis and the Colonel did however send a telegram wishing the Beatles all the best on their debut on the show in 1964.

ed2Elvis’ performances are on The Ed Sullivan Show are now considered legendary. Not only because they’re a snapshot of a young man who was on the cusp of greatness, not knowing what an amazing career he had yet to come but also because of the electricity, charisma and raw talent which radiate from him during the performances. The shows are also part of Presley myth as well due to the stories of him only being filmed from the waist up (something Elvis even name checks himself in the ’68 Comeback Special). Many believe that the exposure that he received on these shows also validated Elvis in the minds of many older viewers.

In 2006, The History Channel selected the September 9th, 1956ed6 Elvis Presley appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show as one of the ‘10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America’ and the initial broadcast has also been featured in TV Guides list of ‘Moments that Changed Television’.

The Ed Sullivan show continued to run until 1971, in which time many other big name stars, such as The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan used it as a way of creating controversy to create a name for themselves just as Elvis has done years before. Sullivan sadly passed away in 1974 following a short battle with cancer. His name lives on though as the studio in New York where the show was filmed is now named ‘The Ed Sullivan Theatre’.

 

 

 

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2015 – the year that was!

Wow! That sums up 2015 for us here at Strictly Elvis. At the end of last year in our summing up of an amazing 2014 we said we were ready to do all again and then some in the coming 12 months – and we like to think we certainly did that!

January had not only the Elvis world, but the whole country, buzzing about the O2 exhibit which had opened just a few weeks before and was getting hundreds of visitors every day. Whilst so many were able to enjoy these personal Elvis artefacts here in the UK, there were over a 100 lucky fans looking forward to jetting off to celebrate Elvis’ 80th Birthday with the Elvis Travel Service in Memphis and Tupelo – and boy did we have a blast! It was wonderful to be in Elvis’ The January Tour Group at the Circle G Ranchbeloved home town on this very special day and standing on the front lawn of Graceland watching the whole Presley family at the Proclamation ceremony is something that will stay with us forever. Afterwards half of the group flew on to Florida for some winter sun and a chance to tour some Elvis sights as well. But as soon as we got back to the UK it was straight onto the promotion of the Elvis at the O2 exhibit, and in late January the Strictly crew were on hand at the huge UK travel trade show at Alexandra Palace selling the exhibit to coach and travel companies .

February saw us on a weekly basis travelling to the O2, meeting up with our Elvis family and also new fans too. Early in the month we were there to see the unveiling of the latest of the ‘rotating exhibits’; the 68 black leather suit. It was just amazing to see this piece of iconic Elvis history here in the UK and quickly became the most popular item on display (particularly with the ladies!)

March had us hitting the road for a trip up north to take in one of the Newcastle Elvis fan club events. A great night was had by all especially when David Wade did a Q&A and told his story about meeting Elvis – you could’ve heard a pin drop in the room! We were back in London just a couple of weeks later as we met up with our Elvis family for an afternoon at the theatre and the fabulous ‘Memphis: The Musical’ we had a great time seeing this awesome show and afterwards we went onto the O2 – a perfect way to spend a day. This was also the month in which Coca-Cola launched a new advertising campaign featuring Elvis. It was fab seeing Elvis up high on posters and billboards all over the UK.

 

In April Strictly Elvis went for a visit to Brighton to check out some venues for a future event and also visit the hugegetimage retro Jukebox fair that was in town we had a great time browsing all the jukeboxes, vintage clothing, classic cars and, of course, Elvis memorabilia that was on display. And at the O2 another rare piece of Elvis history made it’s first appearance in the UK as the Gold Lame suit from the 1950’s was put on display. Due to the value of this item it was a thrill to see it be delivered by armoured car along with an escort of British paratroopers!

In between lots of trips to the O2, May was another visit to the coast as we held our 10th Elvis Spring Break in sunny Torquay. A beautiful hotel, gorgeous weather and plenty of Elvis – what more could we want! We’re back again in 2016 – don’t miss this great laid-back Elvis long weekend. Meanwhile ‘Elvis Fever’ was fast spreading as the famous Barbican Centre in London also hosted their own Elvis exhibit with personal fan owned items dating back 60 years put on display. We were pleased to help promote this event and made quite a few visits whenever we were in town.

In June Strictly Elvis played host to a group from the ‘Elvis: My Happiness’ Fan Club of Paris. We had a ball showing our Elvis Family from the continent around the ‘Elvis at the O2’ exhibit where they got to see the famous Pink Cadillac which had also arrived in June. Afterwards we showed them how the Brits party at the ‘Elvis in London’ Fan Club night. Later in the month we got together with our Elvis Family for another afternoon at the theatre. This time we went off to Wimbledon to see ‘Love Me Tender’ a musical comedy based around Elvis’ songs. It was an amazing show and afterwards we squeezed a trip to the O2 in as well.

July was spent finalising details for forthcoming Anniversary tours along with  regular visits at the O2 exhibit. Strictly Elvis had arranged a number of competitions, including some in the national press, and we were delighted to meet up with the lucky prize winners to not only give them a tour but to treat them to lunch as well.

August was a busy month as the Elvis Travel Service had two tours for the 38th Anniversary. One group flew out to the12036518_10153691077437022_7839279699699980641_n 11892250_10153631785892022_3753907189814383499_n US to visit Tupelo and Memphis where they had a blast visiting Elvis’ Birthplace, Graceland, Sun Studio and so many other places connected to Elvis’ life. They were on hand to see the unveiling of the new Elvis stamp by Priscilla as well as join in with the Candlelight Vigil. Afterwards half of the group carried on via Fort Chaffee to ‘King Creole Country’ – New Orleans. Another group made their way to Germany to join in the annual Elvis Festival in Bad Nauheim, the town Elvis lived in whilst serving in the US Army.  As well as seeing all the Elvis sights in the town they also visited nearby Friedberg where they had an exclusive tour inside the barracks Elvis served at.

Two fabulous trips and two great places to spend this special time of the year.

We didn’t have long back at Strictly Elvis HQ before we were packing out cases again for the huge Elvis Festival. This September event just keeps getting bigger and better and this years, our 35th Anniversary, was no different. It was 11987077_10153659246252022_7908437090050315198_nElvis from morning through to, well the early hours of the next morning – for a whole week! Absolute bliss! As well as a whole host of guest speakers including authors and record producers we were also joined by close friend and confidante of Elvis; Larry Geller. It was an awesome week and we’re looking forward to it being even bigger in 2016!

 

 

October was spent largely in the office or at the O2, where brand new items, including Elvis’ Gold Belt and the white51Qimu6Sp2L__SL500_AA280_ ‘If I Can Dream’ suit went on display. We did manage to squeeze in a visit to the Hotshots Fan Club in Birmingham’s event where we got to see our dear friend Jerry Scheff doing a performance. The big news this month however was the launch of the new album ‘If I Can Dream’. And what can we say? It just blew everyone away, getting Elvis back to number 1 in the charts and ensuring his name was all over the mainstream media.  This album is still selling thousands of copies and still sitting firm at number 2 in the album charts. Just awesome! It was a thrill to have had the producers of this album at our Elvis Festival in September where they gave us all an exclusive sneak preview.

At the start of November Strictly Elvis were invited to be part of a very special night at the O2 for the tourism industry where Priscilla spoke about Memphis and Elvis’ love of the city and then mingled with all those in attendance for photos. Just a few days later Elvis was back on prime-time TV with a great documentary presented by Joanna Lumley, in which the TV star travelled to the USA to discover Elvis’ roots. Our own David Wade was proud to have been part of the research for this TV show which was highly acclaimed by both critics and viewers. And before the month was out we once again welcomed a group from France back to the UK and another visit to the O2 exhibit.

The start of December saw a group visit Milton Keynes to see Priscilla in Panto. As a very special surprise arranged by Strictly Elvis, Priscilla came out to meet and have her photo taken with the group. It was a great way to finish off a fantastic year!12346601_10207569257211167_6298099325321505072_n

2015 really has been such an amazing year and it was a year that saw Elvis being back in the mainstream spotlight in a positive way! We’ve been so proud to have been a part of that and continue to give the very best Elvis experiences to all of our Elvis family. We’ve travelled a fair few miles but it’s been worth it to ensure that Strictly Elvis is the biggest Elvis organisation. Everything we do is for fans – by fans!

Before we close there’s just a few thank you’s  to make – firstly to all those hotels, venues, attractions, airlines, coach companies, bands, special guests, tourist offices and everyone else who give their 100% service to us. Secondly to our hard working crew who work so hard in making sure our holidays and events work so well. A massive thank you to our Elvis Family – it’s you who make the events and holidays what they are. A celebration of Elvis’ life and legacy with no trouble or fuss – just one big happy Elvis family!

And finally the biggest thank you – to the man who makes it all possible and who continues to give us friendships and amazing experiences through his legacy. The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be: Elvis Presley.

We’ll be back in 2016 TCB and TCE with another great line-up of Elvis holidays and events, with all of our regulars, plus a few new ones along with a couple of surprises too!

We can’t wait to see you!

 

 

 

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

From all of us at Strictly Elvis – Merry Christmas!

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The Elvis Festival 2016

The biggest and best Elvis gathering returns for it’s 36th year in Screen shot 2015-11-18 at 09 40 592016 at the 5* Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth – The Elvis Festival!

A full colour brochure detailing all of our great line-up will be available in the New Year. To get your copy ‘Hot off the Press’ just call us on 01473 621 564 or e-mail: enquiries@stictlyelvis.net

This is one Elvis event you won’t want to miss!

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Latest Elvis Holiday Brochures

Our brochures for the latest Elvis holidays and events are available for download by clicking on the links below.

For a printed copy of our brochures then please call us on 01473 621 564 or email: enquiries@strictlyelvis.net

Spring Break 2016 Brochure

39th Annual Memorial Tour / Elvis in Germany Tour brochure

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‘If I Can Dream’ The exciting new album from Elvis with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

October 30th will see the release of an amazing new Elvis album.

‘If I Can Dream’ features the original vocals of Elvis but backed with a stunning new arrangement by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The remarkable new album features classic Elvis vocal performances with brand-new orchestral accompaniment, along with a duet with Michael Bublé, and appearances by Il Volo and Duane Eddy.

An exciting revisit of Elvis’ work, If I Can Dream focuses on the iconic artist’s unmistakable voice, emphasizing the pure power of The King of Rock and Roll. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London with acclaimed producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick, the 14-track album features Elvis’ most dramatic original performances augmented with lush new arrangements by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. “This would be a dream come true for Elvis,” Priscilla Presley says of the project. “He would have loved to play with such a prestigious symphony orchestra. The music…the force that you feel with his voice and the orchestra is exactly what he would have done.” Don Reedman also commented, “Abbey Road Studios and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are as good as it gets and Elvis deserves as good as it gets.”

The album features a scintillating duet with best-selling jazz-pop singer Michael Bublé on “Fever.” The album also includes additional contributions by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Duane Eddy adding his signature sound to “An American Trilogy” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Italian operatic pop trio Il Volo lending their outstanding vocals to “It’s Now or Never.” As producer Nick Patrick said, “This is the record he would have loved to make.” If I Can Dream also highlights Elvis Presley’s diverse musical tastes and appreciation for great vocalists spanning a variety of genres from standards to opera.

 

If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Track listing

01. Burning Love
02. It’s Now Or Never
03. Love Me Tender
04. Fever (feat. Michael Bublé)
05. Bridge Over Troubled Water
06. And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind
07. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
08. There’s Always Me
09. Can’t Help Falling In Love
10. In The Ghetto
11. How Great Thou Art
12. Steamroller Blues
13. An American Trilogy
14. If I Can Dream

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Brand new TV documentary ‘Elvis and Me’

November 4th on ITV here in the UK will see the airing of a brand new documentary as highly acclaimed actress and broadcaster Joanna Lumley traces the legacy of her childhood hero – Elvis Presley.

jl1

 

Full Press Release:

“My Elvis was this young one, before the jumpsuits and the big lifestyle. But what was he really like? If my dream had come true and he had come over to England and I had met him, I wonder would I have liked the boy buried underneath the myth? I’m going in search of the youth catapulted to fame and fortune. ” Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley embarks on a very personal journey for an intimate insight into Elvis Presley, the man behind the myth, for this unique one-hour documentary. The programme sees Joanna travel to Graceland and meet some of Elvis’s closest surviving friends and family, including ex-wife Priscilla Presley, for an honest portrait of what ‘The King’ was really like.
One of the first records Joanna ever bought was “Hound Dog” and ever since that day she has loved Elvis. This year Elvis would have turned 80 and it is one of Joanna’s biggest regrets that she never got the opportunity to meet the man.
Joanna says: “The thing about being a fan of Elvis is that you just love everything about him. I loved the way he looked, the way he sang, the way he dressed, the photographs of him, the way he performed on stage…and I loved his smile and his sense of humour. I love the fact that he never really grinned huge cheesy grins, he had a special Elvis grin, and I borrowed that for Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous…a little tribute to Elvis.”
Joanna joins Priscilla Presley at Abbey Road Studios for a recording session of the new Elvis album “If I Can Dream” with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. As they listen to musicians from the live orchestra recording together, the atmosphere is emotional.
Priscilla says (of Elvis): “This is something he would have dreamed of doing, especially here. It gives me chills really.”
Joanna accepts Priscilla’s invitation to Graceland for a personal tour of Elvis’s home, where Priscilla shares intimate memories about their married life and Joanna learns that Elvis was an insomniac who preferred milkshakes to alcohol.
Joanna says: “The TV room, the living room, Elvis’s jungle-themed den, are virtually untouched. His mother’s bedroom is still as it was. It’s open to the public, but tonight, Priscilla and I will be alone, with her memories.”
Elvis had just turned 22 and was the biggest sensation in music when he bought the house. But his story began in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he was born. Joanna heads there next, to see his humble beginnings for herself and visit the shack which Elvis’s father built for the family.
Joanna reveals how his parents, who couldn’t read or write, were regarded at the bottom of the social ladder in the 1930s.
She explains: “Dirt poor was a term coined in America in the 1930s and it meant people who were so poor that they had a roof over their heads but the ground they were on was just earth. This little shack, that Vernon, Elvis’s dad built when he was just a teenager, in fact had planks on the ground but there was pretty much nothing inside it, just a few sticks of furniture. They were dirt poor. It’s extraordinary to think that this was where he was born.”
Joanna visits the hardware shop where an eleven-year-old Elvis bought a child-sized guitar when his protective mother, Gladys, banned him from buying the 22-calibre rifle that he had wanted.
Elvis’s first song was about a boy and his dog and he played it endlessly on his guitar. It later became a hit single in 1956 but Elvis performed it for the first time on stage at his school, ten years earlier.
Joanna talks to Elvis’s childhood friend Sam Bell, who reveals what life was like for a young Elvis growing up in a city blighted by segregation. She learns that Gospel was a major influence on Elvis, which would later shine through his music with the birth of rock n roll.
Sam says: “He wasn’t treated as a white boy in the neighbourhood, he was treated as one of the kids in the neighbourhood. He was very polite to my grandparents. We better say, ‘yes ma’am, yes sir,’ but him being white, he didn’t have to. But he did it anyway. Grandma loved him, and my papa did too, because no white kid ever said, ‘yes sir’.”
After moving to Memphis, Tennessee in 1947, Elvis found inspiration in the capital city of the blues.
One of the highlights of Joanna’s journey is the iconic Sun Studios where Elvis recorded his first record in August 1953. Sun Studios remains exactly as it was the moment Elvis walked in. Overwhelmed, Joanna performs at the microphone whilst listening to Elvis’s breakthrough record from 1954.
Joanna also meets The King’s first love, Dixie Locke, who gives a fascinating insight into how Elvis was regarded as an outsider in his youth and bullied for the way he looked.
Dixie says: “My girlfriends had thought that maybe I was a little strange because I was dating him, when he was a little strange, that’s what people thought.”
Joanna visits the clothing store where Elvis created his look in the 1950s, including his infamous blue suede shoes, and follows his meteoric rise to fame. By the 1960s Elvis was earning the equivalent of 40 million dollars a year, largely thanks to his manager Colonel Tom Parker, whose influence was at times questioned by others.
Just after he found fame and brought Graceland, Elvis went into the army and off to Germany, where he found Priscilla. At that key moment, he lost his beloved mother.
School friend George Klein says: “I’ve never seen a grown man cry so much. He cried for three straight days. Elvis would get her gown or her blouse or something and he’d just hold it all day long. I saw that with my own eyes.”
Priscilla explains to Joanna how she picked up the pieces of Elvis’s grief and how they became close, marrying in private, before having a baby daughter together in 1968.
But Elvis returned to touring and his time on the road was damaging to his marriage. He tragically died from a heart attack just four years after his divorce.
Joanna talks to Elvis’s family and lifelong friends about his death, hearing about how the singer James Brown broke down at Elvis’s casket. She is moved to hear about his funeral and inspired by the legacy he has left behind.
Elvis and Me airs on ITV on November 4th 2015 at 9pm

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Fabulous new items on display at ‘Elvis at the O2’ exhibit

Yesterday (October 20th) saw some amazing new items go on display at London’s record-breaking ‘Elvis at the O2′ exhibit.

This exhibit, which opened it’s doors in December last year, has seen 200,000 people come and view 300+ permanent items directly from Elvis’ Graceland home.

As well as the permanent items there has also been a number of rotating pieces too. These have included the Aloha Eagle Jumpsuit, The ’68 Comeback Black Leather Suit, the Gold Lame suit and the iconic Pink Cadillac.

The Cadillac left the museum this past Monday to be replaced by a number of new items which will remain at the O2 until the exhibition closes next year.

These include the white suit as seen in the ’68 Comeback and the ‘Sun-dial’ jumpsuit as worn by Elvis during his last ever concert.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see this little slice of Graceland here in the UK. Just go through to: www.elvisattheo2.com for more details.

 – Elvis at the O2 is open 7 days a week from 10am and will close on January 10th 2016 

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