So here are on the cusp of another year. And with that in mind it’s time to look back at the truly awesome tear we’ve had, whilst getting ready for an even more amazing 12 months coming up. So without further ado, here is the year that was Strictly Elvis style!
January – saw a lucky group of fans take off for Memphis to take part in the 79th Birthday Celebrations. Despite some freezing temperatures (the fountains at Graceland even froze!) the group had a blast joining in the proclamation day ceremony, touring Tupelo and all the usual things that make our tours a firm favourite.
In preparation of our tour in August 2015, David Wade was present at an event in February hosted by the Louisiana Tourist Office where he spent time talking to no less than the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana who was thrilled that we would be visiting the State again and would do everything he could do to make the tour memorable.
Members of the Strictly Elvis crew were in Birmingham in March watching the legendary Jerry Scheff perform a concert with band Mondo Carne – it was such an amazing show that we just had to book them for a future event and we’re delighted to say that they’ll be giving a repeat performance in September 2015 at our Elvis Festival.
April was a month of mixed emotions as we awoke to news here in the UK of the terrible tornado which had swept through Mississippi, in particular Tupelo, where it wreaked terrible havoc. We were relieved to hear the Birthplace had escaped any damage but saddened to hear of the terrible property damage that many of our friends in the City had suffered. The city soon showed the world why it’s ‘the friendliest city on earth’ as a real ‘Elvis Spirit’ came to the forefront as it pulled together and got things working again. In August when we were there, some of the damage was still visible but the city is back on it’s feet and stronger than ever.
May and June – had Elvis back in the mainstream eye once again, as the sell-out series of concerts toured over two dozen venues across the UK.
The show may have split opinion with Elvis fans (we personally loved it!) but we don’t think that anyone could deny the magical feeling of seeing venue marquees across the country all displaying the signage “Elvis Presley: Live in Concert – Sold Out!” and then seeing jam-packed venues with even impromptu dancing breaking out in the aisles.
Also in May we had our annual Spring break in Torquay – another huge success. This has become a firm favourite on the calendar with a laid back programme of Elvis entertainment, live acts, great accommodation and food in one of the most pretty seaside resorts in the country.
At this year’s event we saw something that we’d never, ever witnessed before – and which was a moment we don’t think we’ll ever forget. During the middle of the evening Disco on the last night a couple of fans were taking pictures of themselves in front of our Strictly Elvis banners, they were then joined by a couple more, and then a couple more and slowly everyone started getting up and joining the group and before long even those boogieing away deserted the dance floor and joined the group before finally even DJ Mark Monaghan left his post and it led to an amazing group photo which just sums up the ‘Elvis Family’ – no-one is left out, everyone fits in and everyone gets on. It was a great moment!
In June we held a one-off special event at a very historic venue when we were invited to be part of Brunel University’s ‘Calling the Tune’ film festival with a day of Elvis related activities. This event was held in the same building where the vinyl releases of Elvis albums were produced in the 1950’s. It was a great day in a really fab venue.
July – was a very memorable month as it marked the 60th anniversary of the recording of ‘That’s All Right Mama’ the song that gave birth to Elvis’ career and kick-started a musical revolution. To make sure this occasion was marked in style we held a black tie dinner at the prestigious ‘King’s Hall’ (very apt) in the grand Mercure Hotel in Leicester. This was a really great and special night, with everyone dressed to the nines, as we partied the night away to mark the anniversary.
August had a group flying out to Tupelo and Memphis. We had a real international feel to this particular tour as we were joined by over 40 members of the Brazilian Fan Club which was an amazing experience, especially for them as even being from the home of spectacular carnivals they hadn’t ever experienced a party Strictly Style! The group toured all the Elvis sights and got to see history in the making at the ground breaking of the new Graceland Hotel, amongst many other Elvis happenings.
After some of the group had flown home to the UK, the remainder went on for an awesome extension to the West Coast where they visited Palm Springs
They even got a taste of the celeb lifestyle as a local paper followed them during their time here ‘papping them’ at every given opportunity and then finally putting them on the front pages of the paper! They rounded off this part of the tour with a special poolside party at Elvis’ honeymoon home and were joined by Elvis’ great friend (and Strictly’s!) Dick Grob and his lovely wife Melissa.
They then travelled onto L.A. where they saw many Elvis sights in ‘Tinsletown’ – Hollywood. Including a surprise visit to the grocery store which was featured in ‘Change of Habit’ and is virtually unchanged! That’s the Strictly difference as we root out the rare and unusual that you just don’t get on other tours – but that’s because everything we do is for fans by fans.
We barely had time to do the laundry and re-pack before we off again in September for the big one – our annual Elvis Festival in Great Yarmouth. Each and every year we don’t think that we can get make them bigger or better than previous years – but they are! And 2014’s was no exception with 1,500 fans partying the week away with Elvis, Elvis and more Elvis (total bliss!) we had an amazing line-up of live music and some fabulous special guests including Betty Harper and the lovely Jerry Schilling.
A fabulous new show ‘Memphis: The Musical’ opened in London’s West End in October, after wowing audiences on Broadway. Strictly were invited to a lavish launch lunch (try saying that five times quickly) at Bill Wyman’s ‘Sticky Fingers’ restaurant (very Rock and Roll) in Kensington. We were joined by various media types, of all whom were fascinated with our talk of the Elvis world, members of the Memphis CVB who had flown in especially, and who pledged their continued support in ensuring Strictly Elvis tour groups have the best possible time when visiting and we even had a visit from Mr Wyman himself!!
In November – we teased you with news, broken exclusively by Strictly first, that certainly lived up to the hype when it was revealed that the O2 venue in London would play host to an Elvis exhibit running through until August 2015. To date, thousands of fans have been in to see the exhibit with many thousands more booked for 2015. If you haven’t been – don’t miss out! It’s like a little corner of Graceland here in the UK.
In December a group ventured to Manchester to see Priscilla Presley take part in a Panto. The group didn’t know about a little surprise up our sleeve as after the show they were joined exclusively by Priscilla herself! She stayed with the group for over an hour ensuring that each one got autographs and pictures. What a night!
And finally we were on hand for the opening of the aforementioned O2 exhibit the same month. It’s hard to pinpoint a favourite moment of the past year – but this one may top the list as we felt an amazing amount of pride seeing our man get such an amazing celebration of his life in such a world famous location, combined with glowing articles in mainstream publications. It was something very, very special.
And all of that was in addition to the various local fan club events, collectors fairs and other events that we travelled to in the last 12 months plus writing and producing our Strictly News letters! Wow – looking back it’s amazing we managed to fit it all in. It really has been an amazing year and we can’t wait for an even bigger and better 2015!
Before we close (finally – we hear you cry!) there’s just a few thank you’s to make – firstly to all those hotels, venues, attractions, airlines, coach companies, bands, special guests, tourist office and everyone else who give their 100% service to us. Secondly to our hard working crew of tour managers, DJs and other event staff who work so hard in making sure our holidays and events work so well. To other Elvis companies for their business relationships, but who are also close friends too, such as Essential Elvis and the various independent Fan Clubs. A massive thank you to all of our fellow Elvis fans – 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.
So are we ready to do it again in 2015? Darn right we are – and a little bit more even!! See you there folks! TCB and TCE – Strictly Elvis UK / The Elvis Travel Service