The Presley phenomenon was born in 1956, and it thrived in the American entertainment industry for two decades. Then, when Elvis Presley died in 1977, it appeared to be the end of Elvis’s impact on American pop culture. Surprisingly, though, Presley’s influence lived on in an assortment of Elvis-based offspring that interact in a seemingly ever-expanding Elvis universe.
Presley’s home in Memphis is the country’s most visited private home. Every August, the city and Graceland become the center of the Elvis Universe, as the singer’s perpetual fan base descends on the city for its annual interface with Presley commercial interests during Elvis Week. The strength of those commercial interests is underscored by Presley continually placing at or near the top on the country’s list of “most successful dead celebrities.” Elvis Presley Enterprises licenses a seemingly endless list of products bearing Elvis’s image. And, of course, Presley’s music continues to sell in repackaged collections four decades after his death.
The most visible citizens of the Elvis Universe are what are known today as Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs). It seems that every community has at least one. Each year regional ETA contests are held, with the winners gathering during Elvis Week for a competition to determine the King of the King’s impersonators.
Other examples of Elvis’s continuing influence in the new century include two stage productions based on his life and music. A musical, All Shook Up, played on Broadway in 2005, and a Cirque du Soleil production, Viva Elvis! opened in Las Vegas in 2010. The Elvis Universe also has been home to such esoteric concerns as the now defunct “24-hour Church of Elvis” in Portland, Oregon. | Alan Hanson
To learn more about these and other aspects of the Elvis Universe, select from the links below.
• Alan: Early Elvis Tribute Artist: In the ’70s, Alan set the standard for today’s ETAs.
• The Elvis Presley Story radio documentary: The 1971 Elvis radio biography is worth remembering.
• Elvis and Tragic Death: A list of 8 performers associated with Elvis who met tragic deaths.
• Elvis’s Gold Cadillac on Tour: Book recounts Australian tour of Elvis’s famous car in 1968-69.
• Elvis Radio on SiriusXM: "All Elvis all the time" … well, almost.
• The 24-Hour Church of Elvis: Presley Pilgrims still seek our Elvis sanctuary in Portland, Oregon.
• Bono's Poem About Elvis: Irish rocker's poem reveals admiration for Elvis.
• Two Elvis Cars for Sale: In 2009, two of the King's Cadillacs went on the auction block.
• "ELVIS: The Man and His Music": The best magazine for Elvis fans.
• Elvis's "Memphis Mafia": Elvis and his guys had nicknames for each other.
• Elvis Pet Names for Women: Elvis and the guys used nicknames for his girlfriends and leading ladies.
• "All Shook Up" Musical: Stage production celebrates Elvis's Music.
• "Million Dollar Quartet" Musical: Remembering the historic 1956 jam session at Sun Records studio.
• Elvis Presley Enterprises: Where things stand five years after the big selloff.
• Elvis Presley Enterprises Update: Who owns the Presley brand in 2013?
• Being an Elvis Fan in the Sixties: It was challenging to be a Presley fan in the movie years.
• The Real Elvis Fans: Who are they—the Idealists or the Realists?.
• Elvis Baseball Night: Elvis was lampooned during baseball night in Seattle in 2011.
• Elvis Collectibles: Time for This Elvis Fan to Release His Elvis Treasures.
• Elvis Infographic: An Overstock.com infographic honored Presley during Elvis Week 2011.