Another Elvis week is just about in the books. The candles have been put away for another year and Elvis Presley Boulevard is open again to traffic.
And Graceland itself is not for sale, as we detailed in our Friday edition.
But a long delayed expansion of the Graceland area into a kind of Elvis resort remains in limbo because the majority share of Elvis Presley Enterprises is up for sale by CORE Media.
CORE Media’s most notable effort was an agreement with Digital Domain Media Group to produce a hologram of Presley for use in future performances. Digital Domain is the company that produced a hologram of rapper Tupac Shakur that drew a lot of attention when it was unveiled at the end of the Snoop Dog set at the Coachella Music Festival in 2012.
At week’s end there is this from the Digital Music News web site – a report that Sony Corp. is among those interestedn buying the majority share of EPE.
Sony, which bought Elvis’s old record label, RCA, was out in force for some of the Elvis Week activities including the Stax listening party with Norbert Putnam at Stax Museum of American Soul Music that we reported on earlier in the week.
And Sony’s archivists, notably Ernst Jorgensen, have done much in the last 20 years to give Presley’s music catalogue the treatment, packaging and context it deserves.
That kind of treatment and care is more than an artistic asset. It helps to explain the context of just how pivotal a cultural figure Elvis Presley was in his time.
As we’ve pointed out this week, it also helps visitors who increasingly are not old enough to have been alive when Presley died in 1977 want to know more about Memphis. The city’s identity has always clung closely to who the entertainer was. You separate the two at your own peril.
In some ways, the delay in the plans to create a Graceland entertainment district hasn’t stopped the broader marketing of the Elvis image within Memphis.
The Beale Street entertainment district hosted a preliminary round of the “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.” That included an Elvis parade and the preliminary rounds at the Hard Rock Café. The finals were scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17, Downtown at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
The contest itself is a reflection of how the outlook of Elvis Presley Enterprises has changed in the last six years. Since 2007, the contest has been sanctioned and promoted by Elvis Presley Enterprises. Prior to 2007, the company officially ignored the impersonators who nevertheless dotted the crowdscape at the annual candlelight vigil with multiple versions of Elvis.
While the changing hands and names have stalled the specific plans for Graceland, it hasn’t stalled more than $40 million of streetscape improvements to the boulevard from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive. The effort over several years began late last year at the Brooks Road and Elvis Presley Boulevard intersection. Power lines on utility poles that have been a feature of the state highway since Whitehaven was a part of Shelby County outside the city limits were beginning the transition to underground placement earlier this month.
In the historical marker category, the marker noting Elvis Presley’s student days at what is now Humes Preparatory Academy is up in front of what is now a charter school in the Achievement School District. And there was some curiosity about the changes in public education underway locally from our visitors in the last week.
While we are at it, we ran a picture with our story on Humes that showed a picture of students at the school at a keyboard. And that picture was taken last school year before the ASD assumed control of the Humes campus. Those in charge of the campus want everyone to know the students now wear uniforms that are a central part and detail of campus life.
The year before the Humes marker, the Shelby County Historical Society erected a marker nearby on Chelsea Avenue at the old Quonset hut that was home to Plastic Products, the record pressing plant that pressed those Sun Records singles from the 1950s and other record labels beyond that.
Historical Commission chairman Jimmy Ogle told us his goal is to get one done a year and there is some talk of Elvis Week in 2014 being the year a marker goes up at Chelsea and Danny Thomas Boulevard where American Sound Studios once were. That’s not a done deal at this point and there are some other contenders.