Elvis' legacy rocks on
People from around the world travel to Memphis to visit the grave site of Elvis at Graceland. (Jim Fox/Special to QMI Agency)
"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.”
Even though it’s been 35 years since Elvis left for good, his legacy rocks on.
Elvis mania is unabated, highlighted by many “tribute artist” shows and events.
Rock, roll and remember
Tens of thousands of fans from around the world make the pilgrimage to the Elvis mansion, Graceland, in Memphis, Tenn. annually.
A highlight is Elvis Week, Aug. 10 to 18, with concerts, discussions and events including a candlelight vigil on Aug. 15 to mark his death at age 42.
The 30th anniversary attracted 75,000 people and even more are expected this year.
“There are even more ways than ever for fans, many of whom were not yet born when Elvis passed away, to celebrate their love for the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” said Scott Williams of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
One of three new exhibits at Graceland is “Elvis on Tour,” marking the 40th anniversary of the documentary of the same name.
There’s also “Elvis … Through His Daughter’s Eyes,” highlighting the relationship between Elvis and his only child.
The largest exhibit is “Icon: The Influence of Elvis Presley,” featuring artifacts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
“The exhibit will celebrate Elvis’ status as a music pioneer and icon that paved the way and influenced many of today’s artists and notable celebrities,” Williams said.
Licensed Elvis festivals take place all over the world.
They happen in Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Miss. to Stage West Hotel in Mississauga, the Collingwood summer event, as well as in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
Graceland is open year-round for tours and includes Elvis’ automobile and airplane collections and his family gravesite in the Meditation Garden.
Visitors see the quirky “jungle” den, a true retro “man cave” where he hung out with his buddies, the living and music rooms, Elvis' parents' bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and TV and pool rooms.
There’s an extensive collection of his stage costumes, an enormous collection of gold records and awards, along with an extensive display of career mementos, jewelry and photos. www.elvis.com; www.elvisweek.com.
Shake, rattle and roll
Some 50 tribute artists will groove for a weekend of fun at the Toronto Elvis Festival at Stage West Theatre Restaurant (5400 Dixie Rd.) in Mississauga.
The event on April 21 and 22 is organized by Nevin Grant, formerly of Oldies 1150 Radio in Hamilton, and his wife Heather, both of whom have been Elvis festival judges.
Elvis fests continue to attract “loyal fan gatherings” and Stage West is an ideal setting with its Las Vegas-style dinner-theatre, Nevin said.
A pre-fest event on April 20 at 6 p.m. is a Memphis-style barbecue buffet at the hotel’s Haida Garden Cafe followed from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. with an open mic session with tribute artists.
Menu items include southern rub smoked brisket, Graceland chicken and dumpling stew, smoked bourbon gumbo, crab cakes and pulled pork with baked beans.
The competition runs on April 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a luncheon buffet.
That night, from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., is a Superstar Tribute Show and dinner featuring
Elvis Festival Grand Champion Mark Anthony, Tim E. Hendry as “Vegas Elvis” and Bruce Herron as “Leathers Elvis.”
There will be tribute artists recreating performances by Garth Brooks, Michael Buble, John Denver, Connie Francis, Elton John and Martina McBride.
A Gospel Breakfast opens the festival on April 22 followed by competitions from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the finals to name the winner to advance to the “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest” in Memphis.
During the judging, tribute artist Gino Monopoli will perform along with music by Rudy and the Angels. www.torontoelvisfestival.com.
Also at Stage West, is the highly acclaimed performance All Shook Up, “inspired by and featuring the music of Elvis.”
Continuing through April 20, the fast-paced show is based on the original performance on Broadway and is a romantic story set to the King’s music in a small-town America in 1955. www.stagewest.com; 1-800-263-0684.
Elvis sightings continue
Tribute artists will strut their stuff on stage, at street parties and during an old-car parade through town at the Collingwood Elvis Festival from July 26 to 29.
Recognized as the world's largest Elvis tribute festival, Collingwood has featured the Sweet Inspirations (his backup group), D.J. Fontana (his long-time drummer) and some of his movie female co-stars. www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com; 1-866-444-1162.