| Alexandra Paulfranz |
LONDON (dpa) – Tourists visiting London are getting the chance until August to view Elvis Presley memorabilia that have never before left the Graceland home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who died in 1977.
The largest Elvis retrospective ever mounted in Europe, “Elvis At The O2: The Exhibition Of His Life,” boasts 345 exhibits chronicling the rise of the singer to world fame.
The show includes rare footage from his private time at Graceland, where he spent much of his life, as well as video from his military service, concert tours and Hollywood film career.
Fans can get a glimpse of how the star relaxed at Graceland and view some of his cars, lavish stage costumes, guitars and even go on a virtual tour of the Memphis mansion where Presley died in his bathroom in 1977.
“It is simply too expensive for many fans to travel there (Graceland),” explains Kevin Kern, Graceland’s media director.
“So we brought a piece of Graceland here for the European fans.”
Although the exhibition is centered on artefacts from Graceland, the objective is to give visitors a glimpse into Elvis’ entire life, his roots and also to explain the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The story begins in 1953 with songs Elvis recorded when he was a 18-year-old truck driver who dreamt of one day becoming a singer.
The young Elvis paid four dollars to the studio to be recorded. The disc, to be sold in January in Memphis by a private collector, is now worth tens of thousands of dollars as a collectible.
Not surprisingly, the studio manager noticed Presley’s obvious talent and he quickly became a star, creating a whole new way of marketing in the process.
People were soon wearing “I like Elvis” badges, with others carrying “I hate Elvis” ones. Elvis plastic figures were produced successfully, as well as guitars bearing his portrait and it was even possible to buy Elvis lipstick with “Keep me always on your lips” as its logo.
The exhibition at the arena near East London’s riverbank manages to show the real Elvis as well as the star idolised by millions across the globe.
For example, one showcase is crammed with marketing products while another contains wallets once owned by the singer, with one holding a picture of Elvis’ daughter. “This shows that like so many other people, he has a father role,” says Kern.
Nowhere in the exhibition is Elvis seen wearing denim, because he grew up very poor and had to wear denim overalls and blue jeans as a child. “Wearing it reminded him of being poor and when he made it, there was no denim,” Kern explains.
Visitors do see a man who had a passion for horses, squash and karate.
One learns that he needed an extra large postbox due to the huge volume of fan letters he received from adoring female fans.