By Herb Sparrow
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The swinging hips of Elvis Presley and his rockabilly mixture of blues, gospel and rock revolutionized music in the mid-1950s and left a permanent imprint on American popular culture, nearly 35 years after the King of Rock and Roll’s death.
Presley’s Graceland mansion has become a shrine to his loyal fans, thousands of whom flock to Memphis each August for a week of special events, concerts and seminars to mark the anniversary of his Aug. 16, 1977, death. This year’s Elvis Week, Aug. 10-18, is expected to draw some 75,000 fans on the milestone 35th anniversary.
As part of a yearlong anniversary commemoration, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), which operates Graceland and its adjacent museums, has a special exhibit about the influence Presley has had on succeeding generations of performers and celebrities.
“Elvis was such a vast influence on pop culture, not just music,” said Angie Marchese, director of archives for EPE.
“Icon: The Influence of Elvis Presley,” developed in partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, features 75 artifacts on loan from the Cleveland museum, along with items from the Graceland collection.
“It is the first time Graceland has displayed other artists,” said Marchese. “We are telling their story about what Elvis was to them. It is a real personal thing with them.”
Items in the exhibit include Bono’s MacPhisto suit from U2’s “Zooropa” performances, Bob Dylan’s leather jacket that appears on the album cover for “Real Live” and James Brown’s jumpsuit and vest worn in concert in the 1970s. There are also artifacts from Elton John, Trisha Yearwood, Joan Jett, Wanda Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, the Beatles, Katy Perry and many others.
The exhibit, which opened March 1, will run through February 2013.