“When you hear the term, ‘The King,’ who do you think of?” This was the question posed on a recent episode of the popular American TV game show, Family Feud. The answer, not surprisingly, was “Elvis Presley.” In fact, out of the 100 people surveyed, a staggering 81 responded with Elvis as their answer. This just goes to show that Elvis remains one of America’s most recognized and celebrated cultural icons.
While the survey may not be scientifically accurate, it does highlight the enduring popularity of Elvis Presley. He has his own satellite radio station, and his Memphis home, Graceland, attracts over 600,000 visitors every year. New books about his life, career, and image are constantly being published. From Elvis Tribute Artists to stage musicals and Cirque du Soleil shows, Elvis’s influence can be felt in various forms of entertainment. And let’s not forget about “Elvis Week,” an annual event in Memphis that draws thousands of fans from all over the world.
In 2014, Elvis ranked second on Forbes’ list of top-earning dead celebrities, just behind Michael Jackson. His estate continues to generate millions of dollars through tourism at Graceland and the sales of his vast music library. The recent acquisition of the rights to Elvis by Authentic Brands Group for $125 million further demonstrates his financial appeal. In fact, ABG plans to bring Elvis back to life through hologram technology, potentially performing alongside a hologram of Michael Jackson.
Interestingly, shortly after Elvis’s death in 1977, Billboard magazine predicted no special acclaim for him in the future. They believed that his legacy would be remembered primarily through his recordings. Little did they know that Elvis’s impact on American culture would only grow stronger over time.
Why has Elvis managed to maintain his popularity even decades after his death? Pop culture experts offer some insights. San Francisco State University Professor Arthur Berger suggests that Elvis’s distinctive persona, combined with his unique look and untimely death, contribute to his enduring appeal. Berger also highlights Elvis’s sexuality and the nostalgia associated with a bygone era as factors that attract fans to the King.
Elvis’s early demise played a significant role in elevating him to iconic status. His final resting place at Graceland became a pilgrimage site for devoted followers. The establishment of Elvis Presley Enterprises by Priscilla Presley ensured the preservation and commercialization of Elvis’s image.
But it’s not just the practical reasons that sustain Elvis’s legacy. It’s the deep emotional connection that fans have with his music and persona. Many fans pass down their admiration for Elvis to their children and grandchildren, creating a multi-generational love for the King.
As time passes and Elvis’s original fans start to pass away, the responsibility of preserving his legacy will fall on their descendants. Will they be able to uphold the momentum? Only time will tell. But for now, Elvis Presley continues to reign and captivate the hearts of millions all around the world.