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Archive for Monday, November 25, 2002

Spirit of Elvis still king

Graceland restores impersonators to good graces

November 25, 2002

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— Elvis impersonators can continue swiveling their hips and quivering their lips, after Graceland reversed its earlier decision to sever its support of festivals featuring clones of the King.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the multi-million-dollar Presley estate, decided in October to no longer associate with festivals using Elvis impersonators.

But the estate gave back its backing after receiving about 30 letters from festival organizers and fans who were all shook up.

"From reading these, we said, 'Let's forget about the hassles. This is something, frankly, we need to support,"' said Jack Soden, chief executive officer of EPE.

Most Elvis impersonators do "heartfelt" tributes to Elvis, Soden said. "But we've all seen pictures of people who just should not have gone outdoors in outfits like that."

Soden said the idea for the policy change came from some festivals "becoming more about Elvis impersonators than Elvis."

But most impersonators would disagree.

"Everything I'm doing is just to pay tribute to him," said David Lee, a major contender on the festival circuit. "Graceland disliking tribute artists is something I've never understood."

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