There are 84,000 individuals who have previously told the Internal Revenue Service in the United States that earn a living by impersonating, ahem, paying tribute to the King of Rock’N’Roll, who would have turned 85 years old Wednesday.
Tributes to Elvis Presley started as early as 1956, so shortly after Presley’s rise to fame, and by the time of Presley’s death by heart attack on Aug. 16, 1977 at the age of 42, 170 tribute acts existed.
This number, much like the waistline of the jump suits that Elvis wore during the Las Vegas phase of his career, has since ballooned into the tens of thousands, if not more, now part of a global industry that includes memorabilia, conventions, and tribute competitions, including the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist World Championship. Preliminary rounds for that competition started last year with winners travelling to the final showdown during Elvis Week 2020 running Aug. 8 to 16 in Memphis, TN.
Graceland, Presley’s famed mansion in that city, located at 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd, will be the site of several events marking his birthday, starting Jan. 8 and running through Jan. 11. They include tours, concerts, and appearances by Jerry Schilling, a long-time personal and professional friend of Elvis, and Elvis’ wife, Priscilla Ann Presley.
Elvis Presley also remains an alive force on various charts. According to Forbes, Presley remains the second-highest earning dead celebrity, having earned $39 million dollars in 2019. That places him second behind the son-in-the-law he never met. Michael Jackson, who was briefly married to Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie Presley, topped the list with $60 million.
Elvis’ cultural presence will likely grow in the coming years thanks to a bio-picture scheduled for release in October 2021, starring Austin Butler as the King of Rock and Tom Hanks as his long-time manager “Colonel Tom” Parker. At least Hanks is not donning the jump suit himself.
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