Continuing my countdown to Elvis Week 2017, the 40th Anniversary, in one week with Elvis Week 2007, the 30th Anniversary, 10 years ago. Even though this was my second Elvis Week, I feel like it was my first because I went to all of the events and I did the candlelight vigil for the first time – I skipped it on the 25th anniversary in 2002, my first Elvis Week. And I was visiting Memphis (not living there like in 2002) for this 30th Anniversary Elvis Week, so I was more ensconced in it.
Sunday August 12th I went through the Elvis Expo.
Monday August 13th I went to the Elvis Insiders Conference. It was a mix of Conversations, Meet and Greet Autographs and Memorabilia show. On stage sharing their stories were Dick Grob, Mrs Colonel Tom Parker, Maxine Brown (country singer who did some shows with Elvis in the 1950s and who was hysterical), Johnny Cash’s sister, DJ Fontana (Elvis’ drummer in the (1950s), a few of Elvis’ costars, Joe Mosheo (who toured with Elvis with The Imperials and wrote The Gospel Side of Elvis) and Mary Ann Mobley, who played Deena in Girl Happy (my favorite Elvis movie).
I met June Juanico (Elvis’ girlfriend from the 1950s), and she autographed her book for me. I was obsessed with her book. It really got to me – their love story. And it was one of the first Elvis books I read – after Priscilla’s Elvis and Me and Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. I met Maxine Brown and bought her book, and she autographed it for me. I really liked Maxine – great lady! I met Mary Ann Mobley, and she autographed her photo for me. I told her Girl Happy was my favorite Elvis movie because my name is Deena like her character in the movie and I loved hearing Elvis say my name when I was little and it has never changed. She laughed and imitated Elvis saying Deena. It was great. She was super sweet! I also met Chris Noel who costarred with Mary Ann in Girl Happy, and she autographed her photo as well.
That night I went to Music and Movies at Graceland. We got to to sit on the front lawn of Graceland (that’s right the FRONT LAWN of GRACELAND!) and watch Viva Las Vegas on the big outdoor movie screen. The Dempseys and Andy Childs played and Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke – his Elvis car was on display at Graceland.
Tuesday August 14th I went to the second day of the Elvis Insiders Conference. I bought a great piece from J.D. Sumner’s collection. J.D. was with The Stamps Quartet who toured with Elvis in the 1970s. His daughter was there selling some of his stuff. I bought this big wooden 1978 calendar with Elvis on it, complete with letter of authenticity. I also bought two packs of never opened Elvis cards from 1978 (complete with really stale gum) and a Graceland pennant from the early 1980s. For the Conversations portion of the Conference, I sat next to Louise Smith (Elvis’ first cousin Gene Smith’s wife). I talked with her a bit – she was very nice. Priscilla actually introduced her to the audience. Jerry Schilling (my favorite) interviewed Priscilla. After, Jerry signed autographs. He autographed his book for me, and I shook his hand. I was SO excited as this was my first time really meet Jerry Schilling! I saw Jerry five years ago at the Memphis Mafia reunion, but I did not meet him. Then the following year I met him when I was working at The Peabody when I checked him into his room.
Wednesday August 15th I went to the Elvis Film Festival at Studio on the Square. I saw Jailhouse Rock, Charro and my favorite Girl Happy! It was great to those movies on the big screen surrounded by fellow Elvis fans who are just as excited as I am to see them. Around 5 I went over to Graceland, ate, walked around a big for getting close for the Opening Ceremony of the Candlelight Vigil at 8:30. After, I went into the air conditioning of the Visitor Center to cool off for a bit then went outside and sat on the lawn just taking it all in. Around 3:40am I finally got in line to make my way up the driveway to Meditation Garden. Once in line it took three hours to get to Elvis’ grave. I totally lost it. The amount of flowers symbolizing how much this man is loved 30 years after his death just completely overwhelmed me. It was light out when I passed through the gates and onto Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Thursday August 16th I went to the Peabody Hotel to see Priscilla accept Elvis’ Peabody Duck Walk of Fame. Then I went to the 30th Anniversary Concert at the FedEx Forum. Like the 25th Anniversary Concert, it was video of Elvis singing on the big screen with his 1970s band playing live in stage. I was seated on the floor and Jerry Schilling, Joe Esposito and George Klein were sitting close to me on my left in the stands. The intro of this concert was just amazing! There was video of Jerry Schilling and Joe Esposito present day in their Elvis on Tour jackets leading “Elvis” from the upstairs at Graceland outside into a helicopter and onto the FedEx Forum. And it was fantastic to watch Jerry, Joe and George watch that opening! I’ll never forget it!
After intermission, Priscilla walked through the crowd shaking hands. She introduced her family then gave a little speech. Then the video for Lisa Marie’s duet with her dad “In the Ghetto” was played. At the end the curtain lifted and there was Lisa singing on stage with a choir. I was SO excited – as was the sold out crowd at the FedEx Forum. Of course I had already seen Lisa Marie in concert several times before this, but I wasn’t expecting her to be performing live that night.
I really loved the 30th Anniversary Elvis Week in 2007: meeting Jerry Schilling and Mary Ann Mobley, sitting on the front lawn of Graceland watching Viva Las Vegas, the Elvis film festival and the 30th Anniversary Concert with that opening and Lisa singing. How will the 40th Anniversary Elvis Week next week top it? Check back here and find out.