Memphis, Tennessee may have been home to Elvis Presley, but the King of Rock and Roll will forever be linked to Nashville where he recorded more than half of his hits. In fact, the iconic “Heartbreak Hotel” was written in the Nashville studio of record company RCA in 1956.
This connection to The King is the reason why Nashville constantly pays tribute to Presley, holding all sorts of celebrations and festivals in honor of the man who has become one of Nashville’s own. In August 2012, for instance, the city celebrated Elvis Week from August 10 to 18 in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of his death. Last year was the inaugural Nashville Elvis Festival, which was a four-day celebration of the life and times of the King of Rock and Roll.
Last year’s festival, the brainchild of lifelong Presley fans Tom Brown and Brian Mayes, was a resounding success as Elvis fans from all around the world converged at Franklin Theatre. These same fans got the treat of a lifetime, as some of Presley’s closest friends also came over to share their fondest memories of the man behind songs such as “That’s All Right”, “Mystery Train”, and “Don’t Be Cruel”.
This year’s edition, to be held from March 22 to 25 also at Franklin Theatre, will be bigger and better. There’s an impressive slate of performers confirmed already, including Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winners Bill Cherry (2009) and Dean Z (2013), and award-winning tribute artists Cote Deonath and Jeff Lewis. Each performer will be backed by the world-renowned EAS Band, which is famous for giving fans the exact same feeling and excitement of an actual Elvis concert. Many of The King’s closest friends will be attending again, led by TV/radio personality Wink Martindale, a lifelong friend of Presley; Victoria Meyerink, Elvis’s co-star in the film Speedway, and Sandy Martindale, a featured dancer in the movie musical Viva Las Vegas.
In addition, there will also be an Elvis movie screening as well as two special events for VIPs: a live recreation of a Sun Records recording session and a Jungle Room recording session. Both segments will take place inside Paragon Studios, which happens to be one of the top recording studios not only here in Nashville, but in the entire US.
Presley’s millions of fans remain passionate about their idol, as shown by their overwhelming support for events like the Nashville Elvis Festival, and for their continued patronage of anything that keeps the Presley memory alive.
It is through events like this that Elvis continues to live through his fans. While the singer and actor has an extensive back catalogue for fans to delve into, and many are on display at the Nashville Elvis Festival, Elvis also continues to be featured in new mediums. His music and likeness has been used to continue promoting the Elvis brand. Even in digital media, The King rules supreme. Venture Beat listed 10 games that reference Elvis, including offbeat titles like Blue Suede Go where players control an Elvis impersonator. For many fans, only a hint of Elvis is needed for the merchandise to become a must-have collector’s item (and many of these items will be available at the festival). Other digital platforms have focused on the persona of Elvis himself. PartyPoker’s Elvis slot title features an iconic portrait of the singer in his prime, back when he first recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” in Nashville. While there are many depictions of Elvis, the version that many fans look back to is the fresh-faced singer who first wowed audiences across the globe. The Nashville Elvis Festival celebrates both Elvis’s early life, and the trademark elaborate outfits and sideburns Elvis of his later years.
Organizers of the Nashville Elvis Festival are banking on another passionate response from Presley’s fans to fill Franklin Theatre once again. Tickets for the 2nd annual Nashville Festival are now on sale, and the excitement is both undeniable and palpable already. So, yes, long live The King, indeed!