Since his death in 1977 Elvis Presley has become an even greater cultural icon than when he was making records and consuming deep-fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.
When Elvis died in 1977, there were 185 Elvis impersonators in the world. In 2005, there were 186,000. At this rate, by 2050, one in four people in the world will be an Elvis impersonator. Thirty years after his death, Elvis still earns £25 million a year in royalties. And the cult of Elvism continues to thrive, with often near-religious intensity, all over the world. And Charlie Connelly wants to know why this holds true all over the world. So he travels the world after interpretations of the meaning of Elvis and the reasons for his undimmed popularity.
IN SEARCH OF ELVIS sees Charlie Connelly – the guy who gained lasting fame Exploring Liechtenstein and its World Cup Dream – set off on a journey around the world to discover what makes Elvis so significant today and how his spirit is being kept alive more than half a century after he changed popular culture for ever. Charlie’s global odyssey takes him – among other places:
to Finland to meet an academic who performs Elvis songs in the long-dead languages Latin (“Non adamare non possum”/ “Can’t Help Falling in Love”) & Sumerian – while wearing a kilt;
to Canada to find the orthodox Jewish Elvis tribute artist named Schmelvis;
to Scotland to get fitted out with the Presley tartan;
Even to an Elvis-themed cafe in Uzbekistan!!
Our intrepid author also pops in on several other places boasting strong connections with Elvis – Las Vegas, Hawaii, Montreal (where he held a concert in 1957, when the Catholic Church excommunicated anyone caught attending) and the little town of Bad Nauheim in Germany where Presley was stationed during the two years of his military service.
Connelly’s trip logically culminates in Memphis, where Charlie stays at the Heartbreak Hotel (which is at the end of Lonely Street) and records a song in Sun Studio, the very room where Elvis arguably invented rock’n’roll.
Tracing the journey Elvis made at 13 from Tupelo to Memphis, Connelly feels moved to note: “The young man … would not have had an inkling of the effect the city would have on him,” before adding with a flourish worthy of Motty, “Nor the effect that he would have on the city.”
This is a book thats not so much about Elvis as about the journeys Connelly takes (with his customary wit and charm) and the people he meets when he gets there. Elvis isn’t the subject but the pretext, the central idea that can justify a light-comedy travelogue around the globe.