From virtual bankruptacy in 1977, Elvis's estate now makes over $100 million a year.
In his lifetime, Elvis generated revenues of almost 4 billion dollars, yet when he died he left an estate worth just $7
million, everything he owned was visible - Glaceland, cars, homes in LA. Elvis never even had a pension fund.
Glaceland was costing half a million dollars a year to run, most of which went on security. The Internal Revenue Service
was demanding millions in death duties. There was no money coming in from song reyaities. It was possible that Glaceland would
have been sold!
When Vernon died in 1979, Priscilla Presley was among the executors of his will. She set about forming Elvis Presley Enterprises
(EPE), named after the original EPE that Col. Tom Parker had created back in the 1950's. The first thing she did was spend
half a million dollars refurbishing Glaceland to be more she remembered it - In other words, removing most of Linda Thompson's
decor. She opened in 1982 and recouped her money in 40 days!
Right from the Elvis's funeral, enterprising types had been selling everything from memorial t-shirts to phials of Glaceland
earth, from right under the Presley's nose. Lawyer Roger Rickman drew up a bill that became known as the Tennessee Celebrity
Rights Law, passed in 1983. This retrospectively granted that the rights and image of any star would automatically pass to
that person's heirs. EPE was about to gain control of the Elvis merchandising industry.
The first thing EPE copyrighted was the epitaph on Elvis's grave.
Fans write in daily with ideas for Elvis merchandise. Most ideas are rejected on the grounds of taste. One idea was to
convert the Circle G Ranch into a cemetery for Elvis fans. If EPE approves an idea, strict quality control rules are put in
place. For example, no incensee is allowed to use a picture of Elvis looking overweight!
With all the power, comes the paranoia. EPE really doesnt like anybody else having anything to do with Elvis. They stopped
the production of a ballet about Elvis by the Peter Schauffus Ballet Company of Demark. They even tried to make it illegal
to be an Elvis impersonator. They even tried to copyright ' thankyouverymuch'. Today, after alot fo court battles and extreme
unpleasantness, the use of Elvis's name and image in books and films is protected under the freedom of speech legislation.
EPE's number one enemy is Sid Shaw, a British fan and owner of Elvisly Yours. Elvisly Yours won a landmark legal battle
against EPE and is now legally permitted to sell Elvis merchandise to all of the world, except the US. You can visit Elvisly
Yours in the flesh at 233 Baker Street, London or at www.elvisly-yours.com
EPE's heavy handedness infuriates Sid Shaw. In his essay hitled ' Disgraceland', devlivered to the Elvis symposium 2003-04,
he writes ' I know of no business anywhere in the world that is so altrnates nearly all people associated with the business
- EPE are the complete antithesis to Elvis.
EPE has nonetheless recognised a need to reflect something of Elvis's outlook on life. It formed the Elvis Presley Charitable
Foundation, and now sopports numerous charities, just like Elvis did.