The Elvis factory has grossed in excess of $200m
The King's music is almost a sideline, with merchandise and films taking centre stage
April 13, 1969 (The Observer - UK Newspaper)
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Elvis Presley still walks as if he's sneering with his legs. When he's on stage, he still
bounces like a Jeep driver crossing a ploughed field.

His latest record,
If I Can Dream, is now zooming up the charts both here in the UK
and in America. He's 34 and although his blue eyes and dark brown hair are still
glazed and lacquered, his 6ft 2in has developed a stoop. But his lopsided grin tells us
that the Elvis factory has grossed in excess of $200m.

Fifty-one of his records have sold more than a million copies each and the total
number of discs bearing the Presley imprimatur is around 300 million. His 29 films have
cost an estimated $30m to produce but have already grossed $200m. He now makes
four films a year for which his fee is $1m a picture, plus 50% of the gross takings.
Merchandising of Elvis products – from stuffed hound-dogs to heartbreak-pink lipstick
– brings in another $3m annually.

Recently, the
London Palladium thought it would invite Elvis to star in a week's
spectacular. The management rang up
Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' guardian. "Come
to the Palladium,"
said the management, "and we can get you $28,000 for the week."
"That's fine for me,"
said Parker. "Now how much can you get for Elvis?"
Leathered Rocker: Elvis Presley as seen in his recent television special.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in a two-room insanitary shack in Tupelo, a shanty town in Mississippi. He was brought up in, of course, Memphis, Tennessee.
His career had a classic beginning. An out-of-work truck driver, he stopped off one day at a local record shop. "How d'ya make a disc?" he asked the girl
behind the pokey desk. "You pay four bucks and you do your stuff into a mic," she snarled back. "You do anythin' in particular?" "I'd kinda like to hear my
own voice," said the 18-year-old Presley. "With this," he added, indicating a battered guitar. "OK," said the girl. "Name?"

"Elvis Presley."

He [now] describes his first recording as sounding
"like someone beatin' on a bucket lid", grinning with his sparkling white teeth – all capped. Now his old
songs like
Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, All Shook Up, Hound Dog and Are You Lonesome Tonight, are being re-released so that they will
become the gospel for this decade of pop as they were for the last. An International Elvis Presley Appreciation Society has been formed. It has its own
international anthem called
Loyal, Steadfast and True.

And Presley himself? He lives in total seclusion in a colonial mansion called Graceland near Nashville, surrounded by 12 beautiful male bodyguards with
whom he practises karate and marksmanship – with water pistols.

The house is painted luminous blue and gold and glows at night. It's filled with stuffed pandas, elephants, monkeys, dogs and hundreds of teddy-bears. He
calls everybody who is older than him "sir". Purity has remained an essential attribute – no one ever goes to bed in his movies, although in his latest he
does seduce a nun.

"I don't aim to let this fame business get me," he said recently. He never ventures out himself, except to the film studios; to keep his fans appeased, he
occasionally sends his solid gold Cadillac on a coast-to-coast tour so they can touch it. Two years ago, to the horror of every teenager, he married a
longtime sweetheart, Priscilla Beaulieu. They chose to be married in an hotel. It was called – naturally – the Aladdin Hotel.

And the music? Well, who cares about that?