Entertainers share treasures, respect of iconic Elvis for Graceland exhibit
By Bob Mehr
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Back in 2007, Angie Marchese began with a vague idea and a few notes scribbled on a piece of
paper. Five years later, Graceland's director of archives has seen her original vision morph and
grow into something bigger than she could have anticipated with the exhibit;
"ICON: The Influence of Elvis Presley," which opens today.

A look at Presley's cultural and stylistic impact throughout the decades,
"ICON" is the
centerpiece collection on display at Graceland during Presley's 35th death anniversary this year.

"ICON" -- which will be open for a year -- features 75 pieces of Presley-inspired clothing and
ephemera from collections and museums, with most coming directly from artists themselves.

Marchese said everyone was eager to share artifacts and personal effects for the display and
amongst the names of those A List Celebrities eager to have their personal effects ever
associated with Elvis' legend are....
Elton John
Katy Perry
Trisha Yearwood
Joan Jett
Tom Petty
Bob Dylan
Bruce Springsteen
Billy Joel
President Bill Clinton
Ringo Star
and many more, including artifacts from James Browns estate.

"This was very personal thing to these artists," said Marchese. "They didn't want to send just any
old thing. It was more like, 'What do you think of this?' or 'I've got this piece that means a lot to
me.' This was very much about their own connections to Elvis."

The exhibit also represents a unique collaboration between
Elvis Presley Enterprises and the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which took the rare step of loaning out a dozen
pieces from its collection -- including stage items from Elton John and Tom Petty to Graceland.

"Angie wanted to present something that looked at Elvis and his influence on other artists, as a
way to expand the story without just looking inward, which I thought was a great idea," said
Howard Kramer, curator for the Rock Hall.
Bono's "MacPhisto" suit is from U2's "Zoo TV" tour.
"To tell any story you have to look at it from as many angles as possible. Elvis has been gone a long time; a lot of things have still happened since then, but
there's a reason he's regarded as such a cultural influence. He does still have a huge impact and the exhibit shows that."

"ICON" begins with a tuxedo worn by one of Presley's own influences, Dean Martin; the display also includes prefame-Presley's personal copy of Martin's
debut record for Capitol from 1953.

The collection then moves onto
Elvis-inspired outfits worn by Presley contemporaries: a frilly eye-catching ensemble from Wanda Jackson; a white
jumpsuit worn by
Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash's first black performance outfit, festooned with a silver sparkle collar, which was added by his mother in
order to jump out from the stage.

Elsewhere, we see Presley's sartorial impact on African-American artists, particularly on his friend
James Brown's dramatic emerald green vest suit and
Wilson Pickett's black bolero outfit.

A selection of costumes from contemporary artists highlights the unbroken line of Presley's influence, as glimpsed in
Kid Rock's devil-red Elvis homage, Katy
revealing rhinestone-encrusted swimsuit, and Carrie Underwood's gleaming white awards-show dress.

Some of the biggest names also proved to be the most thoughtful Elvis fans. One piece on display is the leather jacket
Bruce Springsteen wore during the
"Born to Run" tour -- during which, on a visit to Memphis, he tried scaling Graceland's fence to meet the King. Meanwhile,
U2 singer Bono's "MacPhisto" outfit
from the band's "Zoo TV" tour is a brilliantly detailed merger of Presley's famed double breasted "If I Can Dream" suit and his famed gold lamé jacket.

Justin Timberlake is another superstar who offered up a Presley-connected item. "(Timberlake) was very specific about sending these white tuxedo shoes
that he wore on some award-show red carpets and to various photo shoots," said Marchese.

"He told us he wore them because Elvis had worn white shoes like them. And so we've set Timberlake's shoes alongside Presley's original pair in the display."

The pieces in the exhibit are often even more personal: country star
Trisha Yearwood sent along her childhood Elvis LPs, complete with scrawled
inscriptions on them; Christian-pop artist
Amy Grant offered up a framed handwritten copy of songwriter Mae Axton's lyrics to "Heartbreak Hotel."

Rounding things out are a selection of costumes from the current Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil show,
"Viva Elvis," as well as the only major Presley-worn
piece, the iconic gold lamé jacket, which makes a rare return to the public eye and closes out the exhibit.

In all,
"ICON" is a unique, multigenerational look at Presley's legacy, and something that should serve as a draw for Memphians to return to Graceland.

"This is a first-of-its-kind exhibit for us," said Elvis Presley Enterprises spokesman Kevin Kern. "We're putting Elvis on display, but Elvis in the way that artists
saw him. This isn't a traveling exhibit -- it's only going to be here. So we feel like it really is a unique thing to see."
"ICON: The Influence of Elvis Presley"
Open now until March 2013 at Graceland. The exhibit can be seen as part of the Platinum and VIP Tours. Tickets are $32 and $68, respectively.
Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, go to