Elvis Aaron Presley is more popular today than ever, yet he died nearly forty years ago. His music is constantly remixed and re-released to a new generation of fans, and his image thrives in popular art and culture. Elvis’s Graceland home and Tupelo birthplace have become places of pilgrimage. His relics command astounding prices at auction. Around the world it is estimated that there are 200,000 Elvis impersonators paying tribute to their hero. Elvis is the subject of some truly astonishing rumours and legends, including the one that he never actually died. Ted Harrison asks what lies behind the remarkable resurrection in popular culture of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.
The Death and Resurrection of Elvis Presley tells the story of Elvis after Elvis. It shows how his estate, which was pillaged by his manager, was saved through the business acumen and financial vision of his ex-wife Priscilla Presley. It explores a spiritual dimension to the Elvis revival, where fans create a fantasy quasi-religion through which they blend and confuse Elvis and Jesus. In the growing myth of Elvis, Harrison identifies a vibrant synthesis between money and faith, unique to the modern age, but reminiscent of the early centuries of Christianity. Underpinning the whole story is Elvis’s extraordinary charisma, thousands of fans simply having a lot of fun and ultimately some great, enduring music. This is a must-read for the many millions of loyal followers, as well as those who are more critical of the King.
‘Ted Harrison’s central thesis – that Elvis has been much more heavily and successfully commercialised in death than in life – is convincing . . . It is original. And its most compelling line is that the reason Elvis has been so brilliantly marketed after his death is because he was so badly handled in his lifetime.’
– The Spectator
‘[a] thorough examination of Elvis’s cultural afterlife’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Ted Harrison’s fascinating, and considerably more concise, examination of the King’s post mortem career, which offers plenty in the way of drama, controversy and flat-out weirdness. It’s a definitive overview of how, ever since Elvis left the building, we’ve witnessed the simultaneous growth of a business empire whose aim is to both police and monetise the singer’s iconic image and a worldwide subculture in which fans “were liberated by Elvis’s physical death to reinvent him for themselves” . . . With a keen understanding of how modern myths take shape and a sympathetic eye for his subject, Harrison surveys the contemporary landscape of Elvis impersonators, academic interpreters and followers and finds something very akin to a new religion taking shape’ – Fortean Times
‘A quirky analysis of the afterlife of the King of Rock ’n Roll that looks into the reasons behind the singer’s popularity 40 years after his death.’ – Love It! magazine
‘[a] new book about The King illustrates its central thesis – that Elvis is more commercially successful in death than life – by pointing out that he had three No 1 singles in the UK last year, more than any other solo male artist, and topped the album charts for the 12th time.’ – Daily Express
‘As a singer, as a giant in the history of Rock, and as an international cultural phenomenon, Elvis Presley continues to fascinate. In this book Ted Harrison has given us a new take on the phenomenon and legend that is Elvis. He focuses primarily on the myth and meaning of Elvis for today and looks at how his story has been constructed and reconstructed since his death. We meet Elvis as myth, archetype, hero, martyr and saint. Bringing together much of the scholarly discussion around the “Elvis Religion” and so much more, Ted Harrison offers us a wonderful read and brilliant insights not just into the life of the King of Rock and Roll but into our ever growing and ever changing experience of him in our lives.’ – Professor Christine King, Staffordshire University
‘Ted Harrisons’ entertaining, though authoritative, book will not only reassure existing Elvis fans that his story and legend are still alive, and possibly tell them something new, but it will also introduce the digital generation to the enduring analogue phenomenon of Elvis some 40 years after his death!’ – Professor David Wall, University of Leeds
Ted Harrison is a British writer, artist and broadcaster. He is the author of many books including Diana: Myth and Reality and Remembrance Today: Poppies, Grief and Heroism (Reaktion, 2012), and produced the award-winning bbc documentary Elvis and the Presleytarians with the late John Peel.