“Every time I think that I'm getting old and gradually
going to the grave, something else happens.”- Elvis Presley


The 16th of August 1977 was one of those rare days when the world
stood still, shocked into stasis by an era-defining event. It seems
anyone who was alive and had ears to hear remembers where they
were on that day- the day Elvis died.

Armed with that voice, that lip curl and that hip thrust, at the time
of his death at the tender age of 42, Elvis had already cemented his
position as perhaps the most iconic musician of all time. And, with
hindsight, his early departure from this world only served to increase
his legendary status.

Three years before the murder of John Lennon would evoke similar
scenes, when Elvis died the world got its first taste of the death of a
new kind of king. A king of a globalising culture, whose influence and
image had spread around the planet, adored by loyal subjects from
Maryland to Melbourne.

80,000 people lined the streets for The King’s funeral. Thousands
queued to see his body, laid out in an open casket. Each of Elvis’s
six posthumously released singles rode a wave of grief into the top
ten of the country charts. The millions that had listened, crammed
themselves into music halls and gathered around black and white TV
sets to see The King, mourned him bitterly.

But here’s the thing. Elvis never really died.

It has become a platitude that music immortalises its most charismatic
practitioners. And there can be little doubt that something of Elvis’s
spirit is still contained in recordings of his songs, scored into vinyl,
burnt onto CDs, cassettes, digital tracks and several films of dubious
quality.

But Still Taking Care of Business reveals that Elvis continues to live
on most palpably in the men, women and children who call themselves
Elvis impersonators, and who have made transforming themselves
into living images of Elvis their hobby, their job and their passion.

Taking the reader backstage to discover the UK’s flourishing Elvis
impersonation scene, this book introduces some of the nation’s most
flamboyant new age Elvises. It situates our continuing cultural obsession
with The King in the nostalgic surrounds of Black Country billiard halls
and smallholder club houses; in flamboyant paraphernalia,faithfully
reproduced down to the last diamante stud. It reveals a sub-culture
that spans divides of age, class, race and culture. Love for The King
knows no bounds, it seems.

Perhaps most profoundly, Still Taking Care of Business is a testament
to the pseudo-spiritual power of Elvis that survives to this day. Each of
the impersonators depicted in this book step into Elvis’s ‘skin’ both literally
and metaphorically. Weighed down with symbols drawn from Elvis’s iconic
material culture, from gold medallions to the denim of the American
blue-collar worker, they are participants in an act of sympathetic magic.
They do not simply dress like Elvis, they perform him, become him,
channeling a man long-dead back into the world in the various phases of
his life, with the stage as their temple and the performance their flamboyant
ritual.

These are The King’s mediums, his personal priests, and this book is a window
into their secret world. A world where Elvis lives and is still taking care of
business.

Hal Rhoades











©Andy Pilsbury 2020