“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
Three years before the murder of John Lennon would evoke similar scenes,
when Elvis died the world first experienced 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 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, 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
characters who call themselves Elvis tribute acts, and who have made
transforming themselves into living images of Elvis their hobby, their job,
and their passion wherever they live.
Still Taking Care of Business takes you backstage to discover the UK’s own
flourishing Elvis tribute scene, this body of work introduces some of the nation’s
most flamboyant new age Elvises, from West Bromwich’s Yam Yam Elvis to
London’s Original Black Elvis. Redolent with both humour and nostalgia, the
beautifully composed images in this collection situate our continuing cultural
obsession with Elvis in the faces of rapt crowds in pubs, bars and clubs across
the land. They reveal a sub-culture in which participation spans age, class, and
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 characters depicted in this book steps into
Elvis’s ‘skin’ both literally and metaphysically. 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, channelling 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 men, then, are The King’s mediums, his personal priests, and this is a window
into their secret world; a world where Elvis lives and is still taking care of business.
– Hal Rhoades