No matter where I’ve lived over the years, Memphis has always been like a second home to me. I have so many wonderful memories of time spent there with Elvis: talking, reading, playing, doing his hair, going to the movies in the middle of the night…all good stuff. Yet I also have the saddest, most painful memory of all: preparing his hair for the funeral and saying my last goodbye. Lots of emotion connected with that city.
I always look forward to Elvis Week in Memphis. It’s a whirlwind of re-connecting with many fans and friends, meeting new ones and reliving cherished memories that emerge so vividly and freely; the past and the present seamlessly and flawlessly woven together.
What really struck such a deep cord within me this time was that after all these years, Elvis still inspires and touches millions of people around the world, many of whom weren’t even born when he left us. His image, his music and the force of his personality continue as a vibrant, living presence.
Marian Cocke’s annual banquet at the Peabody was a huge success, raising lots of money for charity. Shira and I sat with George Klein, Mark James and his wife Karen, DJ Fontana and his wife Karen. Shira and I always get a vegetarian meal. This time it was the best one yet: pasta primavera with vegetables – absolutely delicious.
The entertainment was outstanding! After the raffle and auction, Terry Mike Jeffrey took the stage and rocked on for at least an hour. Then he brought up the Jordanaires who sang their hearts out. What a special treat it was when Duke Mason came up and sang a few songs; he’s a huge talent and the audience loved him.
As usual when in Memphis (and sometimes by phone during the year) I was on Sirius Radio on George Klein’s show, this time twice. He and Jim Sykes are such professionals, and it’s a delight to work with them. I’ve never been to Memphis during Elvis Week when I didn’t speak at George’s annual Memorial for Elvis at the University of Memphis. It’s the last thing I do before leaving for the airport, and it’s a wonderful wrap-up to the week.
For me, though, as I’m sure for every fan, the emotional highlight of any Elvis Week is the candlelight vigil at Graceland. Walking up the driveway to the meditation garden was so moving, reaching deep into the soul of each person there. Elvis broke our hearts, but he filled them with joy as well.
This year held a special meaning and experience for me. It was the premiere for “At The Gates” a documentary that was made by my son Kiara Geller and his partners in Echo House Entertainment, Keith Evans and Walter Procek. They have created a great work that is very revealing and entertaining, offering a new insight into Elvis and his fans. The premiere was held on August 12th at the Memphian Theater, a place that holds many memories for me and for Elvis’ other friends, and even some privileged fans. The audience was very responsive; some wept, all cheered, and their comments after the film were uniformly enthusiastic.
I can’t finish this blog without offering kudos to the fabulous girls of Pink Caddy Entertainment: Cathy Hernandez, Kari Lugo and Darlene Perez. They handled all the promotion for the Echo House documentary, and they arranged a book signing for me at Marlowe’s, where I had the chance to meet with many more wonderful Elvis fans.