Elvis Exhibition at the O2, London:
Elvis is one of those popular cultural icons that we think we know; irrespective of whether you loved his music or not, his strong image, suggestive dance moves (for the time), and distinctive sound still make him “The King” in the eyes of many people.
I first became aware of Elvis as a child, my mother worked for an accommodation bureau letting properties in London. A tenant defaulted on his rent and had his property confiscated until he paid up (which he never did in full) and we gained a bag full of Elvis memrobilia; a few EPs, lots of fanclub magazines, and a programme for an event celebrating Elvis and Priscillas’ 3rd wedding anniversary (although neither were actually present at the ‘do’) amongst other things. Moving house a couple of years ago, saw me list a lot of it on Amazon, but a fair bit remains.
The exhibition currently on at the O2, next to the Brooklyn Bowl (as reviewed by Russell earlier this year), at last gives British fans a chance to walk through Elvis’ life, from early years to the Vegas years. It makes a fascinating visit seeing his humble origins in the South during the depression, his school records, making records, joining the army, starring in more films than I’d ever realised, before his regular performances in Vegas. It also hosts several of his cars, including a striking red MG that he bought from the film company after using it during a film, plus possibly the biggest diamond that I’ve ever seen aside from the Crown Jewels.
The clothing on show takes you through a journey from Army uniforms, slinky black leather, outfits to meet Presidents in, and the iconic Vegas jumpsuits. What was striking to me, was that we have an image of ‘fat Elvis’, yet most of the clothing on display was clearly for a still slim man. At present the black leather suit worn by Elvis in the 1968 Come Back TV Special is being displayed for two months only before returning to Graceland. The black leather suit will then be replaced by the famous Gold Tuxedo that Elvis wore on the cover of the ‘50,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong’ album.
There is even a replica jumpsuit for sale for £1700!
It’s very strange to think that Elvis was only 42 when he died. A friend of mine from school makes his living in Tenerife performing as Elvis, and it’s odd to think that he’s now 10 years older than Elvis ever was! Here I am sharing a joke with ‘Elvis’!
If you want to see the original black leather suit for yourself, tickets cost from £9 to £20 and are available from the O2 website.
Don’t forget your blue suede shoes!