January 8, 2009

Elvis business good, despite economy

The chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises' parent company says the Elvis industry is thriving despite the bad U.S. economy.

The late U.S. rock 'n' roll icon, who would have celebrated his 74th birthday Thursday, was No. 1 on the Forbes magazine list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2008.

There is only one Elvis, and you don't have to do much to keep him front and center, Robert Sillerman, chief executive of CKX Inc., told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Sillerman also told the newspaper that President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural committee has requested permission to use Presley's song If I Can Dream as part of an inaugural event.

I am a big supporter of President Obama, Sillerman said. If they want to use it, we absolutely will make it available to them. Forty years after Elvis' '68 special, we see that he's being thought of as part of a new beginning.

Although attendance at Graceland was down in 2008 compared to 2007, when fans flocked to Presley's former home to mark the 30th anniversary of his death, CKX said the numbers were on par with attendance from previous non-milestone years, suggesting Elvis is recession-resistant.

Sillerman also said CKX is moving ahead with plans to improve and develop Graceland so it will be even more appealing to tourists.