ELVIS IS STILL IN THE BUILDING!
By Ann Evans
Photos courtesy of Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
Looking back over the year I’ve been fortunate enough to attend quite a few excellent shows and exhibitions. But my favourite has to be Elvis at the 02. I’ve been an Elvis fan
since a child so the opportunity to get so close to items that Elvis actually used and wore was amazing.
The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, is still drawing in the crowds. So much so, that the Elvis at The 02: The Exhibition of His Life, is continuing through to January 2016.
The exhibition which has been put together by Priscilla and Lisa-Marie Presley was scheduled to run from last December to the end of August 2015, but due to popular demand, it’s now continuing until 10th January 2016.
As a lifelong fan of Elvis, I was so eager to see this amazing collection of some 300 personal artefacts belonging to Elvis, that photographer Rob Tysall and I went along a day before the official opening to get a preview. If you plan on taking this unique opportunity of seeing so many of the King’s personal possessions, here’s just a glimpse of what you will see.
To begin with there’s an air of expectancy as you approach the exhibition hall inside the massive O2 Arena and as you draw nearer his songs are being played even before you go into the exhibition. Once inside there are huge photographs everywhere of him, and so much to see, it’s hard to know where to look first.
It’s set out logically though, and you can trace his life from his family’s early years in Tupelo Mississippi, through his school years and early performing days right up to when he took the world by storm.
There’s around a dozen of his famous bejewelled jump suits and capes worn at his concerts in Las Vegas and other hot spots of the USA and amazing to get up close and see the detail. There’s also other coats and items of clothing he wore off screen, along with his martial arts kits and his military uniform from his time in the US Army.
Elvis loved his cars and motor cycles, and you’ll find some of these along with all kinds of private items such as his wallet with a photo of him and Lisa-Marie as a baby; his bible and a statue of Jesus that would have been in his bedroom at his Graceland’s home in Memphis, Tennessee. Even his keyring with his Graceland’s front door key on.
We all saw his Taking Care of Business ring that he famously wore. You can see this close up along with other items of jewellery including the spectacular cuff links he wore for his wedding to Priscilla.
There’s lots of documents from his school days such as reports and attendance records; hand written letters, there’s even a pay cheque from his early working life. And then there are the really private things such as a statue of Jesus and his Holy Bible which would have been in his bedroom.
You’ll find the pool table that Elvis played on with the Beatles; guitars and platinum records, his golf cart and riding saddles. And something I found really interesting, seeing as I’ve never been to Memphis, and that’s the virtual tour of his Graceland home that runs throughout your visit.
There’s music, audio and video playing as you explore, and every visit visit culminates in a 26-minute video performance in the auditorium. If you want to take home some Elvis mementos there’s the largest Elvis themed retail outlet ever assembled in Europe where you can browse and buy all kinds of Elvis merchandise.
At the time of the opening of the exhibition, Priscilla Presley said: “Elvis meant so much to me and our daughter Lisa, but we both know that our family truly shares him with the world. His legacy lives on today not only through his music, but by those who share in the love and admiration of what he contributed to the world of entertainment.
“While each and every item contains a lifetime of memories, we are more than happy to allow these treasured memories to leave Graceland, if only for a short time, so that his fans and the curious can learn about who he was as an artist, and understand what he was really like at home, by seeing the things that he surrounded himself with.”
Elvis at the 02: The Exhibition of His Life runs until 10th January 2016 and is open 7 days a week except for the Christmas and New Year periods. For full details and tickets go to: www.elvisatthe02.com or call 0844 856 0202.