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EP'S MEMPHIS WAS MURDERED!

Round up the usual suspects . . . they've gone and done it again . . . This was inevitable. When you try to be all things to all people, you're guaranteed to fail. ELVIS was always ELVIS regardless of outside opinion. EP'S MEMPHIS should have followed this ELVISIAN standard . . . I know I do . . . .

The club was doomed on opening night when rather than having an ELVIS theme or bringing in the legends of Memphis Rock, Blues, and Soul, or fittingly Ronnie, Scottie, and D.J (as everyone had hoped,) to perform, E.P.E brought in the Pop diva Jewel in an attempt to show the world that they were going to pander to a more sophisticated crowd than ELVIS fans . . . an insult to the very fans that have built an entertainment empire that rivals a pharaoh's dynasty. The basement wine cellar with the formal dining room was unimpressive image polishing and went unused. The downstairs should've been a video bar to hold ELVIS- specific functions. They could've used that room to invite the many fabulous authors of ELVIS books to have book signings. I'm sure many fans would've arranged their schedules to go there and have a Greil Marcus or Dave Marsh sign their books. The management should've reached out to ELVIS insiders and family members, former costars, his stage performers, E.P.E execs and Fan Club Presidents to be on hand as greeters. The club was never really accessible and didn't extend itself to be a bastion to the fans . . . it wasn't warm and fuzzy on the inside like Graceland, it was snooty like Priscilla. No one wants to party in a showroom . . . They positioned themselves to attract a select clientele of wealthy tourists rather than ELVIS fans or partygoers, not realizing until it was too late that about the only tourists in Memphis from all over the planet are ELVIS fans . . . the rest are Fed Ex pilots. But mainly the club never grew. They should've rotated display pieces and recorded a new tape of music during their 6 year run. They had the DJ booth upstairs, but no one was there and the same tape just played over and over. Of all the ELVIS songs to choose from not only did it have "Dixieland Rock," it had it on their twice!!!!

Since the image of ELVIS couldn't do live performances anymore, E.P.E brought in the foremost Rockabilly band in the land to pay homage to the raucous spirit of the Hillbilly Cat and the Blue Moon Boys. They are the only true TRIBUTE ARTISTS known to me. Their love for ELVIS inspired them to walk a mile in their own blue suede shoes rather than donning jumpsuits and dying their hair black to impersonate him. They immediately built up a loyal following of fans inside and outside of ELVIS world. It was kismet. The classiest joint on Beale Street with the perfect band for the room was a formula for success that every club dreams of having; the ambiance was right. Even the reports here in Memphis noted how the place did well when the Dempseys were there all the time . . . and how it foundered without them . . . But low and behold, amid the thousands that loved them were a vocal group of watchdogs who felt that their rambunctious style was not a befittin' memory to THE KING and evoked the standards of Christian decency. And you know that I know only too well how much rancor that causes. These folks didn't like having someone walk across the table tops playing their glasses and plates, and mounting their instruments, and any of the other 101 different things that they do to entertain audiences from all over the world and keep the place packed. So rather than leave and let the multitude enjoy themselves, the few complained to E.P.E in the name of the memory of ELVIS and the many suffered. E.P.E made a fatal genuflect decision and began fading them off the stage then and reduced them from "house band" to "feature group." That's when their heartaches began. As we all know, if the Dempseys aren't at E.P's we walk out . . . The club lost its following and the pale comparisons were not a draw. No disrespect to the hard working bands that played there also, but the place was gutted without The Dempseys.

The Beale Street experience is about free flowing alcohol, large baskets of food---barbequed--- and edgy live bands playing the hell out of their music . . . like it was when ELVIS became enthralled with it. The counter conservative three star approach didn't work---nor did the Bible brunches. Clubs down there survive on their personalities. Silky Sullivan is at his place slapping backs and buying drinks and everyone loves him, so we stop by his bar. They don't play Grunge music at Have A Nice Day Disco '70s and they don't play Soul at the Hard Rock Cafe. Without the Dempseys the club lost its live identity--- which is death for any Beale Street club.

Here's a story for contrast. Our Vice President, Karen Abelsett was with Isaac Hayes at "Da Blues Restaurant" in the Memphis International Airport, (where Ben Collie, the only surviving member of Otis Reading's plane crash plays) and he was complaining loudly to everyone that the food at his place was terrible, the service was lousy, the decor was all bad and the band stunk! So he closed his doors this week, but only to renovate the place and completely overhaul the menu, before reopening October 15. He has fired most of staff and extended an open invitation to the friendly people from EP'S Memphis to come work there for him.

Inside the massive double doors of the double decker brick house that ELVIS built, many people were intimidated and felt out of their element . . . and way beyond their means. For a person on vacation budgeting to buy souvenirs and make it home, $12.00 for a cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi is PRICEY. The $299.00 coats and $40.00 tshirts were a bit of a GOUGE----not to mention the $250.00 a game pool table where ELVIS scratched against the Beatles. Who was this place built to service? Most ELVIS fans toured it like a museum and got out of there without leaving behind a dime. What do you think ELVIS would've thought of what they had done in his name to his favorite spot in the world? Would he have been satisfied at the service and treatment his fans were given? This was a man who often flew into rages when promoters raised the prices of his tickets a few measly bucks . . . Too bad he's not around to fix EP's, because only ELVIS knew how to give his fans what they wanted and make new fans along the way . . . E.P.E has not learned this . . . it almost makes you miss having the Colonel running things . . .

E.P.E has been spoiled by the fans and it has ruined any hope of them accruing the necessary business skills to do justice to the name and image of ELVIS PRESLEY. They are used to doing the bare minimum and making an unbelievable fortune. They opened the front door of Graceland and patted themselves on the back for being ingenious enough to lure 15,000,000 fans through the turnstiles----they became arrogant. For the last 20 years all they have had to do was set up a money management network for all the dough rolling in and they mistook it for corporate acumen. The only thing that E.P.E has ever been able to successfully market is the music and likeness of ELVIS. And that's because of ELVIS & the Colonel and in spite of E.P.E. Every business venture---from Bis & Beau's to ELVIS cologne and others----tanked. There's not a lot of creativity at the top and they refuse to follow the lead given by the fans.

Since they deem the theme to be a failure, rather than their own poor concept of their customer base, these countries that have been patiently gathering for their branch location to open will go without and E..P.E once again markets itself out of a fortune.
To close his high visibility namesake club because of their inability to market umbrellas in a rainstorm reflects badly on ELVIS. (You know, running a business at a loss or for promotion is the first thing they teach at empire school.) Since they went about grandly detailing their plans for a worldwide chain, ELVIS has egg on his face and his fans have to listen to his millions of detractors say that ELVIS is on the decline despite his posthumous chart topping reign over the last 2 years. Every time you see a story about Graceland it's about how their laying off people and of how the tour is in dramatic decline. E.P.E mournfully blames it on 9/11 and the dwindling travel industry. Well when I was doing my holiday shows in 2001, Marlowe's was packed with people from all over the world. People still fly off for vacation, they're just not flying here to see Graceland again, because E.P.E doesn't have anything going to inspire people to return. For many, a trip to Graceland is a once in a lifetime event. E.P.E markets to families and provide nothing for children to do and nowhere for the elderly to sit . . . hell they only provide one restroom per sex for thousands of fans. The tour of Graceland pulls a fraction of its potential, because they have no scheme. Once you've walked through the house there's no where to go and nothing to do. They need to devise a plan to bring fringe fans back year after year by providing an entertainment complex. ELVIS world is not seasonal and must learn how to compete for year round tourist dollars. If the Japanese conglomerate bought the mansion for $800,000.00 when it was for sale in 1980, today there would be an amusement park over in the acres north and south of the mansion, rather than a low rent industrial complex that stays boarded up like most small business are in this town. I mean especially with the whole Lilo & Stitch tie in it's a no brainer to erect a theme carnival. For the first time in 45 years it's the kids dragging their parents off to see ELVIS and buy his music, so E.P.E must cater to their fan base and stop making the same mistakes twice or the next thing we'll be reading about is that E.P.E is closing Graceland to the public, because the tour is losing money.

I'll remember EP's Memphis fondly and with pride. I was fortunate to have appeared on stage there through the graces of The Dempseys, and I appreciate them for the memories I'll have of their unbelievable talent . . . unless the place has an ELVIS theme, I'll never step foot in the place . . .

Hope to spoo dee da with you real soon,

Thorne


www.yoursinelvis.com