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Long Live the King: Legacy of the Presley family continues with renewed vigor

Elvis Presley died 46 years ago, but like any royal, the King of Rock-and-Roll still has a legacy that grips the world. Fans will have a chance to enjoy more of the Mississippi boy this Christmas with NBC’s new live holiday music special, “Christmas at Graceland.”

The undeniable influence of The King of Rock-and-Roll, Elvis Presley, permeates through pop culture today. His music, flare, acting, passion, and all too early, tragic demise are all ingrained into the fabric of the Presley fandom that is still thriving and growing today. 

Elvis Presley died 46 years ago, but like any royal, the King of Rock-and-Roll still has a legacy that grips the world. This passion for all things Presley has experienced an ebb and flow over the years, but the Hollywood blockbuster Elvis ignited a renewed craze for the king. 

The younger generation shows interest in Elvis

Baz Luhrmann’s feature film, Elvis, began filming in Australia in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed production, giving time to address the virus and build the excitement for the film. Austin Butler played Elvis, exposing a myriad of younger fans to Presley’s music for the first time. Butler’s own childhood acting career, in roles on shows such as Hannah Montana, Ned’s Declassified, and iCarly, created an interest in Elvis for a younger generation that, in most recent years, would have only been fostered by trips to Graceland or a family member’s music collection. 

This younger generation’s interest in the Presley legacy is evident through the many events and attractions dedicated to Presley.  The Tupelo Elvis Festival, an event each June in Presley’s hometown, saw younger crowds at the last festival. 

“Tupelo Elvis Festival sees a broad demographic of attendees each year during the event,” said Dalton Russell, marketing director for the Downtown Tupelo Mainstreet Association. “Traditionally, the demographic has been older, but with the release of the new Elvis movie, we have started seeing a younger demographic of Elvis fans,” Russell said. 

Russell added that last year’s Tupelo Elvis Festival brought fans from approximately 150 cities, 30 states and provinces, and three countries.

“This year’s event showed attendees from approximately 282 cities, 35 states and provinces, and eight countries,” Russell said. No direct data was tied to the movie release and influx of attendance, but another experience led festival administrators to agree that the movie had some impact. 

“We did see a larger participation in The “Becoming” Experience Youth Day and Competition held at the Elvis Presley Birthplace during this year’s event,” said Russell.

While crowds at the Tupelo Elvis Festival paint a picture of a reignited flame for the hip-swinging legend, the numbers don’t lie. 

Billboard reported a surge in Elvis Presley’s music following the release of the movie. A 67% increase in on-demand streaming is nothing to scoff at in and of itself, but Presley’s 2002 compilation called Elvis: 30 #1 Hits hit the Billboard Top 40 in 2022 for the first time in nearly two decades. 

According to SongStats.com, Spotify’s artist analytics show nearly 24,000 Elvis playlists; his songs have 8.75 million followers and 17.8 million monthly listeners. Itunes’s analytics place Elvis on 620 charts in 106 countries. On YouTube, Presley’s channel has 1.73 billion views. 

The most telling numbers lie within the analytics of TikTok and Instagram. 5.28 billion TikTok videos are related to Elvis Presley, with 21.9 million shares. On Instagram, there are 703,000 videos relating to Elvis, with 1.95 million followers. Over half of Instagram users fall into the 18-34 age range, while 80% of  TikTok’s users are between the ages of 16 and 34. 

Graceland continues to honor Presley with new events

Graceland, the palatial home of Elvis Presley, is a thriving Mecca for adoring Presley fans. The Making of Elvis Movie Exhibition is ongoing through March 2024, with new pieces added to the collection, such as outfits Austin Butler wore in his Presley portrayal, props from the film, and more. 

NBC is set to launch a new live holiday music special, “Christmas at Graceland,” on November 29. “Christmas at Graceland” is the first live musical televised holiday special of its kind at the estate.

“Christmas at Graceland” will feature what NBC teases will be some of music’s biggest stars, celebrating what was Presley’s favorite holiday. 

“My family and I are elated to open the doors to Graceland in this first-of-its-kind special,” said executive producer Riley Keough. “With intimate musical performances drawing inspiration from my grandfather Elvis’s cherished Christmases in Memphis, viewers will be invited to experience firsthand the magic that is Christmas at Graceland.” 

“To celebrate the holidays at Graceland, and be a part of the King’s legacy, is both an honor and an absolute dream come true,” said Jen Neal, Executive Vice President, of Live Events and Specials, NBCUniversal Media Group. “We thank Riley and her family for allowing all of us to visit her grandfather’s iconic home and share an intimate musical experience that Elvis would’ve truly loved.”

Christmas at Graceland will air immediately following NBC’s highly rated annual presentation of Christmas in Rockefeller Center on November 29 (7-9 p.m. CST).

Riley Keough is the executive producer of Christmas at Graceland. She is the daughter of the late Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter to Elvis and Priscilla Presley. She is also the sole trustee of Lisa Marie Presley’s estate. 

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