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Why Elvis is still earning a fortune

From BBC - August 15, 2017

When a downward-spiralling Elvis Presley died 40 years ago on 16 August 1977, a cynical music industry insider was overheard to remark that it was a "smart career move".

Apocryphal tale or not, death has given a lucrative boost to the selling power of not just Elvis, but also Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and a host of other music legends.

It has also enabled a number of entrepreneurial fans of the artists in question to make a good living from selling memorabilia and other things connected to their idols.

Elvis's legacy and monetary worth remain immensely strong in particular - according to Forbes' list of top earning dead stars he earned $27m (21m) in 2016, and sold one million albums.

Aged just 42 when he died of a heart attack, the singer's notorious love of unhealthy food could not have helped. His favourite sandwich was said to consist of two slices of fried bread, with crispy bacon and fried bananas, smothered in jam and peanut butter.

"Graceland" sold 11,000 such sandwiches to visitors last year - but it was not Graceland, Memphis, Elvis' former home, rather "Graceland Randers" in Denmark.

The tourist attraction in northern Denmark is owned by Danish-born super-fan Henrik Knudsen, 53, who built a copy of the original Graceland mansion to keep the rock 'n' roller's legend alive in Scandinavia.

"I was 13 when he died, and I could not say it was a shock, as I was not that deep into him at the time, but what I recognised was this was something big," says Henrik, an honorary citizen of Memphis, who has visited Graceland in the US some 106 times.

"This could have been royalty. This could have been a president."

After establishing a successful Elvis fan club, his Danish replica of Graceland opened in 2011.

It cost 2.8m to build the house, with museum in the basement, a function room, merchandise store, and a diner, but within six years Henrik had made enough money to pay back his investors.

Yet with success came a lawsuit from Elvis Presley Enterprises, the corporate body created by the Elvis Presley Trust to manage worldwide licensing of Elvis-related products and ventures, for infringement of the Graceland trademark.

In December 2015 Graceland Randers was renamed Memphis Mansions, and Henrik declines to discuss the legal aspects.

Memphis Mansions, Randers, Denmark

Elvis Presley signature sandwich - 69 Danish krone ($10.90; 8.42)

Entry price - DKK 99 adults, DKK 69 children 12 to 17, under-12s free

150,000 visitors last year

Sells officially-licensed Elvis products - such as CDs, DVDs, LPs, merchandise, autographs

Another Elvis fanatic who makes a living from his hero is London-based Sid Shaw, the owner of website Elvisly Yours, which sells Elvis-related memorabilia and products to fans in more than 50 countries.

'I first heard Elvis on Radio Luxembourg. And that was the only place you could hear pop music [at the time]," says Sid, now 71.

"Elvis came on and was totally different to anything else, so I became a fan then."

Sid started making busts of Elvis in 1977, the year of his death, and in 1978 set up a fan club.

"In those days, the Elvis Presley estate did not have a trademark, so I applied for the trademark 'Elvis', and I was told you ca not get it because it is generic," he recalls. "So I applied for the next best thing which is 'Elvisly Yours'... and I got it."

The phrase Elvisly Yours is the way Elvis fans around the world sign their letters.

Graceland, Memphis, US

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