Belfast Telegraph

Presley planes to leave Graceland

Elvis Presley's famous airplanes could be set to leave Graceland.

For 30 years, tourists have paid money to get a look at the two aircraft once owned by the late king of rock and roll and kept at his former home in Memphis.

But by April 2015, the planes named Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II could be gone.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which operates the Graceland tourist attraction, has notified the planes' owners that they should prepare to remove the jets from Graceland early next year.

The planes, owned by the OKC Partnership in Memphis, have been a tourist attraction since the mid-1980s. OKC Partnership and Graceland agreed to bring the two jets to Graceland, with OKC getting a share of ticket sales at the mansion.

In an April 7 letter to OKC Partnership's KG Coker, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden said the company was ending the agreement and asked Coker to remove the planes and restore the site on or shortly after April 26, 2015.

Dedicated Elvis fan Paul Fivelson of Algonquin, Illinois, said he expected many fans will be upset to hear the planes may be leaving.

"The people who come to Memphis for Elvis Week like seeing those planes there because it's just part of the whole aura of what Elvis was about," Fivelson said. "It would be kind of blasphemous to take them away, and I think there are probably a lot of fans who will feel the same way."

The disclosure also raises questions about the future use of the site where the airplanes now sit, across the street from Presley's longtime home.

Elvis Presley Enterprises declined immediate comment.

In November, New York-based Authentic Brands Group bought Elvis Presley Enterprises and the licensing and merchandising rights for Presley's music and image from CORE Media Group. As part of the deal, Joel Weinshanker, founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, acquired the operating rights to Graceland, which attracts about 500,000 visitors each year.

Earlier this year, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced plans to build a 450-room hotel, theatre and restaurant, with a projected opening date of August 2015. Their plan was approved on July 1 by the Memphis City Council.

Today, Graceland visitors can buy a ticket that includes a tour of Presley's home-turned-museum and the interior of the two airplanes.

The larger plane, a Convair 880 named Lisa Marie, is like a customised flying limousine, with a large bed, a stereo system, conference room and gold-plated bathroom fixtures. It was renovated after Presley bought it from Delta Air Lines. Presley took his first flight on it in November 1975.

The smaller jet, a JetStar named the Hound Dog II, was also used by Presley.

Coker, 76, said OKC may sell the planes if they're removed from Graceland, but he still hopes to negotiate a deal to keep the planes there.

"I would love to see the airplanes stay where they are forever," Coker said. "Millions of fans have toured those airplanes and there's a real connection between fans and those airplanes. Those airplanes are part of the Elvis experience."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph