ELVIS AWARDED On August 12, 1992, RCA and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) posthumously awarded to Elvis 110gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums and singles, the largest presentation of gold and platinum records in history. Included was a gold award for a new box set, Elvis, The King of Rock 'n' Roll, The Complete 50's Masters , for which there had been enough advance orders to prompt the RIAA to give it gold status. RCA also presented an elegantly designed, 9-foot, etchedglass trophy sculpture to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of Elvis' death and to recognize him as the greatest recording artist of all time. Officials from RCA, the RIAA, and Elvis Presley Enterprises, the press and more than 90 Elvis fan club presidents attended a special unveiling ceremony in Elvis' racquetball building at Graceland, while a large group of fans watched it live on closed circuit television in the Graceland visitor center plaza. After a brief round of speeches, the lights went down. Fans sighed andapplauded as the strains of "2001" began in the darkness. Spotlights danced around the room. As the music shifted to the fast tempo that used to signal Elvis' stage entrance, the lights came on, and a black drape fell to reveal the 9-foot award from RCA. Then, the very next second, another drape fell to reveal the most astonishing display of gold and platinum record awards anyone had ever seen.


BEST SELLER It is estimated that Elvis Presley has sold in excess of one billion records worldwide, more than any other artist in the history of recorded voice. About half of these sales have been in the U.S., about half elsewhere. Still, when you look in the world's record books and other fact books to see who has the most gold records, Elvis is not listed at the top. That's not right. The reason is that the authors of these books or lists typically consult with the RIAA for their information. The RIAA is the official body to which record companies report record sales and request the awarding of gold and platinum records to their artists. Elvis' RIAA certifications had badly needed updating for a long time.
The RIAA came into existence in 1958. Elvis had many gold records before that time that were awarded in-house from his record company, RCA. However, RCA, for the most part, did not request retroactive RIAA certification of these records. Also, over the years, they did not often request additional certification when the records went gold or platinum more than once. Fans have long wanted to see this corrected. However, for RCA to go back and make it right, they had to present actual sales figures to the RIAA. That was not possible as pre-computer-age files on Elvis' sales were misfiled, incomplete, lost, and scattered. But, after BMG took over RCA, there was a new and energetic focus on all things Elvis-related. Around the sametime, it happened that Graceland acquired the lifetime collectin of files, photography, and memorabilia of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' long-time career manager. Colonel's files were more complete and were well-organized. In early 1992, RCA and Graceland worked together to bring auditors from the RIAA to Graceland to go through Colonel's files. The auditors were able to locate sales figures to prompt an amazing number of certifications for Elvis he has long, long deserved. The results were revealed on August 12, 1992. In the ceremony, RCA and the RIAA not only presented the new certifications, but also re-awarded those that had been certified in the past. Together, this totaled 110 titles. But, even if they had presented only the new or updated certifications (60 or so), it still would have been the largest presentation in history. Even with this new presentation, Elvis still deserves more. These RIAA certifications are for U.S. sales only. Sales figures foroutside the U.S.A. are, for a variety of reasons, very, very incomplete. Also, Colonel's files, as immaculate as they are, could also be incomplete on domestic sales. Elvis has certified U.S. sales of around 500 million records. It is generally believed that his sales in all the other countries of the world combined equal his total in America, thus the estimate of one billion.


COMPARISONS With 110 titles of albums and singles RIAA-certified as either gold, platinum, or multi-platinum, Elvis then stood at number oneon the list of certifications, with more than twice as many certifications as any of the nearest contenders. As of August 1992, the Beatles came in at number two with 41 titles, followed by the Rolling Stones with 39, Barbra Streisand with 37, and Elton John with 37.

(We have not received updates on these artists since '92.) You should note that the 110 is the number of titles. One award was presented for each title, whether it was gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. Multi status is indicated on the engraved identification plate on each award. Now, think of this: any platinum album or any platinum single has to have achieved gold status twice to go platinum, and some of these titles are multi-platinum. So, if Elvis were given separate awards to reflect two golds for each platinum, and a separate platinum for each time a platinum went platinum again, there would have been 162 more awards for a total of 272 !

UPDATES In November 1992, it was announced that the gold-awarded box set Elvis: The King of Rock and Roll, The Complete 50's Masters had gone platinum. This did not change the total of titles - it was still 110 that had gone gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. In late 1993 another box set, Elvis: From Nashville to Memphis, The Essential 60's Masters I went gold, selling over 100,000 units of this five-disc collection. This brings Elvis' total of gold, platinum, or multi-platinum titles to 111. This brings his total of times to go gold or platinum to 274, as one must go gold twice to go platinum, and some of the titles are multi-platinum. RCA has since released some other great compilations:

Elvis, Command Performance, The Essential 60's Masters II (1 disc)
Elvis, If Everyday Was Like Christmas (1 disc)
Elvis, Amazing Grace, His Greatest Sacred Performances (2 discs)
Elvis, Walk a Mile in My Shoes, The Essential 70's Masters (5-disc box)
All are selling well, so we'll look for more gold and platinum in the future!
Elvis Presley's 111 RIAA-Certified Gold & Platinum Records


Albums, Singles & Extended Play Singles: Graceland's mail order department carries all the Elvis CD's and cassettes currently in release.1-800-238-2000.



ELVIS FACTS It is estimated that Elvis Presley has sold over one billion record units worldwide, more than any individual or group in the history of recorded voice. To give the figure some perspective, that's enough for every person in America to have four Elvis albums or singles in their collection, or enough for one out of every five people on earth to have one. Laid end to end, these one billion albums and singles could encircle the earth at the equator twice - and then some! Elvis Presley's trophy room at Graceland is filled with gold and platinum records and awards of all kinds from around the world.

Some of the countries represented are: Norway, Yugoslavia, Japan, Australia, South Africa, England, Sweden, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It is interesting to note that, except for a handful of movie soundtrack songs, Elvis did not record in other languages, and, except for five shows in three Canadian cities in 1957, he did not perform in concert outside the United States. Still, his recordings and films enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, popularity all over the globe,and he is known throughout the world by his first name.

Elvis has had no less than 149 songs to appear on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Chart in America. Of these, 114 were in the topforty, 40 were in the top ten, and 18 went to number one. His number one singles spent a total of 80 weeks at number one. He has also had over 90 charted albums. These figures are only for the pop charts, and only in America. He was also a leading artist on the American country, R&B, and gospel charts, having great success in these musical fields as well. In America alone, Elvis has had 111 different albums and singles that have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). (Information on foreign record chart achievements and foreign gold and platinum achievements is incomplete.)

In 1956, Elvis made his network television debut by performing six shows in a row on Stage Show, a weekly variety program
starring Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. He followed this with two appearances on The Milton Berle Show , the second of which included a performance of Hound Dog that was so provocative that it caused a national scandal. Elvis next appeared on The Steve Allen Show , with Allen mocking the sensation of the Berle appearance by having Elvis dress in a tuxedo, eliminate his usual physical gyrations, and sing Hound Dog to a Basset Hound. Ed Sullivan had once said he would never have the controversial singer on his top-rated show, but that was before the week that Elvis' appearance on Steve Allen had surpassed Sullivan's ratings. Sullivan paid Elvis $50,000 to make three appearances on his show , which was, at the time, more money than any performer had ever been paid to appear on a network variety program. When Elvis made his third Sullivan appearance in January of 1957, Ed Sullivan surprised Elvis by telling him on camera that his show had never had a better experience with a name act, and said "I'd like to say to Elvis and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy." It was in this very same Sullivan appearance that Elvis was shown on camera from the waist up only, one of television history's most
memorable moments. Elvis' next network television appearance was in 1960, when Frank Sinatra gave his variety show a "Welcome Home, Elvis" theme to herald Elvis' return from the army. Elvis was paid $125,000 to appear - again, making history.

Elvis starred in 31 feature films as an actor and two theatrically released concert documentaries, all of which enjoyed financial success. For a number of years he was one of Hollywood's top box office draws and one of its highest-paid actors. His two most critically acclaimed films, Jailhouse Rock (1957) and King Creole (1958) have become classics of their era. His moviesand concert films enjoy a healthy life today in television syndication and home video sales and rentals. Some of his top-selling music came from his movies. Eleven of his movie soundtrack albums went to the top ten, and of those, four went to number one. The soundtrack for G.I. Blues (1960), was number one on the Billboard Top 100 album chart for 10 weeks and remained on the chart for 111 weeks. The album from Blue Hawaii was number one for 20 weeks and was on the chart for 79 weeks. When Elvis returned to the live stage after the success of his 1968 television special and the wrap-up of his Hollywood movie contract obligations, he opened at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in the summer of 1969 for a 4-week, 57-show engagement that broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records. ( The gold belt he received from the hotel as an award is
displayed in his trophy room at Graceland.) He returned to the International a few months later in early 1970, during the slow winter season in Vegas, and broke his own attendance record. Right after that came a record-breaking six-show engagement at the Astrodome in Houston, where Elvis played to a total of 207,494 people. Elvis took his elaborate live show on the road in the latter part of 1970 for his first concert tour since 1958. Throughout the 1970's Elvis toured America, breaking box office records right and left, and continued to play an engagement or two per year in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Among the outstanding highlights of this period was in 1972, when Elvis performed four sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. (Also see details about his 1973 concert special, Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite .) During his "concert years" from 1969 to 1977, Elvis gave nearly 1,100 live concert performances.

Elvis Presley's three network television specials - Elvis (1968) , Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite (1973), and Elvis in
Concert (1977) - stand among the most highly rated specials of their time. His 1968 special, Elvis , is one of the most critically acclaimed music specials of all time. His 1973 special, Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite , was seen in 40 countries by one billion to one-and-a-half billion people worldwide, and made television history. It was seen on television in more American homes than man's first walk on the moon.

Elvis received 14 Grammy nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). His three wins were for gospel recordings. In 1971, NARAS also recognized him with their Lifetime Achievement Award (known then as the Bing Crosby Award in honor of its first recipient) - Elvis was 36 years old at the time.

The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (the Jaycees) named Elvis One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 in a ceremony on January 16, 1971, one of Elvis' proudest moments. This award has been given since 1938 and has honored men of greatness in all areas of endeavor - sports, government, science, medicine, entertainment, etc. It recognizes outstanding personal achievement and the exemplification of the opportunities available in the free enterprise system, along with patriotism, humanitarianism, and community service. (In the 1980's, eligibility was opened to women as well as men, and the award has since been presented to the year's "ten outstanding young Americans".) Elvis Presley was famous for giving away Cadillacs and jewelry, but the true depth and breadth of his generosity and community involvement is not so widely known. In 1961, Elvis gave a benefit concert at Bloch Arena in Hawaii that raised over $65,000 toward the building of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The resulting publicity gave new life to the fund-raising effort, which had, by then, lost almost all of its momentum. The memorial opened a year later. **** Audience tickets for his 1973 Aloha from Hawaii television special and its pre-broadcast rehearsal show carried no price, as each audience member was asked to pay whatever he or she could. The performances were a benefit raising $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii. Each year, for many years, Elvis gave $1,000 or more to fifty Memphis-area charities, but also randomly made many other charitable donations in Memphis and around the country continually. Most of Elvis' philanthropic endeavors received no publicity at all. Throughout his adult life, for friends, for family, and for total strangers, he quietly paid hospital bills, bought homes, supported families, paid off debts, and so much more. Graceland, Elvis Presley's home and refuge for twenty years, is, today, one of the most visited homes in America, now attracting over 700,000 visitors annually. It is also the most famous home in America after the White House. In 1991, Graceland Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1992, the U.S. Postal Service announced that Elvis' image would be used for a commemorative postage stamp. The Postal Service narrowed the artwork choices down to two images - one of Elvis in the 1950's as a sizzling young rocker, and one of him as a still-svelte concert superstar in his 1973 Aloha from Hawaii special. In an unprecedented move, the Postal Service put the decision to the American people and distributed ballots coast to coast. Over 1.2 million votes were cast, and the image of the young rocker won. The stamp was released on January 8, 1993, with extravagant first day of issue ceremonies at Graceland. The Elvis stamp is the most widely publicized stamp issue in the history of the U.S. Postal Service, and it is the top selling commemorative postage stamp of all time. The USPS printed 500 million of them, three times the usual print run for a commemorative stamp. (Several countries outside the U.S.A. have issued Elvis stamps over the years.)
Currently, there are over 480 active Elvis fan clubs worldwide - more clubs than for any other celebrity.