The Wiltshire village of Tadlington is to be the unlikely home of the new International Elvis Presley Museum and Hotel complex, the brainchild of local businessman Kenneth Memphis. Kenneth has been an avid fan of Elvis for many years and decided to mark the 35th anniversary of his hero’s death with the official opening of his new venture. We asked Kenneth to tell us more.
“I was brought up on a diet of Elvis films and music,” says Kenneth, “my Mother being his biggest fan. I was only 7 when he died, so all I ever knew about Elvis came from Mother. Summer holidays were the best, when a different film was showing every morning on TV. I knew all the songs and perfected my lip curl.” Kenneth breaks off from his tale to demonstrate that very lip curl for our photographer.
“We had all the albums and music from the films and Mother listened to them pretty much constantly. I think I knew the words better than I did my timetables at school. I used to entertain the other kids in the yard with my Elvis impressions, and the teachers too. Most of them adored Elvis too.
“When I was 18 we made our first trip to Graceland and I was hooked. We bought lots of little memorabilia to bring home, and our Elvis fan friends all admired them. So I had the idea of importing Elvis collectables into the UK and my business took off from there.”
By the age of 30, Memphis (not his real name – Kenneth changed it from Dawson) had a business with an annual turnover of almost £1million. It seemed as though other people loved The King as much as he and his Mother did. He was travelling to Graceland several times a year, sourcing new suppliers and designing stock himself. “My proudest achievement is the bone china plate collection I designed of Elvis through the decades. The limited run of 5,000 sold out in 2 days.”
“By then I’d started collected genuine Elvis items and displaying them at home. At a convention someone asked if I would be willing to put some of the best pieces on display and the idea for the museum was born. From there it was a small step to adding on a themed hotel and conference centre. I’m thrilled that we will be open at the end of July, with a huge celebration week planned for the anniversary of his passing.”
The deluxe hotel will have everything a traveller could want, Elvis fan or not. There will be themed bedrooms, specialist menu items based on Elvis’ own creations and regular events for hardcore fans. The museum will host lectures, kicking off with a month of ‘Elvis – the Truth’ including a unique lecture from Memphis himself. There are plans to establish an annual UK Elvis convention which Memphis hopes will become the biggest in the world.
“And I can proudly announce here in your newspaper the very latest news about our complex.” Kenneth Memphis beams, eyes bright as he explains. “By Autumn we will have our very own Vegas-style wedding chapel on-site, where couples can tie the knot in an Elvis wedding and walk down the aisle to Love Me Tender. We even hope to have an Elvis-style registrar and vicar available to officiate at ceremonies.”
As we leave Kenneth happily planning his grand opening event, bookings are rolling in. Rocking and rolling in of course. Book now to avoid Hotel Heartbreak!
Inspire by “Elvis to be digitally recreated”