|NEW LIGHT ON AN ELVIS SUIT
Here at E.E.R we always say, "nobody knows everything" and here is a fine example.
By Lee Dawson with many thanks to Bud Glass
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This suit first caught the attention of the F.B.E.I after it appeared on a TV show in
the States and the owner told this story; "My husband bought it at an auction in
1975 in Germantown, Tennessee. The Jaycees auctioned it off. They went to
Graceland to acquire something that belonged to Elvis, and Vernon Presley was
gracious enough to give them this particular suit along with a letter that he signed
saying it was Elvis' suit." Heck, the "expert" even said it could be worth $100,000
dollars if from his "1968 comeback tour". Huh?? He did go on but enough of that.
Just look at this thing, it looks nothing like something Elvis would wear, does it?
Maybe one of those IMPS but never worn by Elvis on stage right. Well, I needed
to ask some people in the know and so I went to John Wilkinson, who was Elvis'
Rhythm Guitarist from 1969 to 1977 and never missed a show. "This was never
worn by Elvis on stage. It looks more like something Shaun Nielsen would have
worn but certainly not Elvis." Said John.
We also sort the opinion of Butch Polston who states; "I've seen this numerous
times, and have been sent a lot of tapes of the actual show. This was never Elvis
Presley's. Without getting into any more than that and pointing any fingers, or
upsetting people, I've shown this to numerous people, including Gene and Bill
and their exact words were "We would have never turned out something that
looked like that, for Elvis or anyone!"
OK, so we've heard from a member of Elvis' TCB band who was there at ever
concert Elvis ever gave from July 31st 1969 to June 26th 1977, and the 2 guys who
used to design/make the Kings stage wear. Surely the question of whether or not
this was one of Elvis' suits can now be answered?
However, take a look at the same suit (left), It looks somewhat better than the one
above draped over some old mannequin doesn't it! Right, so whats the actual story
behind this unusual suit....Bud Glass contacted me and offered to write an article
which explains all.
"I co-own a multi-million dollar Elvis museum, and have been acquiring Elvis personal
items for several decades. Provenance, chain of ownership and authenticity is the
most important aspect.
My character and integrity is more valuable to me than all of the Elvis items
combined, so there is no grey area with me.
I appreciate you [E.E.R] warning fans of fakes and forgeries. I know of many people
making a living selling them, and I do what I can to warn those who buy items. I have
authenticated items for collectors and other museums around the world, and have
been flown into auctions by collectors who want to be steered clear of the fakes.
The problem is, sometimes, in the pursuit of the truth, some people make false
assumptions that stem from their own lack of knowledge or understanding of certain
things. Actual friends of Elvis are also guilty of making these assumptions.
Unless someone was with Elvis every second of every day, in every era of his life,
some things are just not known by certain people "just because they knew, or
worked for Elvis". They are good people and honest people, but some things they
just don't know for sure, and they make assumptions. Those assumptions become
gospel fact to us fans who think they should know, since they were there.
Case and point is the late Patti Parry, who once was shown a pair of Elvis owned
and worn pants by someone I know. She said, Elvis never wore these pants....he
never wore pinstriped pants. (guess she never watched TTWII)?
Another time, my partner took a photo of a ring I own, and sent it to Lowell Hayes, just to ask if he was the jeweller who made it. I had no photos of Elvis
wearing it at the time, but I knew it was legit, because I purchased it from a man who worked for Elvis, and my good friend Ed Bonja was there and saw Elvis
give it to him. Lowell Hays stated that, not only did he NOT make it, but that was NOT a ring Elvis would have EVER worn and therefore it was not legit.
(again, the dangers of someone who knew Elvis making assumptions that they have no business making or spreading).
Months later, I found photos of Elvis wearing the ring on stage, then candidly. The time frame led me to the ELVIS ON TOUR documentary. Yes, Elvis not only
wore my ring on stage for many performances, including some filmed for on award winning documentary, but also in the studio when he recorded ALWAYS ON
MY MIND and SEPARATE WAYS. How could I have missed it? I have seen ELVIS ON TOUR a million times. I missed it because whenever the camera man
wanted to show Elvis' "bling", he zoomed in on his right hand, where he was wearing three massive rings.
He wore my ring on the ring finger of his left hand for a good part of the documentary... including during ALWAYS ON MY MIND, SEPARATE WAYS, during
the gospel jam session with The Stamps, and most prominently it is shown during most of the live performance of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS.
I said all that to say this... even the people who were there, were not ALWAYS there every second. And even if they were there for specific events, they are
human, decades older, and have fallible memories like everyone else. It is wrong to say "he never wore that". They should simply say "that does not look
familiar to me", or, "I don't personally recall ever seeing Elvis wearing that". Sonny West is one of only a handful of Elvis' friends that I am friends with who
does this, and I respect him highly for it.
I have seen items I would have sworn (as an Elvis historian, author, documentary producer and museum owner), is something Elvis would never have worn.
Then I find a photo of him wearing it and I am shocked. The lesson here, people should never claim something as fact that they don't know for certain to be a
On to the leather suit....by Bud Glass.
I saw it on the antique road show, and thought the same thing as everyone else... "no way Elvis ever wore that on stage". The way they had it displayed made
it look even worse.... almost silly. In person, it is a very well made, and very stunning outfit. The person "authenticating" it on the Antique road show had no
business authenticating it, as they said:
"...Well, if this happened to be one of those outfits that he wore on his '68 Comeback Tour, it would be worth a lot of money-- probably about $100,000. If, on
the other hand, it was probably worn later, maybe in his Las Vegas era... I've talked to several people here who feel it's probably a little bit later, probably in
the late '60s, early '70s and probably for Vegas... If it was worn on stage-- and it appears to be worn because there's a good bit of wear around the neck and
on the inside, like someone actually wore it and probably was quite active while they were wearing it, maybe dancing or whatever-- if he wore it at that time, it
would probably be worth about $30,000..."
1968 comeback TOUR????? really????? and then.... "probably worth 100,000.00." ???? (the last few authentic stage suits that sold at auction went for
250,00.00 to 300,000.00....and they were not from his legendary 68' special. Had it been from the special, it would be worth CONSIDERABLY more.)
I have dealt with many millions of dollars in Elvis owned artifacts over the years, and I know what I am talking about. also, not to toot my own horn, but I am so
particular on authenticity, I have been called by some the "last of the purists". I do not even considering owning something unless my in-depth research pans
The reason this suit was not taken seriously, besides of the ignorance of the person assigned to authenticate it, is because either the owner at the time, did
not give the antique road show all the evidence, or the antique road show did not see the relevance is showing all the evidence, and relied too heavily on their
"expert" appraiser's opinion.
The reason fans don't think its legit is because they have never seen anything like it before, so it must be fake. Butch Polston, who is a dear friend of mine,
judging from your statement on your website, thought it looked fishy because it is not consistent with I.C. Costumes' outfits, or styles for Elvis. The reason
Gene Doucette, whom I also know, thought it looked fishy, is because he is the one who designed and made most of the suits that Bill Belew gets all the
credit for, and Gene knows he never made anything like that for Elvis.
Gene and Butch never personally examined the suit, or they would have seen the fact that is is a very well made suit, by a famous clothing designer..... its
just not an I.C. Costume outfit.
Now the facts.... and this will be used in a future publication of mine, so I will not send you any scans of most of what I am talking about, but my word and
integrity speaks for itself:
Linda Thompson had the suit made especially for Elvis, along with a matching suit for herself. It was made by Suzie Creamcheese, of Los
Angeles,California. How do I know this?... I asked her to confirm this when this photo was being taken at my museum in Vegas in 2009.
The Jaycees approached Elvis because he was a local celebrity, and asked him to donate something to a fundraising auction for charity in 1975. Elvis loved
the Jaycees, who voted him one of the ten outstanding young man in America a few years earlier, and he wanted to help. Elvis personally removed this outfit
from his bedroom closet at his Graceland home, and gave it to his father to give to the Jaycees.
He told his father to tell them he wore it on stage only once. (I was told by Sam Thompson that it was too hot to wear again because it is all leather.) Linda
did not remember the exact year she gave it to him.
So this means at some point from Elvis' meeting of Linda in July of 1972 to the date the letter from Elvis' father attesting to these facts was NOTARIZED on
August 8, 1975.... ACCORDING TO ELVIS HIMSELF, this suit was worn on stage a single time. And I am sure it was worn casually as well, as it screams
Elvis, and was a gift from his girl.
I would assume he wore it in Vegas. And that is why no photographs of Elvis wearing the suit have not turned up as of yet. As I am sure you know, No
cameras were allowed in Vegas. All photo were either profession by his photographer, or sneaked by fans using no flash. If a fan was caught taking photos in
Vegas, their cameras would be held until after the show, and their film would be removed from the camera and destroyed.
The second offense meant you were banned from the showroom, and most fans never wanted to risk that. This explains why so few photos exist from Vegas,
in comparison to Elvis while he was on tour, and photos were allowed.
Isn't that interesting.... the suit no one thinks is real was only worn once on stage, making it probably the rarest of all stage suits. Most all the others were worn
over and over, Vegas, Tahoe, and across the U.S. as Elvis toured. Now... Elvis could have lied to his father. His father could have lied to the Jaycees..... but
why???? [Of course, after wearing so many suits between 1972 and 1975, Elvis could have been simply mistaken about wearing it on stage at all? Ed]
Elvis gave money, expensive jewelry, cars and more away all the time... it meant nothing to him. So what earthly reason would he have had, to not give the
Jaycees, whom he was a member in good standing, and honored to be as such, the very best he could select from his closet when deciding what to
give the Jaycees?
One of the reasons I own this suit is because it has more documentation on it then any other I have seen. Among several other letters from people who were
there at the time:
* I have a notarized letter from Elvis' father, stating Elvis personally removed this outfit from his bedroom closet at his Graceland home, and gave it to his
father to give to the Jaycees. He told his father to tell them he wore it on stage only once. (notarized and sealed on Aug. 8, 1975).
* I have a notarized, detailed letter from the Chairman of the Jaycees in Memphis in 1975, who personally received the outfit from Elvis' Father and took
original possession of the notarized letter from Vernon. In this letter he tells of the auction that the suit was sold it.
* I have an ORIGINAL newspapers from August 14, 1975, talking about the auction, and a photograph showing the auctioneer holding the suit. The
newspaper states that the suit was worn by Elvis on stage in Las Vegas and was being auctioned off by the Jaycees for charity.
* I have an ORIGINAL newspaper from a year after the auction where they are promoting another auction, and they talk about the Elvis outfit from the
previous year, and have a photo of the winner of the auction wearing the Elvis outfit top and holding the pants. It was a way for the newspaper and the
Jaycees to generate even more interest in that years auction.
* Then there is Linda Thompson, my special guest at my museum in Las Vegas, who posed for photos with the outfit, and told everyone there how she gave
the suit to Elvis.
Now you have the facts. And from someone who has been around the block a few times in the Elvis world. And I also have all the documented, notarized,
researched and authenticated proof that this suit was worn and owned by Elvis. Linda Thompson is still around.... you can ask her yourself. Most people that
fake things use letters from people who are dead and cannot confirm or deny anything.
If people don't want to believe Elvis wore the suit on stage because no photo has been discovered of Elvis wearing it, then I can't believe that Washington was
our first president because I have no photographic proof. (silly isn't it?) That is because we rely on more than just a photo of him wearing it. All we have to go
on is the facts that I have just shown you, and that is more provenance than most any Elvis-owned item you will ever find.
I learned after my first book many years ago, that you cannot please everyone... it is impossible. I try my best with my productions, and my museum, but it is
not ever possible. I have known of this information on your website for some time, when someone brought it to my attention over a year ago... its ok.... I have
proven it to myself, and that is why I purchased it. I am considered one of the top authenticators of Elvis personal items in the world, mainly because of my
years of experience in this field. But there are always those who know more. But those people just don't have all the facts...without all the facts, a judgment
should not be made, but people do.
I wanted to call you because this is way too much to type, and I would have preferred a live conversation. I wanted you to hear it directly from my mouth, but in
the end, I am not really that concerned with what a website says. My reputation speaks for itself. But I naturally assume the best of someone, until they prove
otherwise, and I am sure you are a decent guy, who just did not have all the facts. So now you do........Bud Glass.
As Bud so rightly states, we now have all the facts and to do Bud the justice of being honest, I don't personally think Elvis wore this suit on stage? I could well
be wrong (longtime listeners will know I don't believe in "experts" who "know everything"), but the story that Elvis told his father to tell the Jaycee's he only ever
wore it once could indeed be true but as mentioned previously, I'm sure Elvis could have been easily mistaken about what he had worn on stage after
hundreds of live appearances between 1972 and August 8, 1975. But if finding new photos of Elvis wearing the suit on stage proves me wrong then I can say I
would be very happy indeed.
Does this new information show this was one of Elvis Presley's personal suits? As far as I'm concerned, that's a yes. I hope you have all found this article of
great interest and I want to say a big thank you to Bud Glass for bringing this information to our attention.
|Linda Thompson poses with the suit she bought Elvis
|Looked cheap and tacky like an IMP suit as seen on the U.S. Antique Roadshow