Jack Soden's Letter to the Elvis Fans
June 22, 2004
Dear Elvis Fans:
It seems that over the last few weeks a number of you have become worried, confused and, in some instances, angry about things you have heard were said or done at Elvis Presley Enterprises. We have read many of the things that have been said and then repeated as fact over and over again on message boards and forums: things that supposedly were said by me, or members of our management team, in regard to Elvis fans, Fan Clubs and even the mission of Elvis Presley Enterprises. I have been surprised, disappointed and hurt by many of the things I have read. I am surprised by the complete lack of truth in so many of the statements. I am disappointed that there are people who are so quick to embrace ugly rumor and innuendo and we have all been hurt by the implication that the dedicated hard work of scores and scores of devoted Graceland employees has gone, at least amongst some fans, apparently unrecognized and unappreciated. I think this last point bothers me the most. Everyone at EPE and Graceland knows that our company, our responsibilities and our jobs exist because of the phenomenal Legacy of Elvis Presley and his millions of fans all over the world. Our company is comprised of dedicated, loyal, talented and incredibly hard-working people who give their all every day for a responsibility in which they invest immense amounts of time and in which they take tremendous personal pride. Most of these people work behind the scenes. Their jobs are as varied and diverse as this great responsibility requires. They are archives and accounting, maintenance and marketing, conservation and creative, media management and merchandise, lawns and licensing, tours, security and shuttles. The list goes on and on. Only a relative handful of these hard-working people are charged with the responsibility of communicating with the fans and fan clubs but, believe me, the ones that are know that they represent a much larger dedicated team working behind the scenes. Throughout Elvis' career, in the years immediately following his death, and ever since Graceland was opened to the public in June of 1982, the Elvis Fan Clubs have been an active and dynamic tribute to his lasting Legacy of music, love and generosity. The Fan Clubs were, are, and always will be the backbone of the "Elvis Phenomenon." Not only do the Fan Clubs spread the word and keep the flame alive but, in Elvis' name and memory, they raise thousands of dollars every year for a multitude of charities and causes all over the world. The Fan Clubs bring immense value to the memory, the Legacy, and the business of Elvis Presley. That fact is clearly understood by me, and all within EPE and any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.
Starting from the summer of 1982 and to this day it has always been obvious to us that Elvis Fan Clubs were unique in the world, unique and apart from the Estate, and unique from one another. That, in my opinion, has always been one of the most exciting and dynamic things about them. Think what a mistake it would be to attempt to organize them into one big, homogenous, bureaucratic "blob." It would mean the loss of the most amazing, spontaneous, diverse, independent, and influential fan network in the world. To the contrary, we see EPE's contribution to the Fan Clubs as one of support for their individuality, and to be there with heartfelt encouragement, recognition and appreciation. We are here as a resource! Twice each year we, as a company, have wanted to do something special for the Fan Clubs, their Presidents and their officers. The Fan Club President's Luncheon represents an opportunity for Graceland and EPE to show their respect and appreciation. But more important, it represents an opportunity for clubs, amongst their peers, to be recognized for their many charitable activities and accomplishments. We hope to see the diversity, strength and numbers of Fan Clubs continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead. We hope there will be Elvis Fan Club President's Luncheons for years to come and we know that we will continue to search for ways to show our appreciation. Also, we know that there will always be wonderful Fan Clubs and Fan Club members; but not because of any person or persons at Graceland. After all, we did not create Fan Clubs. They exist because of the timeless Legacy of Elvis Presley and the tireless work of his devoted fans all over the world. We will do what we can, and should, do. We will listen a lot and we will be there with all the support and help that is asked of us.
Looking forward, we are very excited about this summer. July 5th and the 50th Anniversary "Moment In Time" are fast approaching. It will be a very special day and the celebration will continue through Elvis Week. I am greatly anticipating Elvis Week for another reason as well. I am looking forward to listening to and talking with Elvis fans and Fan Club members as often and as much as time will allow. I cannot remember a time, at least in the recent past, that I have seen such misunderstanding, misinformation and, as a result, such concern on the part of people whose happiness we care about. We can be good listeners and I know fans can be passionate talkers. Together I know we can find common understanding and common purpose. The next few years will see some of the finest new programs, projects and releases ever in our history. We will provide all the help and support possible to the Fan Clubs and, most importantly, with the help and support of the Fan Clubs the world will be reminded just why there is only one Elvis Presley! Thank you,
Jack Soden, CEO Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.