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Blue Suede Shoes for Bono and the Boss?

March 13, 1994|Steve Hochman

From Frank to Elvis?

That might be Bono's next salute to a personal hero.

No one is confirming, but the word is that U2's singer--fresh from his passionate tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes on the recent Grammy show--is set to participate in a Graceland-sponsored Presley tribute scheduled for Oct. 8 at the 14,000-seat Pyramid arena in Memphis. The affair will be telecast worldwide and later released on home video and CD.

Organizers would not confirm who is being asked to perform, but Pop Eye has learned that Bruce Springsteen is also among artists who have been approached.

Springsteen and Bono would both be naturals for the show. Seeing Elvis on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in the '50s made Springsteen want to be in rock 'n' roll, and Bono assumed an Elvis-like persona, gold lame suit and all, during the group's 1992-93 tour. He also contributed a version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" to the "Honeymoon in Vegas" soundtrack.

This is the first Elvis tribute event officially sanctioned by the Elvis Presley estate. Priscilla Presley, the executor of the estate, has long refused to endorse proposals for such shows.

"Until now, Priscilla has not been comfortable with the concept of a tribute," says Bob Geddes, partner of L.A.-based Avalon Attractions, which is producing the show in conjunction with the Presley estate and the Creative Artists Agency. "But now she believes the timing is right."

A key to the decision to do the show, says Presley estate spokesman David Beckwith, is that it will in part benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a music industry organization for cancer and AIDS research, and the Memphis-based St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Geddes and Avalon partner Brian Murphy are putting together a diverse lineup that will draw upon performers from many musical genres.

"They'll be doing a lot of Elvis material and/or material of their own influenced by Elvis," Geddes says. "We're going to script the show so it's not the typical tribute event. We want it to be more than just a rotation of artists on the stage."

Details of the television plans--including possible pay-per-view broadcast--are expected to be announced next month, with the talent roster to follow.

Because of the expected huge demand for tickets, Graceland will hold what is, in effect, a lottery. Just the rumors of a tribute show led to Graceland's being flooded with enough ticket requests from Germany alone to fill the arena.

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