If there is a dead singer with a fan base ready to hear him sing from beyond the grave, it's Elvis Presley.
"There is, of course, only one Elvis," said Robert F.X. Sillerman, an entertainment entrepreneur who recently gained control of Presley's name, image and likeness. "And I'm honored to have the responsibility of shepherding his legacy into the Digital Age and the 21st century."
Sillerman is fresh from closing a deal valued at $100 million giving him an 85% stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business name of the rock star's estate. He said that he kept tabs on recent projects involving Conway Twitty, Steve McQueen and others, and they struck him as what Presley should not be doing in the afterlife. "I'm not sure you're going to see Elvis in a commercial," Sillerman said. "With Elvis, less is more."
Still, George Klein, who was a pallbearer at the rock star's funeral and now is host of an Elvis station on Sirius satellite radio, said there had been recurring chatter in the Presley camp that the late icon's considerable film and music archives were so broad that much could be mined from them.
"It's been talked about and it will happen, and I don't see anything wrong with it," Klein said. "I think it's strictly business and this is 2005. He's been dead 27 years, and you have to move on. Market what you got. A duet with Britney Spears or something like that would be great."
Fans' appetite for all things Elvis was proved not just with the recent success of a new package of his No. 1 hits but also with the surprise smash of an electronica reworking of his hit "A Little Less Conversation."
Sillerman said that certain celebrities became symbols not only of their art but also of cultural currents that helped define the modern world.
"Elvis is one of those stars that really grabs hold of us," Sillerman said. "You know, it's funny with these stars; we always talk about them in the present tense."