VIVA ELVIS: Diehard fan David Johnstone with an exact replica of one of Elvis's famous jumpsuits -- the only pieces in the museum which are copies rather than originals.
VIVA ELVIS: Diehard fan David Johnstone with an exact replica of one of Elvis's famous jumpsuits -- the only pieces in the museum which are copies rather than originals. Alison Houston

The King's Castle a portal through to Graceland

HOW much do you really know about Elvis Aaron Presley?

You will find out at The King's Castle - the Gold Coast's new Elvis museum.

Established by Greg Page - yes, the Yellow Wiggle - and David Johnstone - long-time Elvis tragic responsible for starting the first Viva Surfers Paradise Elvis tribute competition - the Coast museum is a "Kissing Cousin" to the original Parkes venue in NSW, and the two will rotate memorabilia every few months.

The Colosseum room which houses the museum at the Gold Coast Italo-Australia Club is filled with treasures dividing Elvis's life into sections - the early years, movie years, army, Elvis and Priscilla, Colonel Parker, the comeback and concert years.

David said Greg admits to being a relatively new convert to Elvis. He was introduced to his music and to Graceland in 1999 by fellow band member Anthony Field - yes, the Blue Wiggle.

At America's second-most visited residence after the White House, Greg was fascinated to walk the same floors Elvis had walked, see the things he had loved, and to hear more about the man behind the image ... and he wanted more.

An authentic cheque signed by Elvis and framed with a photo was Greg's first purchase some years later, and what followed was an enviable collection of about 1500 items over the years, including cars, furniture, guitars, books, jewellery, scripts, letters, microphones, movie and personal clothing, accessories and more.

Parkes, as home to the Elvis Festival each January, was the obvious place for Greg to first share his collection with the public. The original King's Castle opened in 2009.

But he always wanted to find a spot on the Gold Coast - Australia's Vegas - and with the new Baz Lurhmann movie tracing Elvis's (Austin Butler) relationship with his manager Colonel Parker (Tom Hanks) soon to be filmed on the Coast, "it's now or never".

But the project has had its hitches. The opening had to be delayed from its original July date to August 17 - eerily enough August 16 in the US, and the 42nd anniversary of Elvis dying in 1977 at the age of 42.

While not huge, the museum is a comprehensive and authentic walk through Elvis's life. David said even the most ardent fans invariably comment at one point or another, "I didn't know that".

For instance, did you know that every year Elvis would give $1000 to 50 Memphis charities, or that he was enthralled by the police and had his own collection of police mementos?

And what about the origins of that famous phrase "Elvis has left the building"?

David said that dates from Elvis's earliest days, when girls would attempt to follow the then up-and-coming star after he played on the Louisiana Hayride broadcast, leaving the other bigger name artists without an audience.

"Letting the girls know that he had left was a sort of appeal to them to come back and watch the rest of the show," David said.

An original early press release by the Colonel referring to Elvis as "a fireball" with "no serious interest of heart" is among documents to be seen on the Coast, along with Elvis's handwritten lyrics for Trouble and a humble letter penned to a fan.

A TV remote from his bedroom, a section of curtains from Graceland, the original script of Flaming Star, the hat he war in GI Blues and an original script, a watch from Jailhouse Rock, and a shirt from The Trouble with Girls can also be seen, along with a collection of Elvis's own 45s, replicas of two of Elvis's infamous jumpsuits by the original creators, and more.

David said the aim was to let fans and historians alike know a little bit more about the times and the man whose bigger-than-life image arguably overtook the reality, but whose music lives on.

The King's Castle is open 10am-6pm daily in the Gold Coast Italo-Australia Club, 18 Fairway Dr, Clear Island Waters. Go to thekingscastle.com.au or phone 0447 491511.

Every three months the club hosts a live Elvis tribute show. The next concert, on January 18, will feature Australasia's best tribute artist, Brody Finlay. Tickets are $10.

Tickets to the King's Castle are $25 adults, $18 concession and children over 13 - mention Seniors News to receive half-price entry until December 31.


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