Dead nearly five decades, Elvis is the latest in a range of deceased and still-living stars relaunching as avatars.
Elvis Presley may have died 47 years ago, but he’s set to return to the stage later this year thanks to a trick of the light.
Elvis Evolution, a show combining AI and holographic projection, will premiere at a yet-to-be-named venue in London this year, drawing on thousands of photos and videos from the Elvis Presley estate to bring the icon back to life.
It’s the latest in a growing trend of virtual shows blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, following in the footsteps of Abba Voyage, which premiered youthful avatars – or ABBAtars – of the very-much-still-alive Swedish pop stars in London in 2022.
In December, American rockers KISS launched their afterlife careers, the real-life band members replaced by fire-breathing versions of their younger selves after they exited the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The trend was kick-started in 2012, when American rapper Tupac Shakur, murdered in a 1996 drive-by shooting, accompanied Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre in hologram form at Coachella in 2012.
Presley, aka “the King”, is being brought back from the dead by Layered Reality, a British immersive entertainment company, partnering with Authentic Brands Group, the owners of his estate. Going by Abba Voyage’s sales of more than $2m a week, the promoters can expect to make big bucks.
“It’s going to be a joyous celebration of Elvis’s life; the man, the music, and his cultural legacy,” said Andrew McGuinness, founder of Layered Reality. The extravaganza will take visitors from Presley’s Mississippi birthplace to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, and Las Vegas.
Washed up by the 1970s, the star was condemned to perform for seven years in Vegas by controversial manager Colonel Tom Parker, becoming increasingly dependent on prescription drugs and dying an early death in 1977. He was only 42.
But his glory years – mainly during the 50s, with a revival in the late 60s – produced a back catalogue of almost 800 songs, including hits like Don’t Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock, Trouble, and his last number-one hit in 1969, Suspicious Minds.
Despite being dead for nearly five decades, Elvis is still very much alive in the minds of many – literally. A 2017 poll found that 4 percent of Americans thought he was still alive.
Additional shows are planned in Las Vegas, Tokyo and Berlin.
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