Elvis Superfan – Mark Witherington
When did you first become a Superfan of Elvis and what was it that drew you to him in the first place?
I first came across Elvis as a young lad back in 1972. That particular Christmas, I was given a small Dansette-style record player. My uncle gave me a bunch of 45s to play and among the records were a number of Elvis tracks. Rock-A-Hula Baby got me hooked! Then, 15 years ago, I set up the Elvis Fan Club – Scarborough, which has now grown into an international group. I blog daily Elvis news and we organise an annual event, Memphis By The Moors.
Describe your collection for us…
Since that first Christmas, I’ve always had Elvis memorabilia around, but back in 2014 I started buying more exciting items. I wanted to offer Elvis fans in the UK an opportunity of seeing and holding original memorabilia that had a direct link to Elvis – especially those people who will never get to visit Graceland and Memphis. We now tour the UK working with different Elvis events, displaying our exhibition. We also enjoy fundraising for charity and do this with our ‘White Glove Experience’. The collection spans from 1956 to his last concert in 1977 and shows all the different eras in sequence. We love rare fan memorabilia, too, from secretarial letters from Elvis’ office to concert-bought hats and menus. Our fan club is officially recognised by EPE Graceland and acknowledged by Priscilla Presley.
What’s your favourite item?
Without a doubt, it’s our 1974 TC1 14k gold Omega, purchased by Elvis on 30 August 1974. Elvis had the watch inscribed and gifted it to his long-term friend and right-hand man, the late great Charlie Hodge. Charlie can be seen still wearing the Omega on Elvis’ very last tour. This makes it a unique item, as well as having an emotional attachment, too.
How much have you spent over the years on your Elvis fandom?
Blimey, I don’t know if I dare say! Our exhibition usually sits at a value of between £25,000-£35,000 dependent on what’s in it. I tend to sell items on every two years or so to keep the collection fresh for when we stage our annual exhibitions. Add on trips to Memphis and UK events and I suppose it must be a significant amount. You only live once, and my wife Tracy is very supportive – thankfully!
What’s your fondest memory of Elvis as a fan?
I have been so lucky, there are so many awesome memories, but visiting Graceland for the first time was so emotional and important to me. I’ll have to choose that.
What is your Holy Grail Elvis item that you’d most like to own?
Without a doubt, a genuine jumpsuit. Letting fans see an item like that would be so cool and very special.