His music, his movies, his shimmies and shakes, gave rise to a personal brand so iconic that he can be identified by his title alone; a title that needs no modifier because of how strong his impact on popular culture has been. If I said The King, chances are you’d immediately know I was referring to the one and only, Elvis Presley.
Even Michael Jackson- a celebrity who may one day surpass Elvis on the Earnings After Death list- requires the modifying phrase “of Pop” on the back half of his claim to monarchy. One might even make the case he “dethroned” Elvis for the most renowned musician in modern American rock culture.
But when it comes to the highest earnings after death, Elvis remains undefeated.He tops the list at $45 million in profits for the post-life stewards of his image, outpacing Charles Schulz by 20%, doubling John Lennon, and tripling Andy Warhol. In addition to a catalogue of some of the most easily identifiable music of all time, Elvis is one of the only celebrities on the planet with an image that can carry his own personal themed resort. Throw in countless documentaries heralded by music lovers, his own television series, an army of impersonators and his own periodic placement in cult classic Americana, and the result is a musician untouched in perceived presence and economic worth.
It’s almost guaranteed that a few readers will roll their eyes at this suggestion, not because it is untrue, but because they believe others are more deserving of musical acclaim that was Presley, particularly Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even Sam Phillips, the man who found Presley.
Regardless, if the metric we’re using to rank top personal brands is cultural esteem and economic worth, Elvis Presley can still be called The King.
Happy Birthday, ya Hound Dog.
Image Credit: CC 2.0, “Elvis Presley promoting Jailhouse Rock” by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.Reproduction Number: LC-USZ6-2067Location: NYWTS — BIOG – The Library of Congress retrieved 3d02067r.jpg from Jailhouse Rock.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elvis_Presley_promoting_Jailhouse_Rock.jpg#/media/File:Elvis_Presley_promoting_Jailhouse_Rock.jpg