Produced by Cartersville resident Mike Joseph, the two-hour event on Dec. 31 will kick off at 8 p.m. with the music of the Presley tribute band, Young Elvis & The Blue Suedes, and wrap up with the entertainer's step-brother, Billy Stanley, sharing personal photographs and stories with the audience.
"One of the main features is Billy Stanley," said Joseph, a former record producer who met the King of Rock 'n' Roll in 1962. "When Elvis' mother died in 1958, Elvis was in the Army. He was in Germany and of course his father, Vernon, was in Germany with him. Vernon had met this lady there that he fell in love with and she had three boys, which was Billy, David and Ricky Stanley. They went together and then in the early '60s, he married her. He brought them back to Graceland in Memphis and they lived in Graceland. So he's full of stories of course. He was with Elvis for 17 years.
"One of the stories was Elvis came up one day to wake them all up out of bed and to bring them downstairs into the backyard of Graceland. The grounds were just covered in gifts for little boys [like] bicycles and everything was in threes because there were three of them."
This is the third Presley show that Joseph has produced in Cartersville in the past three years, the others focusing on the singer's later years. While Joseph does not consider himself to be an avid fan, he does recognize the Presley's talent and worldwide appeal.
"Graceland is the second most visited house behind the White House -- that's very well-known," he said. "If you go there any day -- rain or snow, sleet [or] hail -- there's thousands of people out there waiting to go on the shuttle across the road into Graceland on the tour. Why? He was the first of a kind and he had a great voice. He could sing rock 'n' roll, ballads, country, gospel. He's known for all of that and he was very good to people.
"He was very approachable and very kindhearted, where he would buy houses for people, buy cars for people all the time. He'd see a stray dog walking down the street in the cold and he'd pull that dog into his Rolls-Royce and take him home and that dog would live at Graceland for the end of its life. ... He was just a very warm human being."
With the event being held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, Joseph said he is delighted to be able to utilize the state-of-the-art facility and introduce it to first-time visitors. Opened in September, the 44,000-square-foot center will close out its first year with the Presley tribute, its 64th scheduled offering. Looking toward 2011, the Cartersville venue at 5450 State Route 20 already has booked 50 events, which are a mixture of public and private programs.
"We're just looking forward to a wonderfully successful 2011," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the administrative agency of the conference center. "We think the Elvis event is going to be a fun event for everyone. I think it's a great example of how events can be a good economic development for the community in the terms of bringing people in from outside. It's the whole reason that we built the conference center. For instance, there's a partnership with [a] host hotel here. Holiday Inn, they're doing a package in addition to the Elvis concert.
"They're doing Elvis after hours [from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.]. They were so gracious to offer a special rate and then do this after-hours package. Oddly enough, the very first ticket sale went to a couple from Nashville. So that's exactly what we want to do, bring people in from outside our community to public events that are held here. So it's just a great way to end the year and we look forward to serving Bartow County residents in many ways in the future."
For more information about the Clarence Brown Conference Center or to purchase tickets for the Presley show, visit www.brownconferencecenter.com or call 770-606-5763. Tickets are $25 per person and the box office will open at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.