He is certainly all over the television schedules this weekend, to mark the 20th anniversary of the singer's death. The BBC is presenting a season of Elvis films (Follow that Dream, Jailhouse Rock, It Happened at the World's Fair, and Viva Las Vegas), as well as A Beginner's Guide to the singer, a repeat of "The Burger and the King", the Arena programme about his eating habits, and "Elvis and the Presleytarians", an Everyman special about the fans who make the pilgrimage to Graceland.
ITV, meanwhile, is tonight mounting "A Date with Elvis", a theme night hosted by Johnny Vaughan and featuring A Stars in Their Eyes Elvis Special, Love Me Tender, The Alternative Aloha and Elvis: The Movie. Anyone who can't get a sufficient fix from all that is in need of counselling.
Vaughan, the Big Breakfast presenter, has been a self-confessed Elvis obsessive from a very early age. "When I was young, there was no need to question why Elvis was King," he recalls, "any more than there was a need to question why James Brown was the Godfather of Soul. Elvis was King and Elizabeth was Queen."
Vaughan's adoration grew when he was taught "the three vital sounds" you need to impersonate the King by a hardcase he once spent a night in a cell with. Vaughan is now the sort of devotee who can tell you things like "Elvis made 18 songs with the word 'blue' in the title, and I can name them all".
Attempting to account for the singer's enduring popularity, Vaughan claims that despite all the books, magazines, documentaries, films, fan clubs, impersonators, and themed restaurants, Elvis is still in many ways a mystery to us. "He holds a fascination for us because there's so much left to know about him," Vaughan reasons. "We don't know enough about his real character. The Colonel [Parker, Elvis's manager] kept him enigmatic and inaccessible. This was an era before tabloid intrusiveness. Nowadays we'd have Elvis's chauffeur revealing all."
The singer's simplicity made him a soft target for managerial manipulation, Vaughan continues. "Elvis wasn't good with words. He couldn't use a knife and fork - that's why he didn't go out to eat a lot. He was bottom-of-the-barrel, American poor white trash, a simple country boy. That made it easy for the Colonel to bamboozle him."
Elvis's lack of sophistication was, paradoxically, also his greatest strength. "The naivety of Elvis appeals to people," Vaughan contends. "He didn't seem to be a conniver, he wasn't trying to fool us. He seemed like a victim, a big baby in a jumpsuit. They're so fanatical about him in the American heartland because of that... He never conned them. He was all-American all the way. All those things going on at that time - Nixon, Vietnam, Watergate - made Americans cynical. Elvis was the only genuine symbol conservative elements could find that wouldn't let them down."
Also key to Elvis's appeal is the warm sense of fun he inspires. "There's a huge humour attached to Elvis," Vaughan argues. "At the end, he was a monstrous, bejumpsuited 20-stone man bestriding the stage at Las Vegas doing karate kicks and sweating profusely in front of grannies in elasticated jeans. You can't top that. In his early days, Bruce Springsteen was obsessed with Elvis, so he took his first album round to him in a cardboard box. Elvis answered the door at Graceland and seeing this young, Mexican-looking kid, asked Springsteen, 'You the boy from Domino's?' He thought Springsteen's album was a pizza."
None of this fascination would exist if it wasn't for Elvis's God-given singing ability. "When you hear the voice, it does something to you," Vaughan affirms. "I went to an old friend's wedding and before we went in, we played 'I Just Can't Help Believing'. We were both just crying. It's pathetic, but the King took us there."
Even though Elvis's death is now 20 years in the past, Vaughan sees little indication of his popularity waning. There will still be Elvis impersonators at test matches in another 20 years' time. "I'm sure that one day Elvis will become a religion..." Vaughan muses. "They'll blend Christianity and Elvis to create the Church of the Latterday Elvis Presleys."
'A Date with Elvis' runs tonight from 10.20pm to 5.30am on ITVReuse content