High-rate phone services weren’t just a nationwide cable TV cash grab; there was plenty of grift for the local markets, too. Case in point: a California service, 976-HITS, that offered local prizes if you could solve music trivia questions. It’s probably a safe bet that the actual questions aren’t chorus lifts from Billboard #1 songs,…
It’s difficult to convey the amount of cultural influence Elvis Presley’s death had in the 1980’s; the guy was a mega star who’d worked his way into a proto-meme-like status. You couldn’t go very long in pop culture without stumbling across an Elvis reference, joke, or impression.
Bubbling up beneath it was a conspiracy that maybe he wasn’t dead after all, that he’d faked his embarrassing death in order to escape the clutches of fame. This was as harmless as the other conspiracy theories of the day, until someone started making a buck off of it. Enter Gail Brewer-Giorgio, an author who claimed a fictional book she wrote was recalled by the publisher because it had gotten a little too close to Elvis’ truth.
She released another book that dug into the phenomenon, centered around a taped phone conversation Giorgio had obtained that she claimed was the King himself. This book, titled “Is Elvis Alive?”, got Giorgio on the talk show circuit. The real kicker, though, was the release of the tape itself. For the low low price of way too much, anyone could hear Elvis talk about his plans for the future.
And if you wanted to pay even more for the same experience, there was a 900-number just for you.
Oh, and here’s the tape of the call.