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On the Road to Forever: The Elvis Phenomenon

Michael Whitaker | United States and Canada

Tribute artist Travis LeDoyt performing at The Elvis Presley Festival (Tupelo, Mississippi, USA: 2002)

The 23-year reign of Elvis Presley began with his introduction to the world in 1954 and ended with his death in 1977.  In 2002, the year of the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death, I decided to document what I call "The Elvis Phenomenon," i.e., the extraordinary manner in which fan devotation continues to grow across generations extending from those who first experienced Elvis in 1954 to those unborn at the time of Elvis' death.  My two-year journey began in Tupelo, MS, and along the way I interacted with hundreds of persons who readily articulated  the impact Elvis had upon their lives.  Unlike my friend, Al Boren, who inspired this project, I never was a  devoted fan of Elvis but I do stand in genuine awe of the fan dedication that will ensure the legacy of Elvis will remain on the road to forever.

After a twenty-five-year career in social psychology documenting some of the most disturbing human behaviors, I studied photography and pursued a second career in fine art and documentary photography toward the goal of spending the next twenty-five years documenting brighter aspects of the nature of being human.  In direct contrast to developing treatment paradigms for confronting violent juvenile behaviors, I particuarly am interested in projects spotlighting unpretentious persons with gentle spirits and other persons who traditionally go unnoticed.

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