Ernst Jorgensen is no stranger to Memphis, but that doesn't mean he's grown accustomed to the city's August heat. "For a Scandinavian with blond hair and pale skin, it's very rough," says Jorgensen, with a chuckle. "But most people in Denmark would love to be in Memphis to celebrate Elvis, so I shouldn't complain."
The Danish-born Jorgensen, who serves as the director and caretaker of the Presley catalogue, will make his annual pilgrimage to the Bluff City to mingle with fans and longtime friends during Elvis Week. On Sunday, he'll appear at Graceland to present a preview of the forthcoming box set, The Complete Elvis Presley Masters, as well as several other related titles from the boutique Presley imprint FTD. (right) Ernst Jorgensen displays the master tape for the "Elvis is Back" album.
For nearly two decades, Jorgensen has been the key figure in the rebirth of the King's recorded legacy -- a now-thriving business that has helped restore Elvis' reputation as an artist and continues to feed Presley fans new and important product.
For Jorgensen, the current state of the Presley catalogue is far a cry from its nadir in the mid-'80s. "You have to remember the ridicule that was heaped upon Elvis after he died. Everybody searched for some darker story. It definitely wasn't hip to like Elvis at that time," says Jorgensen. "In the '80s we were so taken with ourselves and our current present, it wasn't time yet to duck back into history and examine things like Elvis or rock and roll. It took a decade for people to turn around and want to go in and re-explore."
At Elvis Week 2010 Jorgensen and his partner Roger Semon will unveil their most ambitious project to date, The Complete Elvis Presley Masters, which is due in mid-October (US$749) More than three years in the making, the 30-CD box set features 711 chronological master recordings, as well as 103 additional tracks, plus a 240-page hardbound book. "It's a dream come true for a compilation producer and historian," says Jorgensen.
The other major release due this fall is Viva Elvis, the soundtrack to a Cirque du Soleil stage show in Las Vegas, akin to the Beatles' Love project, which will be released in November (and retail for $11.98). Produced by Erich van Tourneau, the music is a postmodern take on Presley that "re-imagines the King's own vocal performances in a broad variety of musical settings, from Delta blues to rockabilly, from raw soul to gospel, from Southern folk to Vegas pop, while incorporating elements of garage rock, punk, urban and hip-hop."
Though he's a self-described purist, Jorgensen is enthusiastic about Viva Elvis. "I never thought that anything like what they've done could be done," he says. "They've taken the songs and explored them on an individual basis ... let's just say you need to hear it. All the fans of Elvis' music do."
See Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon at the "Preview of The Complete Elvis Presley Masters and upcoming releases on the FTD label" 5pm Sunday, Elvis Lives Exhibit Space at Graceland Plaza. Admission is free.
Source: elvisinfonet.com / EpGold