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Music

Elvis Presley: In His Image

40 years after the death of the king of rock and roll, we explore the ubiquity of his iconic image

Ferdinando Scianna Elvis Presley fan. New York, USA. 1992. © Ferdinando Scianna | Magnum Photos
Martin Parr Scarbottom sewing shop. 1975-1980. GB. England. West Yorkshire. Calderdale. Mytholmroyd. © Martin Parr | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Mardi Gras. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 1978. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Mark Power Elvis impersonator at Cherryfield Social Club. Northwood Estate, Kirkby, Merseyside. May 1992. © Mark Power | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Store window on 34th Street. New York City, USA. 1993. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
David Hurn The three Icons. Lady Diana Princess of Wales, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe. Arizona, USA. 1997. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation Elvis and Marilyn in an East Village shop window. New York, USA. 1997. © Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation | Magnum Photos
Martin Parr The Black Country. An area in the midlands. The Black Country gained its name in the mid nineteenth century due to the smoke from the many thousands of ironworking foundries and forges. Wolverhampt (...)
Chris Steele-Perkins Teddy Boy Weekender in Reading - Peggy Warner with Tattoos. England. 2002. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota Elvis Presley fans crowd into Bad Bob's, a cafe that has been popular among Presley fans for years. Memphis, Tennessee, USA. 1990. © Hiroji Kubota | Magnum Photos
Martin Parr Llanharry Working Mens Club. The Rhonda Valley, Wales, Great Britain. 2009. © Martin Parr | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Effigy of Elvis Presley. Broadway, Nashville, USA. 2014. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Ferdinando Scianna The iconography of Elvis Presley. Los Angeles, USA. 1985. © Ferdinando Scianna | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Southend, England. 1976 . © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Martin Parr Joseph Coates. The Black Country. An area in the midlands. The Black Country gained its name in the mid nineteenth century due to the smoke from the many thousands of ironworking foundries and forg (...)
Carl De Keyzer Recreational Centre. UMHK (Union Minière du Haut Katanga). Elisabethville (Lubumbashi). 2009. © Carl De Keyzer | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Elvis Presley statue outside a restaurant. Protaras, Cyprus. 2004. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
A. Abbas In the Casbah, a tailor workshop, posters of cinema character Rambo and singer Elvis Presley adorn the walls. Algiers, Algeria. 1990. © A. Abbas | Magnum Photos

When Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, aged 42, at his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee, it was only the start of numerous conspiracy theories that refused to accept that the ‘king of rock and roll’ had really passed. Many legends centered on the idea that Elvis was still alive, living somewhere else in the world, arguably making him the most widely-sighted celebrity despite being deceased.

Through tribute acts, artwork and paraphernalia stamped with his unmistakable silhouette, which appear across all corners of the world, Presley’s image is one of the most recognizable and the most protected. From the Congo to Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Magnum photographers have photographed the many manifestations of Presley’s image, which lives on in contemporary culture through its persistent ubiquity. Many photographs capture Elvis Presley’s likeness on merchandise alongside that of other tragic famous figures, such as Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe; others show Elvis merchandise presented in homes or shop windows, displayed like shrines; and some images capture the die-hard fans who wear Elvis’s image on a t-shirt, or have even made the commitment of having his portrait tattooed.