Las Vegas Love Chapels Using Elvis Presley’s Likeness Could Become Heartbreak Hotels
The licensing company that controls “The King’s” name and likeness is ordering operators of Sin City bands to stop using Elvis in themed ceremonies, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday. Authentic Brands Group sent cease and desist letters to several chapels in early May that are expected to be compliant by now.
Because Elvis is so closely associated with the Vegas wedding industry, some say the move could decimate their businesses.
“We’re a family business and we hang out with the big dogs now,” said Kayla Collins, who runs LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and the Little Chapel of Hearts with her husband. “This is our bread and butter. I do not get it. We’ve just made progress again through COVID, then that’s what happens.”
Lynn Goya, Clerk County Clerk, who led a marketing campaign promoting Las Vegas as a wedding destination, said the order for chapels to stop using Elvis could not have come at a worse time for the sector.
The city’s wedding industry generates $2 billion annually, and officials say Elvis-themed weddings account for a significant portion of the ceremonies performed.
“It could destroy part of our wedding industry. A number of people could lose their livelihoods,” Goya said.
A band this past weekend instead transformed their Elvis impersonator into a leather jacket, jeans and a fedora for a “rock ‘n’ roll” ceremony, the Review Journal reported.
Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs 6,400 Elvis-style weddings annually, has not yet received a warning, according to manager Rod Musum.
In the cease and desist letter, the company said it will stop the unauthorized use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice and other elements of Elvis Presley’s personality in advertising, merchandise and otherwise.” The letter also stated that “Elvis”, “Elvis Presley”, “and The King of Rock and Roll” are registered trademarks.
In a statement Wednesday, Authentic Brands Group said it has close ties with Elvis tribute artists and fan festivals. There is “no intention to close bands that offer Elvis packages in Las Vegas”.
“We seek to partner with each of these small businesses to ensure their use of the Elvis name, likeness and likeness is officially licensed and approved by the estate so that they can continue in business,” Authentic Brands Group said. “Elvis is embedded in the history of Las Vegas.”
The licensing company manages the estates of big names such as film star Marilyn Monroe and boxer Muhammad Ali as well as 50 consumer brands.
The order shouldn’t result in legal action against Elvis-themed stage shows in Las Vegas like “All Shook Up,” because the identity of someone for live performances like shows, according to Mark Tratos, a local attorney who helped write the statute .
“An Elvis show is an artist who essentially entertains others by recreating that persona on stage,” Tratos said.
Presley became indelibly associated with Sin City in the ’60s and ’70s. His 1964 film Viva Las Vegas spawned a title track that became the city’s unofficial theme. In July 1969, Presley redefined Vegas residency with his live stage comeback at the Las Vegas International Hotel. What began as a four-week gig grew into more than 600 shows and lasted until December 1976.
Presley himself married his wife Priscilla in Las Vegas in 1967, cementing his association with Las Vegas weddings.
Kent Ripley, whose business is called Elvis Weddings, said he’s never encountered this problem in 25 years as Elvis.
“They want to protect the Elvis brand. But what are you protecting by keeping Elvis out of the public eye?” asked Ripley.