Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Presley’

H-D FX Super Glide - Sparkling America

In the early 1970s, funding dollars were tight, so Willie G. Davidson and his design team mated the chassis of a larger touring bike with that of the lighter, more manageable front end of the Sportster.

The result was the 1971 introduction of the “Sparkling America”  motorcycle which featured red, white and blue paint and a unique “boat-tail” rear fender — all trademarks that say circa: “1970s”.

It was also around the same timeframe when Elvis and Priscilla Presley split up.  They drew up a property settlement agreement to outline what she would receive from the divorce.  The 12-page document shows that Elvis signed over ownership of three of his prized possessions – a 1971 Mercedes-Benz car, a 1969 Cadillac El Dorado and a 1971 Harley Davidson motorcycle along with $100,000 in cash.   The property settlement agreement, dated August 15, 1972, clearly indicates that Priscilla who had originally agreed to the cash settlement that was 7.5 times less than the amount that she finally received in the end (good lawyer!).

The original divorce papers, were sold last night by an unnamed private owner after having them for 20 years, at an auction in Texas for nearly $9,000.

Elvis Divorce Papers

I can’t help but wonder what happened to ’71 motorcycle?  Was it an original ‘71 FX?  I don’t know and there is very little information about the motorcycle or what happened to it.  I’ve been unable to find any public photo’s of Elvis with that model motorcycle.  If you have any information on its whereabouts I’d like to hear from you.

The original 1971 FXs were hard to find.  Many owners back in the day didn’t like the “boat-tail” and replaced it with a more traditional bobbed rear fender.   According to various reports Elvis owned at least three Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but was photographed on at least 10 different bikes.  His first was purchased in 1956, a week after turning 21 years old and just days after recording “Heartbreak Hotel” which launched him into superstardom.  That motorcycle was a ’56 KH and was sold to Harley-Davidson by Elvis’ friend, Fleming Horne in 1995 for an undisclosed amount, complete with documentation and is now part of the H-D museum collection.

In a bit of trivia…Elvis rode a number of Harley’s in various films.  From my vantage the more notable were “Roustabout” (1964), “Viva Las Vegas” (1964), “Clambake” (1967) and “Stay Away Joe” (1968).

Photo courtesy of H-D, and Dailymail

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Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

This month marks the 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s return to live concert performances in Las Vegas in 1969. 

It had been 8 years since Elvis last performed a live benefit concert in Honolulu, his first post-Army appearance, and after 8 years of recording sessions at American Studios and movie making he started his record breaking engagement in July of 1969. When he opened at the International Hotel for a four-week, 57-show engagement, it broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records.  At the time it was the largest showroom in Las Vegas, holding more than 2000 people.

elvis_enthusiastYou don’t have to drink the Elvis cool-aid to know he enjoy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Elvis became a lifelong bike enthusiast and was a member of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).  Sometime in 1955 after earning a regular income he purchased his first H-D.  It was a small ’56 ST165.  Your basic entry level model with 165cc that was sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Harley Hummer.

In January 1956 he bought a new Model KH from the Memphis H-D dealer and in May of that year he appeared on the cover of Harley’s The Enthusiast magazine riding that ’56 KH.   The ’56 Model KH was 54ci (883cc) side valve motorcycle and the precursor of today’s Sportster which was released in 1957 with an overhead valve motor.  After just a few months Elvis moved up to a larger motorcycle when he purchased a 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH.  At the time The Atomic Powered Singer wrote: 

“Elvis bought his new Harley on November 1, 1956 while he was in downtown Memphis to have his Continental Mark II insured. Later in the day Natalie Wood, clad in jeans, climbed up on the seat behind Elvis and they gunned out from the Audubon Drive driveway and roared around the Memphis streets for three hours accompanied by a motorcycle policeman and Nick Adams, who was riding Elvis’ old Harley Davidson.”

Elvis Presley passed away August 16, 1977.   CKX continues to market and TCB for the “King”.  To commemorate his passing Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) and Graceland H-D are offering to sale five special edition 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide with Elvis imagery at $50,731 each.  Buyers will be treated to a unique bike delivery experience in Memphis during Elvis Week and can participate in the various Elvis rides.

I might be in the Vegas/Laughlin area later this month and will let you know if there are any Elvis “sightings.”

Photo courtesy of H-D Enthusiast Magazine and photographer Ted Bruehl.

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