Memphis celebrated the 60th anniversary of rock 'n' roll on July 4th weekend with a variety of rockin’ events across the city known as the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. If you weren't able to be in Memphis for this special celebration, check out the photos from the festivities on our Facebook Page!
Special Events and Exhibits Planned to Celebrate 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll
On July 5, 1954, Elvis walked into Sun Studio in Memphis and recorded “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. DJ Dewey Phillips played the song on July 8 on WHBQ radio and the switchboard lit up. Rock ‘n’ Roll was born and the music world changed forever.
Visitors to Elvis Presley’s Graceland on the historic day of July 5 will receive a free limited-edition poster by noted rock ‘n’ roll artist Joe Petruccio. Featuring art created especially for the anniversary, the prints showcase a young Elvis Presley early in his career clutching his favorite guitar, a 1956 Gibson J200 with the phrase “He Rocked the World.” Posters will be available at Guest Services in the ticketing area at Graceland Plaza (one poster per party/group while supplies last).
Fans can also enjoy a special Elvis-themed fireworks display, celebrate at Sun Studio, explore 60 years exhibits in Memphis, see the new Hard Rock Cafe's location on Beale Street, and take an Elvis-themed tour. More information on all of the 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll events and exhibits are listed below. Also, be sure to check out our 60-day countdown, featuring artists who helped shape rock 'n' roll and pop culture.
VIP TOUR ONLY Graceland EXHIBIT
60 Years of Elvis - New for 2014
This exhibit is included only as part of the Graceland VIP Tour.
This exciting, new exhibit is now open as part of the VIP tour experience. Guests will explore the birth of rock ‘n’ roll music in July of 1954 and journey through the transformation of the would-be King of Rock ‘n’ Roll from delivery truck driver to world-wide singing sensation and star of the silver screen.
Rare artifacts displayed in the new “60 Years of Elvis” exhibit include: Elvis’ personal “That’s All Right” 45 rpm record; a pay stub from his early days as a driver for Crown Electric; telegrams home to his parents during his first few days on tour; an original script from “Jailhouse Rock”; his 1955 RCA Records contract; Elvis’ last GRAMMY Award for his Gospel hit “How Great Thou Art,” along with the jumpsuit he wore on stage that night; Elvis’ wardrobe from “Viva Las Vegas”; and the award presented to Graceland and the Presley family upon Elvis’ induction into the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. This exhibit will be open now until February of 2015.
60 Years Fourth of July Fireworks Display
Mud Island River Park's Independent Bank Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular
July 4, 2014. 9:45 p.m. Free to the public.
Mud Island River Park, Downtown Memphis.
Kicking off the holiday weekend celebration on July 4 will be fireworks set to classics by the King of Rock 'n' Roll during Mud Island River Park's Independent Bank Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular, presented by the Riverfront Development Corporation and WREG –TV News Channel 3.
Starting at 9:45 p.m. CT, Memphis celebrates 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll in a musical salute to Elvis Presley as fireworks light up the mighty Mississippi River and downtown Memphis’ Riverfront Skyline.
60 Years Events On July 5
Sun Studio 60 Years Exhibit Grand Opening
July 5, 2014. 12:00 p.m. Open to the public.
706 Union Ave, Memphis, Tennessee
The location of Elvis’ first professional recording session, Sun Studio, will be the site of a day-long celebration on July 5 as Memphis and the world mark the big bang of rock ‘n’ roll with Elvis Presley’s recording of “That’s All Right” in the very studio where it was recorded.
Sun Studio will host the official grand opening of its newly-installed exhibit tied to the 60th anniversary and a special “60 Years” ceremony and cake-cutting event will take place at noon central time in front of Sun Studio for visitors and press.
On July 5, 1954, Elvis walked into Memphis Recording Service, now known as Sun Studio, and recorded a fast version of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black.
60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour with Backbeat Tours
Saturday, July 5. 11:30 a.m.
140 Beale St, Memphis, Tennessee
As unique as the man himself, the 60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour takes a one-of-a-kind approach to sharing Elvis’ legacy in a high-energy concert and sightseeing tour all rolled into one. Hear all your favorite Elvis hits performed live on Memphis’ only music bus while seeing where he grew up, where he went to school, where he worked, where he dreamed, as well as sites important to his early career.
This special 3-hour tour includes the commemorative ceremony and cake-cutting at Sun Studio (with special guests) and a guided tour of the Sun Studio Museum, with a first look at the new exhibit of Dewey Phillips’ historic broadcast booth from radio station WHBQ. Other sites on the tour are: Lauderdale Courts, the Overton Park Shell, Lansky Bros. clothing store, the Memphian Theater, the Chisca Hotel, and more. Elvis Insiders receive a 10% discount. Tickets may be purchased online at BackbeatTours.com, or by calling Zerve at 800-979-3370 or Backbeat Tours at 901-527-9415.
60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll - A Celebration of Memphis Music
July 5, 2014. 7:30 p.m. Free to the public.
1928 Poplar Ave, Memphis, Tennessee
This one-night-only music event is set for July 5, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. on the 60th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s historic Sun Studio recording session. The special July 5th concert, which will be free and open to the public, will take place at the historic Levitt Shell, site of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s first professional performance on July 30th, 1954, just 25 days after his history making recording session at Sun Studio.
In recognition of his many important contributions to Memphis music, legendary bassist Bill Black will be honored posthumously on stage with a Brass Note which will be placed on the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame.
Produced by Heartbeat Productions, the event will not only celebrate Elvis and his music with an all-star lineup of Memphis musicians, but also honor the full breadth of the Memphis music story.
Hard Rock Cafe Memphis' 60 Years Celebration
126 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
The Hard Rock Cafe Memphis will host public memorabilia tours throughout the day on July 5, to showcase its new venue and their rock 'n' roll memorabilia on display.
Following the Levitt Shell concert event on the evening of July 5, Hard Rock warmly welcomes concert-goers to grab a drink after the show, with drink specials to celebrate 60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Hard Rock Cafe is calling 126 Beale Street their new home - which was the original location of Lansky Brothers, the legendary retail clothiers whose customers included Elvis Presley and many other Memphis music legends.
60 Years Exhibits in Memphis
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum's "60 Years of Rock" Exhibit
Open Daily 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
191 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum's "60 Years of Rock" Exhibit includes a six decade timeline of memories and memorabilia from rock 'n' roll artists. Beginning with the birth of rock 'n' roll at Sun Studio where Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black first recorded "That's All Right," the new exhibit winds through thousands of historic and monumental musical events.
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, created by the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socioeconomic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world. The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum tells the complete story of Memphis music history, as researched by the Smithsonian Institution.