Six Degrees of Elvis Presley

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is one of the most well-connected celebrities. Of course, Elvis worked with some of the most influential and legendary artists of his day, including Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Perkins, Ann-Margaret, Jerry Lee Lewis, Angela Lansbury, and many, many others. It’s through those connections that you can connect Elvis to today’s biggest actors and singers. Naturally, there are countless connections to be made – but here are just a few of our favorites. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll loved comic books, and he’d probably be amused that he’s just a few degrees from today’s biggest comic book superhero movie stars. Actor Kurt Russell appears briefly in Elvis’ 1964 film “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” and Russell has enjoyed a lengthy career. In 2017 he starred in the blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” alongside stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper – putting them all just two degrees away from Elvis. Cooper stars in and directs the new hit musical “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga, putting Gaga only three degrees from the king.   Actor and dancer Russ Tamblyn served as an uncredited choreography advisor for “Jailhouse Rock.” Tamblyn’s daughter, Amber, is an actress and has starred in films like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “The Ring” and “127 Hours,” plus TV shows like “Joan of Acadia,” “General Hospital” and “Two and a Half Men.” That puts Amber at just two degrees from the king.   The legendary Angela Lansbury starred in “Blue Hawaii” as Elvis’ character’s mom – even though Lansbury was just 10 years older than the king. Lansbury is still working; in fact, she’ll star in the upcoming “Mary Poppins Returns,” starring Emily Blunt and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. That, too, puts those stars at just two degrees away from the king. Another star with just two degrees from Elvis is Whitney Houston. The legendary singer’s mother, Cissy Houston, sang back-up for Elvis as a member of The Sweet Inspirations. (She also sings on the new Elvis gospel record, “Where No One Stands Alone.”) Actor George Clooney also has family connections to the king. George Clooney is the nephew of the legendary actress and singer Rosemary Clooney, and she starred in “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby. Elvis has two connections to Crosby’s family: Crosby’s nephew Chris Crosby presented Elvis...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 7

Here we are, Elvis fans… the last part in our Elvis’ #1 Hits series. It’s really incredible to consider Elvis’ success. Fans often gasp when they round the corner to see his wall of gold at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. So many Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records. So many awards. So many records sold, so many spins on the record player, jukebox and CD and, now, so many digital streams. So many lives touched. This final part of our series spotlights a few of the king’s biggest hits. Learn more about Elvis’ #1’s in the previous parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. Be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis hit in the comments! “Heartbreak Hotel” “Well, the bellhop’s tears keep flowin’ And the desk clerk’s dressed in black Well, they’ve been so long on Lonely Street Well, they’ll never, they’ll never get back…” According to songwriters Mae Axton and Tommy Durden, the inspiration for this blues song came from an article in the Miami Herald. According to the story, a man had completed suicide and left no identification or any other information, aside from a note that read, “I walk a lonely street.” A demo of the song was made by Glen Reeves, and Axton took that demo to a DJ convention in Nashville, where she played it for Elvis. She offered him a share of the writers’ publishing ownership if the song would be his first new single release for RCA, which had just purchased his recording contract from Sun Records. Elvis and his band recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” on January 10, 1956, at RCA studios in Nashville in his first recording session for RCA. Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins were on guitar, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Floyd Cramer played piano. Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, plus Ben and Brock Speer, provided background vocals. The original lyrics were “they pray to die,” but were changed to “they could die.” Take 7 was chosen as the single, and it was released on January 27, 1956. The young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a hit – by April, it sold a million copies. “Heartbreak Hotel” became Elvis’ first #1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and his first gold record award winner. It reigned on the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks of...
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Elvis Week – Through Fans’ Eyes

We’re still feeling that Elvis Week magic here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland! Elvis fans are, too – you can see it in the Elvis Week social media posts. Check out a few of these awesome fan photos from Elvis Week 2018, and mark your calendar for August 10-18, 2019 – that’s Elvis Week 2019! (and remember – you can book your special Elvis Week 2019 stay at The Guest House at Graceland now and save with our special Early Bird rate. This deal ends on Tuesday, September 4, so book now!) Elvis Week Events It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Elvis Week events and forget to snap the perfect photo or selfie. Luckily, these fans kept their phones handy for a quick shot!         At the King’s Castle There is no better time to tour Graceland than during Elvis Week. These fans took advantage of the week to snap some great selfies in and outside the mansion.         At the Graceland Gates and Wall Another iconic location for the ultimate Elvis Week selfie is Graceland’s gates and the wall, which is full of lovely messages to Elvis from fans worldwide.   And finally, we love the creativity and the message here… Check out Elvis Week photos now at the Graceland.com photo gallery. Share some of your favorite Elvis Week memories in the...
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Elvis Week Blog 10 – Elvis Week 2018 Wrap Up

BY JON WATERHOUSE They don’t make the appropriate adjectives to describe the phenomenon that’s Elvis Week. To quote the 1973 Elvis tune, “it’s just impossible.” Still I’ll attempt to take care of blogging business by providing a snapshot of the 2018 edition’s greatest hits. This year’s installment came loaded with amazing musical performances, revealing live interviews, eye-widening surprises, fan fellowship and more with Elvis Presley as the unbreakable common thread. Candlelight Vigil   Nothing speaks to Elvis’ enduring and continuing impact on the world like this annual procession of fans. On Aug. 15, the eve of the anniversary of his passing, the Elvis Week tradition continued. Thousands of fans with candles in hand made their way up Graceland’s winding driveway to pay their respects at Elvis’ gravesite. Listening Party for “Where No One Stands Alone” Album Release The acclaimed new Elvis album –a contemporary reimagining of Elvis gospel songs with new instrumentation, arrangements and background vocals– received the ultimate kick-off event. Co-producers Lisa Marie Presley, Andy Childs and Joel Weinshanker, along with Sony Music’s John Jackson, treated fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s creation. Darlene Love For the first time at Elvis Week, this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer gave fans the gift of an exclusive live performance peppered with her own Elvis memories. Her set featured Love classics, her own take on Elvis songs and music she recorded with Presley himself. The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Concert Several of Elvis’ back-up vocalists (Elvis’ Imperials and former members of J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet) brought Presley’s favorite genre to life on the Graceland Soundstage. The show’s finale featured both groups along with Andy Childs recreating the latest version of Elvis’ “How Great Thou Art,” a highlight on the “Where No One Stands Alone” album. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Some of the top Elvis tribute artists from around the world battled it out for the premier title. Ben Thompson of London, England took home the win, which includes an Elvis Presley Enterprises performance contract and a cash prize of $20,000. Fun fact: Thompson can be seen as Elvis in the 2017 sci-fi blockbuster “Blade Runner 2049.” The Live Interviews Elvis Week onstage hosts Tom Brown, DJ Argo and Andy Childs wrangled live conversations with a wide variety of Elvis world luminaries. Among the highlights: “’68 Special” director Steve Binder, music legend Darlene Love,...
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Elvis Week Blog 9 – Elvis and Ronnie Tutt: Back in the Building

BY JON WATERHOUSE Elvis Week Brunch with Ronnie Tutt From the late 1960s until the end of his career, Elvis’ live performances had an undeniable pulse. Certainly, Presley himself provided the electrical force emanating from the stage. The tangible heartbeat of the music came courtesy of drummer Ronnie Tutt. Like D.J. Fontana before him, Tutt’s rhythmic skill not only provided the essential backbone for Elvis’ live sets, but his percussive instincts often deftly accentuated Presley’s improvisational movements. In turn, Tutt’s powerful drumming would fuel and inspire Elvis to physically intensify his performances and dynamically pull back the reigns when needed. Tutt’s tenure in the TCB Band inspired fans to attend yesterday’s sold-out Elvis Week Brunch at the Guest House. Attendees noshed on a southern-centric buffet, but the event’s headlining entree was Tutt himself. The acclaimed drummer engaged in an extended chat with host Tom Brown, musing on his eight-year stint of recording and sharing the stage with Elvis. “(His stories) are so heartfelt,” said Shantay Wood of Memphis, a brunch attendee. “You can see him thinking and delving deep into his memory and his heart to share that with the fans. …He still has that deep appreciation for Elvis. ..It’s like that continual love affair all of us fans have with Elvis, but Ronnie’s is so much deeper.” Tutt’s connection with Presley had a life beyond the stage, a personal bond Elvis forged with his bandmates and their own respective loved ones. “He was very respectful to our families family when we’d bring (them around),” said Tutt, who recalled Elvis once taking time to make a Christmas phone call to Tutt’s mother. “(Family) meant a lot to him. …We became part of his family.” The drummer shared a humorous 1970s-era story of an encounter between Elvis and his then 5-year-old son Ron Jr. According to Tutt, his son gave Presley an honest critique of a Las Vegas performance. “You stood in front of my daddy the whole show, and I couldn’t see him.” The recollections continued, and afterward Tutt made his way to a ballroom table where he signed autographs for Wood and a long line of other fans. This included three generations of the Cooper family from Queensland, Australia, and 13-year-old Nate Pieper of Forth Worth, Texas. “He always put out such positive energy,” said Pieper, who counts Tutt as one of his favorite TCB band members. Elvis...
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