Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan: ‘The First Big Bang’

Sixty years ago today, one television appearance changed the world as we know it. Elvis Presley’s third and final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place on January 6, 1957. The almost 22-year-old had spent the previous year topping the charts, starring in his first movie and causing a stir on several other television appearances. For that final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, he was only shown from the waist up for all of his performances except for his performance of “Peace in the Valley.” Sixty years later, we’re still talking about Elvis on “Ed Sullivan.” People often forget that Elvis was on the show three times, and that only his last appearance was “waist up,” but the fact that he was filmed that way for any performance gave him a cool, dangerous, rebellious – truly, a rock ‘n’ roll – reputation. Whether it’s some version of the “filmed from the waist up” story, or just about the rawness and energy of all three of his performances, Elvis’ appearances on “Sullivan” are still heralded as some of the most pivotal moments in the history of both television and pop culture. Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan” performances influenced hundreds of young musicians, thrilled an entire generation of teenagers and rocked the status quo. And while Elvis deserves all of the credit for his powerful performances, another reason Elvis’ appearances were so impactful was a bit of “right place, right time.” As a society, America was ready for a thrill and a shock, and the new television technology brought Elvis right into millions of homes. Producer, writer and director Andrew Solt, who owns “The Ed Sullivan Show” library and who wrote and directed the documentary “This is Elvis,” spoke with the Graceland Blog about why Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearances were so important to his career, to the show and to the world. Solt is one of our special guests for Elvis’ Birthday Celebration at Graceland. Picture it: America, 1956. “It was post-World War II when (Elvis) hit the scene. In the mid-50s, it was a kind of sleepy America,” Solt said. “Most people were trying to get into a two-bedroom house with a garage. Life was kind of calm, but there was this brewing rebellion, and Elvis represented that.” Sullivan’s show, which ran from 1948-1971, featured all kinds of entertainers and guests, from musicians like Elvis to comedians, Broadway performers, opera singers,...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland: Our Top Moments of 2016

As we count down to the final days, hours and minutes of 2016, we’re taking a moment to look back on this monumental year at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. We celebrated milestones, Elvis Week, Elvis’ birthday and the holidays. We took Elvis to fans overseas, and brought fans closer to Graceland than ever. We crowned a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, shared new Elvis music with fans and made lots of plans that will leave 2017 all shook up (sorry, we just had to say that). Let’s look back at our favorite moments from 2016. The Guest House at Graceland Opens During most of 2016, we watched as the new 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, come into shape down the road from Graceland. The weekend of October 27-30, the hotel opened to rave reviews. Fans loved the Elvis-inspired décor, the Southern hospitality, the food and the feeling that you were, in fact, staying at Elvis’ guest house. Two weeks after opening, the hotel was awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating. Have you stayed at The Guest House at Graceland yet? Book your stay today. Announcing Elvis Presley’s Memphis At Graceland, we always want to preserve and carry on Elvis’ legacy – and that’s what we’re doing with our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Opening in the spring 2017, the new complex will house Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, as well as Presley Motors, a new Elvis car museum. There will also be “Discovery” exhibit spaces, where guests can learn more about Elvis’ life, career and interests, as well as a Soundstage for special events. Hungry for more? You’ll find plenty to eat at two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Elvis’ two airplanes will also be on display here, too. Make your plans now to experience Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Graceland Welcomes Its 20 Millionth Visitor In May, we celebrated our 20 millionth – yes, you read that right – visitor: Tiffany Greenoak, who was visiting Graceland while on her honeymoon with her husband, Robert. The Greenoaks, Elvis fans from London, were welcomed to Graceland by a phone call from Priscilla Presley and a visit from Graceland CEO Jack Soden. Tiffany and Robert were given a private tour and won a prize pack that included a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a one-year pass...
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Here’s Looking at You, Elvis Presley Fans

We’re days away from Christmas. Kids have sent off their Christmas lists and hoping Santa brings them everything on it. For those of us here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, you could say that it’s Christmas for us every day. Why? Why, we get to see all of you, of course, and Elvis fans are exactly what we want for Christmas! We love seeing your smiling faces at Graceland, and we’re so thankful you choose to spend your time with us, whether it’s just for a quick tour, for an all-day adventure, to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or to join us for a special event, like Elvis Week. Thank you, thank you very much for visiting the king’s castle! For this week’s blog, we’ve collected some of our favorite guest photos that were posted to Instagram in 2016. There are many, many more – in fact, you can see our fan photos of the day daily on Graceland.com – so these are just a few of our faves. And remember – we have a lot of changes coming in 2017, so we’d love to see you back here at Graceland next year, complete with more photos and selfies. Want us to see your photo? Be sure to use the hashtag #Graceland, and be on the lookout for special events-related hashtags we’ll use throughout the year. (Speaking of Instagram, you do follow us on there, right?) Some of our favorite photos include the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. You can’t come to Graceland without snapping a photo of yourself and the king!       Another popular location for selfies and photos at Graceland is, of course, the blue Graceland sign.     One of the most photogenic areas at Graceland is the famous Graceland wall, full of love notes to Elvis from fans all over the world. In fact, many of these fans’ photos look like they could be featured in a fashion magazine.       If you go anywhere really cool, you have to take a photo to prove you were there, right? Right. The cool thing about Graceland is that there’s no other place like it, so whether you snap a selfie in the Jungle Room, with one of Elvis’ cars or in Elvis’ backyard, your photo is totally one of a kind.             These shots are great, but it seems like...
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How Well Do You Know Elvis Presley’s 1956?

This year on the Graceland Blog, we’ve celebrated the amazing accomplishments that Elvis achieved 60 years ago in 1956. We’ve covered everything from his busy tour schedule to his first album to his first movie to the first home he purchased. We also discussed the Million Dollar Quartet and his many television appearances. If you’ve read these blogs – and are a good Elvis fan who knows all kinds of Elvis trivia – you probably know Elvis pretty well. But how well do you know Elvis’ 1956? Take the quiz below and find...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland at Christmas

The holidays are – and have always been – a magical time here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. From the colorful Nativity scene in the front yard to the Christmas wreaths at the stables, all of Graceland is decorated to celebrate the Christmas season. Graceland’s traditional Christmas decorations also include two beautiful Christmas trees – one in the living room and one in the dining room, poinsettias on the staircase and throughout the house, and decorations in the Pool Room and Jungle Room. Even the famous monkey in the pool room gets dressed up for the occasion, wearing a Santa hat and a red bow. Actually, before we go any further, let’s set the mood even more. Check out this video of Graceland’s Christmas lights, set to Charles Esten’s “The Lights at Graceland.”   Elvis loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year. The Presleys always put up their Christmas decorations early, and because Elvis so loved the season, decorations stayed up through his birthday on January 8 (a tradition we keep alive here at Graceland). Elvis purchased Graceland in the spring of 1957, so that first Christmas at his new home was a special one. On December 12, he purchased a Santa and sleigh yard decoration that read, “Merry Christmas to All, Elvis.” We still display that sign, which he purchased for $300 from the Bain Sign Company. For Christmas, Elvis used beautiful red drapes to decorate Graceland. He had a white nylon Christmas tree which rotated on its stand and played Christmas carols, and he decorated it with red ornaments. Elvis also lined the Graceland driveway with blue lights. Elvis’ father Vernon joked that with the lights lining the driveway, and the airport nearby, that pilots may get confused and would try to land at Graceland. The Santa and sleigh sign went into a brief retirement in the 1960s, when Elvis decorated the lawn with the Nativity scene and aluminum Christmas trees. When the company that Elvis, and eventually Graceland, leased the Nativity scene and aluminum trees from each year went out of business, Graceland purchased the displays to ensure the continuation of Elvis’ holiday tradition. Christmas at Graceland became even more special with the arrival of Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter, Lisa Marie. For her first Christmas, Vernon dressed up as Santa to visit the family at Graceland. Elvis loved buying Christmas gifts for Lisa, and gifts...
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