Elvis Presley in the Lone Star State

When you think of Elvis Presley, you think of Tennessee and Mississippi – the state of his beloved home, and the state in which he was born. But another important state for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Texas. Outside of his standing engagements at the Las Vegas Hilton, the highest number of Elvis’ performances while touring occurred in the state of Texas. Elvis performed in Texas approximately 138 times from 1954-1977. Texas saw the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as he began his career, and welcomed him back with record-breaking crowds in the ’70s. Most of his Texas concerts took place in 1955, as he performed on the Louisiana Hayride. The radio show covered the east side of the state, and these early concerts provided Elvis and his band the opportunity to perfect their live shows. The Louisiana Hayride concerts led Elvis to perform in many small towns, especially in Texas. He and his band often performed in more than one city and more than one venue per day, so they often had to race from one stage to another. Elvis performed a whopping 308 times in 1955, and a fourth of those performances took place in the Lone Star State. Elvis’ tour schedule changed and slowed over the next few years, as he left the Louisiana Hayride, released his first album, made TV appearances and began making movies (and, of course, as he was inducted into the Army – but more on that in a bit).   Elvis spent much of the 60s making movies, and he returned to the stage in 1969 with his Las Vegas residency. His first shows outside Vegas were in Texas in early 1970. From February 27, 1970 – March 1, 1970, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed six shows at Houston’s Astrodome as part of the Texas Livestock Show. He made an impression when he entered the building for the first show – he circled the arena in an open Jeep, waving and greeting fans. He broke his previous attendance record with the February 27 evening show, with a crowd of 36,299 – which was 10,000 more than his previous record. The evening crowd on February 28 was another record breaker – 43,614 – which also set a record for indoor rodeo performances in any arena. Elvis gave a press conference before his first and after his last Houston shows in 1970. At the...
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Designing Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Last week, you took our quiz to find out what room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland matches your personality. Are you as playful as the Pool Room? Do you want to geek out in the TV Room? Wanna go wild in the Jungle Room? If you missed the quiz, no worries – you can take it here. This week, we’re going to go a little more in-depth into the Graceland rooms featured in the personality quiz to learn more about their design. Thousands of Elvis fans took the Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz, and more than 33% of responders most identify with the Living Room. Trends came and went in the twenty years that Elvis lived at Graceland, and Elvis redecorated Graceland to match the times and his own personal taste. In the Living Room, the custom 15-foot sofa and 10-foot coffee table, matching end tables and a few other pieces offered a classic look, and they were in the Living Room from 1957 through the summer of 1974, when he redecorated (more on that in a minute). He often changed upholstery, carpet, paint, drapery and other accessories always evolved. The blue drapes that you now see on tour in Graceland are from the later 1960s-mid 1970s. During the Christmas season, the blue drapes were replaced with vibrant, festive red drapes – a tradition that remains true at Graceland every holiday season today. In 1974, Elvis redecorated the Living Room with dramatic French Provencal furniture décor, including red carpet, red velvet furniture and red satin draperies. This look remained in place until the mansion opened for tours in 1982. The decision was made then to bring the older furnishings out of storage and return the Living Room – along with the Music and Dining Rooms – back to the way they were during most of the years Elvis lived at Graceland. Furniture and other details from the Living Room’s red redecoration are now on display in the Trophy Building. The famous stained-glass peacocks in the living room were added in 1974. Elvis, a student of religion, added them as peacocks were an ancient Christian symbol of eternal life and resurrection. Nearly 27% of people who took our What Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz got a wild result: the famous Jungle Room. Elvis never called the Jungle Room by that name; to him, it was just the den....
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Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality?

Whether you’re as colorful as the Pool Room, as elegant as the Living Room or as exotic as the Jungle Room, there’s a room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland that perfectly matches your personality. Take the quiz below to find out which room fits you, and be sure to tune in to next week’s Graceland Blog when we learn more about each of the rooms featured in the quiz. Don’t forget to go to Graceland.com to start planning your Graceland experience, so you can experience these rooms for yourself!...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘If I Can Dream’

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue If I can dream of a better land Where all my brothers walk hand in hand Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true… April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis. Dr. King’s assassination, as well as that of U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, affected Elvis Presley deeply. These feelings led Elvis to give one of the most passionate performances of his career. America was in the midst of an upheaval in 1968. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and our world and culture were changing. Within a short span of time, two leaders were assassinated. Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis – Elvis’ hometown. Robert Kennedy, a US Senator who strongly supported human rights and social justice, was killed two months later, on June 6. It was Elvis’ reaction to the news of Kennedy’s assassination that lead to the creation of the song “If I Can Dream,” a tribute song to King, featuring direct quotes from the Civil Rights leader. In the spring of ’68, Elvis was working on his upcoming TV special, “Elvis.” After seeing the news about Kennedy’s death on TV, Elvis spent an entire night with the show’s director, Steve Binder, and his friends, talking about the assassinations and Elvis’ wishes for the world. The conversation was heartfelt and honest, and Binder believed Elvis had an important message for the country. Binder then went to the show’s Musical Director Billy Goldenberg and songwriter Earl Brown and told them about the discussion. He wanted a powerful, meaningful song that would close out the TV special. Because the special was slated to air in December, the producers and Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, had planned to end the show with a Christmas song, but Binder had other ideas. It wasn’t long before “If I Can Dream” was born. Once the song was finished, Binder took the song to Elvis and played it for him. “Let me hear it again,” said Elvis, and the song was played again and again. “Okay,” Elvis said, “I’ll do it.” On June 23, 1968, Elvis recorded “If I Can Dream” in several impassioned takes, even though it is said that the first take Elvis gave was perfect. The king gave such a powerful...
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‘It Happened at the World’s Fair’ 55 Years Ago

“Elvis swinging higher than the Space Needle with the gals, the songs and the famous World’s Fair!” Elvis’ twelfth movie, “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” was released April 3, 1963, making this year its 55th anniversary. The musical comedy follows Mike (Elvis) and Danny (Gary Lockwood), crop duster pilots who travel to the World’s Fair in Seattle to pay off Danny’s gambling debts and to get their plane back from the local sheriff. Along the way, Danny plays poker to make some quick cash, and Mike woos a nurse, Diane (Joan O’Brien), and takes care of a little girl, Sue-Lin (Vicky Tiu), whose uncle has disappeared. “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was directed by Norman Taurog. The fair was called the Seattle Century 21 Exposition, so the name of the trailer park where Elvis’ character lived was called the “Center 21 Estates.” Many of the structures and buildings created for the fair are still used today in what’s now called the Seattle Center. The Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, is now a symbol for the city of Seattle, Washington. The 1962 World’s Fair drew millions of visitors from around the world. Child actress Vicky Tiu played Sue-Lin, the little girl Mike befriends and takes care of in the film. This was Vicky’s only movie role; as an adult, she became the first lady of Hawaii while her husband, Ben Cayetano, was the state’s governor. Yvonne Craig stars in “World’s Fair” as Dorothy. She later starred as Elvis’ leading lady in “Kissin’ Cousins,” and TV fans will recognize her as Batgirl from the 1960s TV show “Batman.” Actor Kurt Russell made his movie debut in “World’s Fair” as the “shin-kicker,” or “Boy Kicking Mike.” Russell was 10 at the time, and he’s featured in a small role where Mike asks him to kick him in the shins. Years later, he starred as Elvis in a TV movie biography. Elvis worked on the movie from late August through early November. Naturally, part of “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was filmed at the actual World’s Fair. Plenty of fans gathered near the film set to catch a glimpse of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When he couldn’t make it outside, Elvis and his entourage stayed in their hotels and played pranks on the hotel staff. A favorite prank was to move all the furniture...
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