Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 2

It’s easy to say that Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles. Even the most casual fan can sing a few lines from his biggest hits. But there’s more to Elvis, and to those songs, than catchy hooks and topping the charts. In January, we shared some insights into a handful of Elvis’ No. 1 hits, and this week, we’re doing it again, taking a look at another five of Elvis’ hit singles. Keep reading to find out who wrote these tunes, where Elvis recorded them and much more. “Love Me Tender” “Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go…” This song is such a classic. “Love Me Tender” was written for Elvis’ first film of the same name. Elvis’ version is based on the Civil War-era tune “Aura Lee,” written in 1861 by W.W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton. Later, “Aura Lee” was changed to “Army Blue,” and it was used as the class song for the West Point class of 1865. “Love Me Tender” is Elvis’ version, and it was adapted by Ken Darby, the movie’s musical director. He shared writer’s credits with his wife, Vera Matson, and Elvis. However, neither helped with the writing. Elvis recorded “Love Me Tender” on August 24, 1956, at Fox Stage 1 in Hollywood. This session felt a little unfamiliar to Elvis: he had to record on a massive 20th Century Fox soundstage, and he was not joined by his regular band and back-up singers. The musicians on this recording include Vito Mumolo on guitar, drummer Richard Cornell, bass player Mike “Myer” Rugin, Luther Rountree on banjo and Dom Frontieri on accordian. Charles Prescott, Jon Dodson and Rad Robinson performed vocals. Bob Mayer and Ren Runyon engineered the song. The second take of the song was used as the single, and it shipped to stores about a month after it was recorded, on September 28, 1956. Fans loved it. “Love Me Tender” was No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart for five weeks, and it stayed on the charts for a total of 23 weeks. The song charted at No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B singles and Country singles lists. “Love Me Tender” reached No. 11 on the British pop singles chart. The hit song has been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Percy Sledge, as well as Barbara Streisand,...
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50 Years Ago: Elvis and Priscilla Say ‘I Do’

The king married his queen 50 years ago this year. Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu married on May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas, with a few friends and family in attendance. Of course, that’s not the beginning of the story – let’s go back to 1959, when the couple met. Elvis met Priscilla on September 13, 1959, while Elvis was stationed in Germany serving in the U.S. Army. The pair become fast friends. At Christmas that year, Priscilla gives him a set of bongo drums. Elvis left Germany in 1960 and returned to America.The couple kept up with each other throughout the years – Elvis often called Priscilla in Germany, and she visited Elvis in the states. She moved to Memphis in the spring of 1963 to complete her high school education. Elvis proposed to Priscilla on Christmas Eve 1966, presenting her with a ring he purchased from jeweler Harry Levitch. Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding took place at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas at about 11:45 a.m. on May 1, 1967. Immediately following the wedding, the couple and their families attended a press conference, followed by the reception. The newlyweds honeymooned in Palm Springs, California, for a few days, before returning to Memphis on May 5. On Monday, May 29, the couple hosted a reception at Graceland for friends, family and employees. They wore their wedding attire, and the building located near the pool (now the Trophy Building, but it had once housed Elvis’ slot-car track) was decorated in green and white. Tony Barrasso provided the music, and the food included a buffet and wedding cake, catered by Monte’s Catering Service. First comes love, second comes marriage… and nine months to the day, Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. Did you know you can get married and renew your vows at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods? Click here to get wedding ideas and to find out how to have your wedding here at our chapel. You can see Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding attire for yourself here at Graceland. Their clothes, as well as Lisa’s crib and baby clothes, are on display in the Trophy Building, which houses the Presley family story. You can also watch footage of the wedding reception there. Get your Graceland tickets...
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Sam Phillips: ‘The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll’

There are many important players in Elvis Presley’s life story, but one of the most important is Sam Phillips. At Sun Studio in Memphis, Sam discovered and helped launch the careers of not just Elvis, but Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and more. He is, according to Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, “the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll.” And with Record Store Day coming up this weekend, on Saturday, April 22, we feel it’s fitting to honor a man who brought so much great music to record stores across the world. Here at Graceland, we recently opened a new exhibit in coordination with Sam’s family, called Mystery Train: Celebrating Sam Phillips. The exhibit tells the story of Sam’s life and career, and includes artifacts from Sam’s early life and his work at Sun Studio. But more on that later – for now, let’s meet Sam Phillips. Sam Phillips was born in Florence, Alabama, on January 5, 1923. He was the youngest of eight, and he and his siblings would work on their parents’ farm, singing songs to pass the time. In 1939, he and his family traveled to Memphis, and it was then that he experienced Beale Street for the first time. He was thrilled, and it wouldn’t be long before he would return to the Bluff City to make a mark of his own. Sam worked as a DJ and radio engineer at WLAY in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during the ‘40s. The station had an “open format,” meaning it broadcasted music from both black and white musicians. Sam eventually traveled back to Memphis, and in 1950, he opened Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The business recorded amateur performers (like a young B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf), as well as special events like weddings. Sam launched his Sun Studio label at Memphis Recording Service in 1952. It was at Memphis Recording Studio that Sam recorded what is often considered the first-ever rock ‘n’ roll song, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88.” That song was released on the Chess/Checker label, and Sam went on to record more artists like Bobby Blue Bland, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton and more at the studio. More rock ‘n’ roll music was made at Sun Studio than any other label at the time. During Sun’s 16-year run, 226 singles were produced there. Many Elvis fans already know the story of...
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Following That Dream with Elvis Presley

Look out – here come the Kwimpers! Did you know that “Here Come the Kwimpers” was almost the title of Elvis’ ninth movie, “Follow That Dream”? The movie premiered in April 1962, followed by a nationwide release on May 23 – so this year marks the movie’s 55th anniversary. In “Follow That Dream,” Elvis plays Toby, a member of the rag-tag Kwimper family. There’s his dad, Pop (Arthur O’Connell), and several kids they’ve taken in – the wise-beyond-her-years Holly (Anne Helm), the adorable twins, Eddy and Teddy (Gavin and Robin Koon, respectively), and the baby, Adriane. The Kwimpers find success when they start their own business on a roadside in Florida, but trouble arises when the mob sets up a gambling business next door and a social worker threatens to take away the youngest Kwimpers. “Follow That Dream” is based on the 1957 novel “Pioneer, Go Home,” by Richard Powell. The original title of the film was the same as the novel, but composers couldn’t come up with a rhyme for “Pioneer” for the title song. The movie’s title was then changed to “What a Wonderful Life.” Producers also considered the “Here Come the Kwimpers” title, as well as “It’s a Beautiful Life,” but “Follow That Dream” won in the end. Elvis and the crew filmed “Follow That Dream” from July 11-August 28, 1961. They filmed the movie in Florida and Hollywood. The film was directed by Gordon Douglas, who also directed movies such as “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” and “Them!,” as well as the TV show “The Little Rascals.” Douglas is the only director who worked with both Elvis and Frank Sinatra, as Sinatra starred in “Robin and the 7 Hoods.” During filming, gambling was illegal in Florida. The gambling equipment needed for filming was brought in by a member of the Chamber of Commerce of a Florida city and a few anonymous gamblers. If you’ve seen “Follow That Dream,” you’ve seen a few actors who also starred in other Elvis films. The judge was played by Roland Winters, who also played Elvis’ father in “Blue Hawaii.” Actor Howard McNear starred in “Follow That Dream” as the bank loan officer, George, and he also starred in “Blue Hawaii.”   During the 2017 Elvis’ Birthday Celebration, twins Gavin and Robin Koon spoke to fans about their work with Elvis in the movie. Check out a part of their interview...
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50th Anniversary: Elvis Presley’s ‘Double Trouble’

Double the Elvis movies, double the fun! Just a few weeks after “Easy Come, Easy Go,” was released, Elvis Presley’s next movie, the musical comedy “Double Trouble,” followed. Like “Easy Come, Easy Go,” the “Double Trouble” movie doesn’t top many fans’ lists of favorite Elvis films, and it performed well – but not great – at the box office. Still, fans enjoy the laughs, the music and, of course, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in this romp about a rock star who gets mixed up with an heiress, jewel thieves and detectives. “Double Trouble” is Elvis’ 24th film. He actually filmed it before he filmed his 23rd film, “Easy Come, Easy Go,” although “Easy Come, Easy Go” was released just before “Double Trouble.” Elvis filmed “Double Trouble” in July – August 1966, and it was released April 5, 1967. The original working title of the film was “You’re Killing Me,” but “Double Trouble” worked better. Norman Taurog directed these nine Elvis’ films, more than any other director: “Double Trouble” “G.I. Blues” “Blue Hawaii” “It Happened at the World’s Fair” “Spinout” “Tickle Me” “Speedway” “Live a Little, Love a Little” “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Other Norman-directed movies are “Skippy,” “Boys Town” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” He also cast many of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, Donna Reed and more. Elvis’ “Double Trouble” co-star Annette Day made her film debut in this movie. She was working at an antique shop when she was discovered by a producer but “Double Trouble” was the only movie Day ever made. Stage, film and TV actor John Williams, who stars in “Double Trouble,” also starred in “Sabrina” (as the chauffeur) and Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief.” While the movie took place in Belgium and Britain, it wasn’t filmed there. Elvis made the movie entirely on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. While Elvis was filming this movie, he went to a Jackie Wilson concert and met the singer backstage. Elvis invited him to the set of “Double Trouble.” At the Jackie Wilson show, Elvis also met singer James Brown. Elvis was good friends with both Jackie and James for the rest of his life. Speaking of James Brown, you can check out a suit James sported on stage at our new exhibit, Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley. The exhibit features artifacts from artists who were...
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