Covered by Elvis Presley, Part 2

Elvis Presley was a lot of things – a singer, the world’s greatest entertainer, an actor, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – but he was also a music fan. Elvis loved all different kinds of music, from gospel to blues to rock ‘n’ roll to country. You could tell if Elvis loved a song you’d written and released because he’d cover it himself. While Elvis sang plenty of songs written just for him, he also made a habit of covering songs he liked throughout his career. If he really liked your tune, you might hear it in concert or on an album. In this series on the Graceland Blog, we’re discussing some of the tunes that Elvis covered and made his own. Check out the first part of this series here. Get to know a few of these songs a bit better – find out who wrote them, when Elvis covered them and more. “Polk Salad Annie” Louisiana native Tony Joe White wrote and performed the song in 1968. Elvis jumped on the tune quickly: He introduced the swamp rock jam to his live shows in 1969, and it quickly became a concert staple. You can find his live versions of “Polk Salad Annie” on albums like “On Stage,” “Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden,” and the “That’s The Way It Is” soundtrack. A number of artists have sang the story of “Polk Salad Annie,” including Tom Jones and Los Lonely Boys. “Solitaire” This lovely, but sorrowful, song was first recorded in 1972 by Neil Sedaka, who co-wrote this song with Phil Cody. The Carpenters covered it a few years later in 1975 – which may be the best-known version of the song – and Elvis recorded it in February 1976. Elvis recorded the song in the famous Jungle Room at Graceland. The track can be heard on the “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” album, as well as in the 2016 release, “Way Down in the Jungle Room,” a compilation of Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions. Other artists who have tackled the song include Sheryl Crow, Johnny Mathis, The Searchers and Andy Williams. The lyrics are sometimes changed in a few of these versions, too. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” This moving love song was written by folk singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for singer Peggy Seeger (who he later married). Elvis, inspired by the Peter, Paul and Mary...
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The Concert Seen Around the World: ‘Aloha from Hawaii’

Forty-five years ago, this month, Elvis made history in Hawaii. Elvis’ iconic special, “Aloha from Hawaii,” aired on January 14, 1973, and it was the first entertainment special by a solo artist to be broadcast live around the world. 1972 and 1973 were great years to be Elvis fans. In 1972, Elvis released the documentary “Elvis on Tour,” giving fans a good long look at his concerts and the work that went into producing them. In fact, the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert was supposed to take place in November 1972, but MGM, who produced the documentary, feared it was too close to the movie’s opening. “Aloha” was pushed to January 1973. The November 1972 concerts happened, anyway, but they weren’t filmed. Two press conferences were held to promote “Aloha.” The first was on September 4, 1972, in Las Vegas, followed by a second on at Hawaiian Hilton Village in November 1972. Elvis arrived in Hawaii on January 9, 1973, to begin rehearsals. Naturally, such a big production needed a few back-up plans and extra precautions. Elvis had two of the exact same jumpsuits made for the show, including one to wear in the dress rehearsal on January 12. In fact, that dress rehearsal was also filmed, just in case there were issues with the satellite broadcast and the rehearsal show needed to be broadcast instead. Elvis took the stage just after midnight, Hawaii time, on January 14. Naturally, Elvis wanted to use the concert to give back. There was no set ticket price for the concert; instead, donations were given. The more the donation, the better the seat. Elvis actually purchased a ticket for himself and his entourage at $100 each (which, with inflation, would be over $575 in today’s money). He asked that donations and merchandise sales go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, which had been established following the songwriter’s death in 1966. Lee wrote hits like “Ain’t No Big Thing,” “The Days of My Youth” and “I’ll Remember You,” which Elvis covered in many of his concerts, including in the “Aloha” special. The goal was to raise $25,000, but – of course – that goal was surpassed. A total of $75,000 was raised for the fund. Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” aired in more than 40 countries across Asia and Europe. The special didn’t air in the United States on January 14, though. There was another major...
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ABCs of E(lvis) – The Trivia Game

This weekend is the Elvis Birthday Celebration at Graceland! We have a weekend full of special events and festivities to celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s birthday on January 8. How well do you know Elvis, his music, his movies and his personal life? Take the quiz below and find out if you know the ABCs of...
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Graceland’s Top 20 Moments of 2017

No matter what year it is, our New Year’s Resolutions here at Graceland are always the same: Celebrate the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. Find new and interesting ways to tell Elvis’ story so that it’s always fresh, even to Elvis fans who have visited the king’s castle a hundred times. Introduce Elvis to a new generation of fans. This year, 2017, we can say we did all those things – and on a much larger, more grand scale than ever before. This year, Graceland and Elvis fans celebrated Elvis in amazing ways that were – you guessed it – fit for a king. Let’s look at our best moments of 2017 – in no particular order! 20. Make Room in the Hall of Gold And with new music releases comes more awards for the king! At Elvis Week, Priscilla Presley accepted new Gold and Platinum Awards for Elvis’ two albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, “The Wonder of You” and “If I Can Dream.” The awards are now on display at – where else? – Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. 19. New Elvis Tunes Can’t get your fix of Elvis? No worries – you had plenty of new music to keep you satisfied this year. If you love Elvis with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, you must own the new Christmas album, which pairs the orchestra’s beautiful arrangements with Elvis’ best holiday performances. Earlier this year, a new set, “Elvis Presley – A Boy From Tupelo – The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings,” celebrated the king’s earliest recordings. A vinyl package, “A Boy From Tupelo: The Sun Masters,” was also released in 2017 and featured Elvis’ Sun recordings. You can pick up all of these releases now at Shop Graceland, or at gift shops here at Graceland. 18. Elvis on Tour This year, you could travel across America, over to Europe and down to Australia and find an Elvis concert happening. Several tours celebrating Elvis’ collaboration with a live orchestra took place all around the world. The “Wonder of You” tour featured a live orchestra with Elvis on the big screen. Fans loved having the chance to see the king “live in concert” again. 17. Elvis on Tour: The Exhibition Dig deep into Elvis’ touring years at Elvis on Tour: The Exhibition, on display now at The O2 in London. This incredible exhibition showcases more than 200 artifacts from Elvis’ live shows and tours,...
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Elvis Presley and the Gold Cadillac Tour

Here at Graceland, we understand how thrilling it can feel to get up close and personal with the king’s things. Whether it’s the black leather suit from the ’68 special, the Pink Cadillac, his Grammy Awards or Graceland itself, fans love getting a glimpse of the things Elvis owned, loved and appreciated. And this trend didn’t start in 1982, when Graceland was opened to the public for tours. In 1965 and 1968, Elvis’ gold Cadillac hit the road to promote Elvis. The Cadillac was purchased from Southern Motors, Inc., of Memphis, for $11,064.25 on December 22, 1959 and delivered on December 29, 1959. Elvis put down a deposit of $2,000 for George Barris to customize it in November 1961, and he paid an additional $3,000 for more work in March 1962. Elvis was promoting his latest movie, “Tickle Me,” but his manager, Col. Tom Parker, knew he couldn’t send the very busy King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on the road for a promotional tour. Instead, he and RCA sent the Cadillac on tour in the spring of 1965. Gabe Tucker, driver and tour manager for RCA, helped oversee the project. The Cadillac’s 1965 spring tour made these stops in the Southeast: Rialto Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – May 28 – On display for four days. Estimated attendance: 50,000. Cobb Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 4 – Daytime display Estimated attendance: 5,000. Toco Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 4 – Evening display. Estimated attendance: 1.500. Lenox Square, Atlanta, Georgia – June 5 – Displayed for one day. Estimated attendance: 27,000. Belvedere Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 6 – Displayed for one day. Estimated attendance: 2,000. Dealer Showing, Atlanta, Georgia – June 8-11 – All dealers from the Atlanta region attended the showing. John Lee’s Music Store, Anderson, South Carolina – June 12 – On display for one day. Estimated attendance: 50,000. Broadcasters’ Convention, Calloway, Georgia – June 13 – On display for one day. Station managers and program directors from the area attended the convention to see the car. S&W Music Store, Aniston, Alabama – June 24 – On display for one day; no record of attendance. Eastwood Mall, Birmingham, Alabama – June 25 – On display for two days; no record of attendance. Roebuck Shopping Center, Birmingham, Alabama – June 26 – On display for the evening; no record of attendance. Capri Theater, Birmingham, Alabama – June 27 – On...
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