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

These awards were first showcased during the Official Graceland Insiders event during Elvis Week.

These awards were first showcased during the Official Graceland Insiders event during Elvis Week.

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

There are two versions of the new Elvis Christmas album - this version and a deluxe version, which includes extra tunes.

There are two versions of the new Elvis Christmas album – this version and a deluxe version, which includes extra 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

Fans from around the world have raved about the Elvis concerts.

Fans from around the world have raved about the Elvis concerts.

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

See jumpsuits, tour trunks, costume sketches and much more at the Elvis on Tour Exhibition.

See jumpsuits, tour trunks, costume sketches and much more at the Elvis on Tour 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, including many jumpsuits that have never been seen outside America. This exhibition is a follow-up to the successful 2015 Elvis at The O2 exhibition.

Elvis on Tour: The Exhibition will only be on display for a few more weeks, so get your tickets now!

16. Binge-worthy: Gates of Graceland

In this episode of the Gates of Graceland, Elvis' former bodyguard, Dick Grob, tells Graceland Director of Archives Angie Marchese and host Tom Brown about this samurai sword found at Graceland.

In this episode of the Gates of Graceland, Elvis’ former bodyguard, Dick Grob, tells Graceland Director of Archives Angie Marchese and host Tom Brown about this samurai sword found at Graceland.

Graceland’s web series, the Gates of Graceland, continues to delight fans with more behind-the-scenes action and artifacts. This year on the Gates of Graceland, host Tom Brown and Graceland Director of Archives Angie Marchese explained how a samurai sword ended up in the Graceland living room, let viewers in on the secrets of Presley Motors and The Guest House at Graceland and dedicated an entire episode to Elvis’ mother, Gladys. Elvis fans love the Gates of Graceland – we’ve had more than a million views so far!

Watch all of the Gates of Graceland episodes here.

15. KISS Me Quick

KISS is one of the latest additions to the Icons exhibit at Graceland.

KISS is one of the latest additions to the Icons exhibit at Graceland.

A popular new exhibit at Elvis Presley’s Memphis is Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley. The exhibit features artifacts from artists, actors and other stars who were influenced by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Those featured in the exhibit include KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Trisha Yearwood, Carrie Underwood and Justin Timberlake. The exhibit has become a favorite of young music fans, as it helps them connect to Elvis through their favorite stars.

14. The Guest House at Graceland Turns One

The luxury suites at The Guest House at Graceland were all inspired by Graceland and Elvis.

The luxury suites at The Guest House at Graceland were all inspired by Graceland and Elvis.

The Guest House at Graceland celebrated its first anniversary in October. In its opening year, the hotel hosted events for the Elvis Birthday Celebration and Elvis Week, and businesses and organizations from across the country hosted their events in the hotel. The hotel has also been awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating. Book your stay now!

13. Sold! The Auction at Graceland

The Auction at Graceland gives Elvis fans a chance to own a genuine Elvis artifact, and it also gives Graceland the chance to purchase items that belong back home at the king's castle.

The Auction at Graceland gives Elvis fans a chance to own a genuine Elvis artifact, and it also gives Graceland the chance to purchase items that belong back home at the king’s castle.

There were not one, not two, but three Auctions at Graceland this year. The auctions took place during Elvis Week (which was our largest auction ever!), the opening weekend of Elvis Presley’s Memphis and the Elvis Birthday Celebration. Elvis collectors from around the world snagged authentic Elvis artifacts such as jewelry, guns, books, awards and more. All of the items featured in these auctions are from third-party collectors; nothing is from the Graceland Archives.

Learn more about the next Auction at Graceland, set for January 6, during the Elvis Birthday Celebration.

12. Celebrity Visitors to Graceland

Mike Love of The Beach Boys was one of our many celebrity guests who stopped by this year. Love enjoyed a tour and spent time spinning tunes at Sirius XM Elvis Radio.

Mike Love of The Beach Boys was one of our many celebrity guests who stopped by this year. Love enjoyed a tour and spent time spinning tunes at Sirius XM Elvis Radio.

We say it all the time, but it’s true: You never know who you’ll see at Graceland. This year we welcomed many celebrity visitors, including “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus, Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things,” former One Direction member Niall Horan, Kesha, singer Aloe Blacc, Jon Bon Jovi, The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, “The Young and The Restless” star Gina Tognoni and comedian John Mulaney.

Marty Stuart and his band, The Fabulous Superlatives also stopped by for a tour, and to check out The Country Road to Rock Exhibit. The exhibit features many pieces from Marty’s extensive country music collection and tells the story of how country music influenced Elvis – and vice versa.

Check out a list of Graceland’s celebrity visitors
.

11. The Ultimate Return

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist champs like Dean Z had fans screaming for more during the Ultimate Return concert.

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist champs like Dean Z had fans screaming for more during the Ultimate Return concert.

This year’s Elvis Week was extra special for many reasons – for one, we brought back all 10 of our Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winners for a big concert, called The Ultimate Return. Fans loved the chance to re-live some of Elvis’ best performances through these guys, and the guys had a blast reuniting and celebrating the king.

In 2018, celebrate our winning ETAs with the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend Celebration, set for March 2-3.

10. Gordon Hendricks Wins 2017 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

Gordon Hendricks was our first Ultimate ETA Contest winner from the UK.

Gordon Hendricks was crowned the winner during Elvis Week.

And of course, we couldn’t forget to crown a winner of this year’s Ultimate ETA Contest: Gordon Hendricks. Gordon, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, was a barber who became known as the “Singing Barber of Stoke,” before becoming an Elvis tribute artist. He became a fan of Elvis as a child, and he loves paying tribute to the king.

9.  Elvis’ Birthday Celebration

The 2017 birthday cake celebrate the king's biggest hits.

The 2017 birthday cake celebrated the king’s biggest hits.

What do you get for an 82-year-old King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? A birthday cake covered in the sheet music of his biggest hits, of course.

This year’s stunning cake was the actual icing on the cake of this year’s celebrations. Fans from around the world gathered at Graceland to celebrate Elvis’ birthday with events like Club Elvis, a “Viva Las Vegas” sing-along and the Fan Club Presidents’ Event. Twins Gavin and Robin Koon, who starred with Elvis in “Follow That Dream,” were the special guests. This year’s birthday celebrations were also the first to take place at the new Guest House at Graceland.

The 2018 Elvis Birthday Celebration is right around the corner – learn more about it now.

8. 2017 Lighting Ceremony

Elvis' longtime friend George Klein flipped the switch on Graceland's lights with the help of Graceland CEO Jack Soden.

Elvis’ longtime friend George Klein flipped the switch on Graceland’s lights with the help of Graceland CEO Jack Soden.

Graceland’s annual Lighting Ceremony is always a special occasion – a night when Elvis’ beloved mansion lights up with Christmas lights and decorations. This year’s ceremony was even more special, as Elvis’ lifelong friend, legendary DJ George Klein, had the honor of flipping the switch. The evening also included kids’ activities and a visit from an Elvis-inspired Santa. Watch the Livestream now.

7. Graceland’s Holiday Concert Weekend

Fans from around the world gathered at Graceland for the first-ever Holiday Concert Weekend.

Fans from around the world gathered at Graceland for the first-ever Holiday Concert Weekend.

With our spacious new Soundstage at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, we’ve been eager to fill it with Elvis celebrations. This Christmas, Graceland hosted its first-ever Holiday Concert Weekend, which featured three concerts that celebrated the king’s biggest hits. The first concert, Christmas with Elvis, featured Elvis’ most loved Christmas performances with a live orchestra, dancers and choirs (in fact, all of the choirs and dancers were from Memphis. The middle school choir is from right here in Whitehaven). An Elvis Gospel Christmas event featured performances by Terry Blackwood & the Imperials and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. The weekend wrapped up with Elvis Live in Concert, which featured an all-star band with Elvis on the big screen.

The shows earned standing ovations, and the promise of a new tradition – the Holiday Concert Weekend will return in 2018!

Check out our Holiday Concert Weekend photo gallery.

6. Racquetball Building Renovations

See the Racquetball Building as few have before, thanks to the renovations done on the building.

See the Racquetball Building as few have before, thanks to the renovations done on the building.

To keep Graceland in its original state as much as possible, Elvis’ Racquetball Building received a major facelift this year. The small court had once held many of Elvis’ awards and jumpsuits, but after Elvis Presley’s Memphis opened, all of the items related to Elvis’ career were moved to Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. The racquetball court was renovated and restored to its original state, so guests can see where Elvis loved to work out. The Trophy Building also saw a few changes – the building now tells the story of the Presley family, starting with a family tree, artifacts from Elvis’ and Lisa’s childhoods, Elvis’ keys to Graceland, family photos and home videos, Elvis’ police badge collection and more.

5. Go on a Musical Journey with Graceland Excursions

The luxury Graceland Excursions motorcoach will take you on a musical - and educational - journey into Elvis' roots.

The luxury Graceland Excursions motorcoach will take you on a musical – and educational – journey into Elvis’ roots.

One of Graceland’s last feats of the year is Graceland Excursions. These are expertly guided, luxury motor coach tours of Tupelo, Mississippi – where Elvis was born – and of the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues. Each tour is hosted by a Graceland Archives team member, and you can experience everything from Elvis’ birthplace and the hardware store where Gladys bought him his first guitar, to Muddy Waters’ house and the Grammy Museum Mississippi. Whether you want to explore Elvis’ earliest stomping grounds or write and record your own blues song, there’s something for everybody on Graceland Excursions. We kicked off Graceland Excursions this month with our first trips, and starting in January 2018, we will offer weekly trips for both tours.

Make your plans to take a trip today – they are the perfect complement to the Graceland experience!

4. Elvis Week 2017

The Elvis Live in Concert event that took place at the FedEx Forum in Memphis during Elvis Week was a highlight for many fans.

The Elvis Live in Concert event that took place at the FedEx Forum in Memphis during Elvis Week was a highlight for many fans.

Elvis Week marked the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, and it was an emotional, but memorable, week. In addition to annual events such as the Candlelight Vigil, Elvis’ life and legacy were celebrated with a gospel concert, Salute to Sun concert, Elvis Songwriters’ Showcase, Elvis Fan Reunion and much more. Special guests included Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ friend and hairstylist Larry Geller, rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, songwriter Mac Davis and Elvis’ co-stars Marlyn Mason, Pat Priest, Laurel Goodwin and Gary Lockwood.

One of the crowning events of the week was the ELVIS: Live in Concert event, which featured Elvis on the big screen backed by a live orchestra. Elvis, as always, packed the venue, and fans, as always, sang along, cried and cheered on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The 2017 Elvis Week was the biggest one yet, and we’re already looking forward to the 2018 Elvis Week!

3. Candlelight Vigil 2017

Lisa Marie Presley and her children, Finley, Harper and Ben, paid tribute to Elvis during the Candlelight Vigil.

Lisa Marie Presley and her children, Finley, Harper and Ben, paid tribute to Elvis during the Candlelight Vigil.

The 39th annual Candlelight Vigil, which marked the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, was a family affair, with Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley and three of Lisa’s children, Ben, Harper and Finley, in attendance. Lisa and Priscilla spoke to the audience and thanked them for years of love and support. Lisa also carried a torch down from the Meditation Garden and allowed a few of the first fans in line to light their candle with the torch.

Watch the 2017 Candlelight Vigil Livestream.

2. Elvis’ White Piano Returns to Graceland

Be sure to keep an eye out for the beautiful baby grand in the Music Room when you tour Graceland.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the beautiful baby grand in the Music Room when you tour Graceland.

From the early 1930s through 1957, a lovely, white, baby grand piano was used by countless artists at Memphis’ Ellis Auditorium. Elvis purchased that piano in 1957, as he was eager to own something from a venue he had performed in regularly. The Knabe piano was put into storage 11 years later, and then it was sold in 1976. The piano changed hands several times over the years, but this year – 60 years after Elvis purchased it – the piano returned home to Graceland. The piano can now be seen in the Music Room at Graceland.

1. Elvis Presley’s Memphis Opens

From getting a 360 degree-view of Elvis' jumpsuits and cars to watching his movies on the big screen, fans have enjoyed exploring everything Elvis Presley's Memphis has to offer.

From getting a 360 degree-view of Elvis’ jumpsuits and cars to watching his movies on the big screen, fans have enjoyed exploring everything Elvis Presley’s Memphis has to offer.

If you haven’t visited Graceland lately, you haven’t visited Graceland.

On March 2, 2017, Graceland opened its new, 200,000 square foot, state-of-the-art exhibit and entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The complex allows our Archives Team to display more Elvis artifacts than ever before; in fact, some items have never been on display until now. The complex houses the world’s largest Elvis museum, Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, and a new, large automobile museum, called Presley Motors. There are discovery exhibits, too, including Private Presley, which focuses on Elvis’ Army days; Fashion King, which showcases Elvis’ personal style; and Mystery Train, an exhibit created with Sam Phillips’ family that tells the Sun Studio founder’s life story. You can also watch Elvis movies and concerts in the Soundstage.

Hungry? At Elvis Presley’s Memphis, check out our two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Stop at Minnie Mae’s Sweets Shop, named after Elvis’ grandmother, for dessert.

The entire experience allows us to tell a bigger story, starting before Elvis’ career, his rise to fame and incredible career, and his continuing legacy.

Elvis Presley’s Memphis is up for the Best New Attraction in USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, and we need your vote! Go to Graceland.com/Vote to cast your vote.

Make your plans to visit today – you’ve never experienced Graceland like this!

 

That about wraps it up for 2017 here at the king’s castle. Thank you, thank you very much for being a part of the magic!

What memories did you make at Graceland this year?

Share them in the comments, and we’ll shake, rattle and roll with you into 2018!


14 Comments

  1. Kathy Wells

    I visited GRACELAND in October of this year. It was my DREAM vacation and it was AMAZING. Loved everything about it and hoping to go again. I can’t describe the feeling one has after visiting GRACELAND.I’ve been a fan for a number of years and there is only ONE KING of ROCK N’ROLL.ELVIS PRESLEY.If anyone likes ELVIS .they should visit GRACELAND. they will not be disappointed.

  2. Frances Trakas

    Cannot wait to come see it all!!!!

  3. Robert Ellis

    My wife and I had the honor of attending the Christmas Concerts this year and Graceland and I just want you to know it was fantastic. The complex is quite an honor for Elvis and a place fans can go to feel his presence. I also watched the live stream of the 2017 candlelight vigil. Memphis and her children looked fantastic….We love you Memphis…..

  4. mary anne

    We attended the Elvis week 40 and it was wonderful
    The new exhibits, the restaurants, gift shops.
    Enjoyed the wonderful conversations and events and especially showing it all to our friends..first timers..who were celebrating their 50th anniversary. Wonderful to drop by the new sirius studio and meet up with our friend GK.Keep up the good work and special thanks to Angie for sharing the archives with the fans and taking such excellent care of Elvis’ precious memorabilia and Mike for being such a courteous host to the fan clubs. TCB4EP God Bless You All

  5. Our visit in November 2017 was a ‘bucket list’ experience. The scope of the Graceland and Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibitions was very satisfying. We were especially impressed by the professionalism and high quality of all the venues and exhibits. A worthy tribute to the King.

  6. matt goodrich

    WELL- WELL- WELL NOW !! COME ON?!!

  7. I went to Elvis week 2017 with my family and had a fun time. I love Elvis!!

  8. William Martin

    I continue to appreciate your attention to details about my main man Elvis. There is no ‘photoshopping’ and all details are accurate unlike many other blogs on line.

    This should insure that the memory of Elvis will be held in highest esteem by by this blog. Best wishes to you in 2018.

  9. Visit Memphis from uk every year and this year was fantasic seeing the new ‘Plaza’ ….. also Row A at the 02 ELvis the Concert ……. totally brilliant; Thanks Priscilla!!! x

  10. Gill & Louisa

    Visited Graceland in . November (3rd)time gets better every visit, the new complex is everything we hoped it would be,the guest house was lovely, a l ready for Christmas, and we arrived in time for the lighting ceremony.A fabulous vacation and what a way to end 2017.Elvis is our life,no one can ever come up to his standard.I visited with my daughter and granddaughter, three generations an d we all LOVE ELVIS, keep up the good work and can’t wait to visit again in 2018

  11. Patricia A Snow

    Love Graceland can not wait to come back

  12. judi Tabor

    I can hardly wait to get back to Graceland again and see all the new things that were not there in 2013. Even back then it was wonderful and overwhelming and I could hardly believe I was actually standing in Elvis’ home where he actually lived. We stayed in Memphis a full week and I went through the mansion at least 5 times and did everything else that pertained to Elvis. What a magical place. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to make it even better. Judi Tabor, Charleston, SC

  13. Claire Goertzen

    I visited Graceland & Entertainment Complex to celebrate my 60th Birthday. I was so glad I bought the 3 day pass as there is so much to see & I absolutely LOVED everything! Have certainly recommended it to friends & family.

  14. Ursula Toniolo & Dick Rigters

    My husband (Dutch) an I (German) visited Graceland on January 5, 2018. We both were positively surprised about the furnishings in the home of Elvis and that – somehow – we could still feel the presence of Elvis and how happy he must have felt here being together with all his beloved ones. Many thanks to Priscilla and to all the helping hands in Graceland – thank you so much for the preservation of this memory of Elvis!! I’m happy that we had the chance to visit the home of Elvis – up from then, when I listen to his Music it beams me there.

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