The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

‘Frankie and Johnny’ – Elvis Presley’s 20th Movie Turns 50

Everybody come aboard! “Frankie and Johnny” turns 50 this month. This colorful musical-comedy about riverboat performers, fortune-tellers and – of course – love, was released in March 1966. Elvis stars as Johnny alongside Donna Douglas (Frankie), Nancy Kovack (Nellie Bly), Harry Morgan (Cully) and Sue Ane Langdon (Mitzi). “Frankie and Johnny” was Elvis’ 20th movie, made just after “Harum Scarum” and before “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.” “Frankie and Johnny” grossed more than $2 million, and the soundtrack album spent 19 weeks on the chart. “Frankie and Johnny” is based on a folk song of the same name. Elvis’ version is just one of many versions of the traditional tune. All versions tell the tale of Frankie, who shoots Johnny when she finds out he’s romancing Nellie Bly, but in some versions, she’s also arrested and, in some, executed. The song’s lyrics blur the line between fiction and fact, but the lyrics are based on an actual murder case from 1899 in St. Louis, Missouri. In that case, a woman named Frankie shot her boyfriend, Johnny, when she caught him on a date with another woman. It was such a famous case that Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton recreated Frankie and Johnny’s story for one in a series of murals in 1934. The murals were placed at the state capitol, and a reproduction of this mural was on display during filming the movie. Luckily for Elvis fans, the movie is much more lighthearted, complete with a happy ending. In the film version, Johnny is a down-on-his-luck gambler who is told by a fortune-teller that a red-head will be his good luck charm. His girlfriend Frankie isn’t happy when Johnny starts to woo the red-headed Nellie Bly. Elvis had a few famous co-stars for this film. Donna Douglas has starred on many TV shows over the years, but audiences fell for her as Elly May on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Harry Morgan enjoyed a long, prolific career”, with roles in TV shows like “M*A*S*H,” “Dragnet” and “Gunsmoke.” The glamorous Nancy Kovack had roles on TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Star Trek,” and in films like “Jason and the Argonauts,” “Diary of a Madman” and “Enter Laughing.” And Elvis fans recognize Sue Ane Langdon – she also starred in Elvis’ film “Roustabout.” Robert Strauss, who starred as Blackie, played Sam in Elvis’ “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Frederick De Cordova directed “Frankie and Johnny,” as well...
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Elvis Presley’s First Album

“Well it’s a-one for the money…” So starts an album that changed history – Elvis Presley’s very first album. With its raw and exciting mix of country and blues, this was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made, and it helped catapult the young 21-year-old singer to stardom. “Elvis Presley,” the album, turns 60 years old this month. On November 21, 1955, Elvis’ contract at Sun was purchased by RCA, and he was officially on a major label. RCA paid $35,000 – an unheard of amount at the time – for the soon-to-be-crowned King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.   He’d recorded many songs at Sun, but not all of them had been released by the time he signed with RCA. RCA re-released all five of his original Sun singles on their label in December 1955 after they bought his contract. He had his first RCA recording sessions in January 1956, and he’d cut what would become one of his biggest hits, “Heartbreak Hotel.” As “Heartbreak Hotel” climbed the charts, Elvis also made his national TV debut on the Dorsey Brothers’ “Stage Show,” with six appearances in the first three months of 1956. To capture some of this early Elvis energy, RCA put together Elvis’ eponymous first album, with a mix of Sun Studio cuts and some of the tunes he’d recorded in those first RCA studio sessions. RCA actually struggled to re-create that clean, crisp Sun sound, so those first few recording sessions took a bit of work on the label’s part. “I Love You Because,” “Just Because,” “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)” “Trying to Get to You” and “Blue Moon” were the Sun Studio cuts included on Elvis’ album. “Heartbreak Hotel,” though it was a hit, wasn’t included on the album and remained a single. “Elvis Presley,” which has gone both Gold and Platinum since its March 23, 1956, release, features one of the most iconic album covers of all time. The famous photo was taken while Elvis and his band were performing in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 1955. Many other musicians have created their own versions of this cover, like The Clash’s 1979 album “London Calling,” which features “London Calling” in pink and green letters and Clash bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass on stage at The Palladium in New York City.   Elvis’ album cover ranks No. 40 in Rolling...
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Elvis Presley’s Audubon Home

These days, everyone knows the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived in his own castle: Graceland. But when you’re somewhere between up-and-coming star and legendary rock star, where do you call home? The answer: 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, Tennessee.   Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13, and for the next eight years, the family lived in several apartments and homes. But in early 1956, Elvis found success with a little tune you may have heard – “Heartbreak Hotel” – and he used the profits from that to purchase a home for his family in Memphis. This home was the first owned by the Presleys in Memphis. Elvis purchased the home from the Welsh Plywood Corporation for $29,500, on March 12, 1956. He paid a $500 down payment on March 3. The Audubon Drive home, built in 1954, has four bedrooms and two and a half baths. It didn’t have a fence at first, but as Elvis’ popularity grew, he added one. The fence even included some music notes, though those have since been removed. Elvis also had a pool installed.   Elvis’ neighbors on Audubon Drive truly had a rock star as a neighbor. He’d already made his first national television appearances. His first album arrived in stores about a week and a half after he purchased the house. He performed hundreds of concerts across the country. Audubon Drive was his home while he made his first movie, “Love Me Tender.” After he jammed out with his fellow Memphis musicians in the Million Dollar Quartet, he went home to – you guessed it – Audubon Drive. Elvis and his parents lived on Audubon Drive for about a year before they purchased Graceland, which he called home for the rest of his life. Today, 1034 Audubon Drive is privately owned. If you love learning about Elvis, his life and his music, come to Memphis and visit Graceland. Watch our first “Hidden Graceland” episode of our web series, Gates of Graceland to see a special mirror that Elvis brought with him from Audubon to...
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Elvis Presley’s Tour Dates in 1956

The music industry in 2016 is very different from the music industry in 1956, but one thing is still true: Touring is practically a must if you want to find new fans. Elvis Presley’s career was just starting to soar in 1956. It was an incredibly busy year, both professionally and personally. Not only did he record and release some of his most legendary songs, but he also released his first album and made his first movie. He also purchased his first home. Fans heard his music on the radio and watched his national television appearances, but Elvis also gained thousands of new fans by doing quite a bit of touring in 1956. Including travels to New York City and Los Angeles to appear on television shows, Elvis made over 110 tour stops in 1956. That’s quite a lot – and not only that, he often performed several times in one day, performing, for example, in the afternoon and evenings (bringing the number of concerts he actually performed in 1956 up to over 200). That workload is almost unheard of today; most artists only perform once per tour stop. The map below gives an idea of Elvis’ tour stops in 1956. Just based on traveling from city to city (not venue to venue) to perform at a concert, Elvis traveled roughly more than 41,000 miles (over 67,000 km) and visited 26 states as well as Washington D.C.   View Full Size Travel Map at Travellerspoint Here are a few more details about Elvis’ 1956 tour: Elvis’ first performance in 1956 took place in St. Louis, Missouri on January 1. His final performance of 1956 was December 15 and was in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the Louisiana Hayride. He often returned to Shreveport for Hayride performances between January and March. His last regular appearance on the Hayride was in March, followed by his final appearance there in December. At the end of the December show, Horace Logan first made the now legendary phrase, “Elvis has left the building.” Elvis performed on a variety of stages in ’56. He performed everywhere from TV sets to auditoriums to high school gymnasiums to a university’s field house. The size of the towns varied, too, from major cities like Atlanta, Detroit and San Diego to small towns like Randolph, Mississippi (not far from Tupelo, where he was born). Elvis returned to Tupelo for a concert on September 26,...
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Elvis Presley and the Grammy Awards

Seeing Elvis’ many awards and Gold and Platinum Records is one of the most memorable aspects of touring Graceland. Whether it’s the Hall of Gold – a long hallway full of Gold records and awards – or the Trophy Room in the Racquetball Building – where awards and Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records cover the walls up to the ceiling – both locations leave fans in awe of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Right now at Graceland, fans can see three of Elvis’ most prestigious awards: his Grammy Awards, all of which he won for his gospel music. He was nominated for many more songs and albums, though – do you know which ones? The 58th annual Grammy Awards are Monday, February 15, so let’s take a look at these awards and how Elvis has been honored. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences present the Grammy Awards to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. It’s the music equivalent to the Academy Awards, given for achievement in film, the Emmy Awards, for television, and the Tony Awards, for stage performance. The first Grammy Awards ceremony was in the spring of 1959, so some of Elvis’ earliest hits (like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and many more) couldn’t have been nominated. But Elvis was nominated in that first year: “A Fool Such as I” was a nominee for Record of the Year (which lost to Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife”) and “A Big Hunk O’ Love” was nominated for both Best Performance by a Top 40 Artist and Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. In 1960, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll earned several Grammy nods. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was nominated for Record of the Year; Best Vocal Performance Single Record or Track, Male; and Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist. The instrumental “The Theme from A Summer Place” won that year for Record of the Year. Also in 1960, “G.I. Blues” was nominated for Best Vocal Performance Album, Male; and Best Sound Track Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television. The next year, “Blue Hawaii” was also nominated for Best Sound Track Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television. It lost to the “West Side Story” soundtrack. Elvis became a Grammy winner in 1967. His second gospel record, “How Great Thou Art” won Best Sacred Performance....
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The Artist and the Businessman: Elvis Presley Meets Col. Tom Parker

Elvis Presley wasted no time winning over fans right from the beginning, thanks to his voice, energetic stage show, style, revolutionary sound and charm. But the music business is just that – a business – and every artist needs a manager to help take care of the details. From mapping out a tour route to arguing for higher appearance fees, the manager takes care of the business side of things so the artist can focus on the music. At the beginning of Elvis’ career, he met a man who would help him see his goals through to fruition. On February 6, 1955, Elvis met the man who would become his third and final manager: Col. Tom Parker. On February 6, 1955, Elvis and his band performed two shows at Memphis’ Ellis Auditorium, a venue the guys knew well. At both the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows, Elvis and his band, Bill Black and Scotty Moor, shared the bill with country star Faron Young, “Beautiful Gospel Singer” Martha Carson, Ferlin Huskey “and many more,” as the poster promised. Elvis, still a young performer, is billed last, as “Memphis’ Own.” The poster included that he’d perform his regional hits “Heartbreaker” and “Milk Cow Boogie,” which he did, along with “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” A bit of history happened in between those shows. Oscar Davis, an associate of Col. Tom Parker, had seen Elvis perform in October 1954, and met Elvis backstage through Elvis’ manager, Bob Neal. Neal knew Parker, who had many, many connections in the entertainment business, could take Elvis to the next level, and wanted the young singer and the promoter to meet. Davis raved about Elvis to Parker and his fellow associate, Tom Diskin. Parker and Diskin checked out Elvis’ performance on the Louisiana Hayride on January 15, 1955, but didn’t meet Elvis and his band just yet. He did, however, reach out to Neal. That fateful meeting took place on February 6, in between Elvis’ two sets. Neal, Parker, Diskin, Davis and Sun Records’ Sam Phillips met across the street from Ellis Auditorium at a café called Palumbo’s. Elvis and his bandmates sat in for a portion of this meeting. The meeting wasn’t exactly a success. Parker explained he had the connections to take Elvis’ career to the next level, connections that a small label like Sun didn’t have. Naturally, Phillips didn’t like hearing...
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From Coast to Coast: Elvis Presley’s First National TV Appearance

Elvis’ 1956 was full of firsts: his first album, his first movie and his first national television appearance. Elvis made appearances on local and regional TV shows before his first national appearance on the Dorsey Brothers’ “Stage Show.” But for many fans across the United States, “Stage Show” gave them the first look at the young Elvis. “Stage Show” started in 1954 as a summer replacement for “The Jackie Gleason Show.” Gleason served as the show’s executive producer, and he brought it back in 1955 with bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey as hosts. Elvis’ first appearance on “Stage Show” was January 28, 1956. He traveled with his bandmates, Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana and Bill Black, from Memphis to New York by car and arrived the day before. The band rehearsed on the morning of January 28, and show time was 8 p.m. It was a rainy night, and Elvis was still relatively unknown, so there wasn’t a big crowd there to see the 21-year-old. Other guests on the show were singer Sarah Vaughan and comic Gene Sheldon. Cleveland DJ Bill Randle introduced Elvis: “We’d like at this time to introduce you to a young fellow who, like many young performers – Johnny Ray among them – came out of nowhere to be an overnight big star. This young fellow we saw for the first time while making a movie short. We think tonight he’s going to make television history for you. We’d like you to meet him now – Elvis Presley.” On that first performance, Elvis sang “Shake, Rattle and Roll” – and segued into “Flip, Flop and Fly” in the middle of it – and “I Got a Woman.” Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” was just released, but he didn’t perform it. Elvis appeared on “Stage Show” five more times: February 4, February 11, February 18, March 17 and March 24. On his second performance, Elvis performed “Tutti Frutti” and “Baby Let’s Play House.” A week later, Elvis finally performed “Heartbreak Hotel,” as well as “Blue Suede Shoes.” For his fourth performance a week later, he again sang “Tutti Frutti” and “I Was the One,” a B-side to his new single. By the time of his sixth performance on March 17, “Heartbreak Hotel” was becoming a huge hit, so he performed it again, along with “Blue Suede Shoes.” For his last “Stage Show” performance on March 24, Elvis sang “Heartbreak...
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Top Valentine’s Day Gifts for Elvis Fans

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day, Elvis fans! Show your sweetie how much you care with a gift from Shop Graceland. We’ve listed the best Valentine’s Day gifts for any Elvis fan, so start shopping! And if you’re celebrating Singles Awareness Day, treat yourself and pick up something special just for you. Look for a special Valentine’s giveaway in this post, too! For Her Graceland Elvis Collage Tote Bag – $24.99 Everyone has a favorite Elvis era, whether it’s his early years, the late 60s or the Vegas era. You can celebrate them all with this great designer bag by Robin Ruth. It’s accented by a metallic Gold imprint that covers exterior pockets around the entire bag. This tote bag is as handy as it is stylish. See this item on Shop Graceland.   Lowell Hays Gold Plated Pavé Heart Charm – $40.00 You can never go wrong with something sparkly for Valentine’s Day, and this charm delivers. The heart features 40 pavé set crystals and Elvis’ name engraved on the back. The charm comes in both silver and gold, so you can easily match it with your honey’s other accessories. See this item on Shop Graceland – gold or silver.   Elvis Pink Serenity Women’s T-Shirt – $24.99 Move over, Valentine – you know, deep down, that Elvis rules her heart. This sweet, sentimental pink Elvis shirt makes for a terrific Valentine’s Day gift. See this item on Shop Graceland.   Lowell Hayes Gold Plated Crystal TLC Necklace – $100.00 Tender, loving care – that’s how Elvis believed ladies should be treated. Elvis gave “TLC” necklaces to the women in his life, and you can do the same for your Valentine. This 18-karat gold plated crystal TLC necklace is made from the original mold Elvis’ jeweler, Lowell Hays, used when making jewelry for Elvis. See this item on Shop Graceland.   Heart Elvis Crystal Embellished Silvertone Watch by Sandy Martindale – $170.00 Wear your love for Elvis on your sleeve with this eye-catching, sparkling watch. The watch is part of Sandy Martindale’s line of accessories dedicated to her former boyfriend and longtime friend, Elvis. The meticulously placed Swarovski Crystal Elements encircle the face and, on either side of it, spell out Elvis and create a beautiful heart design. It’s a very special, gorgeous gift that your fashionista Valentine will adore. See this item on Shop Graceland. For Him Elvis Presley’s Graceland...
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Elvis Presley’s 1956

Elvis Presley accomplished more in one year than many artists do in a lifetime. He released both his first album and movie. He made his national television debut. He recorded hit songs, collaborated with some of the most talented musicians of his day and toured relentlessly. He purchased his first home in Memphis. 1956 was a big year for Elvis Presley, personally and professionally. This year marks the 60th anniversary of these accomplishments, and we’ll tackle some of them in-depth in future blog posts. For now, prepare to be amazed at how the 21-year-old King of Rock ‘n’ Roll conquered the world in 1956. “Heartbreak Hotel” The world was still trying to figure out the young king in ’56, but he was out to prove himself as a force to be reckoned with. In just this one year, he recorded and released classic songs, such as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” “Heartbreak Hotel” was recorded on January 10 at Elvis’ first recording session for RCA. King of the Road Elvis’ busy touring schedule carried over from 1955 into 1956. He crisscrossed the country countless times, performing everywhere from baseball parks to large auditoriums. He played small communities and big cities alike. Just a few of the places he played in ‘56 include Raleigh, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Richmond, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, Texas; Sarasota, Florida; Dayton, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; Savannah, Georgia; St. Paul, Minnesota; New Orleans, Louisiana; Denver, Colorado; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami, Florida; Houston, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; and, of course, Memphis. He actually collapsed from exhaustion on February 23, 1956, after performing in Jacksonville, Florida. The doctor who treated him recommended that he slow down. That’s easier said than done, of course. Elvis was still part of the Louisiana Hayride, but he made his last regular appearance in March 1956. His final Louisiana Hayride performance was December 15, 1956. Elvis also made his debut in Las Vegas in April 1956. On the Small Screen Elvis’ first national television appearance was on January 28, 1956, on “Stage Show,” and he continued to appear on the show through February and March. He made two appearances on the “Milton Berle Show,” followed by a “Steve Allen Show” appearance. He finished out 1956 with two appearances on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” “Elvis Presley” Elvis’ first album hit record stores on March 23,...
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How Elvis Presley Celebrated His Birthday

Happy birthday, Elvis! Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys and Vernon Presley. That’s just the beginning of Elvis’ legendary life, one full of music, movies and memorable birthdays. For all of the celebrating Elvis did at Christmas and New Year’s Eve, though, Elvis usually celebrated his birthdays pretty quietly. But there were a few extra special birthdays – complete with special gifts and parties – that meant a lot to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. One of the most special birthdays Elvis ever celebrated was his 11th. He actually didn’t get what he wanted for his birthday, but maybe he got what he needed. Some say Elvis asked for a rifle or a bicycle that year, but Elvis’ mother, Gladys, instead bought him a guitar. He spent the next year teaching himself how to play the guitar – a skill that would become handy in his career. In 1949, for his 14th birthday, Elvis received a book of cartoons by George Price from his father. Vernon wrote inside the book, “May your birthday be sprinkled through ‘n’ through with joy and love and good times, too. Daddy.” Elvis loved this book, and even took with with him to Germany when he was there serving in the U.S. Army- but, unfortunately, Elvis lost the book there. Speaking of Germany, Elvis’ fans celebrated the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s birthday even while he was away serving the country. “American Bandstand,” hosted by Dick Clark, aired a special birthday tribute to Elvis in 1959. Elvis was filming “Wild in the Country” in 1961, and on his birthday, the cast and crew threw him a birthday party on the set. The festivities included a cake and they gave him a plaque that read, “Happy Birthday, King Karate.” The next year, Elvis celebrated his 27th birthday at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, cutting a huge cake from Sahara owner Milton Prell. Many years, Elvis chose to celebrate his birthday quietly at his beloved Graceland. He often rented out a local movie theater so he and his friends could watch the latest movies. In 1974, the king turned 39, and the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County declared it “Elvis Presley Day.” The day included a parade down Elvis Presley Boulevard to Graceland, and his high school alma mater, Humes, had their band play “Happy Birthday.” Elvis watched...
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