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!

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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Elvis Presley’s Guitars

It’s hard to picture Elvis Presley without a guitar in his hand. From his iconic first album cover to his many movies, from the ’68 Special to “Aloha from Hawaii,” from Graceland to Vegas, Elvis always had a guitar nearby, and he was always ready to play. He enjoyed playing both the guitar and bass guitar. Elvis received his first guitar when he was 11, and for many years, that was his only guitar. But as he grew older – and eventually became the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – he started collecting guitars, and many of them are part of pop culture history. Here are a few of the guitars made famous by the king.   1955 Martin D-28   Elvis used a 1942 Martin D-18 in 1954-55, until he traded it in for the newer D-28 in 1955 at O.K. Houck Piano Co. in Memphis, and he used it for a little over a year. Elvis often purchased his instruments from that store. This guitar is the one Elvis is playing on the cover of his first album. It’s also well-known for its gorgeous leather cover, handmade by an employee at the music store where Elvis purchased the guitar.   1956 Gibson J200   This guitar definitely looks like it belongs to a member of rock ‘n’ roll royalty. Elvis loved this guitar and used it often. He used it in many of his 1957 concerts and appearances. After returning home from the Army, he asked his guitarist Scotty Moore to send the well-worn guitar out to be refurbished. The work wasn’t done in time for Elvis’ March 20 recording session in Nashville, so he was given a brand-new 1960 J200 that looked almost identical. Meanwhile, the 1956 model got a beautiful facelift: Gibson replaced the red pick guard with a new black one, and Elvis’ name was inlaid on the finger board. The stylish new guitar was debuted in publicity shots for “Wild in the Country” and can be seen in “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is.” He loved the 1960 J200, too, so he kept it. He used it in the ’68 Special and many live performances. These guitars were favorites of the king. They’re both part of the permanent archival collection at Graceland. See the 1956 guitar on display now at Elvis at The O2 in London (which closes on January 10, 2016!).   Fender Precision...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland – Top 15 Moments of 2015

Wow – where did the year go? It seems like yesterday we were celebrating Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday, and now we’re just a few weeks from the 2016 Elvis Birthday Celebration. 2015 was a busy year here at Graceland, full of many special and unforgettable moments. From new music to new exhibits, from Elvis’ birthday to Elvis Week, 2015 gave us many reasons to celebrate. Stroll down memory lane with us as we look back at our top 15 moments of 2015. Elvis Turns 80   We kicked off 2015 with the Elvis Birthday Celebration. The Presley family celebrated at the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony, where Lisa and Priscilla cut Elvis’ beautiful birthday cake. The festivities continued with the Official Graceland Insiders Reception, Fan Club Presidents’ Event and screenings of “Jailhouse Rock” and “Viva Las Vegas.” Elvis’ First Acetate   Elvis’ very first acetate went on the auction block at the Auction at Graceland in January. The winning bidder was none other than award-winning musician, songwriter and producer Jack White, who, through his Third Man Records label, reissued copies of the acetate for Record Store Day on April 18 (the acetate was also put on display at Third Man Records in Nashville for Record Store Day only). It was just announced that the acetate reissue’s packaging – which also an exact copy of the original packaging – is nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package. Graceland: World’s Best Music Attraction   In summer 2015, Graceland was voted # 1 in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice contest for World’s Best Musical Attraction from a field of iconic music-themed landmarks. USA Today readers were asked to cast their online ballot for their favorite global music attraction from a pool of 20 museums, historic studios and epic record stores – and the king’s castle was voted as the world’s must-see. As the king himself would say, “Thank you, thank you very much.” Graceland was also named Best Southern Historic Attraction in this year’s 10Best Readers’ Choice. Elvis Commemorative “Forever” Stamp   In 1993, the first Elvis commemorative stamp was released, and it became the best-selling commemorative U.S. stamp of all time. In 2015, Elvis was honored with a second U.S. commemorative stamp – a very rare honor. The Elvis Forever stamp is part of the United States Postal Service’s Music Icons series. The stamp was officially released with a ceremony at Graceland during Elvis...
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Memphis Jones’ Favorite Things to Do at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

There’s a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland… and then there’s a Memphis Jones tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Memphis Jones loves Elvis and Graceland, and he sees the king’s castle like no one else. Even when he’s not hosting one of our online videos for Elvis Week or any of our other special events, he loves visiting Graceland, where he can soak up even more Elvis knowledge and meet Elvis fans from across the globe. Memphis isn’t an official tour guide here at Graceland – we have our award-winning iPad tours narrated by John Stamos for that – but we asked Memphis to give fans his own tour of Graceland. Check out his Favorite Things to Do at Graceland video below, and follow Memphis on Facebook and Twitter.     Experience Graceland for yourself! Book your visit...
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The Chairman and The King: Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley

When the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll returned from his stint in the Army, he was welcomed home by none other than the Chairman of the Board. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, two of the most beloved and respected artists in music, teamed up for a television special back in 1960, and the show resulted in a truly unique and special duet. In celebration of Sinatra’s 100th birthday on Saturday, December 12, let’s look at this historic “Welcome Home Elvis” special. It was announced in July 1959 that Elvis would appear on Frank Sinatra’s variety TV show upon his release from the Army. He didn’t have to wait long: He was released on March 5 and returned home to Graceland on March 8, and the show was taped on March 26. “The Frank Sinatra Timex Show” – the variety show was sponsored by Timex –  was filmed at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Florida. Elvis traveled to Miami on March 21, and rehearsed for several days before the March 26 taping. He shared the stage with, of course, Sinatra, as well as his daughter, Nancy, who would later become his co-star in “Speedway” in 1968. Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford were also special guests. On the show, Elvis performed “Stuck on You” and “Fame and Fortune,” the two sides of his first post-Army single. Jazz and rock ‘n’ roll collided when Frank Sinatra and Elvis sang a mash-up of their hit singles, “Witchcraft” and “Love Me Tender,” respectively. Sinatra sang “Love Me Tender,” while Elvis crooned “Witchcraft.” It’s so interesting to see these two great singers offer such different versions of each other’s greatest hits. See this duet in the video below. Elvis was paid $125,000 for this show, an unheard of amount in the entertainment industry in 1960. The special aired on May 12, 1960 with high ratings, drawing an impressive 41.5 percent of the American viewing audience that evening. While Elvis and Sinatra never worked together again, they often kept in touch over the years. Sinatra let Elvis and Priscilla borrow his private jet in 1967 to go from Palm Springs to Las Vegas to get married, and travel back to Palm Springs for their honeymoon. Elvis’ personal record collection here at Graceland contains many Sinatra records, and, of course, both men sang powerful versions of “My Way.” Want to learn more about the King of...
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Elvis Presley, the Musician

Elvis Presley built a legendary career around his unforgettable voice, but it wasn’t his only instrument. What instruments did Elvis play? He played guitar, bass and piano, and often toyed with instruments like the drums, accordion and ukulele. While he couldn’t read or write music and had no formal lessons, he was a natural musician and played everything by ear. He could often hear a song, pick up an instrument, and play. He often played an instrument in his recordings, and always produced his own music. Elvis was simply born to create music and he was always learning new ways to do it. Endlessly creative, Elvis often jumped at the chance to play around and practice with whatever musical instruments were available. Elvis famously picked up a guitar as an 11-year-old in Tupelo, when his mother, Gladys, purchased a guitar for him for his birthday from Tupelo Hardware. He used that guitar all through high school, and even in his early career.  He owned many more, and much nicer, guitars during his career, and used many prop guitars in his movies. The guitar is the instrument most associated with Elvis, and while he was a good player, he wasn’t a virtuoso. But what may be more important than that was the whole appearance: Elvis, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, always looked even cooler with his guitar in hand. He influenced many young fans to pick up a guitar, just like he did. If it wasn’t for Elvis and his guitar, we probably wouldn’t have The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and many, many more. Speaking of guitars, Elvis played bass, too. On May 3, 1957, Elvis and his band were working on a soundtrack session for “Jailhouse Rock.” Bill Black had a difficult time laying down the bass line for “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care” on his new electric bass, and he eventually gave up, frustrated. Elvis surprised everyone by picking up the bass and playing the part – so perfect that Jerry Lieber performed a scratch vocal, and the two recorded the perfect instrumental master for Elvis to sing a new vocal track over. When The Beatles visited Elvis in California in 1965, they all jammed, with Elvis on bass. “He had a massive amplifier with a bass plugged into it, and he was up playing bass all the time…” John Lennon later recalled. “So we just...
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Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Elvis Fans 2015

Merry Christmas, baby – the holidays are here! Shop Graceland has a variety of Elvis and Graceland gifts that are perfect for the Elvis fan on your list. Many items at the shop are Graceland Exclusives, and there’s nothing better than getting a gift directly from the king’s castle. Happy shopping! 10) Women’s Elvis Tupelo Boot – Blue Suede – $239.95 Elvis’ style was always one step ahead, and now you can be, too, with these gorgeous cowgirl boots. The handcrafted, genuine leather boots feature fashionable fringe, blue leather and gold studs. Fringe is in right now, and these boots feature fringe all around the top. The snip toe gives these boots a sleek look. See this product on Shop.Graceland.com.   9) Graceland Crystal Paperweight – $12.99 Here’s a gift that’s perfect for any office or study. This crystal paperweight features a 3-D image of Graceland and logo inside, and it’s accented by a beautiful blue tone in the bottom of the crystal. This elegant gift is ready for giving with a keepsake box. See this product on Shop.Graceland.com.   8) Graceland Peacock Stained Glass – Left Side and Right Side – $59.99 each Bring a bit of Graceland into your own home with these beautiful stained peacock stained glass pieces, inspired by the entry window panels at Graceland. These are Graceland Exclusives and  must-haves for Elvis fans! See these products on Shop.Graceland.com – left side and right side.   7) “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” 45th Anniversary Collage T-Shirt – $24.99 Celebrate the 45th anniversary of “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” with this vintage-style tee! The full front image features multiple tonal Elvis images, accented by gold text and highlights, including the Graceland logo printed on the back. This Graceland Exclusive is a great way to commemorate Elvis’ Vegas years and the classic documentary! See this product on Shop.Graceland.com.   6) Elvis Graceland Studded Handbag – $65.00 Carry Elvis and Graceland with you! This Graceland Exclusive features studded accents and a stunning publicity image of Elvis from his first movie, “Love Me Tender.” This eye-catching bag is functional, too, with zippered pockets inside and out and interior sleeve pockets. If you love fashion and Elvis, you’ll love this bag. Oh, and how about the matching wallet, too? See this product on Shop.Graceland.com.   5) “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” CD or LP...
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