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!

Elvis Presley’s Flying Graceland

Elvis Presley ruled the music charts, the stage and the screen, so it’s only appropriate that he ruled the skies, too. Forty years ago this month, Elvis took off in his own custom private jet for the first time. The Lisa Marie, which he nicknamed his “Flying Graceland,” took Elvis to concerts and family vacations, all in incredible rock ‘n’ roll style. These days, plenty of celebrities have their own jets. But Elvis proved you could travel in style with his beautifully decorated Lisa Marie. In April 1975, Elvis purchased a Convair 880 jet, taken out of service by Delta, for $250,000. He named the plane after his daughter, Lisa Marie. Elvis spent more than $800,000 on remodeling the plane from an ordinary plane to a rock star’s private jet, complete with two half-baths, a lounge area, a conference room, sitting room (which could be turned into a guest bedroom) and a master bedroom. The plane is gorgeously decorated with lush blues, greens and gold. The Lisa Marie features gold-plated belt buckles and accessories, suede sofas, leather-topped tables, a quadraphonic 8-track stereo system, a sky-to-ground phone system and more. The tail features an American flag and Elvis’ famous TCB – “taking care of business in a flash” – logo. He also had the registration number changed to N880EP, and sometimes called it “The Pride of Elvis Presley Airways.” Elvis’ first flight on the Lisa Marie was on November 27, 1975, to Las Vegas. He had two weeks’ worth of concerts to perform there. One of the most memorable trips Elvis made on the Lisa Marie was with the plane’s namesake. He realized that Lisa Marie had never experienced a winter with real snow – Memphis rarely sees snow – so he flew his daughter to Denver, Colorado on the Lisa Marie. The two played in the snow and returned to Graceland soon after. Elvis dreamed of having his own fleet; he purchased five planes over the years. Another of his planes, a 1960 Lockheed Jetstar, which he named the Hound Dog II (the Lisa Marie is Hound Dog I), is also at Graceland and open for tours. The Lisa Marie went on display at Graceland in 1984. It arrived to its destination with much fanfare: the media and fans lined up to watch as the plane was brought down Elvis Presley Boulevard. Like Graceland itself, the Lisa Marie is a “must-see” for every...
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While Elvis Presley Served

In the 60-plus years of rock ‘n’ roll, no one has had a career quite like Elvis Presley’s. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll topped the charts, sold out movie theaters and drew record-breaking audiences. As his career began to skyrocket, he put everything on hold to serve his country in the United States Army. Like the veterans we remember and honor today, Veterans Day, Elvis focused on serving his country during his Army days. He let his record label, RCA, and his manager, Col. Tom Parker take care of business back home. It was up to them to keep Elvis on the charts and in the public’s attention span. But his fans, back in America and all over the world, were never far from his heart. In December 1957, the Memphis Draft Board announced that Elvis would soon receive his draft notice. Elvis told reporters that his service was “a duty I’ve got to fill and I’m going to do it.” Ahead of his March 1958 induction into the Army, another reporter asked Elvis if he believed his popularity would fade while he served. “That’s the $64 question,” Elvis said. “I wish I knew.” Elvis’ last recording session for two years was in Nashville in June 1958, and he and his band cut five tunes between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. The future hits included “A Big Hunk o’ Love” and “I Need Your Love Tonight.” Parker and RCA made a deal to slowly release the collection of singles over the next two years, so fans could still get fresh Elvis music while Elvis focused on being a soldier. RCA wanted Elvis to continue recording while in Germany, but Elvis wanted to be like any other soldier while he was there. One of Elvis’ best-reviewed films, “King Creole,” and two volumes of soundtrack EPs were released in summer 1958, as Elvis completed Basic Unit Training. A Christmas EP, “Christmas with Elvis,” shipped to stores in September. At a press conference just before he left for Germany, Elvis again thought of his fans. “I hope I’m not out of their minds,” he said. “And I’ll be looking forward to the time when I can come back and entertain again like I did.” That fall, Parker released “Elvis Sails,” a special EP featuring Elvis’ embarkation press conference. The album art’s reverse side featured a 1959 calendar – a smart way to keep Elvis...
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Vote Elvis Presley for President

The 2016 United States Presidential election is only one year away. Have you decided which candidate will get your vote? Consider Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. As you’ll find at the Elvis for President campaign website, Graceland.com/President, Elvis for President isn’t a new idea. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, often handed out “Elvis for President” buttons, and fans often made “Elvis for President” signs. They were all on to something: Elvis for President is a great idea. Elvis was the ideal presidential candidate: He was a proud American who served in the United States Army; he gave back to his community; and he actually had the backing of, and connections with, a few U.S. Presidents. In 1961, President Lyndon Johnson wrote Elvis a letter to thank him for his fundraising efforts for the USS Arizona memorial. When Elvis learned Johnson kept three TVs in the White House, he was inspired – he immediately purchased three TVs for Graceland, too. Those three TVs are in the TV Room at Graceland. Elvis starred alongside President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Maureen in the 1964 comedy “Kissin’ Cousins.” On December 21, 1970, Elvis famously met President Richard Nixon at the White House. The historic meeting is one of the most famous moments in both presidential and pop culture history. Also in attendance were Elvis’ friend Jerry Schilling and Egil “Bud” Krogh, a White House official and FBI liaison. The pair recalled the historic meeting at Elvis Week 2012. Watch below. In January 1971, Elvis was honored by the United States Jaycees as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Nation. It was the only award Elvis ever accepted in person, and it was at the awards luncheon that he met U.N. Ambassador George Bush (who would later become President). Bush warned politicians to “watch out” if Elvis ever decided to enter politics. “They would have to regroup their forces,” he said. When the world mourned Elvis’ death in 1977, President Jimmy Carter eloquently summed up Americans’ feelings. “Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable,” he said. Elvis “permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of his country.” Presidents continue to pay respect to the king. President Bill Clinton admires Elvis so much he’s adopted the...
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Giving in Elvis Presley’s Name

Elvis Presley’s influence is worldwide and never-ending. If you need proof, just look at the hundreds of Elvis fan clubs across the globe. These groups, made up of fans of every age, celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and honor his memory with charitable donations. Each year, fan clubs hold special events, raise money and donate to thousands of organizations – both in their own hometowns and in Memphis – and donate the money in Elvis’ name. They’re simply following the excellent example set by Elvis himself. In celebration of Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 24, here are just a few of the fan clubs who are doing great charitable work.   Tupelo Elvis Fan Club   The fan club in Elvis’ hometown seems to work endlessly at raising money for good causes. The group spearheaded the effort to get an Elvis Presley specialty license plate in Mississippi, and the money raised from that – as well as many other efforts – help fund their donations. The Tupelo Elvis Fan Club donates $10,000 in yearly scholarships for Mississippi high school seniors, and they also donate $10,000 a year to the North Mississippi Regional Rehab Center. The group has pledged to give $13,000 a year for 10 years to the Tupelo Aquatic Center, a new facility that is located near the Elvis Presley Birthplace. And speaking of the birthplace, the fan club gives $5,000 a year to the Elvis Presley Birthplace Foundation to fund a child enrichment program. The group also donates to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, a hospital Elvis always supported. Overall, this one club donates $40,000 annually to charitable organizations.   Taking Care of Presley Memorial Fan Club   Fans may know this group by its annual event, the Elvis FANtasy Festival. The 23rd annual festival recently took place in Portage, Indiana. The group recent partnered with an Elvis festival organizer, but for 20 years, it was run entirely as a volunteer project of the fan club. The group donates to the Porter County Special Olympics. While totals are not in from this year’s event, last year’s raised $14,640.   We Remember Elvis Fan Club   This Pittsburg, Pennsylvania-based fan club focuses its efforts on helping folks get healthy. The group, which started in 1982, started by donating money to a children’s hospital in Pittsburg. Now, the group donates to food banks, the West Penn Burn...
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Elvis Presley’s Memphis Stages

Memphis, Tennessee, wasn’t just Elvis’ home; it was also his stage. From small clubs to large coliseums, Elvis performed in many different Bluff City venues throughout his career. A few weeks ago on the Graceland Blog, we looked at the Presley family’s Memphis homes and apartments. This week, let’s look at a few of the Memphis venues where Elvis wowed his fans. Elvis’ career started small, with gigs at the Bel-Air Club and the Bon Air Club. But his first official billed performance was on July 30, 1954, at the Overton Park Shell – now known as the Levitt Shell. Elvis – billed as Ellis Presley – opened for Slim Whitman, and he was so nervous his legs began to shake. It worked in his favor, and he left that show with a host of new fans. That gig got Elvis and his band a solid booking at The Eagle’s Nest, a country-western club that was just outside the Memphis city limits. The guys played weekend shows for the next three months of 1954.   The Eagle’s Nest was steady work, but Elvis wanted more. His career blossomed: He performed at the Grand Ole Opry, which didn’t go well, so he signed with the Louisiana Hayride. Many of Elvis’ early shows were in high school and junior high auditoriums. In early February 1955, he performed at Messick High School and Messick Junior High School in Memphis. These were no ordinary shows; he actually performed there to help promoter Bob Neal’s son, Sonny, in his campaign for the student council. Elvis’ next venue was one he knows well: Ellis Auditorium. His Humes High School graduation ceremony was held in that same venue, and just a few years later, he returned as a young rock star at the start of his career. He shared the stage with the likes of Faron Young, and in between shows, promoter Bob Neal arrangeed a meeting between Sun Records president Sam Phillips, Col. Tom Parker and Tom Diskin across the street from the auditorium. They were all, of course, interested in Elvis. On August 5, 1955, Elvis returned for a show at the Shell. Fans enjoyed his previous Shell show, but they really loved him at this concert. The concert was Bob Neal’s eighth annual Country Music Jamboree, and Elvis shared the stage with Johnny Cash, Webb Pierce and Sonny James. The show drew more than 4,000 fans.   Overton Park Shell Radio Ad By this point, Elvis’ career is on fire....
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Where’s Elvis Presley: Tupelo or Memphis?

In January 2014, Vanity Fair magazine published an article showing a photo of Elvis Presley presumably taken in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1947. The article traces the origin of the photo to a woman who was walking into a drugstore to drop off some film that had one exposure left on the roll. According to the story, she noticed a young Elvis on his bike and asked him to pose, snapping her last frame of him. The woman later gave the photo to Presley family friend Janelle McComb of Tupelo, who passed along the photo and the story of how she obtained it to Elvis fan and memorabilia collector Wade Jones shortly before her death. The story behind the photo may have been correct, but the city was wrong. Tupelo lies in Lee County, which was a dry county in the 1940’s, meaning it was illegal to sell alcohol, yet the background of the photo shows a liquor store. Mississippi didn’t repeal Prohibition until 1966. The bike in the photo is also familiar. Elvis received a Firestone Pilot Classic bicycle, most likely for his 13th birthday. In 1993, a photo was found in Gladys’ closet at Graceland of Elvis on a new bike with “age 13” written on the back. The bike is the same one in the Vanity Fair photo, except for the fenders, which were removed in the later photo. The Presleys moved to Memphis in November 1948 and lived at 370 Washington before moving just around the corner to a large rooming house at 572 Poplar Avenue in June 1949. They briefly lived there until September, when they moved to Lauderdale Courts. Elvis’ grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, continued living at the Poplar address, according to the 1950 Memphis City Directory. City directories list homes and businesses by street throughout the city.   The 1950 directory also shows the S&S Drug Store, Lando Marossi restaurant and Milo’s liquor store that appear in the Vanity Fair photo. John Sampietro, whose father operated the S&S Drug Store at the corner of Poplar and High Street, remembered his father talking about how a young Elvis would come into the store to play pinball. Milo Solomito operated the liquor store just across the street from the drug store and his son, Milo Jr., identified the store in the photo as the one his father ran for many years. To the right of the liquor...
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Elvis Presley’s Home Sweet Homes

A man’s home is his castle – and so Graceland is definitely the king’s castle. But for about the first half of his life, Elvis and his family had many other home sweet homes. The family moved often in both Tupelo and Memphis, and lived in many different houses and apartment complexes. Before Elvis ever crossed the gates of Graceland, he called many other places in Memphis “home.” Let’s take a look at where the Presley family lived in Memphis before their move to their beloved Graceland. In November 1948, Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, packed up their 1937 Plymouth and drove about two hours northwest from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. Vernon and Gladys hoped for better job prospects in the bigger city, but work was often scarce or low-wage. And it wasn’t just the three of them; other family members, such as Elvis’ paternal grandmother, Minnie Mae, moved with the family, too. The family’s first address in Memphis was 370 Washington and they paid $11/week in rent. The Presleys stayed there for less than a year, and then moved to 572 Poplar, where they stayed just a few months. Elvis entered Humes High School while living on Poplar, and he earned mostly B’s and C’s in school. In September 1949, the family moved to 185 Winchester Street, which is the address of the Lauderdale Courts apartments. The family shared a two-bedroom, first-floor apartment for $35 a month. Elvis and Buzzy Forbess and Farley Guy hang out at Lauderdale Courts in 1954. Elvis’ career was growing by the time this picture was taken. The family stayed at Lauderdale Courts from September 1949 to January 1953, which was the longest time they lived at a single residence that wasn’t Graceland. Elvis had many friends who lived in and around Lauderdale Courts. Some of those friends remember playing music with Elvis in and around the complex. Even after Elvis found fame, he still went back to Lauderdale Courts to see his friends who lived there. The family packed up again and moved to 698 Saffarans, which was across the street from Humes High School, followed just a couple of months later with a move to 462 Alabama in April 1953. Elvis graduated from Humes High School while they lived on Alabama. Next, the family moved to 2414 Lamar Avenue in 1954, followed by 1414 Getwell in late 1955. There isn’t a lot of detail in Elvis biographies about these moves, because it’s during...
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Elvis Presley: Singer, Actor and Football Player

The earthy smell of turf, the colorful school spirit, the roar of the crowd as the quarterback throws the winning touchdown… it’s football season. It’s also one of Elvis’ favorite times of the year. When he wasn’t on stage, in a studio or on the big screen, there’s a good chance you could find Elvis Presley playing football. Elvis loved other sports, too, like karate and racquetball. But Elvis always found time for a quick game, and if he couldn’t play it himself, he watched his favorite teams compete on TV. “The thing I keep up with most is professional football. I know all the players. I know all their numbers, who they play for. I’ve had people quiz me on it, just in games when we’ve got nothing to do,” Elvis said in a 1962 interview. “And that’s a big thing with me right now. I watch all the games that I can. I get the films from the teams themselves if I can. But next to the entertainment thing, and music, that I guess, would be the biggest (interest).” Elvis was a busy man in 1956: He released his first album, starred in his first movie and toured across the country. He had a rare day off on December 27, 1956, and spent it playing football. The two previous photos were taken at that game. Elvis played touch football with a group of friends at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis. Hundreds showed up to watch the young superstar play a little pigskin in the park. Elvis also played football on the grounds at Graceland. In fact, on October 16, 1960, he broke his finger while playing touch football at Graceland. Elvis’ famous generosity and his love for football often worked hand-in-hand. Elvis played some football while he was a student at Humes High School, but he wasn’t a star athlete. But a few years after graduating high school (and after becoming a worldwide sensation), he purchased 1,400 tickets – seen in the photo above – for every Humes High School student so they could all attend the annual E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind. Total cost? $1,050. Elvis even sponsored a football team. His friends had started a team, so he sponsored it – notice E.P. Enterprises on the jersey. His friend Red West, who was on the team, later said it was some of the most fun...
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Elvis Presley’s Highest Honor

Elvis Presley is possibly the most celebrated entertainer of all time. He won Grammy Awards, has sold millions of records and his own Hall of Gold at his home can’t even hold all of his Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records, much less the countless other awards he won during his legendary career. But his most treasured award wasn’t for making money or becoming a household name; it was for being a good man. In 1970, Elvis was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men by the United States Junior Chamber, or the Jaycees. It was the only award he ever accepted in person, and it was the only award he carried with him every where he went for the rest of his life. In celebration of Citizenship Day on September 17, let’s take a look at Elvis’ highest honor. The Ten Outstanding Young Men program – now renamed the Ten Outstanding Young Americans – was created by the Jaycees in 1938 to honor 10 Americans, aged 18-40, who “best exemplify the highest attributes of the nation’s emerging generation,” according to the Jaycee’s website. Men and women who excel in all fields, including entertainment, sports, business, academics, politics, medicine, science, technology and humanitarian efforts, are honored. In 1970, Elvis was close friends with Bill Morris. Bill was the Shelby County Sheriff, and he went on to serve as the mayor of Memphis. Bill nominated Elvis for inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men, thanks to his impact on music and culture, not to mention his charitable heart. Elvis constantly donated to charities, especially those in Memphis and Shelby County. Elvis was incredibly honored by his inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men. He and Priscilla attended the JCC prayer breakfast at the Memphis Holiday Inn Rivermont, and later that afternoon, United Nations ambassador-appointee and future U.S. President George H. W. Bush spoke at the JCC luncheon. That evening, Elvis and Priscilla held a reception at Graceland for the award winners and Jaycee officials, followed by a formal dinner at the Four Flames Restaurant. The 8 p.m. awards ceremony took place at Ellis Auditorium – a building very special to Elvis. He went to plenty of concerts there and eventually performed there himself as a young singer. Elvis always commanded a stage, and that’s what he did with his heartfelt speech at the awards ceremony. He quoted one of his favorite Roy Hamilton songs in his...
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Meet Elvis Presley’s Grandma, Minnie Mae

Most folks have a grandmother. Elvis had “Dodger.” Sunday, September 13 is Grandparents’ Day, and to celebrate we’re getting to know Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis’ paternal grandmother, whom he affectionately called “Dodger.” Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in Lee County. His family tree traces both east and west of the All America City. His parents came from the the two counties that surround Lee County: His mother’s family is from Pontotoc County, which is to the west of Lee County, and his father’s family is from Itawamba County, which to to the east. The Hoods came to Itawamba County from Alabama in the 1830s, and one Hood family member, Joshua, built a log cabin there. It’s believed Minnie Mae Hood was born there on June 17, 1890, to Mary Louisa and William H. “Buck” Hood. A portion of that log cabin still stands, and there are many Hood relatives still living in the area. Minnie Mae married Jessie D. McDowell Presley on July 20, 1913. The couple welcomed their first child, Vernon Presley, on April 10, 1916. The couple went on to have four more children: Vester, Delta Mae, Gladys Erlene Dowling, and Rev. Nashval Lorene Pritchett (Presley). Minnie Mae and Jessie’s marriage slowly declined and the couple unofficially separated; she moved in with her son, Vernon, his wife, Gladys, and son, Elvis. She moved with them when they moved from Tupelo to Memphis, and Minnie Mae and her husband officially divorced in 1954. Minnie Mae lived with Elvis and his parents at all of their homes in Memphis, including Graceland. She even traveled to Germany with Elvis while he was stationed there. Elvis, always the family man, loved having his relatives so close. Others called her “Grandma,” but Elvis nicknamed her “Dodger.” No matter what life threw her way, she always came through it in the end. Minnie Mae died on May 8, 1980, in Memphis. She is buried at the Meditation Garden at Graceland near her son, Vernon, daughter-in-law Gladys, and her grandson, Elvis. In the mornings, visitors can walk up to visit the Meditation Garden at Graceland for free. Check Graceland.com for more information and how to book your visit to experience the the king’s...
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