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!

The Man Who Dressed the King: Bill Belew and Elvis Presley

Rock stars love the grungy look: sweat-stained T-shirts, ragged jeans, worn-out shoes. But Elvis Presley was no ordinary rock star. He was, after all, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and he dressed like it. Fans never saw Elvis on stage in anything less than the best. Even early on in his career, he carefully chose his fashionable stagewear. He wanted to give the audience a thrill – not just with his music, but with his look. All these years later, Elvis’ style is as iconic as his music. Elvis had great fashion sense, but it was designer Bill Belew who helped take Elvis’ fashion to the next level. Belew designed clothes for Elvis to wear both on and off the stage. “You could be daring as a designer and put anything on Elvis and he could make it work,” Belew said. “And the simplest outfits that didn’t seem particularly remarkable on the rack transformed into something spectacular when Elvis put them on. He was that beautiful and powerful a presence.” On June 11, 1968, Elvis met with costume designer Bill Belew to go over ideas for his upcoming TV special. Elvis’ famous black leather suit was designed by Belew, as were several other pieces that were seen in that special. The suit is on display at Graceland; it was recently exhibited at Elvis at The O2 in London. Belew designed for other musical acts and celebrities, such as Gladys Knight, The Band, The Jacksons, Brooke Shields and the Osmonds, but he’s especially remembered for his designs for Elvis. Elvis is known for so much – his velvet voice, his Southern generosity, Graceland, his pink Cadillac and, of course, his eye-catching jumpsuits. Belew designed them all, and many of them featured elaborate embroidery by Gene Doucette. There are actually two versions of Elvis’ Flame jumpsuit; the other version’s kick pleats are red, while this version’s is orange. Belew said that many of Elvis’ jumpsuits were white to allow the stage lights to truly capture Elvis on stage. They experimented with several colors, however, such as red, black and blue. Another of Belew’s celebrated jumpsuits is the American Eagle, which Elvis sported in the 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” special. Eagles show up in several other of Belew’s jumpsuits. He also created a colorful Chinese Dragon jumpsuit, four Phoenix jumpsuits (white with turquoise, dark blue with silver, white with red and white with black) and one...
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33 Years of Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Elvis Presley’s Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982. Sunday, June 7, 2015, is our 33rd anniversary. To say we’ve been busy in those 33 years is an understatement. In 33 years,  over 19 million Elvis fans have walked in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Graceland. Guests come from around the globe to see the house Elvis called home. Some of those guests have been celebrities, like Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, and some have been royalty, such as Princes William and Harry. The Graceland property has grown to include the plaza across the street, a new Archives Studio near the home and a Chapel in the Woods. Fans explore more than just the home – they can step inside Elvis’ airplanes and see his cars. It all started one spring day, 33 years ago, right on the steps of Graceland. When Elvis purchased Graceland in 1957, he didn’t buy it just for himself, but for his family. His parents, Vernon and Gladys, lived there, as did his grandmother, Minnie Mae (all of whom are now buried at the Meditation Garden at Graceland). Several family members lived at Graceland over the years, including Elvis’ aunt, Delta Presley Biggs, Vernon’s sister. In fact, she still lived at Graceland when it opened for tours, and she lived there with her dog, Edmond, until her death in 1993. Delta and Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden cut the ribbon to open Graceland in 1982, and Priscilla Presley was on hand to welcome guests to the home. Fans lined up to tour Graceland on its first day – 3,024 fans, to be exact. The kitchen was not added to the Graceland tour until 1993. Today, fans can see the living room, dining room, Elvis’ parents’ bedroom, the kitchen, pool room, TV room and Jungle Room. Upon its initial opening, the tour featured guides in each room, who shared facts about Elvis and his home. Today, fans are guided through Graceland with a state-of-the-art iPad tour, narrated by Elvis fan and actor John Stamos. The iPad tour includes exclusive video and photo of Elvis and his family at Graceland. A lot has changed in 33 years, but one thing hasn’t: Graceland is ground zero for fans who want to celebrate, learn more about and pay tribute to Elvis Presley. Here are a few of the different ways...
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The Arboretum at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

There’s something for everyone at Elvis Presley’s Graceland – especially if you love nature. Graceland is surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers and plants, all of which are maintained and cared for by our grounds-keeping staff. Not only do these trees and flowers make the property even prettier, but they are also educational. The Graceland Mansion was named the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council’s first corporate arboretum on June 7, 2013. It’s also the first National Historic Monument to be certified as a corporate arboretum. Here’s a video from 2013 about Graceland’s arboretum. An arboretum, for any non-nature fans in the audience, is a collection of trees cultivated for educational, scientific or aesthetic purposes and labeled with information including genus, species and common name. All of the trees at Graceland are labeled. This is especially educational when school groups visit, or when it’s Scout Day, and troops are encouraged to explore the different types of trees at Graceland. Graceland includes 20 identified species of trees, including Southern Magnolia, American Elm, Willow Oak, Red Maple, Pecan, American Holly, Tulip Poplar and Black Cherry. A recent addition to the trees at Graceland is a Somei Yoshino Cherry Tree. The tree was a gift to Memphis in appreciation  for Memphis’ relief efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Motohiko Kato, Consul General of Japan in Nashville, and the Japanese delegation attended the tree planting ceremony at Graceland. “I hope that the cherry blossom trees at Graceland will become living reminders of our thanks and also symbolize the continued growth of the friendship between Memphis and Japan just like the cherry blossom trees in Washington D.C.,” Kato said at the ceremony. Graceland’s trees and plants make the property even more special. The next time you visit Graceland, be sure to take the time to appreciate the trees (and learn more about them, thanks to their labels!), flowers and other plants that make Elvis Presley’s home even more beautiful. Here are a few more shots of the gorgeous greenery here at Graceland and Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods. http://blog.graceland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/giphy-instagram.mp4    ...
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An Elvis Presley Scavenger Hunt

Sunday, May 24 is National Scavenger Hunt Day, so we’re asking you: How well do you know Elvis Presley’s Graceland? Graceland is more than just the King’s castle. Graceland was Elvis’ home, his private piece of paradise in a very public world. It feels both like the home of a Southern gentleman and a rock ‘n’ roll legend. There are family portraits, cozy couches and plush carpets, but there are also lush green shag carpet (on the ceiling), a room entirely covered in gorgeous fabric (which also covers the ceiling) and mirrors, everywhere (…yes, even on a few ceilings). Elvis definitely shows off his rock ‘n’ roll style at Graceland, but the home is also just that – a home for his family. It’s truly a place that must be experienced. Below are a few beloved pieces of Graceland, from its exterior to its interior and out on the grounds. Do you know where these things can be found in and around Graceland? Play along here or on the VisitGraceland Instagram account. You can also print this blog post and bring it with you on your next trip to Graceland, and see if you can spot these items! Have fun!     Feel free to leave you guesses in the comments, or bring this blog post with you when you tour Graceland so you can find these items for yourself. Plan your visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland today! Have fun!   Here are the answers to the Scavenger...
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Elvis Presley’s Police

If Elvis had not grown up to be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, there’s a chance he would have been a police officer. As the world’s most recognizable celebrity, Elvis needed security almost all the time, so he spent plenty of time, and became friends with, the officers who ensured his safety. In honor of Peace Officer Memorial Day (May 15, 2015) and Police Week, we’re looking at Elvis’ fascination with police work and his friendships with officers. Elvis always had a deep respect for law enforcement.  As a teenager living at Lauderdale Courts in Memphis, he’d hang out at Fire Station #4, across the street from the Suzore Theater on Main Street. The firemen remember Elvis hanging around, often with his guitar. After he graduated from high school, Elvis saw a lot of his classmates become firefighters and officers, so their friendships carried over. He was fascinated with police work and respected the officers for their service. “I don’t care where he was, whenever he saw the police, Elvis always stopped and talked to them,” said Memphis patrolman Jim Hammers. ”He would drive up beside them in the street and get them to pull over. He would spend hours at a time talking with them in different places.” Elvis also often stopped by police stations late at night and on holidays to visit the officers who were serving the public instead of spending time with their families. One night, Elvis came up on a traffic accident and got out to help the cops direct traffic. It worked well for a while, until fans started noticing it was the one and only Elvis Presley who was directing traffic. He made friends with officers wherever he traveled, and he loved collecting badges from across the country. He often donated to Police Associations and departments across the nation. As a Memphis resident, he was especially close with Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff’s departments. Elvis purchased equipment and uniforms for the Memphis Police Department’s softball team. At Christmas, he gave $100 to the Memphis patrolmen who were working in the Whitehaven neighborhood, where Graceland is located. He gave a Mercedes Benz to then-Shelby County Sheriff Bill Morris, who was a close friend. Morris was the man who nominated Elvis as one of the Jaycees’ Ten Outstanding Young Men awards, the only award Elvis ever personally accepted. Morris also deputized Elvis as a member of the...
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A Mother’s Day Tribute: Gladys Presley

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, so we’re celebrating the woman who gave her son to the world. Without Gladys Presley, we wouldn’t have Elvis Presley. Gladys’ best-known trait is right there in her name: Love. She was born Gladys Love Smith on April 25, 1912, in Pontotoc County, Mississippi – about 15 miles outside of Tupelo. She was one of nine children, and she loved to play basketball, dance and listen to music. As a young girl, she worked on farms to help her family make ends meet. She later began working at a garment factory as a sewing machine operator. It was in East Tupelo that she met her future husband, Vernon, at church. They quickly fell in love, and their courtship was brief – so they eloped. Vernon was just 17. Gladys was 21. On their marriage license, Vernon claimed he was 22, and Gladys said she was 19. The couple were married on June 17, 1933, by a circuit clerk. The Presleys were terribly poor during much of their marriage, but love kept them together and happy. They welcomed their son, Elvis, on January 8, 1935, but also mourned the death of his twin, Jesse, who was stillborn. Gladys couldn’t have any more children, so she was fiercely protective of her only son. Elvis’ childhood friends have recalled that Gladys was a sweet mama bear, doting on Elvis, welcoming his friends into their home, but also making sure they all stayed safe and didn’t get into trouble. After the Presleys moved to Memphis in November 1948, Gladys continued to work. Her jobs included working as a nurse’s aid at St. Joseph’s Hospital and working at Britling’s Cafeteria. Elvis wanted to give his mother, who’d given him so much, a better life. He purchased their first home on Audubon Drive, a year before purchasing Graceland. And of course, after he purchased Graceland, he welcomed his parents in with open arms. Gladys lived at Graceland until her death in 1958, which broke her son’s heart. But Gladys’ impact on her son was lifelong. He was loving and protective of his own daughter, Lisa. He loved the same music Gladys loved and recorded some of her favorite songs. He shared his love of music with the world, the way she shared her love of music with her son. Many fans may think of Graceland as the home of a rock star, but...
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The Top Reasons to Attend Elvis Week

Elvis Week 2015 is only about three months away… Are you ready? Elvis Week is a weeklong celebration of everything Elvis here at Graceland in Memphis. It’s an incredible week full of music, fun and, of course, Elvis. Whether you’ve been multiple times or this is your first time, you’ll have an unforgettable experience at Elvis Week. Why should you make the trek to Memphis for Elvis Week 2015? We’re glad you asked.   The Best Elvis Week Hosts Tom Brown returns to host several events at this year’s Elvis Week! Check out his favorite Elvis Week memories in the video clip below.     It’s All About Elvis   If Elvis is your everything, get your Elvis fix at Elvis Week. Elvis Week is the place to meet fellow Elvis fans, play Elvis games, see Elvis movies, stock up on Elvis swag, attend Elvis-inspired concerts, tour Elvis’ home and celebrate everything Elvis. The life and legacy of the one and only King of Rock ‘n’ Roll can only truly be celebrated in Memphis at Graceland.   Special Elvis Guests   Elvis Week gives fans an often once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear from Elvis’ friends, co-stars and fellow musicians. This year’s guests include Diane McBain, who dazzled on the big screen with Elvis in “Spinout.” During Elvis Week, we’ll screen the film and Diane will talk about making the movie with Elvis. Producer and pianist Tony Brown, who shared the stage and recording studio with Elvis during the 1970s, will remember Elvis during the Fan Club Presidents’ Event, and musicians David Briggs and Norbert Putnam will talk about recording with Elvis, too. Additional special guests include Terry Mike Jeffrey, former members of JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and more. Visit Graceland.com for a list of special guests. More will be announced soon!   Tour New Exhibits at Graceland   There’s always something new to discover at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Our two latest exhibits are “I Shot Elvis” and “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” at 45 Years. The photography exhibit, “I Shot Elvis,” showcases iconic photos of Elvis and the photographers who shot them. The exhibit also features related artifacts, such as clothes worn in the photo. You can even take a selfie with Elvis at this exhibit! The new VIP exhibit, “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” at 45 Years, celebrates the anniversary of the fan-favorite documentary. Jumpsuits, photos and more...
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Hit the Jackpot: Elvis Presley and Las Vegas Trivia Game

Viva Las Vegas! This week we celebrate the grand opening of ELVIS: The Exhibition, Elvis Experience and the Elvis Presley’s Wedding Chapel at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The expansive, permanent exhibition features hundreds of artifacts never displayed outside of Graceland. The chapel offers couples the chance to celebrate Elvis and their love as they get married or renew their vows. The first show in the newly renamed and renovated Elvis Presley Theater is “Elvis Experience,” which recreates one of Elvis’ incredible concerts from his time at the International – now the Westgate. Think you know everything about Elvis and Vegas? Try your hand at our Elvis trivia game! But before you test your knowledge, don’t forget to book your tickets to ELVIS: The Exhibition and Elvis Experience, and plan to tie the knot in the Elvis Presley’s Graceland Wedding Chapel! You’ll test your knowledge of song lyrics, film trivia and other facts about the king of rock and roll and his music performances in Las Vegas. Take the ten-question Elvis trivia quiz below and see how many questions you can answer...
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Elvis Presley and Record Store Day

This Saturday, April 18, is Record Store Day, and this one will be the most Elvis one yet. Record Store Day celebrates everything about independent record stores – the customers, the owners, the musicians – and vinyl records. The movement has grown so much since its inception in 2007 that now thousands of record stores across the world participate. Artists plan new or special, limited releases that are available at participating stores for that day only (and those releases are often in very limited quantity). Of course, Elvis Presley and records go hand-in-hand, so Record Store Day is an excellent way to celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis’ own personal record collection included thousands of records from all sorts of genres of music. He loved rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country and gospel. His collection includes Tom Jones, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and many, many more. He had an impressive collection of gospel records by artists such as The Blackwood Brothers, The Stamps Quartet, The Statesmen Quartet and Mahalia Jackson. He also had copies of his own tunes. You can see part of his record collection in the TV Room at Graceland. What Elvis didn’t keep, however, was the first music he ever recorded at the Memphis Recording Service, home to Sun Records. He recorded “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” and took the 78 rpm acetate of those songs to the home of his friend Ed Leek, who owned a record player. He left the acetate with Leek, and Leek’s family had it included in the Auction at Graceland on January 8, 2015. Renowned musician Jack White purchased the acetate, known as rock ‘n’ roll’s “holy grail,” for more than a quarter of a million dollars at the auction. White, known for his solo work and his bands The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, has his own label and record store, Third Man Records, in Nashville. Third Man is dedicated to preserving vinyl while also pushing the limits of the medium; they’ve released all kinds of unusual and unprecedented types of vinyl records, including a Triple Decker Record (a 7″ within a 12″), a Rose-Petal Filled Record, Liquid Filled Record and a Scented Record. White took the record to Alan Stoker, curator of Recorded Sound Collections at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (and he’s the son of Jordanaires member Gordon Stoker). Stoker carefully made a...
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Performing at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

There’s still music being made at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Graceland welcomes student groups from across the globe to tour and even perform at the king’s castle. Some explore Graceland, while others take the tour and perform for guests at the Graceland Plaza. At Graceland, the possibilities are endless. In 2014, student groups from 33 states visited Elvis’ home. Graceland also hosted student groups from Canada, Denmark and Britain. In addition to touring Graceland, students can further explore Elvis’ life in the new Archives Studio, the Automobile Museum and other exhibits. Graceland just opened two new exhibits, “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” at 45 and “I Shot Elvis.” The “I Shot Elvis” exhibit even has a perfect place for an #ElvisSelfie, which has been a hit with students. They also love the new iPad tour at Graceland. Graceland offers many educational tools, too. There are activity books, Elvis trivia and scavenger hunts for students to participate in while they learn about the king. Students of all ages are welcome, from grade school through college. Choirs, orchestras and bands are welcome to play in the Graceland Plaza or other outdoor venues for our guests. It’s not a requirement that bands or choirs perform Elvis tunes, but some will often work in an Elvis tune or an Elvis medley. Not many folks can say they’ve performed at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, so this is definitely a special opportunity. Groups that have either toured or performed and toured Graceland in the past year include the Royal Hospital School Band from London, England; Pleasant Grove High School from Texas; Keystone Elementary in Tennessee; New Albany Middle School from Mississippi; Brookline High School from Massachusetts; the Monticello High School Choir from Iowa; Orange County School of Arts from California; and Springs Christian Academy from Manitoba, Canada. Later this spring, Graceland will welcome the Africa University Choir from Zimbabwe, as well as many other groups from across the world. Bring your students to Elvis Presley’s Graceland! Visit Graceland.com for more information on educational tools, student tours, performance opportunities and student dining. And remember, teachers tour for...
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