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!

How Elvis Presley Spent His Summer Vacation

“Dreams come true in blue Hawaii…” Elvis Presley’s favorite vacation spot was actually a place where he did a lot of work, too: Hawaii. Elvis performed and filmed a few movies in the Aloha State, and it’s also where he spent a few much-needed vacations. Because, after all, even entertainers need a break between tours, recording sessions and movie-making. If you’re taking an Elvis-inspired summer vacation to “Blue Hawaii” any time soon, you may want to check out a few places where Elvis entertained, relaxed and made history. Three of Elvis’ 31 feature films were made in Hawaii: “Blue Hawaii,” “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” A few of the locations used for these movies on the island of Oahu include Punchbowl Cemetery, Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, the road leading to Mount Tantalus, Ala Moana Park, Hanauma Bay, Waiola Tea Room, the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, the pineapple fields along the Kamehameha Highway near Haleiwa, Bumble Bee Tuna Company and the exteriors of the Honolulu Police Department (the “Blue Hawaii” jail scene was filmed on a set in Hollywood). A few scenes of “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” were shot at the Maui Sheraton Hotel in Lahaina, as well as the private airstrip near the Royal Lahina Resort on the island of Maui. The movie also featured footage from the Kona Coast near Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” also featured the Hanalei Plantation Resort on the island of Kauai, but the resort is no longer there. The waterfalls at Wailua River State Park were used in “Blue Hawaii,” as well as Lydgate Park, both located on Kauai. The famous wedding scene was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort Hotel, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The resort was then damaged by a fire in 2014. It has since been demolished and owners hope to re-open a new hotel on the site in 2018. Elvis’ first visit to Hawaii happened in November 1957. Elvis held a concert at Honolulu Stadium on November 11, followed by a performance at the Schofield Army Barracks on November 11 One of Elvis’ most famous performances took place at the Bloch Arena on the Pearl Harbor naval base on March 25, 1961. The performance was part of a benefit concert to raise money to create a USS Arizona memorial in honor of those...
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Elvis Presley is ‘Loving You’

“A rock-and-sock story about the rock and roll kid!” That’s one of the taglines for Elvis Presley’s second movie, the sort of, not really, maybe just a little bit autobiographical “Loving You.” In the film, Elvis stars as Deke Rivers, a young delivery man and singer who is discovered by a musician, Tex (Wendell Corey) and a publicist, Glenda (Lizabeth Scott). The pair help launch Deke’s career, but a few complications arise as another young singer, Susan (Dolores Hart) falls for Deke, while Glenda leads Deke on with promises of a bright future. There are similarities between Elvis’ life and the film’s plot: Like Deke, Elvis was a delivery man before launching his music career; Elvis and Deke’s music both had parents and concerned citizens worried that they were bad influences on kids and teenagers; Elvis’ band members, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, served as his band members in the film; Deke often broke his guitar strings, like Elvis did; and Glenda employs many Col. Parker-esque tricks to get Deke more publicity and fans. The movie isn’t an actual Elvis autobiography, though. Writer/director Hal Kanter visited with Elvis and his family in December 1956 to get a feel for the young superstar and what his life was like. He enjoyed Gladys’ fried chicken and joined Elvis on a sight-seeing tour of Memphis. He also traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana, to watch Elvis perform on the Louisiana Hayride. He incorporated a lot of elements from those performances into the script – including the twin girls clapping together one-handed, which actually happened during one of Elvis’ Hayride shows. In another art-imitates-life moment, Elvis’ parents are in the audience in the final scene – and they often watched their son’s concerts. “Loving You” is Elvis’ second movie, but his first in color. Elvis began dying his natural blonde-brown hair black for this movie because he thought it would show up better on film, like Tony Curtis’ hair. Elvis dyed his hair for the rest of his life – except for his time in the Army. Famous costume designer Edith Head worked on this movie, and many of Elvis’ movies. Head designed costumes for many movies and TV shows, including Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina” and “Roman Holiday,” Elizabeth Taylor in “A Place in the Sun,” Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” Bette Davis in “All About Eve” and Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious.” “Loving You” also...
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The Musicians of Elvis Presley’s Memphis

A few months ago, Graceland opened a new entertainment and exhibit complex, called Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The complex, much larger than the former Graceland Plaza, features the world’s largest Elvis museum, a new automobile museum, Discovery Exhibits covering Elvis’ Army years, his life in Tupelo, his style and much more. There’s a soundstage that shows Elvis movies and concerts and restaurants named after his parents. Thanks to the expansion, more artifacts from Graceland Archives are on display than ever before. While Graceland shares details of Elvis’ personal life, the complex is all about his career and accomplishments. It’s only fitting, then, that we have Memphis musicians who perform at the complex daily. Whether they’re playing their own versions of Elvis hits or something they wrote, these musicians are channeling the king’s musical energy and influence to entertain Graceland guests. Let’s get to know these musicians, and feel free to say hi or request a song if you see them playing at Elvis Presley’s Memphis! Vinnie Hines There’s a chance you’ve seen Vinnie Hines before. He was a contestant on “American Idol” season 15, and for four years, he entertained thousands of guests as he toured for nearly four years with Carnival Cruise Lines. These days, though, the 26-year-old Auburn, Illinois, native is performing in the Bluff City. Hines was in college studying architecture when he was asked to fill in for his cousin’s band. He realized music was his true calling, so he left college and started pursuing music full time. His style, he said, is a mixture of rock and soul. “Distorted guitar combined with groovy bass lines and classic soul vocals make up my Bill Withers meets Maroon 5 vibe,” Hines said. Hines comes from a long line of Elvis fans. He grew up listening to Elvis’ music with his grandmother, and his sister is a big Elvis fan, too. “For almost 10 years,” he said, “she dressed up as a tiny sequin-studded Elvis for Halloween and for any other excuse she could find.” Hines has released a debut album, “HQ,” and he plays around Memphis, as well as at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. His music can be found on both iTunes and Spotify, and you can follow him on Facebook. Alejandro Paredes At Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Alejandro Paredes is playing music he loves for people who love it, too. Paredes – or Alex Walls, his more English-friendly stage...
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45 Years Ago: Elvis Presley Sells Out Madison Square Garden

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll shattered many records during his incredible career. Forty-five years ago this weekend, he became the first entertainer in history to sell out four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Elvis’ Madison Square Garden shows were the first time Elvis performed in front of a live audience in New York since his TV appearances on the Dorsey Brothers, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows in 1956 and 1957. Elvis performed before an audience of 20,000 fans at each of the four shows that took place June 9-11, 1972 (that’s a total of 80,000 fans for the entire weekend). Initially, only three shows were booked, but those sold out instantly, so the fourth show on June 11 was added. Elvis held a press conference on June 9 at the New York Hilton, where he candidly answered questions from reporters. Here are a few of those questions and answers: Reporter: You used to be criticized so much for our long hair and gyrations, and you seem so modest now. Elvis: Man, I was tame compared to what they do now, are you kidding…I didn’t do anything but just jiggle. Reporter: Elvis, are you satisfied with the image you’ve established? Elvis: Well the image is one thing; a human being is another. Reporter: How close does it come? How close does the image come to the man you really are? Elvis: It’s very hard to live up to an image. I’ll put it that way. Reporter: Why do you think you’ve outlasted every other entertainer from the fifties, and for that matter, the sixties as well? Elvis: I take Vitamin E. (laughs) I was only kidding. I don’t know. I just…embarrass myself. I don’t know dear, I just enjoy the business. I like what I’m doing. Elvis’ setlist for all four shows included his early hits, fan-favorite songs from his movies and newer hit songs. “American Trilogy,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “That’s All Right,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” were all included at each of the shows. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Art Garfunkel were spotted at the shows. Elvis received rave reviews in three features in the New York Times. “He looked like a prince from another planet, narrow-eyed, with high Indian cheek bones and a smooth brown skin untouched by his 37 years,” Chris...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland at 35

Before Graceland opened to the public in 1982, it was practically unheard of for fans to take a tour of their favorite celebrity’s home. Thirty-five years later, millions of Elvis fans from around the world have done just that at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. They’ve experienced the colorful Jungle Room and imagined watching TV with the ceramic monkey in the TV Room. They’ve been wowed by walls of awards and sparkling jumpsuits. They’ve stepped aboard his airplanes and taken selfies with his famous Pink Cadillac. Graceland opened to the public for tours on June 7, 1982 – 35 years ago. Graceland has remained largely unchanged, but the Graceland experience has evolved and expanded into something you have to see to believe. Check out this timeline and learn about how Graceland’s tours have changed over the years. June 7, 1982 – Graceland opens for tours. Elvis’ cars were still in the carport, as no Car Museum had been created yet. Guests were transported to the mansion in vans, after purchasing a ticket across the street at a ticket office, which included a gift shop. Tour tickets were $5. More than 3,000 guests toured Graceland on opening day. February 22, 1984 – Elvis’ jet, the Lisa Marie, arrives in Memphis and is brought down Elvis Presley Boulevard to its present location. Elvis Presley Enterprises acquires the shopping center across the street from the home. Later in 1984, one of Elvis’ tour busses and his small Jetstar are loaned to Graceland, and are opened for tours. Graceland also celebrates its 1 millionth visitor this year. 1985 – Graceland’s corporate offices open across the street from Elvis Presley’s Graceland, in what would later become the Car Museum. Gift shops and restaurants, including Heartbreak Hotel Restaurant, EP’s LPs (a music store) and Graceland Hall (complete with a dance floor and carnival games), open up in that same shopping center across the street, in what will eventually become the Graceland Plaza. 1987 – Christmas Wonderland at Graceland opens. It features special mechanical light displays, a dancing water show, horse-drawn carriage rides and a Christmas choir. 1989 – The Trophy Room is renovated, and the corporate offices move from across the street to a building near the mansion. The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum opens across the street on June 12, 1989. Vernon’s Office opens to the public. July 3, 1989 – Graceland welcomes a record number of...
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The King’s Men: The Jordanaires

If you’ve enjoyed an Elvis Presley song, chances are you’ve also enjoyed the sweet sounds of The Jordanaires. The quartet sang backup vocals on many, many of Elvis’ hits, including “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Don’t,” and “Surrender,” just to name a few. We’ve shared the stories of the artists and producers who helped shape Elvis’ iconic sound, like the Blue Moon Boys and Sam Phillips, so this week, let’s get to know The Jordanaires members. The quartet formed in 1948 in Springfield, Missouri, by brothers Bill and Monty Matthews. The group sang barbershop and gospel music, and debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949. Elvis heard The Jordanaires perform in October 1954 with country singer Eddy Arnold at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. He met the guys in the group and told them he loved their sound, and that he hoped they could work together. In 1956, as Elvis’ music and movie career was really taking off, he called on the group to sing backup for him on his records and at live performances. At that time, The Jordanaires were Gordon Stoker (first tenor), Hoyt Hawkins (baritone), Neal Matthews (second tenor, and in no relation to the founding Matthews members) and Hugh Jarrett (bass). Ray Walker replaced Hugh Jarrett in 1958. The Jordanaires’ line-up has changed several times throughout the years. The Jordanaires backed Elvis on his early television performances, including his “Ed Sullivan Show” performances. The quartet backed him at his concerts, too, including his 1956 Homecoming show in Tupelo. The band backed Elvis on everything from his rock tunes to gospel numbers, from Christmas songs to his movie soundtracks. The Jordanaires worked with Elvis until 1969. As his movie career came to a close, Elvis started prepping his return to the stage, but The Jordanaires decided to stay home in Nashville. They had a steady workload as studio musicians, working two to four sessions a day, six days a week, for more than 20 years. The quartet backed country, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and pop artists. You can hear The Jordanaires on hits like “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn and “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson, and the band has also recorded with top country stars likes of Willie Nelson, Ringo Starr and Johnny Cash. It has been estimated that more than 8 billion records featuring...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 2

It’s easy to say that Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles. Even the most casual fan can sing a few lines from his biggest hits. But there’s more to Elvis, and to those songs, than catchy hooks and topping the charts. In January, we shared some insights into a handful of Elvis’ No. 1 hits, and this week, we’re doing it again, taking a look at another five of Elvis’ hit singles. Keep reading to find out who wrote these tunes, where Elvis recorded them and much more. “Love Me Tender” “Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go…” This song is such a classic. “Love Me Tender” was written for Elvis’ first film of the same name. Elvis’ version is based on the Civil War-era tune “Aura Lee,” written in 1861 by W.W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton. Later, “Aura Lee” was changed to “Army Blue,” and it was used as the class song for the West Point class of 1865. “Love Me Tender” is Elvis’ version, and it was adapted by Ken Darby, the movie’s musical director. He shared writer’s credits with his wife, Vera Matson, and Elvis. However, neither helped with the writing. Elvis recorded “Love Me Tender” on August 24, 1956, at Fox Stage 1 in Hollywood. This session felt a little unfamiliar to Elvis: he had to record on a massive 20th Century Fox soundstage, and he was not joined by his regular band and back-up singers. The musicians on this recording include Vito Mumolo on guitar, drummer Richard Cornell, bass player Mike “Myer” Rugin, Luther Rountree on banjo and Dom Frontieri on accordian. Charles Prescott, Jon Dodson and Rad Robinson performed vocals. Bob Mayer and Ren Runyon engineered the song. The second take of the song was used as the single, and it shipped to stores about a month after it was recorded, on September 28, 1956. Fans loved it. “Love Me Tender” was No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart for five weeks, and it stayed on the charts for a total of 23 weeks. The song charted at No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B singles and Country singles lists. “Love Me Tender” reached No. 11 on the British pop singles chart. The hit song has been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Percy Sledge, as well as Barbara Streisand,...
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50 Years Ago: Elvis and Priscilla Say ‘I Do’

The king married his queen 50 years ago this year. Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu married on May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas, with a few friends and family in attendance. Of course, that’s not the beginning of the story – let’s go back to 1959, when the couple met. Elvis met Priscilla on September 13, 1959, while Elvis was stationed in Germany serving in the U.S. Army. The pair become fast friends. At Christmas that year, Priscilla gives him a set of bongo drums. Elvis left Germany in 1960 and returned to America.The couple kept up with each other throughout the years – Elvis often called Priscilla in Germany, and she visited Elvis in the states. She moved to Memphis in the spring of 1963 to complete her high school education. Elvis proposed to Priscilla on Christmas Eve 1966, presenting her with a ring he purchased from jeweler Harry Levitch. Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding took place at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas at about 11:45 a.m. on May 1, 1967. Immediately following the wedding, the couple and their families attended a press conference, followed by the reception. The newlyweds honeymooned in Palm Springs, California, for a few days, before returning to Memphis on May 5. On Monday, May 29, the couple hosted a reception at Graceland for friends, family and employees. They wore their wedding attire, and the building located near the pool (now the Trophy Building, but it had once housed Elvis’ slot-car track) was decorated in green and white. Tony Barrasso provided the music, and the food included a buffet and wedding cake, catered by Monte’s Catering Service. First comes love, second comes marriage… and nine months to the day, Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. Did you know you can get married and renew your vows at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods? Click here to get wedding ideas and to find out how to have your wedding here at our chapel. You can see Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding attire for yourself here at Graceland. Their clothes, as well as Lisa’s crib and baby clothes, are on display in the Trophy Building, which houses the Presley family story. You can also watch footage of the wedding reception there. Get your Graceland tickets...
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Sam Phillips: ‘The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll’

There are many important players in Elvis Presley’s life story, but one of the most important is Sam Phillips. At Sun Studio in Memphis, Sam discovered and helped launch the careers of not just Elvis, but Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and more. He is, according to Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, “the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll.” And with Record Store Day coming up this weekend, on Saturday, April 22, we feel it’s fitting to honor a man who brought so much great music to record stores across the world. Here at Graceland, we recently opened a new exhibit in coordination with Sam’s family, called Mystery Train: Celebrating Sam Phillips. The exhibit tells the story of Sam’s life and career, and includes artifacts from Sam’s early life and his work at Sun Studio. But more on that later – for now, let’s meet Sam Phillips. Sam Phillips was born in Florence, Alabama, on January 5, 1923. He was the youngest of eight, and he and his siblings would work on their parents’ farm, singing songs to pass the time. In 1939, he and his family traveled to Memphis, and it was then that he experienced Beale Street for the first time. He was thrilled, and it wouldn’t be long before he would return to the Bluff City to make a mark of his own. Sam worked as a DJ and radio engineer at WLAY in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during the ‘40s. The station had an “open format,” meaning it broadcasted music from both black and white musicians. Sam eventually traveled back to Memphis, and in 1950, he opened Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The business recorded amateur performers (like a young B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf), as well as special events like weddings. Sam launched his Sun Studio label at Memphis Recording Service in 1952. It was at Memphis Recording Studio that Sam recorded what is often considered the first-ever rock ‘n’ roll song, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88.” That song was released on the Chess/Checker label, and Sam went on to record more artists like Bobby Blue Bland, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton and more at the studio. More rock ‘n’ roll music was made at Sun Studio than any other label at the time. During Sun’s 16-year run, 226 singles were produced there. Many Elvis fans already know the story of...
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Following That Dream with Elvis Presley

Look out – here come the Kwimpers! Did you know that “Here Come the Kwimpers” was almost the title of Elvis’ ninth movie, “Follow That Dream”? The movie premiered in April 1962, followed by a nationwide release on May 23 – so this year marks the movie’s 55th anniversary. In “Follow That Dream,” Elvis plays Toby, a member of the rag-tag Kwimper family. There’s his dad, Pop (Arthur O’Connell), and several kids they’ve taken in – the wise-beyond-her-years Holly (Anne Helm), the adorable twins, Eddy and Teddy (Gavin and Robin Koon, respectively), and the baby, Adriane. The Kwimpers find success when they start their own business on a roadside in Florida, but trouble arises when the mob sets up a gambling business next door and a social worker threatens to take away the youngest Kwimpers. “Follow That Dream” is based on the 1957 novel “Pioneer, Go Home,” by Richard Powell. The original title of the film was the same as the novel, but composers couldn’t come up with a rhyme for “Pioneer” for the title song. The movie’s title was then changed to “What a Wonderful Life.” Producers also considered the “Here Come the Kwimpers” title, as well as “It’s a Beautiful Life,” but “Follow That Dream” won in the end. Elvis and the crew filmed “Follow That Dream” from July 11-August 28, 1961. They filmed the movie in Florida and Hollywood. The film was directed by Gordon Douglas, who also directed movies such as “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” and “Them!,” as well as the TV show “The Little Rascals.” Douglas is the only director who worked with both Elvis and Frank Sinatra, as Sinatra starred in “Robin and the 7 Hoods.” During filming, gambling was illegal in Florida. The gambling equipment needed for filming was brought in by a member of the Chamber of Commerce of a Florida city and a few anonymous gamblers. If you’ve seen “Follow That Dream,” you’ve seen a few actors who also starred in other Elvis films. The judge was played by Roland Winters, who also played Elvis’ father in “Blue Hawaii.” Actor Howard McNear starred in “Follow That Dream” as the bank loan officer, George, and he also starred in “Blue Hawaii.”   During the 2017 Elvis’ Birthday Celebration, twins Gavin and Robin Koon spoke to fans about their work with Elvis in the movie. Check out a part of their interview...
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