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 #1 Hits – Part 6

Elvis Presley earned the title of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll thanks to his endless work inside the studio, on the stage and on the big screen. Elvis topped the charts again and again – if you need the proof, check out his wall of awards at Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’re digging deep to go behind the scenes of Elvis’ biggest hits – in fact, we’re up to part 6. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. Which of these following Elvis hits is your favorite? “Too Much” Now you got me started Don’t you leave me broken-hearted ‘Cause I love you too much This jaunty hit was written by Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman. It was recorded by other artists first, such as Bernard Hardison. Elvis recorded the track on September 2, 1956 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, where he would often record his movie soundtracks. The Jordanaires provided background vocals, Scotty Moore was on guitar, Bill Black was on bass, D.J. Fontana played the drums and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires played the piano. The engineer was Thorne Nogar, who was very respected in the industry, and Elvis enjoyed working with him. “Too Much” was released as a single in January 1957 with “Playing for Keeps” on the other side. It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart, where it stayed for three weeks, with a total chart run of 17 weeks. It also reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B and country singles charts, and it ran on those charts for 10 weeks and 14 weeks, respectively. It peaked at No. 6 on the British pop singles chart. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” You taught me how to love And now you say that we are through I’m a fool, but I’ll love you dear Until the day I die Elvis added a healthy dose of the blues to this country song to create his own hit single. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” was written by Bill Trader and was recorded by Hank Snow in 1952. Elvis recorded it several years later, on June 10, 1958. He was on leave from the army and it was his only recording session during his two-year stint of active service. Elvis...
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Elvis Presley in the Lone Star State

When you think of Elvis Presley, you think of Tennessee and Mississippi – the state of his beloved home, and the state in which he was born. But another important state for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Texas. Outside of his standing engagements at the Las Vegas Hilton, the highest number of Elvis’ performances while touring occurred in the state of Texas. Elvis performed in Texas approximately 138 times from 1954-1977. Texas saw the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as he began his career, and welcomed him back with record-breaking crowds in the ’70s. Most of his Texas concerts took place in 1955, as he performed on the Louisiana Hayride. The radio show covered the east side of the state, and these early concerts provided Elvis and his band the opportunity to perfect their live shows. The Louisiana Hayride concerts led Elvis to perform in many small towns, especially in Texas. He and his band often performed in more than one city and more than one venue per day, so they often had to race from one stage to another. Elvis performed a whopping 308 times in 1955, and a fourth of those performances took place in the Lone Star State. Elvis’ tour schedule changed and slowed over the next few years, as he left the Louisiana Hayride, released his first album, made TV appearances and began making movies (and, of course, as he was inducted into the Army – but more on that in a bit).   Elvis spent much of the 60s making movies, and he returned to the stage in 1969 with his Las Vegas residency. His first shows outside Vegas were in Texas in early 1970. From February 27, 1970 – March 1, 1970, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed six shows at Houston’s Astrodome as part of the Texas Livestock Show. He made an impression when he entered the building for the first show – he circled the arena in an open Jeep, waving and greeting fans. He broke his previous attendance record with the February 27 evening show, with a crowd of 36,299 – which was 10,000 more than his previous record. The evening crowd on February 28 was another record breaker – 43,614 – which also set a record for indoor rodeo performances in any arena. Elvis gave a press conference before his first and after his last Houston shows in 1970. At the...
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Designing Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Last week, you took our quiz to find out what room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland matches your personality. Are you as playful as the Pool Room? Do you want to geek out in the TV Room? Wanna go wild in the Jungle Room? If you missed the quiz, no worries – you can take it here. This week, we’re going to go a little more in-depth into the Graceland rooms featured in the personality quiz to learn more about their design. Thousands of Elvis fans took the Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz, and more than 33% of responders most identify with the Living Room. Trends came and went in the twenty years that Elvis lived at Graceland, and Elvis redecorated Graceland to match the times and his own personal taste. In the Living Room, the custom 15-foot sofa and 10-foot coffee table, matching end tables and a few other pieces offered a classic look, and they were in the Living Room from 1957 through the summer of 1974, when he redecorated (more on that in a minute). He often changed upholstery, carpet, paint, drapery and other accessories always evolved. The blue drapes that you now see on tour in Graceland are from the later 1960s-mid 1970s. During the Christmas season, the blue drapes were replaced with vibrant, festive red drapes – a tradition that remains true at Graceland every holiday season today. In 1974, Elvis redecorated the Living Room with dramatic French Provencal furniture décor, including red carpet, red velvet furniture and red satin draperies. This look remained in place until the mansion opened for tours in 1982. The decision was made then to bring the older furnishings out of storage and return the Living Room – along with the Music and Dining Rooms – back to the way they were during most of the years Elvis lived at Graceland. Furniture and other details from the Living Room’s red redecoration are now on display in the Trophy Building. The famous stained-glass peacocks in the living room were added in 1974. Elvis, a student of religion, added them as peacocks were an ancient Christian symbol of eternal life and resurrection. Nearly 27% of people who took our What Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz got a wild result: the famous Jungle Room. Elvis never called the Jungle Room by that name; to him, it was just the den....
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Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality?

Whether you’re as colorful as the Pool Room, as elegant as the Living Room or as exotic as the Jungle Room, there’s a room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland that perfectly matches your personality. Take the quiz below to find out which room fits you, and be sure to tune in to next week’s Graceland Blog when we learn more about each of the rooms featured in the quiz. Don’t forget to go to Graceland.com to start planning your Graceland experience, so you can experience these rooms for yourself!...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘If I Can Dream’

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue If I can dream of a better land Where all my brothers walk hand in hand Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true… April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis. Dr. King’s assassination, as well as that of U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, affected Elvis Presley deeply. These feelings led Elvis to give one of the most passionate performances of his career. America was in the midst of an upheaval in 1968. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and our world and culture were changing. Within a short span of time, two leaders were assassinated. Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis – Elvis’ hometown. Robert Kennedy, a US Senator who strongly supported human rights and social justice, was killed two months later, on June 6. It was Elvis’ reaction to the news of Kennedy’s assassination that lead to the creation of the song “If I Can Dream,” a tribute song to King, featuring direct quotes from the Civil Rights leader. In the spring of ’68, Elvis was working on his upcoming TV special, “Elvis.” After seeing the news about Kennedy’s death on TV, Elvis spent an entire night with the show’s director, Steve Binder, and his friends, talking about the assassinations and Elvis’ wishes for the world. The conversation was heartfelt and honest, and Binder believed Elvis had an important message for the country. Binder then went to the show’s Musical Director Billy Goldenberg and songwriter Earl Brown and told them about the discussion. He wanted a powerful, meaningful song that would close out the TV special. Because the special was slated to air in December, the producers and Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, had planned to end the show with a Christmas song, but Binder had other ideas. It wasn’t long before “If I Can Dream” was born. Once the song was finished, Binder took the song to Elvis and played it for him. “Let me hear it again,” said Elvis, and the song was played again and again. “Okay,” Elvis said, “I’ll do it.” On June 23, 1968, Elvis recorded “If I Can Dream” in several impassioned takes, even though it is said that the first take Elvis gave was perfect. The king gave such a powerful...
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‘It Happened at the World’s Fair’ 55 Years Ago

“Elvis swinging higher than the Space Needle with the gals, the songs and the famous World’s Fair!” Elvis’ twelfth movie, “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” was released April 3, 1963, making this year its 55th anniversary. The musical comedy follows Mike (Elvis) and Danny (Gary Lockwood), crop duster pilots who travel to the World’s Fair in Seattle to pay off Danny’s gambling debts and to get their plane back from the local sheriff. Along the way, Danny plays poker to make some quick cash, and Mike woos a nurse, Diane (Joan O’Brien), and takes care of a little girl, Sue-Lin (Vicky Tiu), whose uncle has disappeared. “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was directed by Norman Taurog. The fair was called the Seattle Century 21 Exposition, so the name of the trailer park where Elvis’ character lived was called the “Center 21 Estates.” Many of the structures and buildings created for the fair are still used today in what’s now called the Seattle Center. The Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, is now a symbol for the city of Seattle, Washington. The 1962 World’s Fair drew millions of visitors from around the world. Child actress Vicky Tiu played Sue-Lin, the little girl Mike befriends and takes care of in the film. This was Vicky’s only movie role; as an adult, she became the first lady of Hawaii while her husband, Ben Cayetano, was the state’s governor. Yvonne Craig stars in “World’s Fair” as Dorothy. She later starred as Elvis’ leading lady in “Kissin’ Cousins,” and TV fans will recognize her as Batgirl from the 1960s TV show “Batman.” Actor Kurt Russell made his movie debut in “World’s Fair” as the “shin-kicker,” or “Boy Kicking Mike.” Russell was 10 at the time, and he’s featured in a small role where Mike asks him to kick him in the shins. Years later, he starred as Elvis in a TV movie biography. Elvis worked on the movie from late August through early November. Naturally, part of “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was filmed at the actual World’s Fair. Plenty of fans gathered near the film set to catch a glimpse of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When he couldn’t make it outside, Elvis and his entourage stayed in their hotels and played pranks on the hotel staff. A favorite prank was to move all the furniture...
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60th Anniversary of Elvis’ Army Induction

In 1958, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll got a new job title: Private Presley. Just as Elvis’ fame was at its height, he stepped away from the stage, screen and studio to serve in the United States Army. This month, we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of Elvis’ induction into the Army. We have some special things planned – more on that in a bit – but let’s get started on Elvis’ path to the military. Elvis’ first step toward the Army took place on January 4, 1957, as Elvis went to Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for a pre-induction physical to determine his draft status.   On December 16, 1957, the Memphis Draft Board announced that Elvis would soon receive his draft notice. On the 19th, Elvis heard that his induction notice was waiting for him, so on December 20, he picked up his notice in person. He told reporters later that day that serving in the Army was “a duty I’ve got to fill and I’m going to do it.” On Christmas Eve, Elvis contacted the Memphis Draft Board to formally request a deferment for the filming of his new movie, which would be “King Creole,” “so these folks will not lose so much money, with all they have done so far,” Elvis said. His deferment was granted on December 26. Elvis’ last recording sessions before his Army induction took place in early February in Hollywood. After he completed those recording sessions and the movie wrapped, Elvis returned to Memphis on March 14. Upon his arrival, a reporter asked him how his parents were taking the news that he was about to go into the Army. He admitted his mother, Gladys, was nervous for him – as any mother would be. He was also asked if he thought his fame would fade during his absence. “That’s the sixty-four-dollar question,” Elvis replied. “I wish I knew.” Elvis made sure he had plenty of fun in his hometown before shipping off to the military. In the days leading up to his induction, he shopped for records at Pop Tunes in Memphis (not far from his old home at Lauderdale Courts) and purchased “Looking Back” by Nat King Cole, “Maybe” by the Chantels, “Return to Me” by Dean Martin, “Too Soon to Know” by Pat Boone, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Don Gibson and “Sweet Little Darling” by Jo...
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Elvis Presley’s Memphis Turns One

Here on the Graceland Blog, we celebrate a lot of big anniversaries – 60 years of Elvis’ debut album, 55 years of Elvis’ movies, like “Wild in the Country,” 50 years of the ’68 Special, 45 years of “Elvis on Tour,” 35 years of Graceland opening to the public and so on. It’s rare that we get to celebrate a one-year anniversary, but here we are. Graceland’s entertainment and exhibit complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, was opened a year ago this weekend. Elvis Presley’s Memphis is a state-of-the-art entertainment and exhibit complex over 200,000-square-feet in size, and it allows fans to follow Elvis’ life path. You can surround yourself with the things he loved and experience the sights and sounds of Memphis, the city that inspired him. The complex houses two massive Elvis museums – Presley Motors, which houses his unique cars, and Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest Elvis museum dedicated to the king’s legendary career – as well as several Discovery exhibits. The Discovery exhibits cover many aspects of Elvis’ life and show how he impacted the world. You can follow Elvis into the Army at the Private Presley Exhibit, peek in Elvis’ closet in the Fashion King exhibit and dig deep into the Graceland Archives in the Archives Experience. Presley Motors has its own smaller exhibit, Presley Cycles, which showcases Elvis’ motorcycles, boats and other motorized toys. Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley is a favorite exhibit of many younger Elvis fans, as it showcases artifacts from singers, actors and other stars who were influenced by Elvis. In Icons, you’ll see items Justin Timberlake, John Lennon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton and more. Head on down to the “Mystery Train: Celebrating Sam Phillips” exhibit to learn more about the man who helped discover Elvis Presley.   The complex also features a Soundstage, where guests can watch Elvis movies and concerts, Graceland’s new ticket office and several food options, including restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. There’s also a sweets shop named after Elvis’ grandma, Minnie Mae. At EPM, you can also stop in on the SiriusXM Elvis Radio booth and request your favorite song, play Elvis trivia or just chat with a DJ. Priscilla Presley was on hand for the complex’s grand opening weekend. The weekend also featured performances by Memphis-area musicians and dancers. The...
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‘Stay Away, Joe’ Turns 50

It’s the golden anniversary for Elvis’ high-spirited 26th movie, “Stay Away, Joe.” In “Joe,” Elvis stars as the title character, Joe Lightcloud, a rodeo star who is trying to help his Native American family, who lives on a reservation. Between business dealings and bucking broncos, Joe also stays busy wooing girls – including Mamie, who has marriage on her mind. “Joe” is based on Dan Cushman’s best-selling novel of the same name. Cushman, a Montana native, wrote more than 30 novels and won numerous awards. His “Stay Away Joe” book not only inspired Elvis’ movie but also a Broadway musical; both were praised for their comedy and criticized for the negative depiction of Native Americans. “Stay Away, Joe” features five Elvis songs. Elvis recorded those tunes – the title track, “All I Needed Was the Rain,” “Lovely Mamie,”Stay Away” and “Dominick” – on October 1, 1967. No accompanying soundtrack album was released along with the film. “Stay Away” was recorded on January 16, 1968, and was released as a single with “U.S. Male” on the B side. Filming began in Sedona and Cottonwood, Arizona, on October 9, 1967. Academy Award-winning cinematographer Fred J. Koenkamp worked on the movie and showed off the brilliant beauty of the area in the movie, and it remains a favorite location for the movie industry. A few other movies that have also been shot in the area include “3:10 to Yuma” (the 1957 version), “The Karate Kid” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” If you’re a fan of movies, there is no doubt you’ve seen a few of Elvis’ co-stars in other movies. Burgess Meredith played Joe’s father, Charlie Lightcloud. Meredith starred as the villainous Penguin in the “Batman” TV series in the 1960s, but he’s probably best known as trainer Mickey Goldmill in the “Rocky” films. He was nominated for many Academy and Emmy Awards. Classic film star Joan Blondell starred as Mamie’s mama, the gun-toting Glenda Callahan. She was born into Vaudeville and toured with her parents, and later made her debut on the Ziegfeld Follies in New York. She starred with James Cagney in Broadway productions and in six films. She married actor Dick Powell, and the pair made 10 musicals together. She was nominated for her work in films like “The Blue Veil,” “The Cincinnati Kid” and “Opening Night.” Quentin Dean played Mamie. She made her film debut just a year earlier...
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Elvis Presley’s Piano Man: Floyd Cramer

You know an Elvis song as soon as you hear his voice. Many of Elvis’ diehard fans have learned his backup musicians’ distinctive style, too, and can easily pick out anyone who’s on drums, guitar, piano or bass. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’ve covered a lot of the musicians and producers who helped Elvis craft his musical magic, like The Jordanaires, Sam Phillips and the Blue Moon Boys, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. This week, we’re spotlighting Floyd Cramer, who played on numerous Elvis hits in the 1950s and 60s. Floyd Cramer, a Louisiana native who grew up in Arkansas, taught himself to play piano. He got his first job in showbiz at the Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry competitor which featured Elvis. Elvis made his Hayride debut in October 1954 and became a regular later that year. He ended his Hayride contract in 1956 as his fame grew. Floyd played with Elvis as early as the spring of 1955, when Elvis’ live show was recorded in Texas as a remote broadcast for the Hayride. Floyd moved to Nashville in 1956, where he quickly became one of the busiest session musicians in the business. In addition to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Floyd also recorded with Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold and the Everly Brothers. Floyd mastered the “slip note” style of playing the piano, and he, among with many other session players, helped form the famous “Nashville sound.” Floyd played at Elvis’ first RCA session on January 10-11, 1956, where Elvis, Floyd, Scotty Moore (guitar), Chet Atkins (guitar), Bill Black (bass), DJ Fontana (drums) and Gordon Stoker, Ben Speer and Brock Speer (vocals) cut hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Got a Woman” and “Money Honey.” Floyd also recorded with Elvis in Nashville in 1958, helping create hits like “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I” and “I Got Stung.” After Elvis returned home from his service in the Army in 1960, he continued to record with Floyd on and off, when Floyd wasn’t working with other artists. You can hear Floyd on a number of Elvis’ 1960s hits, like “A Mess of Blues,” “Fever,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Surrender,” “His Hand in Mine,” “Crying in the Chapel,” “Little Sister,” and many more. You can also hear Floyd’s work on several of Elvis’ movie...
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