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 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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50th Anniversary: Elvis Presley’s ‘Double Trouble’

Double the Elvis movies, double the fun! Just a few weeks after “Easy Come, Easy Go,” was released, Elvis Presley’s next movie, the musical comedy “Double Trouble,” followed. Like “Easy Come, Easy Go,” the “Double Trouble” movie doesn’t top many fans’ lists of favorite Elvis films, and it performed well – but not great – at the box office. Still, fans enjoy the laughs, the music and, of course, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in this romp about a rock star who gets mixed up with an heiress, jewel thieves and detectives. “Double Trouble” is Elvis’ 24th film. He actually filmed it before he filmed his 23rd film, “Easy Come, Easy Go,” although “Easy Come, Easy Go” was released just before “Double Trouble.” Elvis filmed “Double Trouble” in July – August 1966, and it was released April 5, 1967. The original working title of the film was “You’re Killing Me,” but “Double Trouble” worked better. Norman Taurog directed these nine Elvis’ films, more than any other director: “Double Trouble” “G.I. Blues” “Blue Hawaii” “It Happened at the World’s Fair” “Spinout” “Tickle Me” “Speedway” “Live a Little, Love a Little” “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Other Norman-directed movies are “Skippy,” “Boys Town” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” He also cast many of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, Donna Reed and more. Elvis’ “Double Trouble” co-star Annette Day made her film debut in this movie. She was working at an antique shop when she was discovered by a producer but “Double Trouble” was the only movie Day ever made. Stage, film and TV actor John Williams, who stars in “Double Trouble,” also starred in “Sabrina” (as the chauffeur) and Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief.” While the movie took place in Belgium and Britain, it wasn’t filmed there. Elvis made the movie entirely on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. While Elvis was filming this movie, he went to a Jackie Wilson concert and met the singer backstage. Elvis invited him to the set of “Double Trouble.” At the Jackie Wilson show, Elvis also met singer James Brown. Elvis was good friends with both Jackie and James for the rest of his life. Speaking of James Brown, you can check out a suit James sported on stage at our new exhibit, Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley. The exhibit features artifacts from artists who were...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ Turns 50

Romance, comedy and an underwater treasure – what more do you need? It’s the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ 23rd movie, “Easy Come, Easy Go.” The movie premiered in March 1967. While it didn’t make a huge impression at the box office, Elvis fans were happy with the colorful, adventurous plotline, Elvis tunes and, of course, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. In “Easy Come, Easy Go,” Elvis stars as Ted, a former U.S. Navy frogman and singer. He discovers a treasure in a sunken ship and sets out to get it for himself. Standing in his way are Gil (Skip Ward) and Dina (Pat Priest), who aim to claim the treasure for themselves. The movie was filmed in September and October 1966. “Easy Come, Easy Go” was directed by John Rich, who also directed “Roustabout.” This musical comedy was the last movie he directed; he went on to gain fame as a comedy TV director. He directed shows like “All in the Family,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island” and many more. Speaking of folks Elvis worked with previously, Dodie Marshall played Jo in “Easy Come, Easy Go,” and she also starred in “Spinout.” Pat Priest starred as Marilyn Munster in “The Munsters,” and she’s the daughter of Ivy Baker Priest, the former Treasurer of the United States. Madame Neherina was played by Elsa Lanchester, who enjoyed an extensive career in film. She’s most famous for starring in the title role of “Bride of Frankenstein.” If you want to learn even more about Elvis’ movies, visit Graceland. Our new exhibit and entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, houses Presley Motors, which is home to many of Elvis’ cars – including vehicles used in movies, like the colorful “Mongrel T” seen in “Easy Come, Easy Go.” You can also see movie costumes, props and more at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest Elvis museum, at the complex. Make your plans today to see all of this for...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Sixty years ago this month, Elvis made one of his most important purchases: Graceland. In the spring of 1957, Elvis was filming his second movie, “Loving You,” and his home address was on Audubon Drive in Memphis, Tennessee. He’d had a slew of hits on the charts, and he’d appeared on many national television shows – including, most recently, his third and final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance. Elvis had outgrown the nice home he enjoyed on Audubon. It was a good home, but his neighbors complained about the seemingly constant stream of fans and the family’s chickens, which lived in the yard (things that never bothered Elvis). Elvis considered buying every neighboring house, but instead, he and his parents decided to find a larger home out in the country. On Saturday, March 16, 1957, Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon, took a tour of Graceland, which was a bit more secluded than the Audubon home. It sat high up on a hill off Highway 51, not far from the Mississippi-Tennessee State line. The Presleys fell in love with the home, which had been built in 1939 by the Toof family. Named Graceland after the owners’ aunt, Grace, the beautiful, two-story home was exactly what they were looking for in a home for their family. They called Elvis, who was filming in Hollywood, and told him the good news. Elvis arrived in Memphis on March 18, and the next day, he put a $1,000 down payment on the home. The purchase was finalized on March 25 for $102,500. Elvis paid $10,000 in cash, received $55,000 from the realty company for the Audubon Drive home and got a 25-year mortgage for the remainder. Elvis purchased the home as well as 13.8 acres of the surrounding farm land. The Presley family had Graceland renovated before moving in, so Vernon, Gladys and Elvis’ grandmother didn’t move in until May 16. Elvis was filming “Jailhouse Rock” by this time, so he didn’t spend the first night there until June 26. Before owning and living in Graceland, Elvis and his parents had lived in several homes and apartments. But with the purchase of Graceland, Elvis found his home. He lived there for the remainder of his life – another 20 years – and made it his own. He redecorated and expanded – Graceland was 10,266 square feet when he moved in, and it’s 17,552 square feet now –...
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The King’s Gold: Elvis Presley’s Gold Lamé Suit

Elvis wore some stunning stagewear during his career. Just think – you can easily name so many of his iconic outfits: the American Eagle jumpsuit from “Aloha from Hawaii,” the black leather suit from the ’68 Special, and, of course, his gold lamé suit. That gold lamé suit turns 60 years old this year, but it looks as brilliant as ever – and it has a new home at Graceland’s new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. But more on that in a bit. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, commissioned famed tailor Nudie Cohn, to create a sparkling suit for Elvis to wear on stage. Nudie’s suits are famous for their intricate embroidery and rhinestones, and his client list included Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, John Lennon, John Wayne, Cher and many more. Elvis’ gold lamé suit included the jacket, pants, shoes, necktie and belt, and it cost $2,500. Elvis first wore the suit in late February or March 1957 for a photo shoot, and then wore it on stage for the first time in Chicago on March 28, 1957, and continued to wear the suit throughout 1957. Elvis often substituted black pants for the gold pants. He only wore the full gold suit for three performances: in Chicago on March 28, in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 29, and in Toronto, Canada, on April 2. The glittery gold suit was put into storage while Elvis served in the U.S. Army. After returning from service, he wore parts of it once more, at the benefit concert for the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, on March 25, 1961. At that show, he wore the jacket and necktie, but opted for dark pants. Elvis never wore the suit again. Besides wearing it on stage, the suit is also featured on album covers. If you’d like to see this eye-catching suit for yourself, you’re in luck. It’s on display at the new Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, at our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The museum also features many of Elvis’ most iconic stage wear – including that Black Leather suit, the American Eagle jumpsuit, and many, many more. Make plans today to see it for...
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Elvis Presley and Racquetball

Elvis Presley worked hard, but when he was ready to relax, he had a plethora of hobbies and pastimes to keep him busy. He loved everything from rollerskating to rollercoasters, from karate to football. He enjoyed going to local carnivals and fairs, and he loved watching movies. In the 1970s, he became interested in a sport that was new to him: racquetball. Racquetball started in the 1950s and became popular by 1969. It’s very similar to both handball and squash. Elvis played his first game in November 1973, and he enjoyed it so much that he started playing at the local Y and at Memphis State. When Elvis was relaxing at home in Memphis, his two favorite things to do were to go to the movies and play a few games of racquetball. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived a true rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, so he often stayed up late, watching movies or playing racquetball until the early morning hours. In the summer of 1975, Elvis decided to bring his racquetball hobby closer to home. He began planning to build a racquetball court at Graceland, and construction of the building began in September 1975. For decades, fans have toured Graceland, including the Racquetball Building. The front half of the building looks like a swanky lobby of a racquetball court, complete with a pinball machine, exercise equipment and a piano. The second half of the building was the court, but for many years, the court was an additional trophy hall, filled from floor to ceiling with Elvis’ posthumous awards. The exhibit space also included a few of Elvis’ jumpsuits, which were regularly rotated out to allow the jumpsuits to “rest” in between displays. But we’re shaking things up at Graceland – in a good way! We’re only about a week away from opening up our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The new complex will feature new exhibits and museums, including Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum, the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world. It will include many of the awards you may have already seen in the Racquetball Building’s trophy room, or in the Trophy Building’s Hall of Gold. The museum will feature artifacts from all aspects of Elvis’ career, from his albums to concerts to movies. What does that mean for the Racquetball Building? That means it is the way it was in 1977....
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Elvis Presley and The Blue Moon Boys

At the foundation of Elvis Presley’s career is The Blue Moon Boys. That’s where it all started for Elvis, alongside guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black – and later, of course, drummer D.J. Fontana. These guys created some incredible music and helped jump start the career of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. It all started in 1954. Scotty and Bill were working with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio with the group, The Starlite Wranglers. The band played country music, but in a few weeks, the guys would be playing rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis spent about a year hanging out at Sun Studio, stopping by to talk to Sam’s secretary, Marion Keisker, and asking about possible recording work. He’d recorded two acetates but wanted to do much more. In the summer of 1954, Marion suggested that Sam give Elvis a chance, and he did. Sam was impressed by the young singer, and he introduced Elvis to Scotty, who later introduced Elvis to Bill. The trio made history on July 5, 1954, when they recorded “That’s All Right” at Sun. A few days later, Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips played it on the radio, and listeners loved it. The guys recorded “Blue Moon of Kentucky” to go on the B-side of the single, which was released on July 19, 1954. It became a regional smash. Scotty served as the manager of Elvis and the guys. In the early days, the guys toured regionally, never going too far – they all still had their day jobs, after all. The Boys appeared regularly at the Eagle’s Nest, a club in Memphis. Sam booked the trio on the Grand Ole Opry, but the show didn’t go over well. Their next stop was the Opry’s competitor, the Louisiana Hayride, which went well – so well that the guys stayed with the Hayride until 1956. Bob Neal took over manager duties, and the guys’ careers continued to climb. D.J. (Dominic Joseph) Fontana also joined the band around this time. He was a drummer on the Louisiana Hayride show, but he played behind the curtain as drummers weren’t yet embraced by country music fans. He played for Elvis for the first time on October 16, 1954, behind the curtain, but later he played out front. He joined the band full time in August 1955. Elvis, D.J., Scotty and Bill continued to make music, tour...
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