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!

What’s Happening at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in 2017

We have a busy year ahead of us here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing and fans from around the world will be traveling to Graceland to honor his life and legacy. In addition to our annual celebrations, we’re anticipating the largest Elvis Week ever, and we’re opening up our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Nothing but the best for the king, right? Here’s what you can expect at Graceland in 2017. Elvis Presley’s Memphis Do you love Elvis? Do you want to learn more about him and his career? Of course you do. You won’t want to miss Elvis Presley’s Memphis, our new, state-of-the-art entertainment complex, which will open March 2-5, 2017, across the street from the Graceland Mansion. It’s five times the size of our current visitors center, which it will replace. This $45 million, 200,000 square-foot complex is Graceland’s largest and most significant expansion since first opening to the public in 1982. Inside the Graceland mansion, you can explore the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s home life, from his lush living room to the famous Jungle Room. But at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, you can explore every facet of his astonishing career, thanks to new museums, exhibits and “Discovery” spaces. The cornerstone of the Elvis Presley’s Memphis experience will be “Elvis: The Entertainer,” a 20,000-square-foot museum celebrating Elvis’ music, movie and live touring career.  This museum will feature hundreds of artifacts from the extensive Graceland Archives, from Elvis’ early days in Tupelo, Mississippi, through his first recording session in Memphis, rise to fame, Hollywood career, service in the U.S. Army, life at Graceland, the Las Vegas years and more.  “Elvis: The Entertainer” will be the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world. A signature exhibition will present the incredible story of music visionary and legendary producer Sam Phillips, who essentially created Rock ‘n’ Roll and discovered so many incredible artists at Memphis Recording Service/Sun Records. Graceland will partner with the Phillips family to develop an extensive exhibition that showcases Sam’s life and work in an unprecedented and engaging way. Featuring rare artifacts, photos, videos and documents from the Phillips family archives, the exhibition will shine a light on the great artists that Sam produced, starting with the early blues recordings that profoundly influenced Elvis and continues to impact the music of today. A 20,000-square-foot “Graceland Soundstage” is also part of Elvis...
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Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan: ‘The First Big Bang’

Sixty years ago today, one television appearance changed the world as we know it. Elvis Presley’s third and final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place on January 6, 1957. The almost 22-year-old had spent the previous year topping the charts, starring in his first movie and causing a stir on several other television appearances. For that final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, he was only shown from the waist up for all of his performances except for his performance of “Peace in the Valley.” Sixty years later, we’re still talking about Elvis on “Ed Sullivan.” People often forget that Elvis was on the show three times, and that only his last appearance was “waist up,” but the fact that he was filmed that way for any performance gave him a cool, dangerous, rebellious – truly, a rock ‘n’ roll – reputation. Whether it’s some version of the “filmed from the waist up” story, or just about the rawness and energy of all three of his performances, Elvis’ appearances on “Sullivan” are still heralded as some of the most pivotal moments in the history of both television and pop culture. Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan” performances influenced hundreds of young musicians, thrilled an entire generation of teenagers and rocked the status quo. And while Elvis deserves all of the credit for his powerful performances, another reason Elvis’ appearances were so impactful was a bit of “right place, right time.” As a society, America was ready for a thrill and a shock, and the new television technology brought Elvis right into millions of homes. Producer, writer and director Andrew Solt, who owns “The Ed Sullivan Show” library and who wrote and directed the documentary “This is Elvis,” spoke with the Graceland Blog about why Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearances were so important to his career, to the show and to the world. Solt is one of our special guests for Elvis’ Birthday Celebration at Graceland. Picture it: America, 1956. “It was post-World War II when (Elvis) hit the scene. In the mid-50s, it was a kind of sleepy America,” Solt said. “Most people were trying to get into a two-bedroom house with a garage. Life was kind of calm, but there was this brewing rebellion, and Elvis represented that.” Sullivan’s show, which ran from 1948-1971, featured all kinds of entertainers and guests, from musicians like Elvis to comedians, Broadway performers, opera singers,...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland: Our Top Moments of 2016

As we count down to the final days, hours and minutes of 2016, we’re taking a moment to look back on this monumental year at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. We celebrated milestones, Elvis Week, Elvis’ birthday and the holidays. We took Elvis to fans overseas, and brought fans closer to Graceland than ever. We crowned a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, shared new Elvis music with fans and made lots of plans that will leave 2017 all shook up (sorry, we just had to say that). Let’s look back at our favorite moments from 2016. The Guest House at Graceland Opens During most of 2016, we watched as the new 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, come into shape down the road from Graceland. The weekend of October 27-30, the hotel opened to rave reviews. Fans loved the Elvis-inspired décor, the Southern hospitality, the food and the feeling that you were, in fact, staying at Elvis’ guest house. Two weeks after opening, the hotel was awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating. Have you stayed at The Guest House at Graceland yet? Book your stay today. Announcing Elvis Presley’s Memphis At Graceland, we always want to preserve and carry on Elvis’ legacy – and that’s what we’re doing with our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Opening in the spring 2017, the new complex will house Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, as well as Presley Motors, a new Elvis car museum. There will also be “Discovery” exhibit spaces, where guests can learn more about Elvis’ life, career and interests, as well as a Soundstage for special events. Hungry for more? You’ll find plenty to eat at two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Elvis’ two airplanes will also be on display here, too. Make your plans now to experience Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Graceland Welcomes Its 20 Millionth Visitor In May, we celebrated our 20 millionth – yes, you read that right – visitor: Tiffany Greenoak, who was visiting Graceland while on her honeymoon with her husband, Robert. The Greenoaks, Elvis fans from London, were welcomed to Graceland by a phone call from Priscilla Presley and a visit from Graceland CEO Jack Soden. Tiffany and Robert were given a private tour and won a prize pack that included a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a one-year pass...
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Here’s Looking at You, Elvis Presley Fans

We’re days away from Christmas. Kids have sent off their Christmas lists and hoping Santa brings them everything on it. For those of us here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, you could say that it’s Christmas for us every day. Why? Why, we get to see all of you, of course, and Elvis fans are exactly what we want for Christmas! We love seeing your smiling faces at Graceland, and we’re so thankful you choose to spend your time with us, whether it’s just for a quick tour, for an all-day adventure, to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or to join us for a special event, like Elvis Week. Thank you, thank you very much for visiting the king’s castle! For this week’s blog, we’ve collected some of our favorite guest photos that were posted to Instagram in 2016. There are many, many more – in fact, you can see our fan photos of the day daily on Graceland.com – so these are just a few of our faves. And remember – we have a lot of changes coming in 2017, so we’d love to see you back here at Graceland next year, complete with more photos and selfies. Want us to see your photo? Be sure to use the hashtag #Graceland, and be on the lookout for special events-related hashtags we’ll use throughout the year. (Speaking of Instagram, you do follow us on there, right?) Some of our favorite photos include the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. You can’t come to Graceland without snapping a photo of yourself and the king!       Another popular location for selfies and photos at Graceland is, of course, the blue Graceland sign.     One of the most photogenic areas at Graceland is the famous Graceland wall, full of love notes to Elvis from fans all over the world. In fact, many of these fans’ photos look like they could be featured in a fashion magazine.       If you go anywhere really cool, you have to take a photo to prove you were there, right? Right. The cool thing about Graceland is that there’s no other place like it, so whether you snap a selfie in the Jungle Room, with one of Elvis’ cars or in Elvis’ backyard, your photo is totally one of a kind.             These shots are great, but it seems like...
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How Well Do You Know Elvis Presley’s 1956?

This year on the Graceland Blog, we’ve celebrated the amazing accomplishments that Elvis achieved 60 years ago in 1956. We’ve covered everything from his busy tour schedule to his first album to his first movie to the first home he purchased. We also discussed the Million Dollar Quartet and his many television appearances. If you’ve read these blogs – and are a good Elvis fan who knows all kinds of Elvis trivia – you probably know Elvis pretty well. But how well do you know Elvis’ 1956? Take the quiz below and find...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland at Christmas

The holidays are – and have always been – a magical time here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. From the colorful Nativity scene in the front yard to the Christmas wreaths at the stables, all of Graceland is decorated to celebrate the Christmas season. Graceland’s traditional Christmas decorations also include two beautiful Christmas trees – one in the living room and one in the dining room, poinsettias on the staircase and throughout the house, and decorations in the Pool Room and Jungle Room. Even the famous monkey in the pool room gets dressed up for the occasion, wearing a Santa hat and a red bow. Actually, before we go any further, let’s set the mood even more. Check out this video of Graceland’s Christmas lights, set to Charles Esten’s “The Lights at Graceland.”   Elvis loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year. The Presleys always put up their Christmas decorations early, and because Elvis so loved the season, decorations stayed up through his birthday on January 8 (a tradition we keep alive here at Graceland). Elvis purchased Graceland in the spring of 1957, so that first Christmas at his new home was a special one. On December 12, he purchased a Santa and sleigh yard decoration that read, “Merry Christmas to All, Elvis.” We still display that sign, which he purchased for $300 from the Bain Sign Company. For Christmas, Elvis used beautiful red drapes to decorate Graceland. He had a white nylon Christmas tree which rotated on its stand and played Christmas carols, and he decorated it with red ornaments. Elvis also lined the Graceland driveway with blue lights. Elvis’ father Vernon joked that with the lights lining the driveway, and the airport nearby, that pilots may get confused and would try to land at Graceland. The Santa and sleigh sign went into a brief retirement in the 1960s, when Elvis decorated the lawn with the Nativity scene and aluminum Christmas trees. When the company that Elvis, and eventually Graceland, leased the Nativity scene and aluminum trees from each year went out of business, Graceland purchased the displays to ensure the continuation of Elvis’ holiday tradition. Christmas at Graceland became even more special with the arrival of Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter, Lisa Marie. For her first Christmas, Vernon dressed up as Santa to visit the family at Graceland. Elvis loved buying Christmas gifts for Lisa, and gifts...
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Elvis Presley and the Million Dollar Quartet

Sixty years ago, on December 4, 1956, four musicians gathered around a piano in a recording studio to jam… and the rest is history. There have been many jam sessions over the years, in plenty of recording studios, with any number of musicians – but this one is special. On a Tuesday afternoon, Elvis Presley, his date, Marilyn Evans and his friend Cliff Gleaves, were driving on Union Avenue in Memphis and spotted several Cadillacs sitting outside Sun Studio. Elvis was, by now, an RCA artist, but he couldn’t resist stopping by his former home studio to see who was recording that day. Inside was none other than Carl Perkins, who was working on a few tunes with his brothers, Jay and Clayton, and a young piano player who was new on the scene – Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee’s career was just starting at Sun, and he was excited to meet Elvis. At some point in the session, Sun’s biggest star, Johnny Cash, joined in on the fun. Some reports have him there for the entire session, while others say he was there just for the iconic photo. Either way, the four young musical legends – Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash – were at Sun Studio on December 4, and were, for at least a little while, the Million Dollar Quartet. Sam Phillips was there, too, and he made sure that engineer Jack Clement had hit the record button on the session. He also called Bob Johnson, a reporter for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, to snap a photo of what he already knew was a historic moment. “The quartet could sell a million,” Bob said in his story, which featured the headline, “Million Dollar Quartet.” The guys played a mix of their favorite country and gospel numbers. The tunes they played that day include “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Peace in the Valley,” “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” “Down by the Riverside,” “You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis sang pieces of “Don’t Be Cruel” as he told the guys about how impressed he was by a vocal group, Billy Ward and His Dominoes, who performed the song at their concerts in Las Vegas. The group’s singer that Elvis talks about during the session was Jackie Wilson. There were plenty of candid moments like that during the session. When...
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Guest Blog: Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback – Burbank to Graceland

To celebrate the anniversary of Elvis’ ’68 Special this week, we’re teaming with BestClassicBands.com to bring you this in-depth piece on the legendary special. Read an excerpt of their story below. by Neal Umphred At 9:00 p.m. on December 3, 1968, the televisions of millions of American homes were tuned to NBC, where they were greeted with this welcoming line: “If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place.” After an eight-year hiatus, Elvis Presley was back on TV. He was joined by guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana, both of whom had been with Elvis on his historic TV appearances in 1956 and ’57. Television had changed a lot in those years: Presley was in glorious color for the first time! And he filled much larger screens than the tiny black-and-white sets that had showed a grainy version of him with Frank Sinatra in 1960, the last time he’d sung to a national audience. And it was only the beginning: For the next 60 minutes, viewers saw and heard some of the rawest, hardest rock and roll music of their lives. And it worked: Elvis was the top-ranked show of the week, beating out the hugely popular Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The reviews that followed were generous, and the show’s producer, Bob Finkel, would later be given a Peabody Award for this special. Tell me why can’t my dreams come true But it was the response of the people that mattered: In the wake of the television broadcast, the single from the show, “If I Can Dream”—a heartfelt appeal for universal brotherhood and acceptance—peaked at #9 on the Cash Box Top 100 survey. It was Presley’s first Top 10 single in three years, selling close to a million copies in the U.S. (It reached #12 in Billboard.) The soundtrack album, Elvis, reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s LP chart, also the first time that had happened in three years. These two records were hits around the world, the first time that Presley had enjoyed such global success since “Crying in the Chapel” in 1965. In hindsight, all of this looks almost inevitable: How could such determination, such ambition, such genius not be appreciated on a massive scale? But that was anything but predictable when the show aired that December, for on that late 1968 day, Elvis had fallen from the pinnacle of success. He had made too...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Hawaii’

This time of year, Elvis fans in the Northern Hemisphere appreciate anything that takes their mind off of cold air, snow and ice. Enter one of Elvis’ fan-favorite movies: “Blue Hawaii.” The musical comedy was released 55 years ago this week, on November 22, 1961. This movie’s sun, sand and surf are the perfect cure for the winter blues. “Blue Hawaii” sees the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as Chad, who has recently gotten out of the Army and is looking forward to some fun and romance the Aloha State. His mother, played by the great Angela Lansbury, wants him to take over the family business, but he’d much rather work as a tour guide for his girlfriend’s agency. The colorful, exotic locales, fabulous soundtrack and light-hearted storyline make this comedy one of Elvis’ most beloved films. It’s the first of three films he made in Hawaii, and just before shooting this film, Elvis performed a benefit show at the Bloch Arena. “Blue Hawaii” was originally titled “Hawaiian Beach Boy.” The movie was filmed on Oahu and Kauai, and the famous wedding scene was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort Hotel on Kauai. The hotel was devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and it was further damaged by a fire in 2014. The hotel has since been demolished and owners hope to re-open a new hotel on the site in 2018. “Blue Hawaii” was directed by Norman Taurog, who directed nine of Elvis’ films. Elvis would work with many of his “Blue Hawaii” co-stars in future films. Joan Blackman, who stars as his leading lady Maile in “Blue Hawaii,” would also later team up with Elvis in “Kid Galahad.” Roland Winters starred in both “Blue Hawaii” and Elvis’ follow-up film, “Follow That Dream.” Pamela Austin appeared in both “Blue Hawaii” and “Kissin’ Cousins.” Howard McNear played Mr. Chapman in this film and would also star in “Follow That Dream” and “Fun in Acapulco.” Actor Steve Brodie played a troublemaker in three Elvis movies: “Blue Hawaii,” “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Roustabout.” Guy Lee starred in both this film and “Girls! Girls! Girls,” and Richard Reeves had small parts in five Elvis films: “Blue Hawaii,” “Girl Happy,” “Tickle Me,” “Frankie and Johnny” and “Harum Scarum.” “Blue Hawaii” features the most songs in an Elvis film with 14 tracks. The “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack spent 79 weeks on the Billboard charts, with 20 of those...
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Elvis Presley in ‘Love Me Tender’

In 1956, Elvis became both a rock star and a movie star. That year, Elvis was everywhere – on radio, TV, and, with his first movie, “Love Me Tender,” he was also on the big screen. “Love Me Tender” premiered on November 15, 1956 – 60 years ago this week. And really, getting Elvis to the big screen was a fairly quick process. Elvis’ screen test for Hal Wallis at Paramount Studios in Hollywood took place in late March 1956. Elvis performed two scenes from “The Rainmaker,” and he lip synched his hit “Blue Suede Shoes.” A few weeks later, Wallis offered Elvis a contract for one movie with options for six more. Elvis signed a deal that would pay $15,000 for his first film,$20,000 for his second, $25,000 for his third, and so on up to $100,000 for his seventh movie. “Loving You” and “King Creole” were made under that contract, and both of them paid more than the agreed-upon salaries listed in the contract. That contract was totally rewritten in 1958. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, had negotiated with Wallis so that Elvis could make films with other studios, and that’s how “Love Me Tender” happened. Without a script ready to go, Wallis waived his right to produce Elvis’ first movie. 20th Century Fox set a deal with Parker in August 1956 to appear in “The Reno Brothers” – better known to us now as “Love Me Tender” – for $100,000 and co-star billing. Fox also had an option for two more movies for $150,000 and $200,000 (those two films that were shot under the contract were “Flaming Star” and “Wild in the Country”). Elvis arrived in Hollywood on August 16, 1956, and filming began on August 22. Filming wrapped on September 21. Elvis also recorded the “Love Me Tender” soundtrack during this time, too. The title track was inspired by the Civil War ballad “Aura Lee.” The original title of the movie was scrapped for “Love Me Tender” after advanced sales for the “Love Me Tender” single passed 1 million. Robert D. Webb directed “Love Me Tender.” In the movie, the oldest Reno brothers serve in the Confederate Army in the Civil War, and the Reno family back home – which includes the youngest Reno brother, Clint (that would be our star, Elvis) – receives news that the eldest Reno brother, Vance (Richard Egan) was killed...
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