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 Blog, Day 3: Elvis’ Style

BY JON WATERHOUSE In tandem with Elvis’ musical prowess and undeniable presence, his personal style and flair for fashion commands equal attention and influence. As bold and vibrant as the man himself, his style leaned toward chromatic colors, glistening bling and dressing to the nines, even when just hanging on the couch. Yesterday’s Designing for the King event found my pal, ace Elvis Week emcee Tom Brown, interviewing a trio of guys who helped Elvis with his kingly style. Hal Lansky, owner of Lansky Bros.; Lowell Hays, Elvis’ jeweler; and Bill Eubanks, Presley’s interior designer. Each of their tales had my eyes twinkling like the king’s rings, inspiring me to track down some of the best purveyors of a similar fashion sense popularized by Presley. Frannie Houston Houston, a Memphis native and sales associate at Lansky Bros. inside the Hard Rock Cafe Music Complex on Beale Street, says Elvis’ look, and his knack for style and trends, still resonates today. Channeling a bit of “Charro!” in this pic, Houston goes basic with jeans and cowboy boots. “Even just a little red bandana on an all-black day can make a difference,” she says. Robert Washington and Dwight Icenhower This pair of Elvis Tribute Artists began clowning around backstage at the Ultimate ETA Semifinals last night. In impromptu fashion, the pair found themselves replicating the famous Muhammad Ali-meets-Elvis photo. Obviously influenced by the King’s jumpsuit years, the duo gleamed in the backstage hallway. “Got to love the bling,” says Icenhower. Shirley Hodges and Melody Manning Talking about bling, you can’t lose Shirley Hodges (left) and Melody Manning (right) in a crowd. These two Elvis fans from Milledgeville, Ga. fashioned their own Elvis vests with a bevy of pins, and dolled up their nails to match. “It took me three months to work on one vest,” Manning says. They glue some of their pins on for extra reinforcement, and gather glittery enhancements wherever they can. According to Manning, one pin alone, a limited-edition acquired from Bradford Exchange, set her back $70. Gabby Gibson Gibson, from St. Clair Shores, Mich., channels the ’50s era with her classic poodle skirt. For Halloween 2015, Gibson dressed as the king. Throughout Elvis Week she poses as a first-generation Elvis fan, complete with bobby socks and saddle shoes. Although she may be rocking the 1950s, her favorite Elvis song jumps a couple of decades to 1973. “I...
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Elvis Week Day 2: Top 5 Things I Noticed on Guest House at Graceland Tour

By Jon Waterhouse Miracles happen at Elvis Week, and today I’m living proof. After a wonderful yesterday morning at Graceland, the next six hours panned out like this: A head-shaving accident and a cut that wouldn’t stop bleeding; leaving the doctor’s office and breaking down on Interstate 55; receiving help from Memphis’ finest; an expensive tow truck ride to a local mechanic; and no rental cars to be found. Alas, good fortune began appearing in the form of bountiful blessings, including no need for stitches and my survival on 55. And let’s not forget the only rental ride I could finally track down wound up being a bad-to-the-bone Mustang. Gunning those wheels down Elvis Presley Boulevard, with Elvis Radio blaring out of the rolled-down windows, a thought popped in my head: Presley would be proud. So, I’m finally back in front of the keyboard, going over the cool stuff that unfolded on Wednesday, beginning with my visit to the construction site at the Guest House at Graceland, the new 450-room luxury resort just steps away from the king’s castle, set to open on October 27. Back at Elvis Week 2014, I stood near Priscilla Presley during the groundbreaking ceremony, and I even got to hold one of the official shovels. An expanse of dirt and grass served as the surroundings. Fast forward to yesterday. I found myself standing in front of a breathtaking structure, echoing the design of Graceland itself, not to mention Elvis’ own flair for decor. The construction crew bustled around me, taking care of business. They whizzed by on forklifts, scaled ladders and slathered on coats of paint. I could see the Guest House coming to life before my eyes. The best example would be the dirt patch I noticed as I parked my car. When I returned, I found it covered by a blanket of sod. While taking the tour with Michael Pramshafer, the vice president of sales and marketing, I witnessed countless cool sites. Take a look at my Top 5. THE TOP 5 THINGS I SAW ON THE GUEST HOUSE AT GRACELAND TOUR The Guest House at Graceland Itself Walking up to the Guest House, I could imagine the strains of “Welcome to my World” playing in my head. Sure, it has the look of a world-class resort, but it’s distinctively Elvis. For the first time, us fans get the opportunity to physically...
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Elvis Week Day 1: The First Five Things I Noticed at Elvis Week

BY JON WATERHOUSE A flat tire just 30 minutes from Graceland, the unapologetic Memphis heat and the waning effects of copious coffee don’t deter me from my mission. Rolling into town just before the Graceland office closes for the day, I’m able to drape my lanyard around my neck and start taking care of blogging business. No fret fellow fans, I’m on the case. If you see some over-excited bald guy buzzing about Elvis Week 2016, chances are it might be me. The ever-awesome folks at Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland have once again blessed me with the geeky dream job of serving as the official blogger for Elvis Week. Simply put, I attempt to be the eyes and ears of the 39th edition of this annual gathering. I’ll be joining the celebration with thousands of my fellow fans, from the casual and curious to die-hards and those who should be, and writing about the experience each day. Call it my hunka, hunka burnin’ blog. THE FIRST FIVE THINGS I NOTICED AT ELVIS WEEK Elvis Week means an attack of the senses. Endless things to hear, see and soak up can be found around every corner. Take a look at the first five things I noticed once I hit the Graceland ground running. Elvis Presley’s Graceland Fan Mosaic Stretching across a wall at Graceland Plaza, you’ll find this amazing piece of art. A seemingly endless array of tiny pictures of Elvis fans come together to create an image of the Graceland mansion. I happen to be taking it all in when Jenny Smith of Des Moines, Iowa finds her face among the thousands. According to her travel buddy, Joyce White, it took them less than 15 minutes to track down Smith’s mug. Most impressive. The Auction at Graceland Preview I quickly shoot across the plaza to the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum for a preview of the upcoming Auction at Graceland. Several of the items that will be on the block beginning 2 p.m. Aug. 13 can be seen in all of their glory. And, man, I’m wanting it all! The collection of kingsized bling Elvis purchased at Harry Levitch Fine Jewelry sparkles with temptation. His boots, his Amex card, those gold shades, they all call to me. Would blowing my life’s savings be grounds for divorce? Elvis Week Merchandise On my first day in town, I typically start scoping...
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Elvis Week By the Numbers

Elvis Week is one week away. The annual celebration of all things Elvis takes place at Graceland on August 10-16, and it’s chock full of events that will make any Elvis fan happy. Geek out at Elvis 101, get some style tips at Designing for the King, team up with your fellow Elvis fans at the Elvis Fan Reunion, dance the night away at the Elvis Sock Hop, cheer on your favorite Elvis tribute artist at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, hear directly from Elvis’ co-stars at Conversations on Elvis and – most importantly – remember Elvis at the Candlelight Vigil. That’s not even all of the events, and we can’t even begin to describe the incredible Elvis Week atmosphere. We can, however, talk numbers – so check out Elvis Week by the Numbers. This year marks the 38th Candlelight Vigil (the first vigil took place a year after Elvis passed way). Fans can bring their own candles to the Candlelight Vigil, but we do provide a few – more than 5,760 – in case anyone needs one. (The free Elvis Week app also has a candle feature!) 110 Fan Clubs from around the world signed up to take part in Honor Guard at the Candlelight Vigil this year. The average temperature during Elvis Week 2015 was 90.4 F. We print 25,000 Elvis Week event guides for visitors to use during the Week. The Elvis Week Main Stage tent is 10,000 square feet. We have 20 Semifinalists in this year’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. This is the 10th year for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. We welcomed the most media outlets to Elvis Week in 2007. More than 100 media outlets, from as far away as Russia and Israel, covered Elvis Week 2007. If you love numbers, check out our Elvis Presley’s Graceland by the Numbers blog! Tickets are still available for Elvis Week 2016! The last day to order your tickets online in advance is August 7, so get your tickets...
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Play the Elvis 101 Trivia Game

How much do you know about Elvis Presley? Put your Elvis knowledge to the test with the Elvis 101 trivia game! The following questions cover Elvis’ music, movies, personal style and accomplishments, and many of them are related to Elvis Week events and guests. And if you love learning about Elvis, check out Elvis 101 at Elvis Week. Elvis 101, with host Tom Brown, features scholars, authors and those who have spent hundreds of hours studying Elvis Presley talking in-depth about different aspects of Elvis’ life and career. Our special guests include author Peter Guralnick, talking about his most recent release, “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll;” Dr. Charles Hughes, Director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College and professor for the course there entitled Elvis Presley and America; and John Jackson, Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon, all of Sony Music. Scroll down and enjoy the game, and get your Elvis Week tickets...
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10 Things You Might Not Know About Elvis Week

Are you ready? Elvis Week 2016 is only about a month away, and we can’t wait. There will be several concerts, like Elvis Love Songs, The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley and the Sound & Soul of Memphis, and so many panels and discussions, each with guests who have studied, worked with or were friends with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. There’s the excitement of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, and, of course, the always-emotional Candlelight Vigil. It’s a busy week, but it’s full of Elvis and Elvis fans – and that makes it the highlight of the year. Think you know Elvis Week? Think again. Check out 10 Things You Might Not Know About Elvis Week: 1. You could run into someone from anywhere in the world. We all know Elvis is worldwide. But it’s pretty magical to hear “I love Elvis” in accents and languages from across the globe during Elvis Week. During Elvis Week 2015, we had visitors from Zimbabwe, Wales, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Taiwan, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Singapore, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Norway, England, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Nicaragua, South Korea, Mexico, Monaco, Israel, Egypt, China, Chile, France, Germany, Belgium, and Japan. And you know what? That’s not even all of the countries. There are more. Lots more. 2. Expect the unexpected. We like to stick to a schedule of events and a confirmed list of special guests… but sometimes, things go off-book. Special guests drop by. Exclusive previews, premieres or special announcements happen. Priscilla Presley has made a few surprise guest appearances, for example, and last year Lisa Marie Presley surprised thousands of fans when she spoke at the Candlelight Vigil. 3. You might get star-struck. Celebrities are Elvis fans, too, and they tour Graceland often (just check out our Celebrity Visitors page). You never know when they’ll stop by – and it might be during Elvis Week. Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana stopped to tour Graceland a few years ago, as did “Pitch Perfect” actress Anna Kendrick, who was in town celebrating her birthday and stopped by to see the king’s castle. 4. The Candlelight Vigil started in 1978. The very first Candlelight Vigil was held in 1978, the year after Elvis’ passing, by a small group of fans who gathered at the gates of Graceland. That makes this year’s vigil the 38th annual. For the Candlelight Vigil, we...
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Designing for the King – Elvis Presley’s Style

Elvis Presley was totally unique. No one sounded like him. No one dressed like him. If you’ve been to Graceland, you know its design is totally one-of-a-kind. Elvis didn’t follow trends; he was a trendsetter. People watched him slick back his black hair into the perfect pompadour, were dazzled by his eye-catching stage wear and took notice of his custom Pink Cadillac – and then tried their best to mimic his style. He turned a Southern Colonial mansion into a home like only the king could, complete with countless mirrors, a stylish TV room that bears his own personal motto and a mind-blowing billiards room. Who else would dare bring the jungle into his own den? During Elvis Week 2016, we’ll delve into Elvis’ personal style with a panel called Designing for the King, where three designers – Bill Eubanks, Lowell Hays and Hal Lansky – will talk about what it was like to decorate for, dress and accessorize the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.     While still in interior design school, Bill Eubanks’ met none other than Elvis Presley, who invited him to Graceland to take a look at the home’s interior design. The guys hit it off, and Bill designed several rooms at Graceland, including the Pool Room and the TV Room. The TV Room and Pool Room are two of the most visually stunning rooms at Graceland. The TV Room features a mirrored ceiling (be sure to look up and snap a selfie while you’re here!) and a lightning bolt painted on the wall in brilliant yellow, navy and white. The Pool Room is drenched in fabric – more than 350 yards, covering the walls and ceiling – as well as colorful and exotic furniture and decorations. Bill’s successes continued after his time at Graceland. He’s been named one of the top 50 designers by Elements of Living and receive the inaugural “Star of Design” award from the Design Center of the Americas.     Before Elvis changed the game with his eye-catching jumpsuits, he got many of the fashionable suits he wore on stage – and on TV – at Lansky Bros., right here in Memphis. Elvis started shopping at Lansky Bros. when he was in high school and befriended the store’s owner, Bernard. In fact, Elvis sported some Lansky threads on his first “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance. Lansky Bros. became a hot spot for musicians, like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee...
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50th Anniversary: Elvis Presley’s “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”

Elvis Presley’s colorful, musical comedy, “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” turns 50 this summer. This movie, in which Elvis plays a pilot named Rick, was Elvis’ 21st movie, and the third (and final) one made in Hawaii. If you need a dose of Hawaii this summer, this is the movie for you. In “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” Elvis plays Rick, a charming helicopter pilot who starts a charter service with his buddy Danny (James Shigeta). A misunderstanding leads to Rick temporarily losing his pilot license, but when Danny and his daughter become stranded on a desert island, Rick must decide if he should risk his career to save his friend. There’s romance, too, of course, as Rick romances the glamorous “Friday” Judy Hudson (Suzanna Leigh). Rick also befriends a local girl, Jan (Donna Butterworth). “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” was filmed in Hawaii in the summer of 1965. A party was given at the Polynesian Cultural Center to celebrate the movie, and it was there that Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone interviewed Elvis, and the interview aired the following day on the radio. While in Hawaii, Elvis, Elvis’ father Vernon and manager Col. Tom Parker visited the USS Arizona Memorial, which Elvis had helped raise money to build. They left a bell-shaped wreath of 1,177 carnations – one for each of the servicemen who died during the Pearl Harbor attack. About the time that production was wrapping on “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” Elvis met a few other musicians you may have heard of: Tom Jones, who visited the set, and The Beatles, who visited Elvis’ Bel Air home a few weeks after production was completed. James Shigeta went on to star in many TV shows and films, including  “Magnum, P.I.,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and Die Hard,” and he voiced General Li in Disney’s “Mulan.” Suzanna Leigh, a native of England, also had starring roles in films like “Boeing, Boeing,” and a few classic Hammer films such as “Son of Dracula.” Jan Shepard starred in “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” as Betty, and this was her second Elvis film. She played Mimi in “King Creole.” Donna Butterworth, who stars as Jan, had a brief but fruitful film career, only starring in a handful of projects. She was nominated in 1966 for a Golden Globe Award for her role in “The Family Jewels.” Michael D. Moore directed “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” and he was an assistant director of six previous Elvis movies. Love Elvis movies?...
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Elvis Presley’s “Wild in the Country” Turns 55

Drama, romance and – of course – a little music, Elvis Presley’s “Wild in the Country” had it all. “Wild in the Country” was released June 15, 1961, so in honor of the film’s 55th anniversary, let’s fill you in on some movie trivia. “Wild in the Country” stars Elvis as Glenn, a young Southern man with a dysfunctional family. After getting into a fight with his brother, he’s forced to go on probation. He meets Irene (Hope Lange), a counselor who works with him to get his life in order – like many young Southern men, Glenn has dreams of becoming a writer. The pair run into problems when nosy neighbors claim Glenn is involved with Irene, even though he’s romanced ladies his own age, like Betty Lee (Millie Perkins). Elvis flew to California for pre-production on November 6, 1960, and principal photography ended on January 1961. The original plan for the movie was that it would not be a musical, but eventually the songs were written into the storyline. Elvis recorded six songs, but only four were used. The “Wild in the Country” screen play was based on the novel “The Lost Country” by J.R. Salamanca. In the book, Elvis’ character, Glenn, is not an aspiring writer, but an artist, and Irene was a teacher, not a counselor. Hope Lange stars in the film as Irene the counselor, but she was really only 13 months older than Elvis. Millie Perkins, who stars as Betty Lee, later played the role of Elvis’ mother Gladys in the 1990 TV series, “Elvis.” Olympic decathlon champion Rafer Johnson stars in the film as Davis. “Wild in the Country” is the film debut of Christina Crawford, adopted daughter of Joan Crawford. It was during the filming of this movie that Elvis and his manager Col. Tom Parker decided to help raise money for the USS Arizona memorial. Elvis celebrated his 26th birthday while making this movie. The cast and crew threw him a birthday party, and he was given a plaque that read, “Happy Birthday, King Karate,” since he’d just received his first degree black belt in July 1960. If you love Elvis movies, you’ll love the new VIP exhibit at Graceland. It’s “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man,” and it features everything from scripts to costumes. Check it out when you visit Graceland! And check out our Gates of...
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Elvis Presley in Canada

Elvis Presley performed in only one other country besides the United States, and that one country is Canada. Elvis made his first and last Canadian appearances in 1957. Young Elvis – having already released his first album and film in 1956, and had just purchased Graceland – arrived in Canada for the first two of these appearances in April 1957. Elvis’ first Canadian performances were at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 2, 1957. Elvis wore his stunning, sparkling gold suit for this show – and this was the last time he wore the full suit. For future performances, Elvis would only wear pieces from this suit, such as just the jacket, belt and shoes, and in some shows, just the jacket.     At this performance, Elvis accompanied himself on piano for “Blueberry Hill,” Fats Domino’s chart-topping hit. Elvis loved Fats and owned several of his albums. Elvis performed again in Canada the next day, April 3, at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Ottawa Auditorium in Ottawa. Elvis wore the gold jacket and shoes, but not the gold tie and pants. Elvis’ career was in full swing, but he was still a bit of controversial figure. Parents and religious officials were concerned about their kids listening to rock ‘n’ roll and the potentially dangerous influence Elvis had on his fans (a funny notion nearly 60 years later, huh?). A local girls’ school, the Notre Dame Convent, forbade its students to attend the concert and suspended eight of its students who ignored the rule. Elvis was booked to perform in Montreal, too, but that show was canceled due to civic concern and pressure from local Catholic officials. Elvis’ next Canadian concert was at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver on August 31, 1957. The 26,500 fans in attendance went wild for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The stage was set up on the empty football field, but fans wanted to be closer. Thousands bypassed security to find a place in front of the stage on the field. The show had to be stopped twice for safety concerns. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, suggested to Elvis that he tone down his show, but being a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, Elvis didn’t listen to him. He did shorten the set, though, and – for safety reasons – he fooled the audience. He gave his gold jacket to a crew member to...
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