Special Events and Exhibits Planned to Celebrate 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll on July 5

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Special Events and Exhibits Planned to Celebrate 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll on July 5

The yearlong celebration to commemorate Elvis’ first professional recording, considered by many music historians to be the birth of the rock ‘n’ roll music movement, kicks into high gear during the Independence Day weekend as Memphis and Elvis Presley’s Graceland celebrate 60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  

On July 5, 1954, Elvis walked into Memphis Recording Service, now known as Sun Studio, and recorded a fast version of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. When Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips first played the song July 8, 1954, on WHBQ radio, the switchboard lit up and due to public demand, the song was repeated 14 times in a row during the “Red HOT and Blue” show. Rock ‘n’ roll was born and the music world was changed forever.

Kicking off the holiday weekend celebration on July 4 will be fireworks set to classics by the King of Rock 'n' Roll during Mud Island River Park's Independent Bank Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular, presented by the Riverfront Development Corporation and WREG –TV News Channel 3. Starting at 9:45 p.m. CT, Memphis celebrates 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll in a musical salute to Elvis Presley as fireworks light up the mighty Mississippi River and downtown Memphis’ Riverfront Skyline.

The location of Elvis’ first professional recording session, Sun Studio, will be the site of a day-long celebration on July 5 as Memphis and the world mark the big bang of rock ‘n’ roll with Elvis Presley’s recording of “That’s All Right” in the very studio where it was recorded. Sun Studio will host the official grand opening of its newly-installed exhibit tied to the 60th anniversary and a special “60 Years” ceremony and cake-cutting event will take place at noon central time in front of Sun Studio for visitors and press.

The site of Elvis’ first professional performance just 25 days after his history-making recording session will play host to a one-night-only music event set for July 5, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.  A concert at the Levitt Shell, which will be free and open to the public, will not only celebrate Elvis and his music with an all-star lineup, but will also honor the full breadth of the Memphis music story, showcasing classics by Booker T. & the MG’s, Sam & Dave, Al Green and The Staples Singers, performed by critically-acclaimed artists of today’s Memphis music scene. Just prior to the concert event at the Shell, legendary bassist Bill Black will be honored posthumously on stage with a Brass Note which will be placed on the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame, to recognize his many important contributions to Memphis music, including his significant role in Elvis Presley’s music career, starting with that fateful night at Memphis Recording Service (Sun Studio) on July 5, 1954.

Visitors to Elvis Presley’s Graceland on the historic day of July 5 will receive a free limited-edition poster by noted rock ‘n’ roll artist Joe Petruccio. Featuring art created especially for the anniversary, the prints showcase a young Elvis Presley early in his career clutching his favorite guitar, a 1956 Gibson J200 with the phrase “He Rocked the World.” Posters will be available at Guest Services in the ticketing area at Graceland Plaza (one poster per party/group while supplies last).

The Hard Rock Cafe Memphis will host public memorabilia tours throughout the day on July 5, to showcase its new venue and the rock 'n' roll memorabilia on display.   Following the Levitt Shell concert event on the evening of July 5th, Hard Rock warmly welcomes concert-goers to grab a drink after the show, with drink specials to celebrate 60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Hard Rock Cafe is calling 126 Beale Street their new home - which was the original location of Lansky Brothers, the legendary retail clothiers whose customers included Elvis Presley and many other Memphis music legends.  Detailed event information can be found at HardRock.com/Memphis.    


As unique as the man himself, Backbeat Tours’ “60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour” on July 5 takes a one-of-a-kind approach to sharing Elvis’ legacy in a high-energy concert and sightseeing tour all rolled into one. Hear favorite Elvis hits performed live on Memphis’ only music bus while seeing where he grew up, where he went to school, where he worked, and where he dreamed, as well as sites important to his early career. This special 2.5-hour tour also includes a guided tour of Sun Studio.

A special exhibition is currently on display at Elvis Presley’s Graceland and showcases the king’s impact on music and popular culture over the past 60 years. The vaults of the Graceland Archives have been opened to help develop this unique exhibit, 60 Years of Elvis, that chronicles the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and is included as part of the Graceland VIP Tour. Guests explore the birth of rock ‘n’ roll music in July of 1954 and journey through the transformation of the would-be King of Rock ‘n’ Roll from delivery truck driver to world-wide singing sensation and star of the silver screen. Rare artifacts displayed in the new “60 Years of Elvis” exhibit include: Elvis’ personal “That’s All Right” 45 rpm record; a pay stub from his early days as a driver for Crown Electric; telegrams home to his parents during his first few days on tour; an original script from “Jailhouse Rock”; his 1955 RCA Records contract; Elvis’ last GRAMMY Award for his Gospel hit “How Great Thou Art,” along with the jumpsuit he wore on stage that night; Elvis’ wardrobe from “Viva Las Vegas”; and the award presented to Graceland and the Presley family upon Elvis’ induction into the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.  This Graceland museum exhibit will be open from now until February of 2015.

The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum also features a new exhibit titled "60 Years of Rock," running now through January 2015.  A six decade timeline of memories and music memorabilia, starting with the July 5, 1954, milestone when Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right" and winding through thousands of history-making musical events around the world.

Sirius XM’s Elvis Radio, which broadcasts live from Graceland, plans special programming for its listeners across North America throughout the week leading up to July 5 to celebrate both this 60th anniversary as well as Elvis Radio’s 10th anniversary on the air. A July 5 special broadcast will look back at the “Big Bang Of Rock & Roll” with historic memories from Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Sam Phillips, George Klein and of course the DJ who played the very first Elvis record on the radio, Dewey Phillips.

For more information about these and other 60th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll events, visit Graceland.com.

Posted by Elvis Presley's Graceland at 9:30 AM
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