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!

Stop, Look and Listen: Elvis Presley’s Stereos

Every April, the world celebrates Record Store Day, which focuses on vinyl records and the physical shops that sell them. This month’s Gates of Graceland episode shows off a few of Elvis Presley’s favorite 45s. But what’s a record without a record player? Elvis loved music, and he made sure you could hear it all over Graceland. He could play selections from his extensive record collection anywhere, whether he was in his bedroom, downstairs in his colorful TV Room, in the Jungle Room and even in his own racquetball court. Let’s take a look at  some of the stereos and record players here at Graceland. The TV Room at Graceland was really Elvis’ place to enjoy entertainment. In addition to the room’s three TV sets, this room is also home to a stereo, jukebox and record player. Elvis owned thousands of records, and most of them were housed in the TV Room. At Graceland, music is actually built right into the walls. Check out the jukebox in the TV Room: It’s easy to spot Elvis’ music in the TV Room, but the record player in the Jungle Room is hidden. Find out where the record player is in the Jungle Room in this “Hidden Graceland” episode of our web series, Gates of Graceland:   Anyone who’s been inside Elvis’ Racquetball Building knows it wasn’t just used for that sport. It also includes a pinball machine, piano, and this stereo system: This system is made by Crown International – pretty fitting for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, huh? A fire destroyed most of the Crown manufacturing facility in November 1971. It was rebuilt as soon as possible, and this stereo is one of the first ones manufactured following that fire. Another record player that’s housed inside Graceland is the one in Elvis’ bedroom. This is that record player, complete with the record Elvis left on it. That record is an untitled one by The Stamps. What else did Elvis listen to? Check out this month’s Gates of Graceland episode:   Want to know more? See where Elvis listened to music, where Elvis relaxed, where Elvis called home, where Elvis lives – visit...
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Money, Honey: Elvis Presley and Taxes

Just pity all those millionaires, they never can relax Because they’re always worryin’ about their income tax Why waste time on high financin’? I’d rather spend it on good romancin’ What if my pockets are empty as can be? Who needs money? Not me. – “Who Needs Money?” Elvis Presley In so many ways, Elvis Presley was like everyone else. He loved his family, he enjoyed his career, he had fun with his friends, he loved music and he gave back to his community. But he was also the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and he lived like rock ‘n’ roll royalty, with his own airplanes, gorgeous cars, stunning stage wear and, of course, his own castle, Graceland. Here in the United States, tax day is April 18 this year. And while Elvis was the king, he still had to pay his taxes, like his fellow Americans. But his receipts and deductions were definitely a little more unusual than that of the average Joe. Besides, how many of us can claim couture jumpsuits as office attire? But before he was a star, he was like a lot of other blue collar workers in Memphis. Check out his very first tax return from 1953: In 1953, Elvis’ refund was for a whopping $5.10. In 2016 dollars, that equals $45.18. Just four years later, though, Elvis had purchased Graceland. Elvis wasted no time turning the mansion into a home fit for a rock star. Here’s one invoice for the gates of Graceland: Of course, as Elvis’ career blossomed, so did his bank account – and the amount he paid to Uncle Sam. For example, in 1958, Elvis’ income was $1,001,727.89, with an income tax of about $360,000. In 1961, his income was $902,610 from movies and $775,078 from music publishing and recording. In today’s money, Elvis’ 1958 income equals about $8,342,735, and his income tax equals $2,998,204. His income from films in 1961 would be about $7,164,088 in today’s money, and his income from music would equal about $6,151,856 in 2016. In 1962, Elvis made $902,000 from movies and $775,000 from music and recording, and he paid out more than $800,000 in income taxes. In 2016 dollars, that’s $7,111,518 in income from films, $6,110,229 in income from music and $6,307,333 paid in taxes. Of course, Elvis had expenses like no on else. Check out the invoice below for his gorgeous jumpsuits. In 1973, Elvis made $3,860,000 from personal appearances, $4,214,000 from...
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Paradise, Memphis Style

Maybe it’s our mouth-watering barbecue. It could be our blues music, always in the air on Beale Street. Maybe it’s the mighty Mississippi, maybe it’s our museums… and, oh yeah, maybe it’s because this is where the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll called home. Vacation season is just around the corner and for many travelers, Memphis is their ultimate destination. The Bluff City has gotten a lot of love from travel writers and vacationers lately, and it’s no wonder – Memphis has it all. Money Magazine recently named Memphis as one of its 7 Best Domestic Destinations because it offers so much at a great value. “With the drop in airfares, a new Graceland hotel, and all that great barbecue, you won’t be singing the blues here,” the magazine says of Memphis. Speaking of the blues:   If you love Memphis music – and who doesn’t? – check out The Sound and Soul of Memphis Music during Elvis Week. (psst – Elvis Week tickets are on sale now!) We’ll have some of the best musicians in Memphis celebrating the city’s unique sounds and, of course, the king himself. The music feeds the soul, but what if you’re actually hungry? Oh, we have that covered, too:   Three Memphis barbecue restaurants, Payne’s, Cozy Corner and Central,  were in the running in Thrillist’s Best Barbecue Spot in America bracket this March. Payne’s made it to the finals, but was defeated – but Memphis was the only city with three restaurants in the race. And how will you spend your time here in Memphis? Here’s an idea:   Graceland is ground zero for everything Elvis. Experience the Jungle Room, see his plane, the Lisa Marie, check out his cars (including the famous Pink Cadillac) and check out his incredible jumpsuits and movie costumes. Our new VIP exhibit, “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man,” is a must-see for those who can’t get enough of Elvis’ movies. Plus, this spring Graceland is in full bloom – check out all of the gorgeous flowers and trees on the property. Did you know about the arboretum at Graceland? Of course, you’ll need a place to stay when you travel to Memphis. Opening in October 2016 is The Guest House at Graceland.   The Guest House has been racking up plenty of accolades, and it isn’t even open just yet. Speaking of accolades, Graceland continues to make headlines. The king’s...
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Guest Blogger: Elvis Presley’s Recordings

BY JOHN JACKSON Vice President of A&R and Content Development at Legacy Recordings As a follow-up to the liner notes in the new box set, “Elvis Presley: The Album Collection,” I was asked to write a series of blog posts about Elvis’ recordings.  I wanted to highlight some specific songs from Elvis’ legendary career and relate how we see them now to how they were originally brought to the mass public’s attention. “That’s All Right” is a prime example of a confusing recording when looking through the lens of 2016.  Any of us Elvis aficionados rightly regard “That’s All Right” as Ground Zero – the original moment when rock ‘n’ roll first exploded out of the mouth of a nineteen-year-old truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi.  Some (myself included) regard it as literally the very first rock ‘n’ roll recording – the perfect, natural amalgam of blues, country and gospel that flowed unconsciously like lightning through this unknown talent.  First jammed between takes of more tame material, “That’s All Right,” recorded July 5, 1954, is, in retrospect, the spark that lit the proverbial fuse.  But that’s only in retrospect. Sure, Elvis’ singles recorded for the great Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in Memphis were regionally popular.  They may have sold thousands of copies in local shops and out of the trunk of Sam’s car (some estimates are as many as 20,000 of Sun 209), and the song may have been played on regional radio stations, but it was by no means a “hit” record.  It did give Elvis’ career momentum and the ability to record subsequent singles for Sun. That momentum increased for a little over a year, which led to RCA Records purchasing Elvis’ contract and all of the Sun material from Phillips in November 1955.  Once Elvis began cutting sides for RCA – with the intention of releasing his first LP (long player) album in 1956 – he had the national promotion and marketing reach that Sun could never dream of.  RCA would turn him from regional novelty act into the world’s most famous person, complete with a Hollywood movie deal, in just one short year.  The first RCA LP, “Elvis Presley,” was a mix of newly recorded songs and some previously unreleased recordings from the Sun sessions. Elvis was heading full-steam into the future, while “That’s All Right” (despite having been re-issued by RCA as a single) was old news and not really...
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‘Frankie and Johnny’ – Elvis Presley’s 20th Movie Turns 50

Everybody come aboard! “Frankie and Johnny” turns 50 this month. This colorful musical-comedy about riverboat performers, fortune-tellers and – of course – love, was released in March 1966. Elvis stars as Johnny alongside Donna Douglas (Frankie), Nancy Kovack (Nellie Bly), Harry Morgan (Cully) and Sue Ane Langdon (Mitzi). “Frankie and Johnny” was Elvis’ 20th movie, made just after “Harum Scarum” and before “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.” “Frankie and Johnny” grossed more than $2 million, and the soundtrack album spent 19 weeks on the chart. “Frankie and Johnny” is based on a folk song of the same name. Elvis’ version is just one of many versions of the traditional tune. All versions tell the tale of Frankie, who shoots Johnny when she finds out he’s romancing Nellie Bly, but in some versions, she’s also arrested and, in some, executed. The song’s lyrics blur the line between fiction and fact, but the lyrics are based on an actual murder case from 1899 in St. Louis, Missouri. In that case, a woman named Frankie shot her boyfriend, Johnny, when she caught him on a date with another woman. It was such a famous case that Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton recreated Frankie and Johnny’s story for one in a series of murals in 1934. The murals were placed at the state capitol, and a reproduction of this mural was on display during filming the movie. Luckily for Elvis fans, the movie is much more lighthearted, complete with a happy ending. In the film version, Johnny is a down-on-his-luck gambler who is told by a fortune-teller that a red-head will be his good luck charm. His girlfriend Frankie isn’t happy when Johnny starts to woo the red-headed Nellie Bly. Elvis had a few famous co-stars for this film. Donna Douglas has starred on many TV shows over the years, but audiences fell for her as Elly May on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Harry Morgan enjoyed a long, prolific career”, with roles in TV shows like “M*A*S*H,” “Dragnet” and “Gunsmoke.” The glamorous Nancy Kovack had roles on TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Star Trek,” and in films like “Jason and the Argonauts,” “Diary of a Madman” and “Enter Laughing.” And Elvis fans recognize Sue Ane Langdon – she also starred in Elvis’ film “Roustabout.” Robert Strauss, who starred as Blackie, played Sam in Elvis’ “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Frederick De Cordova directed “Frankie and Johnny,” as well...
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Elvis Presley’s First Album

“Well it’s a-one for the money…” So starts an album that changed history – Elvis Presley’s very first album. With its raw and exciting mix of country and blues, this was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made, and it helped catapult the young 21-year-old singer to stardom. “Elvis Presley,” the album, turns 60 years old this month. On November 21, 1955, Elvis’ contract at Sun was purchased by RCA, and he was officially on a major label. RCA paid $35,000 – an unheard of amount at the time – for the soon-to-be-crowned King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.   He’d recorded many songs at Sun, but not all of them had been released by the time he signed with RCA. RCA re-released all five of his original Sun singles on their label in December 1955 after they bought his contract. He had his first RCA recording sessions in January 1956, and he’d cut what would become one of his biggest hits, “Heartbreak Hotel.” As “Heartbreak Hotel” climbed the charts, Elvis also made his national TV debut on the Dorsey Brothers’ “Stage Show,” with six appearances in the first three months of 1956. To capture some of this early Elvis energy, RCA put together Elvis’ eponymous first album, with a mix of Sun Studio cuts and some of the tunes he’d recorded in those first RCA studio sessions. RCA actually struggled to re-create that clean, crisp Sun sound, so those first few recording sessions took a bit of work on the label’s part. “I Love You Because,” “Just Because,” “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)” “Trying to Get to You” and “Blue Moon” were the Sun Studio cuts included on Elvis’ album. “Heartbreak Hotel,” though it was a hit, wasn’t included on the album and remained a single. “Elvis Presley,” which has gone both Gold and Platinum since its March 23, 1956, release, features one of the most iconic album covers of all time. The famous photo was taken while Elvis and his band were performing in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 1955. Many other musicians have created their own versions of this cover, like The Clash’s 1979 album “London Calling,” which features “London Calling” in pink and green letters and Clash bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass on stage at The Palladium in New York City.   Elvis’ album cover ranks No. 40 in Rolling...
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Elvis Presley’s Audubon Home

These days, everyone knows the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived in his own castle: Graceland. But when you’re somewhere between up-and-coming star and legendary rock star, where do you call home? The answer: 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, Tennessee.   Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13, and for the next eight years, the family lived in several apartments and homes. But in early 1956, Elvis found success with a little tune you may have heard – “Heartbreak Hotel” – and he used the profits from that to purchase a home for his family in Memphis. This home was the first owned by the Presleys in Memphis. Elvis purchased the home from the Welsh Plywood Corporation for $29,500, on March 12, 1956. He paid a $500 down payment on March 3. The Audubon Drive home, built in 1954, has four bedrooms and two and a half baths. It didn’t have a fence at first, but as Elvis’ popularity grew, he added one. The fence even included some music notes, though those have since been removed. Elvis also had a pool installed.   Elvis’ neighbors on Audubon Drive truly had a rock star as a neighbor. He’d already made his first national television appearances. His first album arrived in stores about a week and a half after he purchased the house. He performed hundreds of concerts across the country. Audubon Drive was his home while he made his first movie, “Love Me Tender.” After he jammed out with his fellow Memphis musicians in the Million Dollar Quartet, he went home to – you guessed it – Audubon Drive. Elvis and his parents lived on Audubon Drive for about a year before they purchased Graceland, which he called home for the rest of his life. Today, 1034 Audubon Drive is privately owned. If you love learning about Elvis, his life and his music, come to Memphis and visit Graceland. Watch our first “Hidden Graceland” episode of our web series, Gates of Graceland to see a special mirror that Elvis brought with him from Audubon to...
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Elvis Presley’s Tour Dates in 1956

The music industry in 2016 is very different from the music industry in 1956, but one thing is still true: Touring is practically a must if you want to find new fans. Elvis Presley’s career was just starting to soar in 1956. It was an incredibly busy year, both professionally and personally. Not only did he record and release some of his most legendary songs, but he also released his first album and made his first movie. He also purchased his first home. Fans heard his music on the radio and watched his national television appearances, but Elvis also gained thousands of new fans by doing quite a bit of touring in 1956. Including travels to New York City and Los Angeles to appear on television shows, Elvis made over 110 tour stops in 1956. That’s quite a lot – and not only that, he often performed several times in one day, performing, for example, in the afternoon and evenings (bringing the number of concerts he actually performed in 1956 up to over 200). That workload is almost unheard of today; most artists only perform once per tour stop. The map below gives an idea of Elvis’ tour stops in 1956. Just based on traveling from city to city (not venue to venue) to perform at a concert, Elvis traveled roughly more than 41,000 miles (over 67,000 km) and visited 26 states as well as Washington D.C.   View Full Size Travel Map at Travellerspoint Here are a few more details about Elvis’ 1956 tour: Elvis’ first performance in 1956 took place in St. Louis, Missouri on January 1. His final performance of 1956 was December 15 and was in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the Louisiana Hayride. He often returned to Shreveport for Hayride performances between January and March. His last regular appearance on the Hayride was in March, followed by his final appearance there in December. At the end of the December show, Horace Logan first made the now legendary phrase, “Elvis has left the building.” Elvis performed on a variety of stages in ’56. He performed everywhere from TV sets to auditoriums to high school gymnasiums to a university’s field house. The size of the towns varied, too, from major cities like Atlanta, Detroit and San Diego to small towns like Randolph, Mississippi (not far from Tupelo, where he was born). Elvis returned to Tupelo for a concert on September 26,...
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Elvis Presley and the Grammy Awards

Seeing Elvis’ many awards and Gold and Platinum Records is one of the most memorable aspects of touring Graceland. Whether it’s the Hall of Gold – a long hallway full of Gold records and awards – or the Trophy Room in the Racquetball Building – where awards and Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records cover the walls up to the ceiling – both locations leave fans in awe of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Right now at Graceland, fans can see three of Elvis’ most prestigious awards: his Grammy Awards, all of which he won for his gospel music. He was nominated for many more songs and albums, though – do you know which ones? The 58th annual Grammy Awards are Monday, February 15, so let’s take a look at these awards and how Elvis has been honored. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences present the Grammy Awards to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. It’s the music equivalent to the Academy Awards, given for achievement in film, the Emmy Awards, for television, and the Tony Awards, for stage performance. The first Grammy Awards ceremony was in the spring of 1959, so some of Elvis’ earliest hits (like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and many more) couldn’t have been nominated. But Elvis was nominated in that first year: “A Fool Such as I” was a nominee for Record of the Year (which lost to Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife”) and “A Big Hunk O’ Love” was nominated for both Best Performance by a Top 40 Artist and Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. In 1960, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll earned several Grammy nods. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was nominated for Record of the Year; Best Vocal Performance Single Record or Track, Male; and Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist. The instrumental “The Theme from A Summer Place” won that year for Record of the Year. Also in 1960, “G.I. Blues” was nominated for Best Vocal Performance Album, Male; and Best Sound Track Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television. The next year, “Blue Hawaii” was also nominated for Best Sound Track Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television. It lost to the “West Side Story” soundtrack. Elvis became a Grammy winner in 1967. His second gospel record, “How Great Thou Art” won Best Sacred Performance....
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The Artist and the Businessman: Elvis Presley Meets Col. Tom Parker

Elvis Presley wasted no time winning over fans right from the beginning, thanks to his voice, energetic stage show, style, revolutionary sound and charm. But the music business is just that – a business – and every artist needs a manager to help take care of the details. From mapping out a tour route to arguing for higher appearance fees, the manager takes care of the business side of things so the artist can focus on the music. At the beginning of Elvis’ career, he met a man who would help him see his goals through to fruition. On February 6, 1955, Elvis met the man who would become his third and final manager: Col. Tom Parker. On February 6, 1955, Elvis and his band performed two shows at Memphis’ Ellis Auditorium, a venue the guys knew well. At both the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows, Elvis and his band, Bill Black and Scotty Moor, shared the bill with country star Faron Young, “Beautiful Gospel Singer” Martha Carson, Ferlin Huskey “and many more,” as the poster promised. Elvis, still a young performer, is billed last, as “Memphis’ Own.” The poster included that he’d perform his regional hits “Heartbreaker” and “Milk Cow Boogie,” which he did, along with “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” A bit of history happened in between those shows. Oscar Davis, an associate of Col. Tom Parker, had seen Elvis perform in October 1954, and met Elvis backstage through Elvis’ manager, Bob Neal. Neal knew Parker, who had many, many connections in the entertainment business, could take Elvis to the next level, and wanted the young singer and the promoter to meet. Davis raved about Elvis to Parker and his fellow associate, Tom Diskin. Parker and Diskin checked out Elvis’ performance on the Louisiana Hayride on January 15, 1955, but didn’t meet Elvis and his band just yet. He did, however, reach out to Neal. That fateful meeting took place on February 6, in between Elvis’ two sets. Neal, Parker, Diskin, Davis and Sun Records’ Sam Phillips met across the street from Ellis Auditorium at a café called Palumbo’s. Elvis and his bandmates sat in for a portion of this meeting. The meeting wasn’t exactly a success. Parker explained he had the connections to take Elvis’ career to the next level, connections that a small label like Sun didn’t have. Naturally, Phillips didn’t like hearing...
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