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 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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Planning Your Wedding at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

This is the moment I’ve waited for I can hear my heart singing Soon bells will be ringing… It’s time to say, “I Do,” get hitched, tie the knot, jump the broom and start your own happily ever after. Why not get married at Elvis Presley’s Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods? At Graceland’s beautiful Chapel in the Woods – and with the help of our Special Events team – your wedding dreams can come true. Graceland is one of the most unique and romantic wedding venues, especially for Elvis fans. Even if you choose to have the ceremony elsewhere, Graceland has plenty of unique Elvis-themed venues for your reception. Ready to plan your Elvis and Graceland-themed wedding? Let’s get started. To tie the knot at Graceland, couples must obtain their marriage license in the state of Tennessee. Licenses don’t have to be issued in Memphis – just in Tennessee. There are no blood tests or waiting periods in Tennessee. If you’re already in town and need your license, the Memphis office is open Monday – Friday, with the exception of federal holidays. Learn more at the Shelby County website. Graceland’s Special Events team is proud to offer ceremonies for all religions and sexual orientations. Please feel free to discuss details with your Wedding Coordinator. Speaking of a Wedding Coordinator, all Graceland Chapel in the Woods packages come with a Wedding Coordinator to book your vendors, discuss your desires and coordinate your special day. Coordinators are happy to steam your gown, zip up your dress, pin the boutonnieres and more. Coordinators also offer a complimentary cake cutting service. Now, on to the actual wedding planning – and the first step is to pick the perfect time for your wedding. Graceland has seasonal hours of operations, so you’ll want to check with the Special Events team to schedule your big day. Graceland typically offers weddings at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Evening weddings are available, too. One of the best times of year to get married at Graceland is in the fall. The autumn leaves start turning in October, and the weather is close to perfect. Another lovely time for a Graceland wedding is the springtime. The Chapel in the Woods is covered in beautiful pink, purple and white flowers, adding a beautiful backdrop for your photos. While Memphis doesn’t typically get a lot of snow or extremely cold...
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Covered by Elvis Presley

There’s an art to covering someone else’s song. Whether you stick to the original or create an entirely new arrangement, it’s up to you to put your own stamp on it. Elvis Presley could take any song and make it his own. Elvis’ catalog included songs written especially for him and a collection of cover songs, and no matter what he sang, he always put that special ‘Elvis’ touch on each and every song. He loved all genres of music and sang songs he loved, songs that meant something to him. If Elvis covered your song, it was like the ultimate compliment. It meant he was a fan of your work. Elvis covered many terrific songs, but for this week’s Graceland Blog, we’ll take a look at just a few fan-favorite covers and covers that meant a lot to Elvis. “See See Rider” Is it C.C. Rider or See See Rider? Either way, it’s been around a while. This traditional blues song was originally recorded as “C.C. Rider” by William Lee Conley, or as he was better known, Big Bill Broonzy, in the 1920s. Ma Rainey made it popular in 1925 as the “See See Rider Blues,” and both Ma Rainey and Big Bill’s versions are much slower than Elvis’ version. Once rock bands took a hold of the song, they sped it up a bit. Both The Animals and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels covered the song (as both “See See” and “C.C.” respectively). LaVern Baker’s 1962 version is sped up, too, but it’s also bluesy. Elvis’ version is maybe the most energetic version of them all. The king took plenty of cues from Baker’s version when he and his band readied it for his tours. Elvis actually never recorded “See See Rider” for an album, but it was used in his live concerts. You can hear Elvis’ versions of “See See Rider” on “Aloha from Hawaii” and “Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis,” to name a few. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” If you think of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” chances are you think of Elvis’ version, or Willie Nelson’s version, or both. The beautiful country song was written by Fred Rose, who wrote a number of country hits, including a few tunes written with Hank Williams. Roy Acuff first recorded the song in 1947, and Willie Nelson recorded his slower version...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits

Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles. A lot. Seriously. A lot. If you’ve ever visited Graceland, you’ve no doubt been a little blown away by Elvis’ countless Gold, Diamond and Platinum Records. It’s fun to pick out your favorite songs on the walls and even snap a selfie with your favorite Gold Record. To celebrate Elvis’ iconic and groundbreaking music, we’re going to cover Elvis’ #1 hits here on the Graceland Blog. We’ll share the backstory of each song, who played on it, where it landed on various charts and more. We’ll tackle a few at a time, and every few months or so. Here are the stories of a few of Elvis’ #1s, picked at random. “Don’t Be Cruel” “Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true I don’t want no other love, baby, it’s just you I’m thinking of…” Elvis recorded this song at RCA Studios in New York on July 2, 1956. The track was written by Otis Blackwell. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, struck a deal so that Elvis would receive a cut of the publishing ownership on many songs he recorded, so Elvis’ name appears in the writing credits for “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis was not happy with that deal, however, so soon this practice was scrapped. For “Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis was backed by his band: Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Shorty Long played piano, and The Jordanaires performed backing vocal duties. Ernie Ulrich was the engineer. Elvis asked for personal copies of the acetates from this recording so he could study them. He wanted to make sure his live performances had the same feel as his recordings. The single “Don’t Be Cruel” shipped on July 13, 1956 (remember – he’d only recorded it 11 days earlier). It sold so quickly that five gold records were given to Elvis on one plaque. “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on all three major U.S. charts, and it was #1 on Billboard’s pop single charts for 11 weeks, staying a total of 27 weeks on the chart. It also landed at #1 on the country singles chart, where it stayed for 10 weeks, with a total of 28 weeks on the chart. It stayed at #1 on the R&B singles chart for a week and spent 17 weeks on the chart. In 2002, “Don’t Be Cruel”...
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Trivia: Elvis Presley’s 1957

Last year on the Graceland Blog, we focused quite a bit on Elvis Presley’s 1956 and his many accomplishments made during that year. But as we all know, Elvis’ incredible shot to stardom didn’t end in that year. He enjoyed many more successes in 1957, including making more movies, purchasing Graceland and recording more music. How well do you know Elvis’ 1957? Take the quiz below, and stay tuned to the Graceland Blog this year. We’ll highlight many of these milestones, as well as other important anniversaries from Elvis’ legendary life and career. Before you take the quiz, don’t forget to go head over to Graceland.com and book your visit to the king’s castle. If you want to learn everything about Elvis, Graceland is the place to...
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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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