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!

10 Reasons Why This Year’s Elvis Week Was The Best

By Jon Waterhouse During my Elvis Week 2014 blogging stint, the folks at Elvis Radio asked if I had a song that might encapsulate the event as it wrapped. My choice: “The Fair is Moving On.” Leaving Memphis after Elvis Week 2016, the bittersweet emotions return. Yeah, the fair moves on, but what a ride. I can honestly say, the 39th edition of Elvis Week ranks as one of my favorites, if not my all-time best. Why, you say? Below you’ll find 10 reasons in no particular rank or order. Now, keep in mind I didn’t have a chance to experience everything and see everyone. I always leave Elvis Week wishing I had a little more conversation and a little more action. Yet, out of everything I lived, these remain the memories pressing between the pages of my mind. Betty Harper This ultra-talented artist not only took time to talk with me over the phone the week before the festivities, we hung out together at the Heartbreak Hotel during her exhibit. The cavalcade of colors nearly popped right off of her artwork, encapsulating the image and personality of Elvis Presley in a such a way I believe remains incomparable. And the Nashville resident is a true sweetheart and rocks one heckuva cowboy hat. Elvis Radio We all need a soundtrack to Elvis Week, and thank God for these guys. T.Y., Doc Walker, Argo, Big Jim Sykes and the legendary George Klein deliver the audio goods. It’s an honor to be a correspondent and pop culture editor for these fellas, who take great care in keeping the sound and legacy of Elvis alive and well. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition Regardless of how you may feel about ETAs, the love these men have for Elvis just can’t be denied. Neither can the talent the ETAs display on stage. Many carry on the triple threat Elvis so deftly displayed with the ability to sing, dance and act. Perhaps one of the more obvious embodiments of this would be Dean Z, the 2013 Ultimate ETA winner and the 2016 correspondent for ElvisWeek.com and Graceland.com. What a guy! And hats off to 2016 winner Dwight Icenhower. After participating in eight Ultimates, he snagged this year’s title. Way to go, Dwight! Jeff Lewis and Friends After-Parties at Hard Rock Cafe You have to hand it to former Ultimate ETA competitor Jeff Lewis for...
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Elvis Week Day 7 – Inspiring Moments at the 2016 Candlelight Vigil

By Jon Waterhouse It never fails. Even after attending multiple Candlelight Vigils, the annual fan gathering and tribute at Graceland on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis’ death, I become awestruck at the event. This year, collective emotions arguably higher than ever, the amount of love pouring forth like the unrelenting rain inspired me to no end. Fans of every color, creed and geographic origin imaginable came together, a visual answer to Walter Earl Brown’s lyrics found in “If I Can Dream,” which Presley sang on the “’68 Comeback Special.” “If I can dream of a better land/Where all my brothers walk hand in hand/Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true?” Last night, once again, that dream came true. INSPIRING MOMENTS AT THE 2016 CANDLELIGHT VIGIL The fans who came early Several hours before the official 8:30 p.m. start time, fans began camping in front of the Graceland walls along Elvis Presley Boulevard breaking out their folding chairs, coolers and more. Now that’s dedication. A short summer shower turned the Memphis air into a virtual sauna. “It’s a pleasure to see the traditions that have been established carry on, as you would expect from the Elvis fans who have been here year after.” said Walker McCutcheon of Clarksville, Tenn. who sat in Graceland Plaza with wife Judy until start time. Among the die hard fans, I saw Cino Torricer from Hawaii, who handed out inspirational cards to those around him. The memorials Just before the Vigil began, many memorials along Elvis Presley Boulevard could be seen, some glowing in the darkness. A Memphis gentleman simply known as Fite created a memorial with images of Elvis, each with a special significance to him. A giant ticket stub replica from Elvis’ final concert in Indianapolis, Ind. sat in front of a massive version of the “’68 Comeback Special” album cover. The Graceland staff Never mind the weather and other obstacles threatening to damper the evening. The staff at Elvis Presley Enterprises, from security guards and retail clerks to marketing execs, channeled Elvis’ positivity and optimism with style, grace and smiles. The rain sprinkling upon him, Kevin Kern, the director of public relations at Elvis Presley Enterprises, welcomed everyone from the top of the Graceland driveway, his speech broadcast down to a jumbo screen perched above the mansion’s walls. The fans who braved the rain The U.S....
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Elvis Week Day 6 – The Legends I Met Yesterday

By Jon Waterhouse As a dyed-in-the-wool king fan, the gift of being the Elvis Week blogger never goes unnoticed. Being the eyes and ears of the Elvis faithful means I get the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the people who not only helped Elvis change the face of music, but also had a personal impact on me. Yeah, I’m a lucky Peabody duck. THE LEGENDS I MET YESTERDAY Ray Walker of the Jordanaires Through the backstage door of the Main Stage at Graceland, my first visual of the day proved to be a roundtable of rock icons. D.J. Fontana, Elvis’ original drummer; Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis’ backup singers; and Ray Walker of the legendary singing group the Jordanaires sat together engaging in conversation. As each of them were awaiting their turn to chat with emcee Tom Brown during the Official Graceland Insiders Conference, I snapped myself out of fan boy disbelief and asked each for a photo for the blog. Making it over to Ray Walker, I quickly became aware of his quick wit and sense of humor. “Yeah, you can have a picture with me,” he said, “but no selfies. I’ve never taken a selfie, and I never will.” Later, Walker hit the stage with Brown, telling colorful Elvis stories, tossing jokes and jabs with ease, and even putting Brown through the same vocal lesson Walker gave Elvis. Brilliant. Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations If a vocal group ever had a more fitting title, it would have to be the Sweets. Estelle Brown oozes peace, love and contentment. Her gorgeous smile, her warm handshake and eternal optimism proves contagious. And let’s not forget the glass-shattering voice that helped bolster songs like “Polk Salad Annie” and countless others. When Estelle made it onstage, she told Tom Brown that Elvis refused to be called “boss.” “I’m your brother,” Estelle said Elvis told her. And she quickly reminded everyone Elvis saw the world as one race, the human race. Estelle continues to remain ever-so-lovely, both inside and out. D.J. Fontana The quintessential rock drummer and one of the genre’s earliest architects, Fontana remains the last surviving member of Elvis’ first touring band. He provided the king’s backbeat for more than 14 years, laying down the rhythm on more than 450 cuts. Just sharing the same air as D.J. is a privilege. Sense of humor still...
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Elvis Week Day 5 – The Top 5 Coolest Things I Did Yesterday

By Jon Waterhouse A tornado of activity swirling around on Saturday had me all shook up, in a good way. The thrill of Elvis Week began hitting its peak. The excitement of fantastic events, the love and passion found in fellow fans, and unadulterated fun hit the fevered pitch of a Bill Baize high note. Now I sit in my hotel lobby noshing on breakfast reflecting on the day’s events. Man, I’m a fortunate son in this international Elvis family. Smack me, Kid Galahad, I must be dreaming. THE TOP 5 COOLEST THINGS I DID YESTERDAY The Elvis Fan Reunion Call it cliche, but Elvis Week does indeed resemble a family reunion. This inspired Elvis Week organizers to put together an Elvis Fan Reunion inside the packed Main Stage. Tom Brown, Joey Sulipeck, DJ Argo and Memphis Jones played the roles of the wacky uncles, interviewing fans, hosting games, giving away goodies and more. Seeing a sea of familiar faces from around the globe not only stoked my heart, but served as undeniable evidence of the impact Elvis continues having. And it was all sunshine and rainbows until I got busted peeking at Lesia Marcum’s answers during Elvis Trivia. Yikes! Meet ‘n’ Greet with Betty Harper I popped in at the Heartbreak Hotel to visit Elvis artist Betty Harper’s exhibit and get an eyeful of her work up close and personal. These inspired pieces nearly glow from their easels, and Betty’s created more than 20,000 Elvis-related drawings throughout her career. This includes the fabulous “Me, Myself & I” currently on silent auction at the Heartbreak Hotel. Auction proceeds go to the Bridget Chérie Harper Artist Scholarship Fund to help inspire the next generation of Betty Harpers. Getting suited up at Lansky Bros. Hal Lansky, owner of the clothier to the king, gave me a call, requesting my presence at his store. Upon walking inside, I hear the news I just missed Joe Walsh of the Eagles, who slipped in for some stage duds. Hal then told me he wanted me to look good for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Finals. Soon, I found Lansky wrapping me in a gorgeous blue vest to wear for the occasion. Thanks, Hal! Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Finals The energy level at the Orpheum Theatre downtown sizzled like a toasty frying pan in aunt Delta’s kitchen. Moments before the verdict, I sat backstage with the...
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Elvis Week Day 4 – Elvis 101

By Jon Waterhouse Somebody get me my cap and gown. I think I just graduated from the College of Elvis Knowledge. Yesterday morning I bee-lined to the Main Stage at Graceland for Elvis 101. Some of the top Elvis scholars on the planet, including author Peter Guralnick, Dr. Charles Hughes from Rhodes College, and John Jackson and Ernst Jorgensen from Sony, dispensed a wealth of information on the king of rock ‘n’ roll. I like to think I know my Elvis trivia more than the average roustabout. However, I don’t hold a candle, heck, not even not even a 50-cent lighter to these dudes. While hanging backstage, I asked several of the guys to give me some information I probably didn’t know. Elvis was self aware Dr. Charles Hughes, director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College and professor of the course “Elvis Presley and America,” says Elvis clearly understood the part he played among our cultural landscape. “If you go back and listen to Elvis Presley in 1968 and ’69,” Hughes explains, “he’s talking about himself the same way we’re still talking about him in 2016. I think he was very conscious, and it was a sign of just how smart he was about himself, and how much he understood his own place in musical history and in a culture. In a sense, he was actually a really wonderful historian of himself. During the “’68 Comeback Special” era, the Vegas period and the touring period of the early ’70s when he was reintroducing himself to live audiences, he was doing so in a way that would help us not only appreciate him, but understand him to this day. He talked about his youth, he talked about his musical journey, all of those things. It was really striking to see just how conscious he was of setting himself into a story in a way that I think is still very important today.” The “Hound Dog” controversy John Jackson, the vice President of A&R and content development at Sony Legacy Recordings, oversees all audio, visual and packaging for releases, including those involving the king. Jackson’s hands touched the recently released “Way Down In The Jungle Room,” the ultimate collection of Presley’s final recording sessions. Backstage at Elvis 101, he had this about Elvis’ controversial 1956 TV performance of “Hound Dog,” which hadn’t even hit vinyl yet: “You think about when...
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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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