The King’s Horses

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was a cowboy at heart. And if home is where the heart is, his heart was at Graceland – especially at Graceland’s barn. Elvis and his family owned several horses during their years here at Graceland, and there are still horses that live in the stables behind the king’s castle. When Elvis wasn’t working, he loved to spend time riding horses all over the Graceland grounds. In celebration of the 144th Kentucky Derby next week, let’s meet the horses who call Graceland home. It was almost destined for Elvis to own horses. In 1957, Elvis purchased Graceland, which included the barn behind the mansion itself. The barn, like the house, was built in 1939. Graceland was originally a cattle farm, and the barn actually had air conditioning before the mansion did, to keep the prize bull cool. When Elvis moved in, he kept a few animals in the barn – he owned a few horses and a donkey. But he became a serious horse owner in 1966. That Christmas, Elvis purchased a Quarter Horse named Domino for Priscilla, his soon-to-be wife. He also purchased a horse named Sheba for Priscilla’s friend Sandy, so the pair could ride their horses together. Elvis soon bought a horse that would become his favorite, a golden palomino Quarter Horse named Rising Sun. Of course, the barn had to get a new name, too, and it became House of the Rising Sun. It wasn’t long before the barn was full of horses. One of Elvis’ favorites was a Tennessee Walking Horse named Bear. He also loved Mare Ingram, a grand mare he named after Memphis Mayor William B. Ingram. He purchased horses for his friends and family, too. A few of Elvis’ horses include Ebony’s Double, Beauty, Buckshot, Lady, Golden Sun, Star Trek, Sun Down, Thundercloud, Memphis, Flaming Star (doesn’t that name sound familiar?) and Traveler, who had been previously owned by Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. Elvis’ daughter Lisa also had her own horse, Moriah. The last horse Elvis purchased was a Tennessee Walking Horse named Ebony’s Double. Alene Alexander rode Ebony’s Double in the horses’s retirement ceremony in 1983 at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. Alene started working as a tour guide at Graceland when it opened to the public in 1982, and she still works at Graceland as the stables ambassador. She and her...
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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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