Would You Rather – Elvis Presley Edition

Would you rather have been in the audience for the ’68 Special or the Aloha from Hawaii special? Would you rather sit down and talk with Elvis’ mother, Gladys, or his father, Vernon? What about having fun – would you rather ride motorcycles with Elvis, or ride horses with Elvis? This week on the Graceland Blog, we’re having fun with an Elvis version of “Would You Rather?” Check out how your picks stack up against other Elvis fans! Play the game...
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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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