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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