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!

45 Years Ago: Elvis Presley Sells Out Madison Square Garden

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll shattered many records during his incredible career. Forty-five years ago this weekend, he became the first entertainer in history to sell out four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Elvis’ Madison Square Garden shows were the first time Elvis performed in front of a live audience in New York since his TV appearances on the Dorsey Brothers, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows in 1956 and 1957. Elvis performed before an audience of 20,000 fans at each of the four shows that took place June 9-11, 1972 (that’s a total of 80,000 fans for the entire weekend). Initially, only three shows were booked, but those sold out instantly, so the fourth show on June 11 was added. Elvis held a press conference on June 9 at the New York Hilton, where he candidly answered questions from reporters. Here are a few of those questions and answers: Reporter: You used to be criticized so much for our long hair and gyrations, and you seem so modest now. Elvis: Man, I was tame compared to what they do now, are you kidding…I didn’t do anything but just jiggle. Reporter: Elvis, are you satisfied with the image you’ve established? Elvis: Well the image is one thing; a human being is another. Reporter: How close does it come? How close does the image come to the man you really are? Elvis: It’s very hard to live up to an image. I’ll put it that way. Reporter: Why do you think you’ve outlasted every other entertainer from the fifties, and for that matter, the sixties as well? Elvis: I take Vitamin E. (laughs) I was only kidding. I don’t know. I just…embarrass myself. I don’t know dear, I just enjoy the business. I like what I’m doing. Elvis’ setlist for all four shows included his early hits, fan-favorite songs from his movies and newer hit songs. “American Trilogy,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “That’s All Right,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” were all included at each of the shows. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Art Garfunkel were spotted at the shows. Elvis received rave reviews in three features in the New York Times. “He looked like a prince from another planet, narrow-eyed, with high Indian cheek bones and a smooth brown skin untouched by his 37 years,” Chris...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland at 35

Before Graceland opened to the public in 1982, it was practically unheard of for fans to take a tour of their favorite celebrity’s home. Thirty-five years later, millions of Elvis fans from around the world have done just that at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. They’ve experienced the colorful Jungle Room and imagined watching TV with the ceramic monkey in the TV Room. They’ve been wowed by walls of awards and sparkling jumpsuits. They’ve stepped aboard his airplanes and taken selfies with his famous Pink Cadillac. Graceland opened to the public for tours on June 7, 1982 – 35 years ago. Graceland has remained largely unchanged, but the Graceland experience has evolved and expanded into something you have to see to believe. Check out this timeline and learn about how Graceland’s tours have changed over the years. June 7, 1982 – Graceland opens for tours. Elvis’ cars were still in the carport, as no Car Museum had been created yet. Guests were transported to the mansion in vans, after purchasing a ticket across the street at a ticket office, which included a gift shop. Tour tickets were $5. More than 3,000 guests toured Graceland on opening day. February 22, 1984 – Elvis’ jet, the Lisa Marie, arrives in Memphis and is brought down Elvis Presley Boulevard to its present location. Elvis Presley Enterprises acquires the shopping center across the street from the home. Later in 1984, one of Elvis’ tour busses and his small Jetstar are loaned to Graceland, and are opened for tours. Graceland also celebrates its 1 millionth visitor this year. 1985 – Graceland’s corporate offices open across the street from Elvis Presley’s Graceland, in what would later become the Car Museum. Gift shops and restaurants, including Heartbreak Hotel Restaurant, EP’s LPs (a music store) and Graceland Hall (complete with a dance floor and carnival games), open up in that same shopping center across the street, in what will eventually become the Graceland Plaza. 1987 – Christmas Wonderland at Graceland opens. It features special mechanical light displays, a dancing water show, horse-drawn carriage rides and a Christmas choir. 1989 – The Trophy Room is renovated, and the corporate offices move from across the street to a building near the mansion. The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum opens across the street on June 12, 1989. Vernon’s Office opens to the public. July 3, 1989 – Graceland welcomes a record number of...
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The King’s Men: The Jordanaires

If you’ve enjoyed an Elvis song, chances are you’ve also enjoyed the sweet sounds of The Jordanaires. The quartet sang backup vocals on many, many of Elvis’ hits, including “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Don’t,” and “Surrender,” just to name a few. We’ve shared the stories of the artists and producers who helped shape Elvis’ iconic sound, like the Blue Moon Boys and Sam Phillips, so this week, let’s get to know The Jordanaires. The quartet formed in 1948 in Springfield, Missouri, by brothers Bill and Monty Matthews. The group sang barbershop and gospel music, and debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949. Elvis heard The Jordanaires perform in October 1954 with country singer Eddy Arnold at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. He met the guys in the group and told them he loved their sound, and that he hoped they could work together. In 1956, as Elvis’ career was really taking off, he called on the group to sing backup for him on his records and at live performances. At that time, The Jordanaires were Gordon Stoker (first tenor), Hoyt Hawkins (baritone), Neal Matthews (second tenor, and in no relation to the founding Matthews members) and Hugh Jarrett (bass). Ray Walker replaced Hugh Jarrett in 1958. The Jordanaires’ line-up has changed several times throughout the years. The Jordanaires backed Elvis on his early television performances, including his “Ed Sullivan Show” performances. The quartet backed him at his concerts, too, including his 1956 Homecoming show in Tupelo. The band backed Elvis on everything from his rock tunes to gospel numbers, from Christmas songs to his movie soundtracks. The Jordanaires worked with Elvis until 1969. As his movie career came to a close, Elvis started prepping his return to the stage, but The Jordanaires decided to stay home in Nashville. They had a steady workload there working as session singers. The Jordanaires worked two to four sessions a day, six days a week, for more than 20 years. The quartet backed country, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and pop artists. You can hear The Jordanaires on hits like “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn and “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson, and the band has recorded with the likes of Willie Nelson, Ringo Starr and Johnny Cash. It has been estimated that more than 8 billion records featuring The Jordanaires’ backing vocals...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 2

It’s easy to say that Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles. Even the most casual fan can sing a few lines from his biggest hits. But there’s more to Elvis, and to those songs, than catchy hooks and topping the charts. In January, we shared some insights into a handful of Elvis’ No. 1 hits, and this week, we’re doing it again, taking a look at another five of Elvis’ hit singles. Keep reading to find out who wrote these tunes, where Elvis recorded them and much more. “Love Me Tender” “Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go…” This song is such a classic. “Love Me Tender” was written for Elvis’ first film of the same name. Elvis’ version is based on the Civil War-era tune “Aura Lee,” written in 1861 by W.W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton. Later, “Aura Lee” was changed to “Army Blue,” and it was used as the class song for the West Point class of 1865. “Love Me Tender” is Elvis’ version, and it was adapted by Ken Darby, the movie’s musical director. He shared writer’s credits with his wife, Vera Matson, and Elvis. However, neither helped with the writing. Elvis recorded “Love Me Tender” on August 24, 1956, at Fox Stage 1 in Hollywood. This session felt a little unfamiliar to Elvis: he had to record on a massive 20th Century Fox soundstage, and he was not joined by his regular band and back-up singers. The musicians on this recording include Vito Mumolo on guitar, drummer Richard Cornell, bass player Mike “Myer” Rugin, Luther Rountree on banjo and Dom Frontieri on accordian. Charles Prescott, Jon Dodson and Rad Robinson performed vocals. Bob Mayer and Ren Runyon engineered the song. The second take of the song was used as the single, and it shipped to stores about a month after it was recorded, on September 28, 1956. Fans loved it. “Love Me Tender” was No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart for five weeks, and it stayed on the charts for a total of 23 weeks. The song charted at No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B singles and Country singles lists. “Love Me Tender” reached No. 11 on the British pop singles chart. The hit song has been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Percy Sledge, as well as Barbara Streisand,...
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50 Years Ago: Elvis and Priscilla Say ‘I Do’

The king married his queen 50 years ago this year. Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu married on May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas, with a few friends and family in attendance. Of course, that’s not the beginning of the story – let’s go back to 1959, when the couple met. Elvis met Priscilla on September 13, 1959, while Elvis was stationed in Germany serving in the U.S. Army. The pair become fast friends. At Christmas that year, Priscilla gives him a set of bongo drums. Elvis left Germany in 1960 and returned to America.The couple kept up with each other throughout the years – Elvis often called Priscilla in Germany, and she visited Elvis in the states. She moved to Memphis in the spring of 1963 to complete her high school education. Elvis proposed to Priscilla on Christmas Eve 1966, presenting her with a ring he purchased from jeweler Harry Levitch. Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding took place at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas at about 11:45 a.m. on May 1, 1967. Immediately following the wedding, the couple and their families attended a press conference, followed by the reception. The newlyweds honeymooned in Palm Springs, California, for a few days, before returning to Memphis on May 5. On Monday, May 29, the couple hosted a reception at Graceland for friends, family and employees. They wore their wedding attire, and the building located near the pool (now the Trophy Building, but it had once housed Elvis’ slot-car track) was decorated in green and white. Tony Barrasso provided the music, and the food included a buffet and wedding cake, catered by Monte’s Catering Service. First comes love, second comes marriage… and nine months to the day, Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. Did you know you can get married and renew your vows at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods? Click here to get wedding ideas and to find out how to have your wedding here at our chapel. You can see Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding attire for yourself here at Graceland. Their clothes, as well as Lisa’s crib and baby clothes, are on display in the Trophy Building, which houses the Presley family story. You can also watch footage of the wedding reception there. Get your Graceland tickets...
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Sam Phillips: ‘The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll’

There are many important players in Elvis Presley’s life story, but one of the most important is Sam Phillips. At Sun Studio in Memphis, Sam discovered and helped launch the careers of not just Elvis, but Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and more. He is, according to Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, “the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll.” And with Record Store Day coming up this weekend, on Saturday, April 22, we feel it’s fitting to honor a man who brought so much great music to record stores across the world. Here at Graceland, we recently opened a new exhibit in coordination with Sam’s family, called Mystery Train: Celebrating Sam Phillips. The exhibit tells the story of Sam’s life and career, and includes artifacts from Sam’s early life and his work at Sun Studio. But more on that later – for now, let’s meet Sam Phillips. Sam Phillips was born in Florence, Alabama, on January 5, 1923. He was the youngest of eight, and he and his siblings would work on their parents’ farm, singing songs to pass the time. In 1939, he and his family traveled to Memphis, and it was then that he experienced Beale Street for the first time. He was thrilled, and it wouldn’t be long before he would return to the Bluff City to make a mark of his own. Sam worked as a DJ and radio engineer at WLAY in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during the ‘40s. The station had an “open format,” meaning it broadcasted music from both black and white musicians. Sam eventually traveled back to Memphis, and in 1950, he opened Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The business recorded amateur performers (like a young B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf), as well as special events like weddings. Sam launched his Sun Studio label at Memphis Recording Service in 1952. It was at Memphis Recording Studio that Sam recorded what is often considered the first-ever rock ‘n’ roll song, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88.” That song was released on the Chess/Checker label, and Sam went on to record more artists like Bobby Blue Bland, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton and more at the studio. More rock ‘n’ roll music was made at Sun Studio than any other label at the time. During Sun’s 16-year run, 226 singles were produced there. Many Elvis fans already know the story of...
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Following That Dream with Elvis Presley

Look out – here come the Kwimpers! Did you know that “Here Come the Kwimpers” was almost the title of Elvis’ ninth movie, “Follow That Dream”? The movie premiered in April 1962, followed by a nationwide release on May 23 – so this year marks the movie’s 55th anniversary. In “Follow That Dream,” Elvis plays Toby, a member of the rag-tag Kwimper family. There’s his dad, Pop (Arthur O’Connell), and several kids they’ve taken in – the wise-beyond-her-years Holly (Anne Helm), the adorable twins, Eddy and Teddy (Gavin and Robin Koon, respectively), and the baby, Adriane. The Kwimpers find success when they start their own business on a roadside in Florida, but trouble arises when the mob sets up a gambling business next door and a social worker threatens to take away the youngest Kwimpers. “Follow That Dream” is based on the 1957 novel “Pioneer, Go Home,” by Richard Powell. The original title of the film was the same as the novel, but composers couldn’t come up with a rhyme for “Pioneer” for the title song. The movie’s title was then changed to “What a Wonderful Life.” Producers also considered the “Here Come the Kwimpers” title, as well as “It’s a Beautiful Life,” but “Follow That Dream” won in the end. Elvis and the crew filmed “Follow That Dream” from July 11-August 28, 1961. They filmed the movie in Florida and Hollywood. The film was directed by Gordon Douglas, who also directed movies such as “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” and “Them!,” as well as the TV show “The Little Rascals.” Douglas is the only director who worked with both Elvis and Frank Sinatra, as Sinatra starred in “Robin and the 7 Hoods.” During filming, gambling was illegal in Florida. The gambling equipment needed for filming was brought in by a member of the Chamber of Commerce of a Florida city and a few anonymous gamblers. If you’ve seen “Follow That Dream,” you’ve seen a few actors who also starred in other Elvis films. The judge was played by Roland Winters, who also played Elvis’ father in “Blue Hawaii.” Actor Howard McNear starred in “Follow That Dream” as the bank loan officer, George, and he also starred in “Blue Hawaii.”   During the 2017 Elvis’ Birthday Celebration, twins Gavin and Robin Koon spoke to fans about their work with Elvis in the movie. Check out a part of their interview...
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50th Anniversary: Elvis Presley’s ‘Double Trouble’

Double the Elvis movies, double the fun! Just a few weeks after “Easy Come, Easy Go,” was released, Elvis Presley’s next movie, the musical comedy “Double Trouble,” followed. Like “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Double Trouble” doesn’t top many fans’ lists of favorite Elvis films, and it performed well – but not great – at the box office. Still, fans enjoy the laughs, the music and, of course, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in this romp about a rock star who gets mixed up with an heiress, jewel thieves and detectives. “Double Trouble” is Elvis’ 24th film. He actually filmed it before he filmed his 23rd film, “Easy Come, Easy Go,” although “Easy Come, Easy Go” was released just before “Double Trouble.” Elvis filmed “Double Trouble” in July – August 1966, and it was released April 5, 1967. The original working title of the film was “You’re Killing Me,” but “Double Trouble” worked better. It was directed by Norman Taurog, who directed nine of Elvis’ films, more than any other director. He directed “Double Trouble,” “G.I. Blues,” “Blue Hawaii,” “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” “Spinout,” “Tickle Me,” “Speedway,” “Live a Little, Love a Little” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Norman also directed “Skippy,” “Boys Town” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and he worked with many of Hollywood’s biggest starts, including Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, Donna Reed and more. Elvis’ “Double Trouble” co-star Annette Day made her film debut in this movie. She was working at an antique shop when she was discovered by a producer. “Double Trouble” is the only movie she ever made. John Williams, who stars in “Double Trouble,” also starred in “Sabrina” and “To Catch a Thief.” While the movie took place in Belgium and Britain, it wasn’t filmed there. Elvis made the movie entirely on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. While Elvis was filming this movie, he went to a Jackie Wilson concert and met the singer backstage. Elvis invited him to the set of “Double Trouble.” At the Jackie Wilson show, Elvis also met singer James Brown. Elvis was good friends with both Jackie and James for the rest of his life. Speaking of James Brown, you can check out a suit James sported on stage at our new exhibit, Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley. The exhibit features artifacts from artists who were inspired by Elvis, like John...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ Turns 50

Romance, comedy and an underwater treasure – what more do you need? It’s the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ 23rd movie, “Easy Come, Easy Go.” The movie premiered in March 1967. While it didn’t make a huge impression at the box office, Elvis fans were happy with the colorful, adventurous plotline, Elvis tunes and, of course, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. In “Easy Come, Easy Go,” Elvis stars as Ted, a former U.S. Navy frogman and singer. He discovers a treasure in a sunken ship and sets out to get it for himself. Standing in his way are Gil (Skip Ward) and Dina (Pat Priest), who aim to claim the treasure for themselves. The movie was filmed in September and October 1966. “Easy Come, Easy Go” was directed by John Rich, who also directed “Roustabout.” This musical comedy was the last movie he directed; he went on to gain fame as a comedy TV director. He directed shows like “All in the Family,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island” and many more. Speaking of folks Elvis worked with previously, Dodie Marshall played Jo in “Easy Come, Easy Go,” and she also starred in “Spinout.” Pat Priest starred as Marilyn Munster in “The Munsters,” and she’s the daughter of Ivy Baker Priest, the former Treasurer of the United States. Madame Neherina was played by Elsa Lanchester, who enjoyed an extensive career in film. She’s most famous for starring in the title role of “Bride of Frankenstein.” If you want to learn even more about Elvis’ movies, visit Graceland. Our new exhibit and entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, houses Presley Motors, which is home to many of Elvis’ cars – including vehicles used in movies, like the colorful “Mongrel T” seen in “Easy Come, Easy Go.” You can also see movie costumes, props and more at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest Elvis museum, at the complex. Make your plans today to see all of this for...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Sixty years ago this month, Elvis made one of his most important purchases: Graceland. In the spring of 1957, Elvis was filming his second movie, “Loving You,” and his home address was on Audubon Drive in Memphis, Tennessee. He’d had a slew of hits on the charts, and he’d appeared on many national television shows – including, most recently, his third and final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance. Elvis had outgrown the nice home he enjoyed on Audubon. It was a good home, but his neighbors complained about the seemingly constant stream of fans and the family’s chickens, which lived in the yard (things that never bothered Elvis). Elvis considered buying every neighboring house, but instead, he and his parents decided to find a larger home out in the country. On Saturday, March 16, 1957, Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon, took a tour of Graceland, which was a bit more secluded than the Audubon home. It sat high up on a hill off Highway 51, not far from the Mississippi-Tennessee State line. The Presleys fell in love with the home, which had been built in 1939 by the Toof family. Named Graceland after the owners’ aunt, Grace, the beautiful, two-story home was exactly what they were looking for in a home for their family. They called Elvis, who was filming in Hollywood, and told him the good news. Elvis arrived in Memphis on March 18, and the next day, he put a $1,000 down payment on the home. The purchase was finalized on March 25 for $102,500. Elvis paid $10,000 in cash, received $55,000 from the realty company for the Audubon Drive home and got a 25-year mortgage for the remainder. Elvis purchased the home as well as 13.8 acres of the surrounding farm land. The Presley family had Graceland renovated before moving in, so Vernon, Gladys and Elvis’ grandmother didn’t move in until May 16. Elvis was filming “Jailhouse Rock” by this time, so he didn’t spend the first night there until June 26. Before owning and living in Graceland, Elvis and his parents had lived in several homes and apartments. But with the purchase of Graceland, Elvis found his home. He lived there for the remainder of his life – another 22 years – and made it his own. He redecorated and expanded – Graceland was 10,266 square feet when he moved in, and it’s 17,552 square feet now –...
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