Peeking Inside the Vaults of the Graceland Archives

The Presleys weren’t hoarders, but they also didn’t get rid of many things they owned pre- or post-fame, including report cards, receipts and grocery store lists. Thankfully most of their collection was organized and today all of those documents, furniture, clothing and more are part of the famous Graceland Archives. Launched during Elvis Week 2014, a fascinating new addition was made to the tour offerings at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, and no we aren’t talking about the new iPad tour which is ALSO pretty neat. The newest attraction added to the Graceland tour, the first in over 20 years since the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, is the Graceland Archives Studio Experience. After finishing the mansion tour, visitors are taken by shuttle to a new state of the art archives facility where they get a unique presentation of artifacts that are found in the vaults of the Graceland Archives. A variety of shows have been developed to take visitors on a journey through the archives that utilize the various categories that include audio, video, documents, textiles, etc. While one show might focus on his time in the Army or his groundbreaking debut in Las Vegas with his tablecloth contract and a jumpsuit, another show may focus on his movies with a presentation of costumes, publicity photos and personal scripts. One audience favorite show about Elvis being an early adopter and features his Zenith remote from a 1957 TV called the Space Commander 400, and of course his famous briefcase phone is included in this technology-focused entertaining show. On any given day, you don’t know what show you will see, but you can be certain that there will be two different shows presented in one day, a morning and afternoon show. For hardcore Elvis fans who arrive first thing in the morning for a tour and purchase the Platinum Tour, be sure ask the ticket agent when you arrive how you can be sure to see the afternoon show during your visit. One of the great things about this new attraction presentation is that you can actually get up close to the artifacts, no gold ropes separating you from the cherished items, so close you could almost touch, however we advise you don’t get handsy with the artifacts. Seriously, don’t touch. Pictures are allowed, but no flash photography. It has been amazing to see faces light up just being so close...
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Homecoming: Return to Tupelo

Memphis is Elvis mecca – home to his famous mansion Graceland, Beale Street where he would buy his clothes and soak up the blues, and of course Sun Studio where he would cut his first record that put both Elvis and Sam Phillips’ tiny studio on the music map. When you read a book though, you don’t start in the middle, which is where Elvis and Memphis intersect. You start at the beginning, and that can be found in Tupelo, the birthplace of royalty and the would-be King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Tupelo is by no means an American metropolis, nor is it a one stoplight town, but somewhere in between and perfectly pleasant to visit. A vibrant community of people who all know, or know of each other – it is the South after all. Sweet tea is on the menu in every restaurant in town and if you are nice and just as charming as the Tupelonians you encounter, you might get a hug before you leave the city limits along with a “Thanks for coming, y’all.” This may all sound cliché Southern, but Tupelo is anything but cliché, offering a unique look at the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. Born January 8, 1935, Elvis Aaron was the surviving twin born to Gladys and Vernon Presley. Jessie Garon was stillborn and buried near the shotgun shack in Tupelo where the Presley brothers were born. Today, that historic home is part of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum in Tupelo that tells the story of how he learned to play his first guitar purchased at Tupelo Hardware and was inspired by the music of his church and the Shake Rag community. While the Presley family moved to Memphis when Elvis was just 13, he never forgot where he came from, returning to Tupelo in September of 1956 for a memorable performance at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. In 1943, a young Elvis stood on a chair at a microphone  to sing “Old Shep” in the youth talent contest. Elvis came in fifth place and received $5.00 in fair ride tickets. As an international star, he made his triumphant return to the same fair in his hometown of Tupelo 11 years later, this time surrounded by the National Guard to help keep the crowd, mainly young girls, under control. Even after that triumphant return to Tupelo, Elvis would on occasion drive down...
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Elvis Reimagined: Duets and Remixes

Barbara. As in Streisand. Yes, it’s true, Babs and the King will duet on “Love Me Tender” as part of her new Partners album due out (Sept. 16) next week. One of the songs that helped make Elvis a household name, this reimagined duet of “Love Me Tender” has been widely praised by the music industry, considered “breathtaking” by Parade music writer Lindsay Lowe. Approved by the Presley family, a love song is reborn when two icons come together in this delightful duet. Enjoy a sneak peek at the historic track and hear from Streisand about the mutual respect she and Elvis had for each other. It was Streisand who debuted at the opening of the International Hotel, but it was Elvis who broke box office records, making Sin City a destination to see “A list” entertainment. This is not the first time an original by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll has been altered from the master recording originally pressed to vinyl. This is something that irritates a sector of the Elvis fan community, while other fans see it is a welcome adaptation of a classic, made new again and shared with future generations of fans. Regardless of what side you are on in the debate, you have to admit, it is pretty amazing what can be done with modern technology. Elvis was an innovator who always embraced and created the latest trends of his time, and still does today with these groundbreaking duets and remixes. Who can forget the stunning, not just vocal, but video duet featuring Elvis and Celine Dion for the Idol Gives Back telethon in April of 2007. The world watched as the reigning Queen of Las Vegas and the King of Rock crooned the classic “If I Can Dream” from the finale of his 1968 Comeback Special. The magical video that paired Elvis and Celine on stage together for the duet became a global sensation and wound up becoming the #1 video download on iTunes for almost a month. Even more amazing, and touching, are the duets between Elvis and his only child, Lisa Marie Presley. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Lisa surprised a crowd of 20,000 fans at Memphis’ Pyramid Arena with a duet of “Don’t Cry Daddy” during Elvis Week 1997 on the 20th anniversary of her father’s passing. This was followed up in 2007 with “In...
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Elvis: Innovator and Icon of Fashion

Stunning. Just one word sums up how Elvis Presley looked, and it was more than just his chiseled facial features. His charisma and voice are what helped catapult the boy from Tupelo to super-stardom, but you can bet  his personal style is one of the things that set him apart from other acts found on stage at the time, keeping him in the spotlight and in the hearts and minds of many. He will forever be known as an icon of music, film and fashion. As New York City kicks into high gear for Fashion Week, we revisit some of the King’s signature looks, some of them found on display here at Graceland in Memphis. One of the earliest fashions that made him the talk of any town he was in while on tour was his gold outfit originally designed for his manager Colonel Parker, but later altered to fit Elvis. The influential suit featured pants and the sparkly coat, Elvis felt restricted in the pants that also shed gold flakes when moving as he did on stage. Eventually he traded the gold pants for black ones wearing just the coat that alone still caused a stir in every city. The suit was almost as famous as Elvis, a marketing ploy by Colonel Parker involved having the suit brought into a performance venue the day prior by armored vehicle, ensuring press coverage of the delivery and pre-promotion for Elvis’ concert the following day. The jacket is presently on display in Elvis’ Hawaii: Music, Movies and More exhibit at the Graceland Crossing which through February of 2016, displayed the way he wore it when making his first appearance in the Aloha State in 1957. It is virtually impossible to forget Elvis’ steamy performance in Viva Las Vegas with co-star Ann Margaret, the signature tune has become the official anthem of Sin City. As Elvis crooned this classic tune in the finale of what would be his highest grossing film ever, he was wearing a custom red shirt with zipper that is now featured in the 60 Years of Elvis Exhibit at Graceland. The swivel of Elvis’ hips while dancing was known to make his shirts come un-tucked at times, and this particular piece of wardrobe is more of a costume piece comes with straps sewn to the bottom of the shirt that buttoned into the lining of his pants, ensuring his...
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Top 10 Moments of Elvis Week 2014

By Jon Waterhouse With the whirlwind of Elvis Week 2014 now at a close, the task of putting it all into words remains a challenge. Having another opportunity to be dropped in the eye of this event’s hurricane gives me the unique perspective of what an enormous impact Elvis has and continues to have on millions. Elvis Week is the embodiment of that impact and a celebration like no other. Yet probably the most amazing result of Elvis Week is the overflowing feeling of camaraderie, generosity and love. It’s all because of Elvis. Those lines from “If I Can Dream” play out before our eyes at Elvis Week. Our respect for Elvis’s life’s work bulldozes the walls of diversity, creating a place where all of our brothers and sisters do “walk hand in hand.” At Elvis Week, I’ve seen friendships fostered from around the world. I’ve seen unselfish acts of giving in an attempt to make the world a better place. I’ve seen dreams blossom to life and amazing people triumph over tragedy. Elvis Week isn’t simply an event honoring a man and his music. It glorifies the beauty found in humanity and a person who keeps allowing us to see it more clearly. The heartfelt hard work by the staff of Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises certainly goes noticed, and it’s always an honor to work alongside such wonderful people. The passion and dedication coming out of the Elvis Radio studio and heard over the airwaves on SiriusXM is truly unrivaled. Having the chance to collaborate with that crew continues to be a career highlight for me. A sincere thanks to all who took care of business as part of Elvis Week 2014, something I’m so grateful to have been a part of. Don’t forget you can always catch daily videos from Memphis Jones and see more blogs and photos by visiting ElvisWeek.com. See you next year! TCB Elvis fans! MY ELVIS WEEK 2014 TOP 10 So what amazing memories did I chalk up at Elvis Week? The list could take up volumes, but here’s a concise round up of my Top 10. 10. Elvis Night At The Ballpark With Memphis Redbirds Gathering at AutoZone Park for an Elvis-themed ball game with approximately 10,000 fans proved amazing enough. But getting a mini dance lesson from 2013’s Ultimate ETA, Dean Z, took things over the top. Maybe a little...
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