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 to his birthplace for a trip down memory lane. Just 90 miles from the gates of Graceland, Tupelo is a must-see for Elvis fans and music enthusiasts. It is where the story of rock ‘n’ roll begins and music royalty was born.

For more about visiting Tupelo, visit Tupelo.net.


4 Comments

  1. Bernadette McLaughlin

    Such a beautiful story about Elvis when he was a child… Special people do not come round that often, but he was one of a kind – a true original. A bright light in a dark world.

  2. Bernadette,
    Well said. What a beautiful statement and I second that! Elvis was a very special man and always will be alive in our hearts! Thank you for the touching words!

  3. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL STORY. THE PEOPLE IN TUPELO ARE LOVELY AND VERY FRIENDLY. MY TEENAGE SON EVEN SAID WHEN YOU VISITED TUPELO THAT THEY ARE THE NICEST PEOPLE HE HAS EVER MET AND WISHED EVERYONE WAS AS FRIENDLY AS THE PEOPLE IN TUPELO.

    CAZ

  4. Priscilla Soignier

    Yes, indeed, as others have stated no one before or since Elvis has made the impact the he did.

    Long Live the King of Rock n Roll

    cilla in love

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