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!

Elvis Week Day 8: Elvis Takes the Big Screen

By Jon Waterhouse Walk a mile in my shoes? Yesterday I ran three miles in my shoes for the Elvis Presley 5K. After defying my snooze button, I barely made it to the race on time. I arrived to find Elvis Presley Boulevard packed to the gills with runners ready to slap sneakers on the pavement. Before long we were all off and running down Elvis Presley Boulevard. Soon we cut down a residential street. As I fought to keep a steady pace, I looked up to see a guy running in a full Elvis jumpsuit and flowing cape. His feet were making loud, scraping sounds with each step. That’s when I noticed the dude was running in blue suede shoes. Each time he’d pass a volunteer or a police officer, he’d throw out a “Thank you, thank you very much.” Huffing and puffing along the way, he’d periodically whinny like a horse. Sweat poured from his brow and it was painful just watching him shuffle in those shoes. I said a silent prayer that he didn’t whinny himself into exhaustion. With the temperature beginning to rise, a resident graciously sprayed a garden hose into the air at the mile two marker. The welcomed mist helped me take care of business and amp it up for the final mile. Crossing the finish line, I found a volunteer draping a TCB medal around my neck. Basking in the medal’s coolness, I realized I would’ve run an entire marathon to score something so high on the awesome scale. But no medal could replicate the joy I saw as Becca and Tyke Harrison of Austin, Texas crossed the finish line. I had met the couple at Elvis Week 2013 when Becca was still recovering from a brain tumor and the resulting surgery. Last year she couldn’t walk. This year, however, she was determined to run the 5K. It all resulted in a tear-filled finish with her sign-waving cheering section waiting as she arrived. It’s moments like these that help make Elvis Week more beautiful than words can describe. While chatting with Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist finalist David Allen, who finished the race in a flat 25 minutes, I noticed that Mr. Blue Suede Shoes survived the race. The McKenzie, Tenn. resident, who’s real name is Jeff Sass, tipped back a libation and shrugged off my concerns. “It wasn’t too bad,” he said....
read more

Elvis Week Day 7: Remembering the King – Elvis Presley

By Jon Waterhouse We’ve heard the old adage “time flies when you’re having fun.” Yet Tom Brown, host of yesterday’s sold-out Conversations on Elvis, proved there’s a reason we’re still saying it. Elvis Week’s ace host has the ability to make three hours feel like 15 minutes. Time breezed by as he chatted with Elvis’s “Kissing Cousins” co-star Cynthia Pepper; Joe Moscheo and Terry Blackwood of The Imperials; Elvis’s conductor Joe Guercio; and Priscilla Presley. Presley’s appearance proved to be the grand finale. Although Brown joked about trying to get Presley to reprise her role on the new version of the TV series “Dallas,” she did reveal several projects she has completed and in the hopper. Fans were treated to larger-than-life images on the big screen taken from her new book “Shades of Elvis,” featuring the photographs of Christopher Ameruoso. In the book, pop culture stars from Cher and Adam Lambert to Tom Jones and Elton John are featured wearing Elvis’s actual sunglasses. For those who would’ve never imagined Priscilla singing onstage, she explained she’s doing just that in a special stage production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” this holiday season in Manchester, England. Presley plays the Wicked Queen, and she even croons a bar or two from the Elvis classic “Trouble.” Closing out Conversations on Elvis, Brown invited Joe Guercio back on stage to conduct the audience in a sing-along rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Q&A WITH CYNTHIA PEPPER Q.: How did Elvis break the ice when you two worked together? A.: Well, when I first met him he actually had roses in my dressing room. He didn’t know me, but he had asked for me to be in the picture. I thought, “Elvis has a crush on me!” But that’s not what happened. He gave all of his leading ladies roses. And it was that day I walked down the dressing room stairs, and there he was as the bottom of the stairs with the assistant director. The assistant director introduced us. He said, “Elvis this is Cynthia Pepper. She’s playing Midge Riley.” I put my hand out and he said, “Don’t give me that hand. I want a hug.” When someone does that, it just melts the ice and makes you feel comfortable. I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck, and he really was one of us. Q.: He...
read more

Elvis Week Day 6: Big Things Happening at Graceland

By Jon Waterhouse     BREAKING GROUND AT THE GUEST HOUSE With the Memphis sun beaming down its approval, fans, Graceland staff and dignitaries gathered for the groundbreaking of The Guest House at Graceland, a resort hotel planned to open in fall of 2016. After Jack Soden unveiled a large rendering of the property and several speakers followed, Priscilla Presley offered closing thoughts. She explained that Elvis always wanted this property, and acquiring it was a dream come true. The plan, she said, is to design it with Elvis’s taste in mind. “When we lived at Graceland, my parents would have to stay at [a nearby hotel],” she said. “Now we have a guest house [for fans].” Gripping a shovel straight from the Graceland grounds, Priscilla, along with other shovel-wielders, officially dipped their tools in the dirt, signaling the beginning a new era of the Graceland experience. Like any great celebration, surprises always spring out of the box at Elvis Week. Yesterday at the Official Insiders Event, we scored a big one. Main stage emcee Tom Brown, the Johnny Carson of Elvis Week, introduced Jack Soden, President and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. After some pleasantries, Soden welcomed a living, breathing bonus feature to the Main Stage: Priscilla Presley. Although she’s appearing at today’s Conversations on Elvis, Presley treated fans to an extra sit-down session with Soden and Brown. The gist of the conversation steered toward all of the new enhancements and mega plans for Graceland, from the tablet tour to the auction to the Guest House at Graceland. Despite the new business configurations, both Soden and Presley assured everyone they’re both still heavily involved at the top and have the fans’ interests at heart. For more than two hours, Brown welcomed a string of guests. Highlights included an appearance by Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis’s closest friends and business associates. He recounted several stories, including meeting Elvis for the first time at a pick-up football game and what it was like living behind the gates of Graceland. Other guests followed such as representatives from Sony and Warner Bros. who talked about the new “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” DVD, Blu-ray, CD and theatrical release. The Memphis Boys members Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman and Reggie Young chatted about jamming with Elvis on iconic cuts at American Sound Studio. Guests were then given another surprise when songwriter Mark James,...
read more

Elvis Week Day 5: Dreams Come True at Elvis Week

By Jon Waterhouse Call it cliche, but dreams come true at Elvis Week. In fact, the whole shebang revolves around one man’s dream that reverberated into reality. And we’re still feeling the results of that dream today. Nowhere was it more apparent than yesterday at Graceland’s Main Stage. The Elvis Presley Fan Club Presidents’ Event centered around the charitable efforts of Elvis fan clubs, keeping the king’s dedication to giving in tact. Elvis Radio’s Argo hosted a chat with AP writer Linda Deutsch, who launched her writing career at age 12 by publishing an Elvis Fan Club newspaper. Jimmy Snow, son of country music legend Hank Snow, shared stories of performing on the road with Elvis. His last visit with the king took place in 1958 during a 10-day stay at Graceland when Elvis asked Snow to take a peek at a movie script he was offered. The film was “King Creole.” Arguably one of the most inspiring moments took place when Elvis fan William Bryan took the stage. He explained that thanks to Elvis fans from around the world, he was able to pursue a lifelong dream. Through a Kickstarter campaign, Bryan raised $15,000, enough money to produce an Elvis biopic. Fans were treated to the first look of “Nobody,” a 15-minute short film about Elvis Presley’s talent show performance in April 1953 at  Humes High School. Ironically, as we all gathered to celebrate the fruits of Elvis’ dream, we saw someone else’s play out on the big screen. Q&A WITH WILLIAM BRYAN, DIRECTOR OF “NOBODY” Q.: How did this project begin? A.: This whole thing started when I was about 14 or 15 years old when “Walk the Line” with Joaquin Phoenix came out. I realized there had never been a theatrically released Elvis feature biopic. And so I realized that day that was going to be my lifelong dream. I carried that idea with me through high school and film school in Chicago. Around sophomore year in film school, my film professor mentor  said to me, “When do you plan on making this feature film?” I said, “I don’t know. Maybe 10 years down the road.” He told me I needed to do something that I could go ahead and execute. He suggested that I take the George Lucas route where his final short film at film school ended up being his first feature. That way...
read more

Elvis Week Day 4: A Day in the Life of an Elvis Tribute Artist

By Jon Waterhouse Oh, the life of the ETA. They get to shroud themselves in the coolest of shimmering stage wear, bask in the warmth of adoring fans and take their Elvis appreciation to the stage. These guys have it made. Am I right? Not so fast, Lucky Jackson. What we fans don’t see are the grueling hours of prep, the mounting pressure and the unrelenting frustrations that can knock the wind out of your morale. So for Elvis Week 2014, I decided to pull back the ETA curtain at the biggest showdown of the year: the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. Yesterday I shadowed the semifinalists as they headed to their Super Bowl, or World Cup for those international guys. It was time to walk a mile in their shoes. Today’s blog is entirely dedicated to that experience. ORIENTATION The day began at 8:00 a.m. as the 21 ETAs arrived at the stage door of the Orpheum Theatre for orientation. Some filed in donning casual duds such as jeans, button-downs and T-shirts. However, most of them came decked out in Lansky-worthy wear in the spirit of Elvis’s street clothes. Think bright, chromatic shirts with wide collars, snazzy blazers and slick slacks. Of course, a majority of the guys had their pompadours at full mast. The first order of business was to get the lay of the land. It would be dark during the competition, so the performers were shown the entrances and exits. They were escorted on stage to get familiar with the layout, the location of the monitors and other logistics. “It’s beautiful,” said Gino Monopoli as he looked out from the Orpheum’s stage. The ornate movie palace dates back to the late 1920s. The king was known to watch movies there, and got his hair cut at the barbershop next door. “The acoustics are incredible,” the Canadian ETA explained. “And there’s something about old theaters and their history. It makes it special.” The group left the stage and gathered in a backstage waiting area. Gaggles of Elvi congregated around tables talking shop from hair tips to stage wear. When a specific performer’s name was called, he’d be whisked back for a quick conference with the show’s producer and band leaders. Song selection, arrangement, microphone style and other details were put on the table. In the meantime, the other ETAs continued hanging out, periodically erupting in pockets...
read more

Elvis Week Day 3: Where is Elvis in Memphis?

By Jon Waterhouse Memphis music history runs thicker than the barbecue sauce at Marlowe’s. Thankfully fans have the opportunity to sink their teeth into several historical music experiences and walk away with mouthfuls of blues, rock and soul knowledge. For Elvis lovers, there are plenty of kingly nibbles along the way. Yesterday I took to the streets to explore a trio of museums specializing in Memphian music lore. While I have a great appreciation and love for all of the music that sprang out of the Bluff City, it is Elvis Week after all. My Presley radar continues running full tilt. To help steer Elvis Week fans along the way, I’m listing my top three Elvis finds at each location. Sun Studio 706 Union Ave., Memphis 901-521-0664 www.sunstudio.com Thanks to its visionary original owner, Sam Phillips, the hallowed halls of Sun Studio captured world-changing music for the masses. The Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats tune “Rocket 88,” which many historians cite as the first rock ‘n’ roll song, was cut there. Phillips tracked blues icons Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Rufus Thomas and others. And his label’s roster beamed brightly with the likes of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Of course it’s where the world first discovered Elvis, who obviously made the most noise out of all of Sun’s alumni. The Elvis Display The Sun Studio tour begins upstairs where glass cases spotlight a collection of memorabilia. Elvis fans should gravitate to the back right corner of the room where you can discover a sizable shrine to the young king. You’ll find the black Lansky Brothers sports coat Elvis wore on “The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show” in 1956, as well as the guitar case, complete with cow hide interior, that he used. WHBQ DJ Booth Dewey Phillips, the groundbreaking Memphis DJ, was the man who spun Elvis for the very first time. His show “Red, Hot and Blue” aired on WHBQ, and his actual DJ booth was rescued from the now defunct Hotel Chisca. It now lives upstairs at Sun. Take a look at the turntables that changed the face of music. The Studio Step into the intimate recording studio that shook the foundations of popular music. Look to the ceiling, and you’ll see the same tiles Elvis saw that legendary night in 1954 when he recorded “That’s All Right” with Scotty Moore and Bill Black....
read more

Elvis Week Day 2: Experiencing Graceland and Memphis

By Jon Waterhouse While covering Elvis Night at the Memphis Redbirds game on Saturday, Graceland photographer Robert Dye succinctly described Elvis Week as a roller coaster ride. “We’re just now going up the hill,” he said. “And now the ride begins.” Yeah it does, and on Sunday I had my figurative lap bar securely in place, ready and eager for every dip, twist, turn and gasp-inducing Elvis Week moment. My day began with an hour-long guest DJ set on Elvis Radio alongside DJ Argo, the always welcoming and incredibly talented maestro of the mike. Soon thereafter I was whisked away in a Graceland tour bus for my first tablet tour. This brand new interactive experience had me at click and drag. Each Graceland guest receives an iPad and headphones. Actor John Stamos, best known for his lengthy stint on the TV sitcom “Full House,” narrates this journey through a different kind of full house, one loaded with memorabilia and rock ‘n’ roll majesty. As you explore the mansion and its grounds, an image of each respective room and area appear on the tablet’s screen offering a slew of additional content. Let’s say you’re passing through Graceland’s kitchen. A video icon appears on your screen giving you the option to watch a home movie of a young Elvis walking through that very room. The wealth of the tablet material is seemingly endless. When stopping in the Jungle Room the tablet offers a photo of a tiny Lisa Marie chilling on that tiki-tastic couch. Visit the display of Priscilla’s wedding dress, and you can use your tablet to simultaneously watch actual footage of she and Elvis exchanging vows. And that’s just a smidgen of what’s available on the tablet. Movie trailers, audio interview clips, Elvis TV appearances, live concert footage and more take the tour to unprecedented heights. Having chalked up many a Graceland visit, the tablet tour makes it feel completely brand new and totally immersive, while retaining the charm of the classic experience. It’s simply like visiting the Presley palace for the very first time. The new Graceland Archives Experience adds yet another dimension. Just when you thought it was over, those who opt for the Platinum or VIP tour get access to the Archive Studio. Housed in its own facility just behind the mansion, the theater-like setting allows guests the opportunity to get a close look at Elvis...
read more

Elvis Week Day 1: Elvis Night with Memphis Redbirds

By Jon Waterhouse Elvis Week was starting off on the good foot, literally. I’d only been in Memphis for a few short hours, and there I stood in blue suede shoes getting a kingly dance lesson from Dean Z, the 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner. Just outside the Memphis Redbirds locker room in the belly of AutoZone Park, Dean passed along some pointers. It was Elvis Night at the Redbirds game and among the activities: an Elvis dance contest. In the interest of blog fodder, I figured I’d give it a shot and sign up. Either the blog would recount the thrill of Elvis Week victory or examine the agony of da feet. Dean instructed me to flip my collar, quiver my lip in a snarl and replicate his Presley choreography. He glided across the stadium floor effortlessly like he was skating on butter. Dean Z exemplified cool. Cool as ice. That’s when reality struck. What was I thinking? I couldn’t move like that. There was a good chance I was about to become the laughing stock of Elvis Week in front of 10,000 people. Dance like the king? More like the court jester. But there was no time for anxiety. I had to follow Dean Z on the field to watch as he threw out the first pitch. A mesmerizing rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” followed courtesy of soprano Kallen Esperian, an opera singer known for having belted out vocals alongside Pavarotti. Thankfully the distractions kept coming. I struck up a conversation with Ben Thompson, a London, England-based ETA, who had never seen live baseball. “Back home we have sports,” he told me, “but it’s just the sport. Here there’s a lot of audience participation. And I love the tunes in between [the action] and the mascot running around. It adds a fun factor for people like myself who don’t understand the rules. It’s great!” Chatting with Ben helped calm my nervous, as did loading my belly with ballpark delicacies. Dance contest? What dance contest? Then the 8th inning came, and my escapism screeched to a halt. It was time to take the field and dance. Only one other person registered for the contest. Once I got a look at him, any sliver of confidence I may have had quickly fluttered away. Cody Giles, a senior at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., would be duking it...
read more

Elvis Week Survival Guide

By Jon Waterhouse Having another opportunity to serve as Elvis Week Blogger —the eyes and ears of fellow fans— and share my big hunk o’ love for all things Elvis remains a huge honor. Now comes the time to put on my game face and curl my lip, dive head first into the deep end of Elvisness and take care of business in a flash. EPE and Graceland have quite the celebration in store, blending tried-and-true experiences with new additions and enhancements. Expect more shiny bells and whistles than a tricked-out Stutz Bearcat. It’s more fun than a barrel of hound dogs for sure, but navigating Elvis Week 2014 takes planning. Consider the following tips and tricks. ELVIS WEEK SURVIVAL GUIDE The Elvis Week App Juggling all those Elvis Week activities almost requires the time management of your own personal Col. Tom. Good thing you can have one in the palm of your hand. Grab your smartphone and download the Elvis Week App. It comes loaded with a fully customizable schedule, maps, up-to-date Elvis Week news and more. You can even use the app to fire up your own virtual candle for the Candlelight Vigil.  Plus, they have this new Photo Booth deal where you can Elvi-size your photos. Download the app for free! Water In Memphis, the sun doesn’t strictly shine at the famed studio. Throughout Elvis Week, that flaming star will produce temps expected to reach the 90s. Make sure and stay hydrated at all times by keeping bottled water at the ready. Sunscreen With that said, Elvis Presley’s Graceland is breaking ground on the new Guest House at Graceland on Thursday, August 14. Gotta protect yourself from those UVs! Comfy Shoes Elvis Week can easily inspire fans to dress to the nines. Just save the blue suede shoes and high heeled sneakers for special events. Many fans find themselves on their feet hoofing it from one event to the next, not to mention standing in line for the Vigil. Comfortable footwear is a must, so make sure and love those tootsies tender. Power Up Sleep isn’t always a top priority among fans at Elvis Week, so always fuel up on food. Eating regularly and keeping snacks within reach is important. And don’t forget your cameras and mobile devices need power, too. Hit the events with phone chargers and camera batteries in tow. Fan Connections Countless attendees...
read more

20 Things You Might Not Realize About Elvis Presley’s Graceland

So you’ve visited Graceland or maybe you are planning your first trip? Check out these interesting tid bits about the king’s home! From touring like a VIP to drinking from the same water fountain as Elvis, there’s so much to do here! Over the years, we have discovered quite a few things visitors may not realize about Elvis Presley’s home. Don’t forget to visit Graceland.com and book your rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage today! 1. Sign the Wall Elvis even encouraged fans to do this when he lived here. Break out those sharpies and leave your special message to the king.   2. Take An Epic Selfie Ok, this will have to be another blog because there are too many photo opportunities here at the home of the king! Check out Antonio Sabato Jr.’s Graceland selfie.                           3. Get Married The quaint Graceland Wedding Chapel in the Woods is the perfect setting for a wedding to remember. You can even get your wedding photos in front of the mansion.   4. Go on SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio Elvis Radio DJs are always welcoming Graceland visitors to sit inside the Elvis Radio DJ booth. They even have weekly trivia and contests in the Graceland Plaza. After all, it is one of the only SiriusXM radio stations dedicated to one artist and it broadcasts LIVE from Graceland!     5. Take Your Picture with Elvis Ok, its not technically Elvis – but it sure does come close! took a picture with #Elvis in #Graceland today pic.twitter.com/pWLin2xkBP — Isabel (@IsaabelDarling_) July 15, 2014   6. Tap into the Graceland Archives VIP and Platinum Tour guests can enjoy a live presentation at our new Graceland Archives Studio beginning August 8. Hosted by a Graceland studio guide, the presentation will showcase special artifacts from the Graceland Archives collection.         7. Buy Homemade Fudge Mmmmmm – just another fine southern delicacy that you can munch on while visiting Graceland.  Dining at Graceland Plaza offers many different menu options to satisfy everyone in your group.       8. Perform at Graceland Student choral and band groups are always welcome to perform in the Graceland Plaza located across the street from Graceland Mansion. Post by Elvis Presley’s Graceland.     9. Check in & Get a Free Poster During your visit to Graceland...
read more

Page 16 of 17« First...10...1314151617