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!

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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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits

Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles. A lot. Seriously. A lot. If you’ve ever visited Graceland, you’ve no doubt been a little blown away by Elvis’ countless Gold, Diamond and Platinum Records. It’s fun to pick out your favorite songs on the walls and even snap a selfie with your favorite Gold Record. To celebrate Elvis’ iconic and groundbreaking music, we’re going to cover Elvis’ #1 hits here on the Graceland Blog. We’ll share the backstory of each song, who played on it, where it landed on various charts and more. We’ll tackle a few at a time, and every few months or so. Here are the stories of a few of Elvis’ #1s, picked at random. “Don’t Be Cruel” “Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true I don’t want no other love, baby, it’s just you I’m thinking of…” Elvis recorded this song at RCA Studios in New York on July 2, 1956. The track was written by Otis Blackwell. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, struck a deal so that Elvis would receive a cut of the publishing ownership on many songs he recorded, so Elvis’ name appears in the writing credits for “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis was not happy with that deal, however, so soon this practice was scrapped. For “Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis was backed by his band: Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Shorty Long played piano, and The Jordanaires performed backing vocal duties. Ernie Ulrich was the engineer. Elvis asked for personal copies of the acetates from this recording so he could study them. He wanted to make sure his live performances had the same feel as his recordings. The single “Don’t Be Cruel” shipped on July 13, 1956 (remember – he’d only recorded it 11 days earlier). It sold so quickly that five gold records were given to Elvis on one plaque. “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on all three major U.S. charts, and it was #1 on Billboard’s pop single charts for 11 weeks, staying a total of 27 weeks on the chart. It also landed at #1 on the country singles chart, where it stayed for 10 weeks, with a total of 28 weeks on the chart. It stayed at #1 on the R&B singles chart for a week and spent 17 weeks on the chart. In 2002, “Don’t Be Cruel”...
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Trivia: Elvis Presley’s 1957

Last year on the Graceland Blog, we focused quite a bit on Elvis Presley’s 1956 and his many accomplishments made during that year. But as we all know, Elvis’ incredible shot to stardom didn’t end in that year. He enjoyed many more successes in 1957, including making more movies, purchasing Graceland and recording more music. How well do you know Elvis’ 1957? Take the quiz below, and stay tuned to the Graceland Blog this year. We’ll highlight many of these milestones, as well as other important anniversaries from Elvis’ legendary life and career. Before you take the quiz, don’t forget to go head over to Graceland.com and book your visit to the king’s castle. If you want to learn everything about Elvis, Graceland is the place to...
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What’s Happening at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in 2017

We have a busy year ahead of us here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing and fans from around the world will be traveling to Graceland to honor his life and legacy. In addition to our annual celebrations, we’re anticipating the largest Elvis Week ever, and we’re opening up our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Nothing but the best for the king, right? Here’s what you can expect at Graceland in 2017. Elvis Presley’s Memphis Do you love Elvis? Do you want to learn more about him and his career? Of course you do. You won’t want to miss Elvis Presley’s Memphis, our new, state-of-the-art entertainment complex, which will open March 2-5, 2017, across the street from the Graceland Mansion. It’s five times the size of our current visitors center, which it will replace. This $45 million, 200,000 square-foot complex is Graceland’s largest and most significant expansion since first opening to the public in 1982. Inside the Graceland mansion, you can explore the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s home life, from his lush living room to the famous Jungle Room. But at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, you can explore every facet of his astonishing career, thanks to new museums, exhibits and “Discovery” spaces. The cornerstone of the Elvis Presley’s Memphis experience will be “Elvis: The Entertainer,” a 20,000-square-foot museum celebrating Elvis’ music, movie and live touring career.  This museum will feature hundreds of artifacts from the extensive Graceland Archives, from Elvis’ early days in Tupelo, Mississippi, through his first recording session in Memphis, rise to fame, Hollywood career, service in the U.S. Army, life at Graceland, the Las Vegas years and more.  “Elvis: The Entertainer” will be the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world. A signature exhibition will present the incredible story of music visionary and legendary producer Sam Phillips, who essentially created Rock ‘n’ Roll and discovered so many incredible artists at Memphis Recording Service/Sun Records. Graceland will partner with the Phillips family to develop an extensive exhibition that showcases Sam’s life and work in an unprecedented and engaging way. Featuring rare artifacts, photos, videos and documents from the Phillips family archives, the exhibition will shine a light on the great artists that Sam produced, starting with the early blues recordings that profoundly influenced Elvis and continues to impact the music of today. A 20,000-square-foot “Graceland Soundstage” is also part of Elvis...
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Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan: ‘The First Big Bang’

Sixty years ago today, one television appearance changed the world as we know it. Elvis Presley’s third and final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place on January 6, 1957. The almost 22-year-old had spent the previous year topping the charts, starring in his first movie and causing a stir on several other television appearances. For that final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, he was only shown from the waist up for all of his performances except for his performance of “Peace in the Valley.” Sixty years later, we’re still talking about Elvis on “Ed Sullivan.” People often forget that Elvis was on the show three times, and that only his last appearance was “waist up,” but the fact that he was filmed that way for any performance gave him a cool, dangerous, rebellious – truly, a rock ‘n’ roll – reputation. Whether it’s some version of the “filmed from the waist up” story, or just about the rawness and energy of all three of his performances, Elvis’ appearances on “Sullivan” are still heralded as some of the most pivotal moments in the history of both television and pop culture. Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan” performances influenced hundreds of young musicians, thrilled an entire generation of teenagers and rocked the status quo. And while Elvis deserves all of the credit for his powerful performances, another reason Elvis’ appearances were so impactful was a bit of “right place, right time.” As a society, America was ready for a thrill and a shock, and the new television technology brought Elvis right into millions of homes. Producer, writer and director Andrew Solt, who owns “The Ed Sullivan Show” library and who wrote and directed the documentary “This is Elvis,” spoke with the Graceland Blog about why Elvis’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearances were so important to his career, to the show and to the world. Solt is one of our special guests for Elvis’ Birthday Celebration at Graceland. Picture it: America, 1956. “It was post-World War II when (Elvis) hit the scene. In the mid-50s, it was a kind of sleepy America,” Solt said. “Most people were trying to get into a two-bedroom house with a garage. Life was kind of calm, but there was this brewing rebellion, and Elvis represented that.” Sullivan’s show, which ran from 1948-1971, featured all kinds of entertainers and guests, from musicians like Elvis to comedians, Broadway performers, opera singers,...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland: Our Top Moments of 2016

As we count down to the final days, hours and minutes of 2016, we’re taking a moment to look back on this monumental year at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. We celebrated milestones, Elvis Week, Elvis’ birthday and the holidays. We took Elvis to fans overseas, and brought fans closer to Graceland than ever. We crowned a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, shared new Elvis music with fans and made lots of plans that will leave 2017 all shook up (sorry, we just had to say that). Let’s look back at our favorite moments from 2016. The Guest House at Graceland Opens During most of 2016, we watched as the new 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, come into shape down the road from Graceland. The weekend of October 27-30, the hotel opened to rave reviews. Fans loved the Elvis-inspired décor, the Southern hospitality, the food and the feeling that you were, in fact, staying at Elvis’ guest house. Two weeks after opening, the hotel was awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating. Have you stayed at The Guest House at Graceland yet? Book your stay today. Announcing Elvis Presley’s Memphis At Graceland, we always want to preserve and carry on Elvis’ legacy – and that’s what we’re doing with our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Opening in the spring 2017, the new complex will house Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, as well as Presley Motors, a new Elvis car museum. There will also be “Discovery” exhibit spaces, where guests can learn more about Elvis’ life, career and interests, as well as a Soundstage for special events. Hungry for more? You’ll find plenty to eat at two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Elvis’ two airplanes will also be on display here, too. Make your plans now to experience Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Graceland Welcomes Its 20 Millionth Visitor In May, we celebrated our 20 millionth – yes, you read that right – visitor: Tiffany Greenoak, who was visiting Graceland while on her honeymoon with her husband, Robert. The Greenoaks, Elvis fans from London, were welcomed to Graceland by a phone call from Priscilla Presley and a visit from Graceland CEO Jack Soden. Tiffany and Robert were given a private tour and won a prize pack that included a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a one-year pass...
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Here’s Looking at You, Elvis Presley Fans

We’re days away from Christmas. Kids have sent off their Christmas lists and hoping Santa brings them everything on it. For those of us here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, you could say that it’s Christmas for us every day. Why? Why, we get to see all of you, of course, and Elvis fans are exactly what we want for Christmas! We love seeing your smiling faces at Graceland, and we’re so thankful you choose to spend your time with us, whether it’s just for a quick tour, for an all-day adventure, to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or to join us for a special event, like Elvis Week. Thank you, thank you very much for visiting the king’s castle! For this week’s blog, we’ve collected some of our favorite guest photos that were posted to Instagram in 2016. There are many, many more – in fact, you can see our fan photos of the day daily on Graceland.com – so these are just a few of our faves. And remember – we have a lot of changes coming in 2017, so we’d love to see you back here at Graceland next year, complete with more photos and selfies. Want us to see your photo? Be sure to use the hashtag #Graceland, and be on the lookout for special events-related hashtags we’ll use throughout the year. (Speaking of Instagram, you do follow us on there, right?) Some of our favorite photos include the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. You can’t come to Graceland without snapping a photo of yourself and the king!       Another popular location for selfies and photos at Graceland is, of course, the blue Graceland sign.     One of the most photogenic areas at Graceland is the famous Graceland wall, full of love notes to Elvis from fans all over the world. In fact, many of these fans’ photos look like they could be featured in a fashion magazine.       If you go anywhere really cool, you have to take a photo to prove you were there, right? Right. The cool thing about Graceland is that there’s no other place like it, so whether you snap a selfie in the Jungle Room, with one of Elvis’ cars or in Elvis’ backyard, your photo is totally one of a kind.             These shots are great, but it seems like...
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How Well Do You Know Elvis Presley’s 1956?

This year on the Graceland Blog, we’ve celebrated the amazing accomplishments that Elvis achieved 60 years ago in 1956. We’ve covered everything from his busy tour schedule to his first album to his first movie to the first home he purchased. We also discussed the Million Dollar Quartet and his many television appearances. If you’ve read these blogs – and are a good Elvis fan who knows all kinds of Elvis trivia – you probably know Elvis pretty well. But how well do you know Elvis’ 1956? Take the quiz below and find...
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland at Christmas

The holidays are – and have always been – a magical time here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. From the colorful Nativity scene in the front yard to the Christmas wreaths at the stables, all of Graceland is decorated to celebrate the Christmas season. Graceland’s traditional Christmas decorations also include two beautiful Christmas trees – one in the living room and one in the dining room, poinsettias on the staircase and throughout the house, and decorations in the Pool Room and Jungle Room. Even the famous monkey in the pool room gets dressed up for the occasion, wearing a Santa hat and a red bow. Actually, before we go any further, let’s set the mood even more. Check out this video of Graceland’s Christmas lights, set to Charles Esten’s “The Lights at Graceland.”   Elvis loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year. The Presleys always put up their Christmas decorations early, and because Elvis so loved the season, decorations stayed up through his birthday on January 8 (a tradition we keep alive here at Graceland). Elvis purchased Graceland in the spring of 1957, so that first Christmas at his new home was a special one. On December 12, he purchased a Santa and sleigh yard decoration that read, “Merry Christmas to All, Elvis.” We still display that sign, which he purchased for $300 from the Bain Sign Company. For Christmas, Elvis used beautiful red drapes to decorate Graceland. He had a white nylon Christmas tree which rotated on its stand and played Christmas carols, and he decorated it with red ornaments. Elvis also lined the Graceland driveway with blue lights. Elvis’ father Vernon joked that with the lights lining the driveway, and the airport nearby, that pilots may get confused and would try to land at Graceland. The Santa and sleigh sign went into a brief retirement in the 1960s, when Elvis decorated the lawn with the Nativity scene and aluminum Christmas trees. When the company that Elvis, and eventually Graceland, leased the Nativity scene and aluminum trees from each year went out of business, Graceland purchased the displays to ensure the continuation of Elvis’ holiday tradition. Christmas at Graceland became even more special with the arrival of Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter, Lisa Marie. For her first Christmas, Vernon dressed up as Santa to visit the family at Graceland. Elvis loved buying Christmas gifts for Lisa, and gifts...
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Elvis Presley and the Million Dollar Quartet

Sixty years ago, on December 4, 1956, four musicians gathered around a piano in a recording studio to jam… and the rest is history. There have been many jam sessions over the years, in plenty of recording studios, with any number of musicians – but this one is special. On a Tuesday afternoon, Elvis Presley, his date, Marilyn Evans and his friend Cliff Gleaves, were driving on Union Avenue in Memphis and spotted several Cadillacs sitting outside Sun Studio. Elvis was, by now, an RCA artist, but he couldn’t resist stopping by his former home studio to see who was recording that day. Inside was none other than Carl Perkins, who was working on a few tunes with his brothers, Jay and Clayton, and a young piano player who was new on the scene – Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee’s career was just starting at Sun, and he was excited to meet Elvis. At some point in the session, Sun’s biggest star, Johnny Cash, joined in on the fun. Some reports have him there for the entire session, while others say he was there just for the iconic photo. Either way, the four young musical legends – Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash – were at Sun Studio on December 4, and were, for at least a little while, the Million Dollar Quartet. Sam Phillips was there, too, and he made sure that engineer Jack Clement had hit the record button on the session. He also called Bob Johnson, a reporter for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, to snap a photo of what he already knew was a historic moment. “The quartet could sell a million,” Bob said in his story, which featured the headline, “Million Dollar Quartet.” The guys played a mix of their favorite country and gospel numbers. The tunes they played that day include “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Peace in the Valley,” “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” “Down by the Riverside,” “You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis sang pieces of “Don’t Be Cruel” as he told the guys about how impressed he was by a vocal group, Billy Ward and His Dominoes, who performed the song at their concerts in Las Vegas. The group’s singer that Elvis talks about during the session was Jackie Wilson. There were plenty of candid moments like that during the session. When...
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