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!

Guest Blog: Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback – Burbank to Graceland

To celebrate the anniversary of Elvis’ ’68 Special this week, we’re teaming with BestClassicBands.com to bring you this in-depth piece on the legendary special. Read an excerpt of their story below. by Neal Umphred At 9:00 p.m. on December 3, 1968, the televisions of millions of American homes were tuned to NBC, where they were greeted with this welcoming line: “If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place.” After an eight-year hiatus, Elvis Presley was back on TV. He was joined by guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana, both of whom had been with Elvis on his historic TV appearances in 1956 and ’57. Television had changed a lot in those years: Presley was in glorious color for the first time! And he filled much larger screens than the tiny black-and-white sets that had showed a grainy version of him with Frank Sinatra in 1960, the last time he’d sung to a national audience. And it was only the beginning: For the next 60 minutes, viewers saw and heard some of the rawest, hardest rock and roll music of their lives. And it worked: Elvis was the top-ranked show of the week, beating out the hugely popular Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The reviews that followed were generous, and the show’s producer, Bob Finkel, would later be given a Peabody Award for this special. Tell me why can’t my dreams come true But it was the response of the people that mattered: In the wake of the television broadcast, the single from the show, “If I Can Dream”—a heartfelt appeal for universal brotherhood and acceptance—peaked at #9 on the Cash Box Top 100 survey. It was Presley’s first Top 10 single in three years, selling close to a million copies in the U.S. (It reached #12 in Billboard.) The soundtrack album, Elvis, reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s LP chart, also the first time that had happened in three years. These two records were hits around the world, the first time that Presley had enjoyed such global success since “Crying in the Chapel” in 1965. In hindsight, all of this looks almost inevitable: How could such determination, such ambition, such genius not be appreciated on a massive scale? But that was anything but predictable when the show aired that December, for on that late 1968 day, Elvis had fallen from the pinnacle of success. He had made too...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Hawaii’

This time of year, Elvis fans in the Northern Hemisphere appreciate anything that takes their mind off of cold air, snow and ice. Enter one of Elvis’ fan-favorite movies: “Blue Hawaii.” The musical comedy was released 55 years ago this week, on November 22, 1961. This movie’s sun, sand and surf are the perfect cure for the winter blues. “Blue Hawaii” sees the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as Chad, who has recently gotten out of the Army and is looking forward to some fun and romance the Aloha State. His mother, played by the great Angela Lansbury, wants him to take over the family business, but he’d much rather work as a tour guide for his girlfriend’s agency. The colorful, exotic locales, fabulous soundtrack and light-hearted storyline make this comedy one of Elvis’ most beloved films. It’s the first of three films he made in Hawaii, and just before shooting this film, Elvis performed a benefit show at the Bloch Arena. “Blue Hawaii” was originally titled “Hawaiian Beach Boy.” The movie was filmed on Oahu and Kauai, and the famous wedding scene was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort Hotel on Kauai. The hotel was devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and it was further damaged by a fire in 2014. The hotel has since been demolished and owners hope to re-open a new hotel on the site in 2018. “Blue Hawaii” was directed by Norman Taurog, who directed nine of Elvis’ films. Elvis would work with many of his “Blue Hawaii” co-stars in future films. Joan Blackman, who stars as his leading lady Maile in “Blue Hawaii,” would also later team up with Elvis in “Kid Galahad.” Roland Winters starred in both “Blue Hawaii” and Elvis’ follow-up film, “Follow That Dream.” Pamela Austin appeared in both “Blue Hawaii” and “Kissin’ Cousins.” Howard McNear played Mr. Chapman in this film and would also star in “Follow That Dream” and “Fun in Acapulco.” Actor Steve Brodie played a troublemaker in three Elvis movies: “Blue Hawaii,” “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Roustabout.” Guy Lee starred in both this film and “Girls! Girls! Girls,” and Richard Reeves had small parts in five Elvis films: “Blue Hawaii,” “Girl Happy,” “Tickle Me,” “Frankie and Johnny” and “Harum Scarum.” “Blue Hawaii” features the most songs in an Elvis film with 14 tracks. The “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack spent 79 weeks on the Billboard charts, with 20 of those...
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Elvis Presley in ‘Love Me Tender’

In 1956, Elvis became both a rock star and a movie star. That year, Elvis was everywhere – on radio, TV, and, with his first movie, “Love Me Tender,” he was also on the big screen. “Love Me Tender” premiered on November 15, 1956 – 60 years ago this week. And really, getting Elvis to the big screen was a fairly quick process. Elvis’ screen test for Hal Wallis at Paramount Studios in Hollywood took place in late March 1956. Elvis performed two scenes from “The Rainmaker,” and he lip synched his hit “Blue Suede Shoes.” A few weeks later, Wallis offered Elvis a contract for one movie with options for six more. Elvis signed a deal that would pay $15,000 for his first film,$20,000 for his second, $25,000 for his third, and so on up to $100,000 for his seventh movie. “Loving You” and “King Creole” were made under that contract, and both of them paid more than the agreed-upon salaries listed in the contract. That contract was totally rewritten in 1958. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, had negotiated with Wallis so that Elvis could make films with other studios, and that’s how “Love Me Tender” happened. Without a script ready to go, Wallis waived his right to produce Elvis’ first movie. 20th Century Fox set a deal with Parker in August 1956 to appear in “The Reno Brothers” – better known to us now as “Love Me Tender” – for $100,000 and co-star billing. Fox also had an option for two more movies for $150,000 and $200,000 (those two films that were shot under the contract were “Flaming Star” and “Wild in the Country”). Elvis arrived in Hollywood on August 16, 1956, and filming began on August 22. Filming wrapped on September 21. Elvis also recorded the “Love Me Tender” soundtrack during this time, too. The title track was inspired by the Civil War ballad “Aura Lee.” The original title of the movie was scrapped for “Love Me Tender” after advanced sales for the “Love Me Tender” single passed 1 million. Robert D. Webb directed “Love Me Tender.” In the movie, the oldest Reno brothers serve in the Confederate Army in the Civil War, and the Reno family back home – which includes the youngest Reno brother, Clint (that would be our star, Elvis) – receives news that the eldest Reno brother, Vance (Richard Egan) was killed...
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Cast Your Vote in Our Elvis for President Quiz

It’s Election Day in the United States! In celebration of the democratic process, we launched the Elvis for President campaign last year. We’ve given away Elvis for President kits and encouraged fans to get to know why Elvis would’ve made a great presidential candidate. Let’s see how much you’ve learned – here’s our Elvis for President...
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Elvis and The Guest House at Graceland

There’s everyone else, and then there’s Elvis. Elvis always stood out from the crowd – not just for his voice and stage presence, but for his personal style. He was always ahead of the fashion trends for both every day and stage wear, and once he purchased his home, Graceland, he decorated it in the most unique ways that changed with his one-of-a-kind taste. Few homes can pull off so many mirrors, a jungle-themed room or a room covered in fabric, but Graceland does, and beautifully. The Guest House at Graceland is also uniquely Elvis. The new hotel, which celebrated its Grand Opening last weekend, is full of designs and décor that came directly from Elvis and Graceland. Everywhere you look, you see something that reminds you of Elvis. Let’s take a look at just a few of these Elvis-inspired designs. The Lobby Ceiling Elvis’ sparkling, eye-catching jumpsuits are a part of what makes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll so iconic. Not only did he put on powerful performances, but he did so in these incredible outfits that raised the bar for all performers. The Guest House at Graceland lobby ceiling was lovingly designed to match the stunning crystal design on this cape that Elvis wore on stage. The Color of Royalty A pretty purple hue accents many areas of The Guest House at Graceland, from the lobby furniture to carpet designs. Elvis loved purple – as seen in his beautiful Purple Cadillac. The color is also found in Elvis’ parents’ bedroom. The Staircase Sure, you could take an elevator up to the next floor, but why do that when you can take a staircase that looks like the one inside Graceland? Shake, Rattle & Go One of five dining options at The Guest House at Graceland is Shake, Rattle & Go, for guests who need to grab nourishment on the go. Of course, Shake, Rattle & Go is a reference to Elvis’ hit “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” and the Shake, Rattle & Go sign is similar to the beautiful gold clock in the living room at Graceland. TCB Elvis’ personal motto design – TCB with the lightning bolt – is iconic. The designers of The Guest House at Graceland “took care of business” and included the lightning bolt design in these beautiful light fixtures in the Founders lounge. Peacocks The two colorful stained glass peacocks in Graceland’s...
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Where Elvis Presley Stayed

We’re about one week away from the Grand Opening Celebration for the brand new hotel, The Guest House at Graceland. The 450-room resort hotel, located steps away from Graceland, features two restaurants, meeting space, a theater and more – and the hotel is uniquely Elvis, and elegantly rock ‘n’ roll. The Guest House at Graceland is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore everything that Graceland and Memphis has to offer. Elvis, of course, did quite a bit of traveling, whether it was while on tour, filming a movie or making a television appearance. With hotels in mind, let’s take a look at just a few of the hotels Elvis frequented while he was traveling.   Elvis stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village several times, most notably around the time he filmed”Blue Hawaii,” which was filmed in the spring of 1961. The hotel’s Carousel Room was home to a press conference with Elvis and comedian Minnie Pearl on Saturday, March 25, 1961. The pair discussed the benefit concert they were set to perform in a few hours at the Bloch Arena. The concert raised money to build a memorial to those killed and injured in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The resort first opened in 1955 and is one of the most prominent resort hotels on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. The hotel and its famous towers, including the Rainbow Tower, have been renovated many times over the years, with new pools, restaurants and other amenities added to the property. While Elvis was in Hollywood filming his first movie, “Love Me Tender,” he stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel. Photographer Ed Braslaff takes some photos of Elvis at the hotel on August 18, and later, Elvis and his friends spend $750 at the Long Beach Amusement Park. The Knickerbocker opened in 1929 and was still glamorous when Elvis stayed there. Many celebrities stayed there, including Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and “I Love Lucy” actor William Frawley.  After falling into disrepair over the years, the building has since been renovated, and it’s now a retirement community called the Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartments.   While Elvis never toured Europe, he did travel there while serving in the United States Army. In the summer of 1959, Elvis was stationed in Germany when he took a 15-day furlough. He traveled to both Munich and Paris with his friends, and in Paris, the guys stayed in a...
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Elvis Presley and the Louisiana Hayride

If you love Elvis Presley today, you can give thanks, in part, to the Louisiana Hayride. The Hayride, a regional radio (and later television) show, helped launch Elvis’ early career. In fact, “The Cradle of the Stars,” as it was known, was the springboard to fame for many country artists such as Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells and George Jones, to name a few. The Louisiana Hayride began as a radio program on April 3, 1948, and was broadcast from the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. Admission for the three-hour show was – get this – 60 cents for adults and 30 cents for children. The show aired in the South, and parts of it aired nationally on CBS Radio and overseas on Armed Forces Radio. Many of the Hayride regulars toured around the region in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Elvis performed on “The Grand Ole Opry” on October 2, 1954, and it was… not exactly the warm reception he’d hoped for. So a week after that performance, his producer, Sam Phillips, booked Elvis on the Opry’s main competition, the Hayride.  Elvis’ first appearance on the Hayride was October 16, 1954. Elvis returned to the Hayride on November 6 with his parents, who had to also sign Elvis’ contract with the show, since Elvis was just 19. Elvis’ pay was $18 per show, and his bandmates, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, would each receive $12 per show. Through the rest of 1954 and 1955, Elvis appeared weekly in Shreveport at the Louisiana Hayride. In October 1955, Elvis’ contract was renewed for $200 per show, as Elvis’ fame had grown in the year since his initial appearance. But that contract wouldn’t last long. In 1956, Elvis released his debut album, appeared on national television and was touring the country. In late 1956, he began filming his first movie. The weekly trips to Shreveport to perform on the Hayride just didn’t fit in with Elvis’ busy schedule, so his new manager, Col. Tom Parker, bought Elvis out of his Hayride contract for $10,000 with a promise that Elvis would perform on the Hayride’s special charity show on December 15, 1956. Elvis’ last regular appearance on the Hayride was March 31, 1956. While the Louisiana Hayride didn’t make Elvis a household name, it did help him reach many new audiences – and of course, that only...
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Elvis Presley in Every Language

Music – especially the music of Elvis Presley – is the universal language. No matter where you go in the world, everyone knows the word “Elvis.” They also know his movies and music, even if English isn’t their first language. And as Elvis fans, we all know the iconic images of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, including the posters for his movies like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Blue Hawaii.” Those movies had to be marketed to international fans, too – and that’s where we get these amazing international movie posters. These colorful collectors items offer a different look at Elvis movies. Take a look at a few of these cool international movie posters below. This Japanese poster for 1965’s “Girl Happy” is an adorable salute to the movie, complete with the cute beach scene behind Elvis and his co-star, Shelley Fabares. When these movies were marketed internationally, the film titles were translated into many different languages. Many of them are direct translations, but sometimes their meanings are just a little different. Many of the international titles for “Girl Happy” translated to something like, “Girl Crazy” or “Crazy for Girls.” The Japanese poster for “Jailhouse Rock” manages to work in several important scenes from the film, including a fight scene and the famous “Jailhouse Rock” performance. Most of the international titles for “Jailhouse Rock” stayed pretty faithful to the original title. Elvis’ 1968 film “Live a Little, Love a Little,” had similar posters both domestically and internationally. The U.S. poster is vertical and features this main image, in addition to a few others. Here are the Spanish and German posters for “Viva Las Vegas” or, “Love in Las Vegas” and “Great Nights in Las Vegas.” The busy but fun Japanese poster for “It Happened at the World’s Fair” features many scenes from the film. For several international markets, the title was changed to “Blondes, Brunettes and Redheads.” A few other international title changes include “Loving You,” which in Denmark was known as “The Golden Guitar.” “G.I. Blues” was known in many markets as “Cafe Europa.” “Spinout” was changed to “California Holiday” for several international markets. What do you think about these international posters? What’s your favorite Elvis movie? You can see a great collection of Elvis movie posters and movie memorabilia here at Graceland, so if you love Elvis’ films, make sure you plan your Graceland visit...
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Test Your Knowledge – Elvis Presley’s Television Appearances

This year on the Graceland Blog, we’ve been pretty focused on celebrating all of Elvis’ many accomplishments from 1956 – including his many television appearances. We haven’t covered them all yet, but we’re getting there. From his first appearance on “Stage Show” to his celebrated “Aloha from Hawaii” special, Elvis always drew audiences to the small screen. How well do you know Elvis’ television appearances? Find out how much you know by taking the Elvis’ TV Appearances quiz below! Let us know how you did in the...
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Elvis Presley’s Homecoming Concert

Just 21 years after he was born there, and eight years after he left with his family as a young teen, Elvis Presley returned to Tupelo, Mississippi, as a star. Sixty years ago this month, Elvis performed a homecoming concert to celebrate his whirlwind success. In his touring years, Elvis performed many concerts in and around Tupelo, but this show, on September 26, 1956, was the big one, complete with a parade, thousands of fans and lots of press. Elvis performed that day in 1956 at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, and it was actually his third time to perform at the fair. When he was 10, he had entered a talent contest at the fair, where he sang “Old Shep” and came in fifth place. Elvis and his band returned to the fairgrounds in 1955 to perform a set alongside artists such as Webb Pierce and Wanda Jackson, but he wasn’t the star of the show. 1956 was, as we’ve covered before on this blog, a turning point for Elvis’ career. He’d recorded and released his debut album, performed several times on national television – including the prestigious “Ed Sullivan Show” – and was filming his first movie. Elvis was Tupelo’s most famous hometown boy, and the town wanted to celebrate him. The celebrations included a parade through downtown Tupelo, which Elvis didn’t attend – his manager, Col. Tom Parker, feared for Elvis’ safety in such a big crowd. But the town enjoyed the parade anyway, and encouraged participants to create Elvis-themed floats. Elvis performed two shows that day, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Admission to the fair was typically 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults, and the day of Elvis’s show, they charged 75 cents for everyone. Admission to Elvis’ show was $1.50. Elvis and his parents, his girlfriend Barbara Hearn and his friend Nick Adams all drove down from Memphis for the show. Elvis wore a beautiful blue velvet shirt made for him by Natalie Wood’s dressmaker. Elvis, backed by his band and the Jordanaires, performed thrilling shows, and thousands of fans were in attendance – anywhere from 5,000 to 12,000 to 50,000, depending on what news report you believe. Teenage fans rushed the stage, somehow defying the massive security team, and Elvis encouraged them to be safe – and they did. In the audience that day – in fact, in...
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