Me on Graceland's drive
The meditation garden was built by Elvis in the mid-sixties as a place for contemplation. The bodies of Elvis and Gladys were moved from Forest Hill Cemetery following security threats and reinterred in the Meditation Garden on 2nd October, 1977. The garden's centerpiece is a circular twelve-foot fountain pool with five single jets of water and large one in the middle all lit by coloured floodlights. The curved wall behind the fountain is made of Mexican brick with four stained-glass windows.
Meditation Garden, Graceland
The grave markers of Elvis, his mother, father, grandmother and his stillborn twin Jesse Garon are beautiful and are adorned with tributes from loyal fans.
Everyone who visits the graves takes photographs to remind them of where Elvis' remains reside and to remind them of the day they paid their respects to the icon that was Elvis. After paying our respects at the graves, we made our way back to the hotel to meet up with our fellow travellers to board the minibus which took us on the Platinum Graceland tour, which started with the inside of Elvis' mansion.
The Graceland Mansion tour included the Jungle Room, Music Room, Racquetball Building and the Hall of Gold with it's amazing display of gold and platinum awards and more, I took a lot of photos so I've put them in a slide show for you. If you want to have a closer look click on the slide show and it will take you to my Slide page.
The next stop on the tour was to see Elvis' custom jets - the Lisa Marie, which has a living room, conference room, sitting room and private bedroom, as well as gold-plated seatbelts, suede chairs, leather covered tables and 24 karat gold-flecked sinks, and his smaller Lockheed Jetstar the Hound Dog II. See the slide show below.
We carried on to the next part of the tour - Elvis' Automobile Museum, where we strolled down a tree-lined street to see over 33 vehicles owned by Elvis, which included his famous Pink Cadillac, Harley Davidson motor-cycle, Stutz Blackhawk, a 1975 Dino Ferrari, the red MG from 'Blue Hawaii', two Rolls Royce Sedans, a 6 door Mercedes Benz limousine and his John Deere 4010 tractor. See slide show below.
By the time we'd seen all this it was way past lunchtime so we went in Rockabilly's Burger Shop for a quick lunch before a quick walk past the Heartbreak Hotel
and a huge wall painting of Elvis before having a quick walk round the Elvis Presley: Fashion King Exhibition, where we saw lots of Elvis' actual clothes before heading back to the hotel to meet up for yet another coach ride to visit
Sun Studio where the sound of Rock'n'Roll was born!
Some of the equipment in Sun Studio
This was the place where Elvis actually paid to record 'My Happiness' for his mother's birthday. When Sam Phillips was looking for a backing singer his assistant, Marion Keisker, reminded him about the truck driver, Elvis Presley, having a nice ballad voice, she called Elvis on May 26th 1954 to come into the studio to record some tracks.
This was where Elvis recorded "That's Alright (Mama)",
(on this exact spot my foot is standing on -
using this exact microphone), which was then played on radio twelve times in succession on the same day!
Phillips sold Presley's contract to RCA Victor for $40,000; the highest sum ever paid for a recording contract. Sun had permission to keep pressing previously recorded singles until January 1, 1956, and RCA released Presley's first five singles nationally on their label. In January 1956, Presley began recording for RCA, recording "Heartbreak Hotel" as his first single. He returned to Sun Studio regularly over the next few months, visiting with Phillips and meeting many of his new artists. Although Presley would never officially record with Sun again, he was caught on tape during an impromptu jamming session on December 4, 1956. Presley had arrived during a Carl Perkins recording session, which also featured a young Jerry Lew Lewis on piano, and a new artist named Johnny Cash watching on. During a break in recording Presley sat at the piano and began to sing along with Perkins, Lewis and Cash. Phillips kept his tape recorder running (illegally because by this time Elvis was under contract to RCA) and, seeing an opportunity to promote another of his new acts, he arranged for a reporter to cover the event. The recordings would eventually be known as 'The Million Dollar Quartet', which was subsequently released. Of course we bought the CD!
The Million Dollar Quartet
Interestingly, Jerry Lee Lewis has recently released a new album entitled "Last Man Standing", which is thought to refer to the fact that he is the last surviving member of the original 'Million dollar Quartet'!
As if the tour of Graceland and Sun Studio wasn't exciting enough we then went on to our Memphis' Rock'n'Soul Museum, that presents a chronology of the musicians that shaped 'The Memphis Sound' - legends like Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Green, Isaac Hayes and many others who recorded in the city that people called "the holy ground of American Music". To finish off our time in Memphis we ate at B.B. King's restaurant that evening, on the famous Beale Street, where else would you finish a perfect day?
It had been a looooong, interesting, emotional day and one we will reflect on for a long time to come. The next day we were heading for Nashville. I hope you'll join me for that in Dixieland Part 8.
Read Dixieland Part 1 here
Read Dixieland Part 2 here
Read Dixieland Part 3 here
Read Dixieland Part 4 here
Read Dixieland Part 5 here
Read Dixieland Part 6 here