Thursday 21 July 2011

Dixieland Part 7......

The King - Elvis Presley

Day eight was the day that many of our fellow travellers had been looking forward to the most - the tour of Graceland.   Not being avid Elvis fans it was just another interesting tour for me and MWM but of course we took the opportunity to see everything there was to see.    Every morning at 7.30 a.m. the gates of Graceland are open to the public for just one hour, to enable them to walk up the drive and visit Elvis' grave, they are not allowed in the house at this time but for many this is how the pilgrimage starts.    We were up early and after breakfast we took the short walk to Graceland and walked up the drive to the beautiful meditation garden to see Elvis' grave.

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

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

The following day, an article, written by the reporter, Johnson, about the session, was published int he Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title "Million Dollar Quartet".   The article contained the now-famous photograph of Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins and Cash.

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


Valerie said...

Interesting, really interesting. I'm not an Elvis fan but I enjoyed following your tour round Graceland (and elsewhere). It's incredible that one man earned so many tributes before and after death.

Daryl said...

Fun stuff your visit to Elvisland ..

Finding Pam said...

Such an awesome tour of Graceland. I enjoyed your post about Elvis. Some interesting facts.

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow! Pearl's a singer! lol!

CrystalChick said...

What an amazing trip!! Soooo much to see and learn about. Nice photos. I like the games room and I'll take a white Rolls Royce please! haha

Ron said...

AWESOME tour and photos!

"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."

Wow...I had no idea that Elvis was born a twin?!?

I love the photo of MWM standing in front of that wall painting with Elvis! I actually had to look at it a few times to see that is was a painting because it looks so REAL!

Ooooooo....and being a 'star stuck person' I LOVE the shot of you standing on the spot where Elvis stood. How EXCITING!!!!

Again, I thank you for sharing yet another day on your tour of Dixieland! Muchly enjoyed, m'dear!

Looking forward to Part 8! Have a great day......X

Maude Lynn said...

I'm a huge Elvis fan. I would love to visit Graceland.

Akelamalu said...

I'm not a huge Elvis fan either Valerie but I did find it all rather fascinating!

Glad you enjoyed it Daryl x

Yes indeed Graceland was awesome Pam, I'm pleased you enjoyed my account of it. x

If you ever heard me sing you wouldn't say that DeniseLOL

The whole house was amazing Crystal Chick, albeit rather ostentatious.

Yes, Elvis was born a twin Ron. I love the pic of MWM with Elvis too and you're right it does look real! Standing on the exact spot Elvis stood on was so up my street too.

You must go Mama Zen, you would absolutely L.O.V.E. it!

katie eggeman said...

Wow the gameroom is really over the top. In 100 years Graceland will be a great example of
mid-20th century kitch. I wonder what the awards for selling music is now that we download from i-tunes. I wonder if anyone buys music albums any more? I am really looking forward to visiting Memphis now.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this tour of Graceland.

I am a megawatt-bright lifelong fan of Elvis, and seeing his grave in your post brought tears to my eyes. And I'm at work!

Akelamalu said...

Oh you'll get to see it all for yourself Banker Chick, you'll love it!

I'm so glad you've enjoyed the tour of Graceland Julia, I know what a H.U.G.E. Elvis fan you are. x

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff.

Anonymous said...

OMG how fun. This has been such a fun tour :)

cheshire wife said...

What a day! I really felt as if I was there with you and I am not an Elvis fan.

Linda said...

Being probably one of the very few Elvis non-fans here in the United States this kind of tour wouldn't be something that I would do on my own but I was glad to see and read about it through your adventure!

I've only been through Memphis once briefly, it looked like an interesting town and I'm really glad you went there so I can see just how interesting it is!

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

it thrills me to know we have stood in the exact same spots, just at different times... i was shocked at graceland when i finally got to see it, i expected it to be bigger and grander somehow. but i loved all of it!

and corkey's ribs.

smiles, bee

Commander Zaius said...

Elvis was a great performer but my stomach turns when I think about one of his favorite food, peanut butter and bananna sandwiches.

Great pictures!

Mimi Lenox said...

I must I must I must go to Graceland! I want to see the Meditation Gardens and the Jungle Room. It was like being there almost though. I'm so glad you're sharing this with us. THANK YOU!

tony said...

WoW! That Was Fantastic.A Brilliant Tour.Your Photos Are First Rate.I'm No Big Elvis Fan Myself But I Have Forwarded A Link To This Post To 2 Big Elvis Fans I Know.
And Sun Studios! That Is One Place I Would Love To See.(For Me At Least) Elvis's Best Music Came From That Period.
Great Post A.Thanks .And Have a Fine Weekend.T.

Akelamalu said...

Thanks Dumdad :)

So pleased you've enjoyed it Thom, we certainly did!

Even if you're not an Elvis fan one can't help but get caught up in it Cheshire Wife! Glad you enjoyed it.

We didn't go on the tour for the Elvis part Linda so I can understand what you're saying, but we really enjoyed it.

We expected Graceland to be a LOT bigger than it is too Bee. I enjoyed walking in your footsteps m'deario.x

Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches were on practically ALL the menus there Beach, we DID NOT try one!

You really must go Mimi you will love it!

Why thankyou Tony, I hope your friends enjoy the post. Sun Studio was fantastic and RCA Studio B was even better (see my next post)!

secret agent woman said...

You guys sure packed a lot into that trip!

A Lady's Life said...

He certainly left a legacy and a lot of people who love him.
His daughter is somehow not as lucky as opposed to John Kennedy whose son john john was very loved.

Maggie May said...

That was a fascinating trip. Many thanks for sharing it.
That hall of gold......... wow!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Donnetta said...

And Elvis is STILL the King! Terrific pics. And who is that gorgeous lady in pink?? Good to see you. D

Cloudia said...


You've BEEn to rock and roll heaven!

Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral


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Akelamalu said...

Indeed we did SAW!

That's true Lady's Life

Glad you enjoyed it Maggie x

Donnetta - you're back - YAY!

Yes I have Cloudia :)

Anonymous said...

I have not seen pictures of his house. I enjoyed your pictures. It is like going into a time machine. I find his room of gold records is amazing. He died on my birthday. I remember hearing it and being sad for him.

Akelamalu said...

You're right it is like going into a time machine Connie. Glad you enjoyed my pics. x