I’m in Memphis, at Lansky Bros, the “Clothier to the King”, no much less, and residential of the long-lasting blue suede shotes. As I hesitantly strive on an Elvis-style leather-based jacket the younger feminine assistant tells me to “put the collar up – go for some attitude.”
I’ll take it ($US295/$410) and I pay by card. In 1938, Elvis Presley’s father Vernon went to jail for forging a cheque and the course of world historical past modified. The household have been evicted and moved right into a predominantly African- American neighbourhood the place Elvis was uncovered to black music. That musical melding created the phenomenon that’s rock ‘n’ roll.
As Paul Simon sung in his 1986 hit Graceland, Elvis’ house is a spot of pilgrimage. The new Baz Luhrmann biopic Elvis, which will likely be launched in Australia on June 23, provides to the sense of homage and is eagerly awaited in his dwelling city.
While there’s rather more to Memphis from the energetic music scene of Beale Street, to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the National Civil Rights Museum on the Lorraine Motel the place Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, it is tough to withstand town’s Elvis heritage which is available in many types past Graceland.
TUPELO: WHERE THE KING WAS BORN
To tour chronologically, the primary day must be in Tupelo, Mississippi (tupelo.web) the place Elvis was born. There are excursions from Memphis or it is a simple 200 kilometre freeway drive every approach.
The start line, for Elvis and us, is the Elvis Presley Birthplace (elvispresleybirthplace.com) in East Tupelo. A tour of the home, museum and church prices $US20 ($28). The two-room home the place he was born on January 8, 1935 is past modest – the household slept in a single room and cooked and ate within the different. A stroll by means of does not take lengthy.
At midday his small First Assembly of God church has a intelligent recreation of a 1943 Pentecostal service that is moderately like a piano singalong. Here a younger Elvis (with glasses and brown hair) first carried out Jesus Loves Me, with the preacher on guitar.
At Tupelo Hardware Co. (tupelo-hardware.myshopify.com) his mum purchased six-year-old Elvis his first guitar. A bicycle was too costly and he had a crying match when refused a gun. To placate him, the proprietor gave him a Kay guitar that he reluctantly accepted. The store hasn’t modified a lot since Gladys and Elvis left however the world would by no means be the identical.
Tupelo’s Elvis Driving Tour brochure consists of his swimming gap on the aptly-named Mud Creek. Johnnie’s Drive-In that he frequented nonetheless serves doughburgers (a Great Depression creation) for $US1.40 ($US1.51 with lettuce and tomato).
SUN STUDIO: BIRTHPLACE OF ROCK AND ROLL
Legend has it that Elvis got here into Memphis Recording Service in 1954 to chop a birthday document for his mom. I as soon as requested Sun’s Sam Phillips if that was true. He mentioned it wasn’t, Elvis (a supply driver) did not have the nerve to easily ask for an audition: “I saw that Crown Electric truck every day for a month or two before he got up the courage to come in”.
While it nonetheless capabilities as a recording studio, there are daytime excursions for $US15. Elvis’ first recording (My Happiness) sounds identical to the Elvis everyone knows, and there is a broadcast of the DJ who first performed Elvis’ That’s All Right on radio. Finally, you step into the hallowed floor: the studio the place Sun stars together with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the songs that at the moment are a part of our lives.
Across the highway is the Edge Motor Museum (edgemotormuseum.com) that has a superbly restored 1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, the muse for the primary recorded rock ‘n’ roll music.
A bit additional alongside is Sam Phillips Recording Studio (samphillipsrecording.com) now beneath the steerage of Sam’s youngest son Jerry. It’s not open for excursions and nonetheless attracts a who’s who of artists. I requested Jerry, a musician himself, what route he’d wish to see music go? He replied “back to basics: less run by marketing departments and less editing out of every tiny imperfection.”
GRACELAND: THE ELVIS EPICENTRE
Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Graceland (graceland.com) has grown. Once it was merely the Colonial Revival dwelling that Elvis had purchased in 1957 for $US102,500 (deposit $US1000). Now the procuring centre throughout the highway has been demolished to make approach for Elvis’s vehicles, planes, stage outfits, bikes and shows that take a day to discover.
Walk by means of the Lisa Marie, a Convair 880 jet that Elvis purchased from Delta in 1975 and embellished in his personal distinctive model.
Unless you go for the Ultimate VIP Tour ($US196) your information to Graceland itself will likely be an iPad ($US77). As in Elvis’ days, no-one is allowed upstairs. Against expectations and moderately disappointingly, the bottom flooring is stylishly furnished, in case your style runs to Nineteen Sixties ostentation. The mirrored stairway resulting in the forbidden high flooring is spectacular.
The basement is what we would like and anticipate. The poolroom with its mind-boggling pleated material ceiling and partitions is mesmerising in its extra. And then there’s the Jungle Room that appears just like the furnishings was constructed by Paul Bunyan on acid. The Tiki styled furnishings sat on the ground of an area furnishings firm unsold for ages earlier than Elvis got here in and purchased the lot.
Beyond the home lies the stables, father Vernon’s workplace and the netball court docket with lounge space the place Elvis spent his final night in 1977, aged simply 42. Most poignant is the Meditation Garden, designed for Elvis and the place he and the remainder of his household are buried.
LANSKY BROS: CLOTHIER TO THE KING
Before the embellished white jumpsuits of Vegas, Elvis Presley actually did change males’s style, liberating it from conservative post-war model. Much of this is because of Lansky Bros. (lanskybros.com) that prolonged credit score to the younger man and continued their relationship all through his life.
The retailer inside the well-known Peabody Hotel (peabodymemphis.com) retains its personal distinct model (and partitions of well-known gifted guitars). Several articles function Elvis’ favorite bubblegum pink that, alongside together with his jewelry and make-up, led males out of a monochromatic previous. No marvel Graceland has stained glass peacocks.
The supreme time for a go to is 11am when, in a captivating ritual, the Peabody geese are marched down from their rooftop palace to spend the day within the resort’s indoor fountain. Elvis had his senior promenade on the Peabody.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
If your pilgrimage is not full, go to the Arcade Diner, Memphis’ oldest café (arcaderestaurant.com), the place Elvis had a favorite sales space. Or eat at Priscilla’s hairdresser, now a trendy restaurant with retro decor (thebeautyshoprestaurant.com).
The Presley household lived at condo 328/185 Winchester Ave in Lauderdale Courts (now Uptown Square) between 1949 and 1952. With the earnings from his first #1 hit Heartbreak Hotel he purchased 1034 Audubon Drive for the household. Elvis went to Humes High School between 1948 and 1953.
He gave his first paid live performance within the Overton Park Shell three weeks after recording “-That’s All Right. And after all, there’s an Elvis statue on Beale Street.
Every week of Elvis immersion in Memphis places this exceptional man in perspective. Too typically remembered for his sequinned jumpsuits and outrageous food plan, he was a real innovator who modified music, style and efficiency model eternally. His distinctive beauty, curled lip angle, exceptional movie profession and a voice and vary of singing kinds from gospel to ballads to onerous rock stays unsurpassed. The King certainly.
ELVIS AROUND THE WORLD
On 14 January 1973 Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii live performance was the primary by a single artist to make use of satellite tv for pc know-how to be broadcast internationally. There’s a commemorative statue of Elvis exterior the Neal Blaisdell Center, Honolulu.
Since 1993, Parkes holds an annual Elvis Festival in January to rejoice his birthday. See parkeselvisfestival.com.au
Until 17 July, Bendigo hosts Elvis: Direct From Graceland on the Art Gallery and a collection of occasions throughout the area. See bendigoregion.com.au
Tupelo has a summer season Elvis Festival every year. In 2022 it is June 8 to 12. See tupeloelvisfestival.com
Graceland has an annual Elvis week – August 9 to 17, 2022.
Delta flies to Memphis from round $2000 return by way of LAX (based mostly on fares in September 2022) www.delta.com
There are a number of Memphis motels inside strolling distance of Beale Street. The stylish Arrive Hotel (arrivehotels.com/memphis) has rooms from $US170 or the Hyatt Centric on Beale Street (hyatt.com/en-US/resort/tennessee/hyatt-centric-beale-street-memphis/memct) from $US164. For the last word Elvis expertise keep on the 4-star Guest House at Graceland, (guesthousegraceland.com) from $US329.
Many Memphis sights are inside strolling distance and taxis and Ubers are plentiful. An all-day ticket to trip the trolley vehicles and buses is simply $US2.
David McGonigal travelled as a visitor of Memphis Travel and Delta Airlines.