Happy Birthday, Elvis

 

 

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Born January 8, 1935, Elvis would have been 80 today. Most of us can’t picture him in some sad Tupelo retirement home; we think of him immortalized at the peak of his swaggering youth and his amazing talent. (That voice!)  If you are in Memphis this week, there are many events celebrating The King of Rock n’ Roll’s birthday.

photo by Natalie Curtiss, Flickr
photo by Natalie Curtiss, Flickr

Graceland is party central for most of the festivities including music tours, guest speakers, a gospel concert, and a double feature screening of Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas.

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: (901) 332-3322
http://www.graceland.com/

 

photo by Mike Freeman, Flickr
photo by Mike Freeman, Flickr

After moving from Tupelo, MS and living in a series of boarding rooms and apartments, in September, 1949, Vernon Presley moved his family to the Lauderdale Courts, a 433-unit public housing project on the north end of downtown Memphis. (They lived in apartment 328.) Elvis would practice his guitar in the basement laundry room and he played in a band with four other boys from Lauderdale Courts. It is still maintained in period detail with fixtures and furnishing from 1951 and you can tour the historic landmark, including his bedroom.

photo by Roadtripper
photo by Roadtripper

Lauderdale Courts
252 North Lauderdale
Memphis, TN 38105
Phone: 901-523-8662
https://www.facebook.com/LauderdaleCourts

 

photo by Richard Stables, Flickr
photo by Richard Stables, Flickr

Humes High School, where Elvis Presley attended from 1948 to 1953, is still standing and operating as a school. The building was constructed in 1924, and was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 2004 due to its connection to Elvis.

photo by edward.tuten, Flickr
photo by edward.tuten, Flickr

In April of 1953, a few months before graduation, Elvis Presley performed in the annual talent show held at Ellis Auditorium in downtown Memphis. He was listed number sixteen of 22 acts (as ‘Elvis Prestly’) and stunned everyone in the audience with his rendition of Teresa Brewer’s ‘Till I Waltz Again with You.`(He never recorded it.) He received more applause than anyone else that night and won first prize, returning for an encore. His classmates say this stand-out performance was true beginning of his rise to stardom.

Humes High School
659 North Manassas Street
Memphis, TN 38107
Phone: (901) 416-3226

 

photo by Railroad Jack, Flickr
photo by Railroad Jack, Flickr

Elvis was always a snappy dresser so if you want to see where he bought all those fabulous clothes when he was young, visit Lansky`s. This is where he first came up with his distinctive pink and black combo.

The Lansky Brothers, Bernard and Guy, had an eye for cutting-edge fashion and they outfitted Elvis for his high school prom and later for his appearances on the Dorsey Brothers Show and Ed Sullivan.

Lansky
149 Union Avenue (at the Peabody Hotel)
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 529-9070
http://www.lanskybros.com/

 

photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr
photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Located in what has become the trendy South Main Historic District, the Arcade Restaurant was one of Elvis Presley’s top hangouts. His favorite booth is near the back of the restaurant. Built in 1925 by the Zepatos family, it is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Memphis. You can still order the fried peanut butter ‘n banana sandwich just like Elvis enjoyed.

photo by C-Monster, Flickr
photo by C-Monster, Flickr

The Arcade Restaurant
540 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 526-5757
http://arcaderestaurant.com/

 

photo by Mikkel Elbech, Flickr
photo by Mikkel Elbech, Flickr

No trip to Memphis is complete without a tour of Sun Studio. A young truck driver from Tupelo, MS walked into Sun on the evening of July 5th, 1954 to record three songs and one of them, “That’s All Right,” changed music history. He and his band mates, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, recorded the less-inspiring  “Harbor Lights” and  “I Love You Because” before launching into Mississippi bluesman Arthur Crudup’s 1954 song. Producer Sam Phillips knew a hit when he heard one and released the single 14 days later (with the B-side “Blue Moon of Kentucky”) and it went on to launch Elvis Presley’s recording career.

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Sun Studio
706 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN, 38103
Phone: 800-441-6249
http://www.sunstudio.com/

 

Road Trip to Tupelo!

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If you are on an Elvis pilgrimage, your trip should include a visit to his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi. Hop in your pink Cadillac with the top down and travel in style.

photo by Ronnie Harris, Flickr
photo by Ronnie Harris, Flickr

Located about a hundred miles from Memphis, this little Southern town in northeast Mississippi is where Elvis spent his formative years, learning to play guitar and listening to a melting pot of American music–country, blues, and gospel.  There are several events around town to commemorate his birthday.

Tupelo Visitors Bureau
399 East Main Street
Tupelo, MS 38804
Phone: (662) 841-6521
E-mail: visittupelo@tupelo.net
http://tupelo.net/things/elvis_in_tupelo/default.aspx

 

photo by Stan, Flickr
photo by Stan, Flickr

You can visit Presley’s boyhood home, a two-room shotgun shack built for $180 by his father Vernon where the family lived for about three years. It’s still standing in the original spot! Also featured is a church Elvis attended and sang in, The Assembly of God Pentecostal Church, and a statue portraying Presley at thirteen.

Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum
306 Elvis Presley Drive
Tupelo, MS 38804
Phone: (662) 841-1245
http://www.elvispresleybirthplace.com/

 

graceland-poster-smaller-518x800This year, The Tupelo Community Theatre presents the one-act play “Graceland” by playwright Ellen Byron. The story takes place in June, 1982 as two women, Rootie and Bev, vie to be the first in line the day Graceland is opened to the public. As they wait for the gates to open, the two fans share their life stories and how much Elvis means to them.

Tupelo Community Theatre
201 North Broadway Street
Tupelo, MS 38804
Phone: (662) 844-1935
http://www.tct.ms/

 

Elvis at Graceland

Elvis may have left the building forever but you can still experience what it was like to attend one of his concerts thanks to tribute artist David Lee. Lee is ranked in the top 10 in the world and he captures the spirit of The King on stage.


David Lee
E-mail: info@DavidLeeRocks.com
http://www.thedavidleeshow.com/

 

photo by Joe Spake, Flickr
photo by Joe Spake, Flickr

If you can’t be there in person, Sirius Radio’s All-Elvis channel is covering the events live.

Sirius Radio – All-Elvis
http://www.siriusxm.com/elvisradio

photo by Joe Spake, Flickr
photo by Joe Spake, Flickr

 

 

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2014 Blues Awards on WKNO

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See all the grit and glamour of the 35th annual Blues Awards on Public Television for the Mid-South. WKNO Channel 10 will broadcast the ceremonies on Tuesday, November 25th at 8:00 pm, repeating at 1:00 am. It also airs Wednesday, November 26th at 8:00 pm on WKNO2.

This annual event brings together top blues artists, industry reps, and fans from all over the world to Memphis every May to celebrate the year’s best blues recordings and performances.

photo by Echo Industries, Flickr
photo by Echo Industries, Flickr

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event in person, it’s a great way to see the nation’s best blues musicians receive awards in 25 categories. The 90-minute program captures thirteen live performances from Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton, Rory Block, Kim Wilson, Beth Hart, and many more. Where else would you be able to see so much smokin’ hot talent on one stage!

WKNO
7151 Cherry Farms Road
Cordova, TN 38016
http://www.wkno.org/schedule.html

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If you don’t live in the WKNO viewing area, you can still enjoy the program on a DVD/CD combo from the Blues Foundation for $25. The DVD includes additional performances by Rory Block, Anson Funderburgh, and Trudy Lynn that are not included on the companion live CD.

The Blues Foundation
421 South Main
Memphis, TN 38103-4464
http://www.shopbluesfoundation.org/2014-blues-music-award-dvd-and-cd/

 

Central Station Turns 100

photo by Katherine of Chicago, Flickr
photo by Katherine of Chicago, Flickr

Since it opened on October 4, 1914, the Central Station was the bustling hub of the Illinois Central Railroad between New Orleans and Chicago. More than just a building, it has tremendous historical significance. This point where north and southbound tracks converged was where many African-Americans gathered from their homes in the Mississippi Delta to make their way northward for jobs and a better life.

Group-of-Black-Migrants

During the Great Migration from 1940 to 1970, over 5 million people left mostly rural areas for industrial cities like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. Along with the migrants, flowed Black culture–like jazz, blues, and gospel–that was assimilated into the northern cities.

painting by Jacob Lawrence
painting by Jacob Lawrence

Painter Jacob Lawrence depicted the mass migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North in his Migration Series. He painted the 60 panels on cardboard, and when they were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York it brought him national recognition. They are currently part of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
http://www.phillipscollection.org/migration_series/

When Amtrak took over passenger service throughout the U.S. in 1971, they only used a portion of the Memphis Central Station so the building fell into disrepair. Considered one of the worst stations in the system, it was nearly demolished like the Union Station before it. Fortunately, the building was saved in the 1990s by The Memphis Area Transit Authority who spent $23.2 million dollars on its redevelopment. Currently there are condos on the top floors, but the station is still used by Amtrak for their twice-daily City of New Orleans line.

Amtrak
http://www.amtrak.com/city-of-new-orleans-train

Central Station also played a part in helping people who were fleeing a natural disaster. In August, 2008, as Hurricane Gustav threatened the Gulf Coast, New Orleans began evacuating residents from the city and a thousand evacuees arrived in Memphis on Amtrak. Trying to learn from Hurricane Katrina three years earlier, it was part of the largest evacuation in Louisiana history.

photo by Documentary Filmmaker, Flickr
photo by Documentary Filmmaker, Flickr

Also occupying the same building is the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum who have events planned this weekend, including concerts, an Amtrak exhibit, tours of a classic Norfolk Southern rail car, and a look at the Trolley Shop. It’s great fun for anyone interested in the rich rail history of Memphis.

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Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum
545 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
http://www.mrtm.org/schedule

 

Bridging the Blues Festival

photo by Voghtlanderr2, Flickr
photo by Voghtlanderr2, Flickr

If you are a blues lover, this is THE place to be for the annual Bridging the Blues Festival. Sponsored by three states– Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee–the series of events celebrates the rich music and culture of the region.

There are numerous blues-themed events–many free of charge–that take place at museums, juke joints, casinos, and town squares. Even the buskers are great! Beale Street clubs in Memphis are celebrating the blues, of course, but find time to leave the city for some downhome music from area artists. Destination highlights include the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, The Mighty Mississippi Music Festival in Greenville, Mississippi, and the popular Pinetop Perkins Homecoming at the Hopson Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Bridging the Blues Festival
http://www.bridgingtheblues.com/p/2014-schedule.html

The festival runs from September 27th to October 13th so there is plenty of time to see your favorite musicians from the Delta. Here’s a sample from one of this year’s many headliners, Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker:

Take a Blues Road Trip!

If you have a car, especially a big old Buick, you can also make the ultimate blues pilgrimage: tracking down gravesites of blues legends (including Robert Johnson) and exploring the 175 historic markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

photo by Reed Turley, Flickr
photo by Reed Turley, Flickr

A stunning number of blues artists–past and present–have roots in the Delta. In fact, more blues singers have come from the state of Mississippi than anywhere else! There must be something in the soil that fostered talent like Albert King, Charley Patton, Bukka White, Denise LaSalle, Elmore James, Honeboy Edwards, Johnny Winter, Pinetop Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Jessie Mae Hemphill, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Minnie, and many more.

photo by Victoria, Flickr
photo by Amy and Turgay, Flickr

Mississippi Blues Trail – MDA Tourism
P.O. Box 849, Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: (601) 359-3449
http://msbluestrail.org/blues_marker_list


Along the Mississippi Blues Trail, the impressive B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS is a shrine for blues lovers. The museum guides you through King’s remarkable career, from poor sharecropper, to WDIA disc jockey, to hard-working hitmaker and international star. Playing professionally since the 1940s, he still makes bending the notes on Lucille look so effortless.

B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
400 Second Street, Indianola, MS 38751
http://www.bbkingmuseum.org/

Memphis Music and Heritage Festival 2014

photo by memphissamiam1, Flickr
photo by memphissamiam1, Flickr

Held over the Labor Day weekend, this colorful festival takes place on Main Street in downtown Memphis. It’s the best block party you’ll attend all year! For two days a wide variety of cultures take to the streets with people enjoying local music of every kind along with cooking demonstrations, storytelling, folk art, and dance shows throughout the day. This year, five stages will feature back-to-back entertainment from Elmo & the Shades (blues), Sonny Burgess (rockabilly), Susan Marshall (soul), Moments of Joy (gospel), Ray Harper (country), Los Contradores (Latin), and many more talented regional artists.

photo by http://www.reverbnation.com/elmoandtheshades
photo by http://www.reverbnation.com/elmoandtheshades

Always entertaining, blues/soul/funk singer Bobby Rush is in the spotlight this year with a headlining concert on Saturday and an on-stage feature interview.  Originally from Homer, LA, Bobby Rush has been on stage since the early fifties when he put together a band that included slide player Elmore James. Over the decades, Rush has recorded over two dozen albums and has received a shelf full of awards, including “Best Male Soul Blues Artist” at the annual Blues Music Awards. Known for his double entendres and energetic performances, Rush is always a crowd-pleaser.

This free festival is sponsored by the Center for Southern Folklore which proudly celebrates the culture of Memphis and the Delta region.

The Center for Southern Folklore

123 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 525-3655
http://www.southernfolklore.com/

Happy Birthday, Isaac Hayes

photo by zonia di fotographia
photo by zonia di fotographia, Flickr

One of the key figures at Stax on stage and off, Isaac Hayes, was born today, August 20, 1942 in Covington, TN. Raised by his grandparents, Hayes began singing in church at age five and eventually taught himself to play several instruments–piano, organ, and saxophone–before later moving to Memphis for club gigs. That versatitlity and a talent for songwriting and producing helped him become one of  the architects of the Memphis soul sound at Stax. After working in the house band for artists like Otis Redding, he began writing hits with his partner Dave Porter. The two became a creative powerhouse, crafting over 200 songs, many of them becoming classics for Sam & Dave (“Soul Man,”), Carla Thomas (“B-A-B-Y”), and Johnnie Taylor (“I Had a Dream”).

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Hayes launched a solo career in 1967 with “Presenting Isaac Hayes,” but it was his distinctive wah-wah guitar-fueled “Theme From Shaft” that made him a household name across America and all over the world. Can ya dig it?

The title track from the 1971 blaxploitation film “Shaft” soundtrack went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Not only was it a memorable hit but Isaac Hayes was the first African-American to win an Oscar in that category.

When his music career waned, Hayes shifted to acting and was a regular on “The Rockford Files,” and had roles in movies such as “Truck Turner,” “Hustle & Flow,” and “Escape From New York.” In 1997, Hayes became popular to a new generation of fans when he provided the voice of Jerome “Chef” McElroy, one of the characters on the cartoon TV series “South Park.” Chef was an immediate hit and even though he was a school cafeteria worker, he often broke into song like this raunchy track from Chef Aid:

In 2002, Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was in ill health on August 10, 2008, when he collapsed at his home in Memphis and died from a stroke ten days before his 66th birthday.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music
926 East McLemore Avenue
Memphis, TN 38106
Phone: (901) 942-7685
http://www.staxmuseum.com/

8/19/66-Memphis, TN

beatlesuniverseblog

As they say “out of the frying pan, and into the fire”.  The most volatile stop of the tour, and right in the heart of the bible belt.  The Beatles faced protests and death threats.  Even the Memphis City Council considered cancelling the shows as they felt rather than having “municipal facilities be used as a forum to ridicule anyone’s religion.”

2 shows at the Mid South Coliseum.  4:00 PM and 8:30 PM

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During the evening performance, someone threw a firecracker or cherry bomb up on stage when The Beatles were performing the George Harrison song “If I Needed Someone” 1:10 in.

Immediately the other three Beatles looked over at John to see if he had been shot.  There’s an audio recording of both shows that have surfaced within the past few years and you can hear the explosion during the aforementioned song.  Interestingly enough, The Beatles don’t miss a beat…

View original post 130 more words

Elvis Week 2014

photo by Kyleigh Pitcher, Flickr
photo by Kyleigh Pitcher, Flickr

For Elvis Presley fans, this is a high holiday from August 9th to 17th, with all sorts of Elvis-themed events, including tribute artist contests, costume pub crawls, an all-Elvis parade, and even an Elvis Mafia reunion. There are lots of chances to put on that bell-bottomed jumpsuit and feel like The King.

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: (901) 332-3322
http://www.graceland.com/elvisweek/schedule/

This year, there’s a new event called Elvis A Capella that features the country’s top a cappella groups with their vocals-only versions of Presley’s biggest hits. The fun starts Friday, August 8th and runs for a week, capping off with The Ultimate Elvis finals Thursday, August 14th, 7 p.m., at the Orpheum Theatre.

http://www.memphistravel.com/rock-out-and-party-memphis-elvis-week-2014

photo by John Dreyer, Flickr
photo by John Dreyer, Flickr

One of the don’t-miss events is the Images of the King Tribute Artist Contest which attracts the best from around the world like Shawn Klush, Dean Z, and Cody Slaughter. Resemblance to the original is uncanny. (Which, of course, is the point.)

http://imagesoftheking.com/

A new short film about Elvis’ days at Humes High School will premiere during Elvis Week. It’s called “Nobody” and takes us back to when Presley was just a talented shy kid at the back of the room, before fame and fandom. The lead cast members and writer-director William Bryan will be there to answer questions after the screening.

http://nobodyshortfilm.com/

In April of 1953, a few months before he graduated from high school, Elvis Presley performed in the annual talent show held at Ellis Auditorium in downtown Memphis. He was listed number sixteen of 22 acts (as ‘Elvis Prestly’) and stunned everyone in the audience with his rendition of Teresa Brewer’s ‘Till I Waltz Again with You.`(He never recorded it.) He received more applause than anyone else that night and won first prize, returning for an encore. Elvis and his classmates say this stand-out performance was true beginning of his rise to stardom.

photo by Caroline Pratt, Elvis Fans of Nashville
photo by Caroline Pratt, Elvis Fans of Nashville

Humes High School is still standing and operating as a school. The building was constructed in 1924, and  was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 2004 due to its connection to Elvis.

Humes High School
659 North Manassas Street
Memphis, TN 38107
Phone: (901) 416-3226

photo by Railroad Jack, Flickr
photo by Railroad Jack, Flickr

Elvis was always a snappy dresser so if you want to see where he bought all those fabulous clothes when he was young, visit Lansky`s. This is where he first came up with his distinctive pink and black combo.

The Lansky Brothers, Bernard and Guy, had an eye for cutting-edge fashion and they outfitted Elvis for his high school prom and later for his appearances on the Dorsey Brothers Show and Ed Sullivan.

Lansky
149 Union Avenue (at the Peabody Hotel)
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 529-9070
http://www.lanskybros.com/

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Whether you have an interest in fifties fashion or you are a tribute artist who wants to have the right look, the book “Clothier to the King” covers the bold and iconic clothes Elvis bought from Lansky.

http://www.lanskybros.com/lucky_duck_gifts_en/lansky-bros-clothier-to-the-king-book.html

photo by Mike Freeman, Flickr
photo by Mike Freeman, Flickr

After moving from Tupelo, MS and living in a series of boarding rooms and apartments, in September, 1949, Vernon Presley moved his family to the Lauderdale Courts, a 433-unit public housing project on the north end of downtown Memphis. (They lived in apartment 328.) Elvis would practice his guitar in the basement laundry room and he played in a band with four other boys from Lauderdale Courts. It is still maintained in period detail with fixtures and furnishing from 1951 and you can tour the historic landmark. Elvis may have left the building but you can still visit his bedroom!

photo by Roadtripper
photo by Roadtripper

Lauderdale Courts
252 North Lauderdale
Memphis, TN 38105
Phone: 901-523-8662
https://www.facebook.com/LauderdaleCourts

photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr
photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Located in what has become the trendy South Main Historic District, the Arcade Restaurant was one of Elvis Presley’s top hangouts. His favorite booth is near the back of the restaurant. Built in 1925 by the Zepatos family, it is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Memphis. You can still order the fried peanut butter ‘n banana sandwich just like Elvis liked.

photo by C-Monster, Flickr
photo by C-Monster, Flickr

The Arcade Restaurant
540 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 526-5757
http://arcaderestaurant.com/

Sun Studio

No trip to Memphis is complete without a tour of Sun Studio. A young truck driver from Tupelo, MS walked into Sun on the evening of July 5th, 1954 to record three songs and one of them, “That’s All Right,” changed music history. He and his band mates, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, recorded the less-inspiring  “Harbor Lights” and  “I Love You Because” before launching into Mississippi bluesman Arthur Crudup’s 1954 song. Producer Sam Phillips knew a hit when he heard one and released the single 14 days later (with the B-side “Blue Moon of Kentucky”) and it went on to launch Elvis Presley’s recording career.

Sun Studio
706 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN, 38103
Phone: 800-441-6249
http://www.sunstudio.com/

photo by Memphis CVB, Flickr
photo by Memphis CVB, Flickr

It’s not much more than a three-minute photo op but everyone has to have their picture taken with the Elvis Statue. An original statue was erected in 1980 but over-zealous fans tore off bits and pieces of the guitar strings and the jacket fringes. That statue is now located in the lobby of the Tennessee Welcome Center on Riverside Drive. The one currently standing at Beale and South Main was erected in 1997. Sculptor Andrea Lugar depicts Elvis as he would have been on Beale Street in 1955, exposed to a melting pot of music styles.

Elvis Statue
Beale Street at South Main
Across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe

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Keep up with all the festivities with the handy Elvis Week app, for iPhone or Android.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elvis-week/id545426707?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.seedlabs.elvisweek&hl=en

photo by Joe Spake, Flickr
photo by Joe Spake, Flickr

If you can’t be there in person, Sirius Radio’s All-Elvis channel is covering the events live.

http://www.siriusxm.com/elvisradio

Thousands of devoted fans from all around the world take part in the annual candlelight vigil at the gates of Graceland. It’s a solemn march to mark the anniversary of Elvis’ passing on August 16, 1977. It began as an informal gathering the year after his death and has grown in popularity over time to become a highlight of Elvis Week.

The procession passes into the Meditation Garden to his grave site where his parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, also lie buried. Along the way, people make respectful shrines, leaving flowers, teddy bears, wreaths, and heartfelt notes to celebrate Elvis Presley’s life and legacy.

photo by Joe Spake, Flickr
photo by Joe Spake, Flickr

Big News For Big Star

Music Mainline

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BIG STAR’S #1 RECORD AND RADIO CITY
TO BE REMASTERED AND REISSUED BY STAX RECORDS

Albums available September 2
Packaging to include new liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills

Memphis’ prestigious Stax Records will reissue two seminal albums by one of the most influential bands: #1 Record and Radio City by Big Star.  Both releases, which have been out of print as individual CDs in the U.S. for many years, will be remastered from the original analog tape sources, and are due out September 2 2014.

View original post 861 more words

Sun Studio on Registry of National Historic Places

photo by Mikkel Elbech, Flickr
photo by Mikkel Elbech, Flickr

Ten years ago on July 23, 2003, The U.S. Registry of National Historic Places declared Sun Studios a historic landmark.  Sam Phillips, a former radio disc jockey, established his Sun Record Company in Memphis in 1952. He had a keen ear for talent, discovering many important post-War musicians singing blues, gospel, country, and a new sound that merged them all together called rock n’ roll.

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Thanks to NPR, you can take an audio tour of the studio where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins, and Howlin’ Wolf cut their first records. Find out how Sam Phillips’ trademark slapback echo was created. There’s no fancy, modern multi-tracking here–just a bunch of guys getting together in a studio, playing their hearts out to get the magic down on tape.

http://www.npr.org/2014/07/22/334040612/inside-the-sun-records-sound-a-marvel-even-today

In 1955, Johnny Cash recorded one of his best-known records, “Folsom Prison Blues,” at Sun Studio.

He was originally inspired to write the song while stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in West Germany when he saw the 1951 movie “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.” In an interview, Cash said how he wrote line “But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”: “I sat with my pen in my hand, trying to think up the worst reason a person could have for killing another person, and that’s what came to mind.”

 

Sun Studio
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38103
Phone: 800-441-6249
http://www.sunstudio.com/

U.S. Registry of National Historic Places
http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=-1610892873&ResourceType=Building

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