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.
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.
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: (901) 332-3322
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.
252 North Lauderdale
Memphis, TN 38105
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.
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
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.
149 Union Avenue (at the Peabody Hotel)
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 529-9070
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.
The Arcade Restaurant
540 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 526-5757
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.
706 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN, 38103
Road Trip to Tupelo!
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.
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
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
This 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
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.
If you can’t be there in person, Sirius Radio’s All-Elvis channel is covering the events live.
Sirius Radio – All-Elvis