Tag Archives: Graceland

“That’s All Right” by Elvis Turns 60

photo by Velvet, Flickr
photo by Velvet, Flickr

A young truck driver from Tupelo, MS walked into Sun Studio 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 career.


To mark that important milestone in music history, British actor and musician Sam Palladio will host a special program “That’s All Right: 60 Years On,” live from Sun Studio on July 5th on BBC Radio. Artists including Laura Bell Bundy, Candi Staton, and The Pierces will perform the songs Presley cut that hot night in Memphis along with other classic Elvis tracks.

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BBC Radio
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048p6tn

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

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Graceland, of course, is hosting a big event on July 5th, called “60 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll” which includes special tours, concerts, and fireworks.

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: +1 901-332-3322
http://www.graceland.com/events/60years.aspx

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The historic Levitt Shell (then called the Overton Park Shell) was the site of  Elvis Presley’s first professional performance on July 30, 1954. He opened for Slim Whitman and the young audience was more in tune with Presley’s hip-shaking than Slim’s yodeling abilities. Somebody had the presence of mind to shoot home movies of Presley’s first concert.

This weekend, Levitt Shell is hosting a free concert to commemorate what music historians now regard as the first live rock ‘n’ roll show.

Levitt Shell
1928 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
Phone: (901) 272-2722
http://levittshell.org/event/60-years-of-rock-n-roll

Elvis: Return to Tupelo

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If you want to learn more about Elvis Presley’s upbringing, his musical influences, and what brought him to the studio that fateful day, this documentary features interviews with childhood friends, first girlfriends, and early band mates to build a complete picture.  It’s the story of Elvis’s dirt-poor upbringing in Tupelo, MS, his job as a Memphis truck driver with musical aspirations, and his rapid rise to stardom in 1956.  Even if you know a lot about Elvis, this 2008 documentary is still full of surprises. (He was actually blonde!)

http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-Return-Tupelo-Presley/dp/B002K2KMM2/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1404509799&sr=1-1&keywords=return+to+tupelo

Elvis: The Miniseries

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The exhilarating moment when 19-year-old Elvis started improvising with Bill and Scotty in the studio and impressed Sam Phillips with their rendition of “That’s All Right” is dramatized in the 2005 CBS mini-series “Elvis.” Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers portrays Presley–from his shy, polite demeanor off stage to his confident, sexy swagger on stage. The biopic dramatizes the rise of Elvis to superstardom, using his original recordings and real Graceland locations.

(Meyers beat out 300 others who auditioned for the lead and he ultimately won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance as Elvis Presley.)

http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-Miniseries-Camryn-Manheim/dp/B000RIWAVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1404509876&sr=1-1&keywords=elvis+miniseries

 

What to Do

The National Civil Rights Museum

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Located at the historic Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, this fabulous museum follows the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Not to be missed.

The National Civil Rights Museum
450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 521-9699
www.civilrightsmuseum.org/

Sun Studio

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The birthplace of rock n’ roll. See where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded their first hits.

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The guides love to show you around and talk all about music history. The first rock n’ roll record, “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston, was recorded here in March, 1951.
Sun Studio
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38103
Phone: 800-441-6249
http://www.sunstudio.com/

Soulsville USA: The Stax Museum
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Welcome to the birthplace of soul music. This completely cool museum walks you through the history of Stax Records and their roster of stars like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Sam & Dave, and many more.

Don’t miss the wall of hit records and Isaac Hayes’ gold-trimmed
1972 Cadillac Eldorado.
Soulsville USA: The Stax Museum
926 E. McLemore Avenue, Memphis, TN 38106
Phone: (901) 942-7685
http://www.staxmuseum.com/

Graceland
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Sure it’s tacky and overpriced but you have to go to see how Elvis lived.  This is his Jungle Room with its Polynesian influence and green shag carpet on the floor and the ceiling. A hunka hunka!

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Pay the extra fee to see The King’s extensive car and airplane collection. He used to give away Cadillacs like this.
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Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116
Phone: +1 901-332-3322
http://www.elvis.com/

Main Street Trolley

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At a dollar per ride, it’s a fun way to get around downtown and it passes by the Mississippi River for superb views. They rattle and clatter, and aren’t very fast–but everybody loves them. See trolley highlights by Paul Donovan:

Memphis Area Transit Authority
Route and Schedule Information: (901) 274-6282
Trolley: (901) 577-2640
http://www.matatransit.com/services/trolleys/

If you are totally into trains, check out the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum, a volunteer-run group dedicated to rail in Memphis.

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

Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum
Central Station, 545 South Main Street, Suite 121, Memphis, TN
http://mrtm.org/

Gibson Guitar Factory

photo by Patrick from Parka Avenue, Flickr
photo by Patrick from Parka Avenue, Flickr

Even if you’re not a guitar geek, take an informative tour of the factory as they turn out hand-crafted Gibson guitars, from Les Pauls to the Firebird X. Security is high so don’t try to snap pictures like this without permission.

photo by Bones77sm, Flickr
photo by Bones77sm, Flickr

This short video from zZounds.com shows how they are made:

Gibson Guitar Factory
145 Lt. George W. Lee Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 544-7998
http://www2.gibson.com/Products.aspx

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
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Located at the modest home of the Burkle family who helped slaves escape to freedom to the northern states and Canada. Even though the small museum is often full of school kids on field trips, the guides have inspiring stories for everyone.  The place has hidden trap doors and secret tunnels used to shelter the escapees.

photo by tennesseevacation, Flickr
photo by tennesseevacation, Flickr

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
826 North Second Street, Memphis, TN 38173
Phone: (901) 527-3227
http://www.slavehavenundergroundrailroadmuseum.org/slavehaven.html

The Cotton Museum
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Founded in 2006, this museum relates the history of cotton and its important role in the economy of the Mid-South. Films and displays show you how the commodity became “King Cotton.” The main exhibit is located on the trading floor of the old Memphis Cotton Exchange building.
The Cotton Museum
65 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 531-7826
http://www.memphiscottonmuseum.org/

The Memphis Riverboat Tour
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An entertaining steamship ride along the Mississippi, taking you back to a time when riverboats ruled the waterways. The guides have humorous stories that make local history come alive. Plus, you get some impressive views of the city along the way.
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Memphis Riverboat Tour
251 South Riverside Drive, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 527-2628
http://www.memphisriverboats.net/

The Withers Collection Museum Gallery

photo by Redfern Photo Archive, Flickr
photo by Redfern Photo Archive, Flickr

Located right on Beale Street, the photo museum features a display of African-American photographer Ernest C. Withers who documented the history and culture of Memphis.

Rosalind Withers is the trustee of her father’s life work and she has a wealth of stories about her dad covering segregation issues, Negro League baseball, and the local blues scene.

photo by Pan African News Wire File Photos
photo by Pan African News Wire File Photos

The Withers Collection Museum Gallery
333 Beale Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 523-2344
http://thewitherscollection.com/

Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum

photo by Eridony, Flickr
photo by Eridony, Flickr

Near FedEx Forum, this museum covers the highlights of blues, soul, and rock ‘n roll–all forms of music with roots in Memphis. In addition to traditional museum displays, you can now grab an MP3 audio guide and a map to take the Historic Walking Tour of Beale Street.

photo by otacon4130, Flickr
photo by otacon4130, Flickr

Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum
191 Beale Street, Suite 100, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 205-2533
http://memphisrocknsoul.org/

The Center for Southern Folklore
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This non-profit organization showcases unique gifts, music, and works of art from Southern artists. When you’re done shopping,  stay for coffee and Miss Ella’s peach cobbler. Located downtown at the Peabody Place trolley stop.
The Center for Southern Folklore
123 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 525-3655
http://www.southernfolklore.com/