If you are not an Elvis fan, you may want to skip this post. Either way, I invite you to take a trip back in time to 1953. Eisenhower was in office, television was still new, and a young singer from Tupelo, Mississippi was about to become the most famous person on Earth.
In Memphis, Tennessee, on the corner of Union and Marshall Avenue, sat a small record label named Sun Studio. Sam Phillips, it’s owner, had already recorded a number of artists that would go on to become very successful. However, he was struggling to make ends meet when an 18-year-old named Elvis Presley walked into his studio to cut his first record. Initially not impressed, it would be another year before Mr. Phillips invited Elvis back for a recording session that would ignite the career of the most beloved musical icon in American music. The rest, as they say, is history.
Elvis’ musical influence can still be heard today. He is Rock and Roll’s first rebel, yet he remained decent enough to be adored by the old as well as the young. Elvis embodied the American Dream…an authentic original who has been endlessly imitated but never replaced. His untimely death on August 16th, 1977 was mourned around the world and almost 40 years later, his fans continue to converge on the place he called home: Graceland.
The property has been completely preserved from the time shortly after Elvis’ passing and it’s still impressive in all of its gaudy glory. There are numerous exhibits that take you through every stage of Elvis’ career and more gift shops that you can shake a hip at. I could write for hours about what we experienced but I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
We were short on time after seeing all that Graceland has to offer but I couldn’t leave Memphis without visiting the iconic Sun Studio. After walking all day, we were happy to sit for the short ride downtown on the free shuttle service Sun provides. The place was really hoppin’ and we had to wait an hour and a half for the tour, but it was totally worth it to sit in the same room where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King and other musical icons cut their teeth.
After the tour, the shuttle brought us back to the Heartbreak Hotel. We added our names to the sidewalk graffiti outside of Graceland and got lucky when another tourist asked a Graceland employee if they would close the famous front gates for a few pictures.
We just settled in at another Walmart parking lot outside of Nashville. Tomorrow, we will continue our musical journey with some good ole honky-tonk fun on Music Row…stay tuned!