Saturday, August 13, 2011

Elvis Week 2011, Part Four: Lost in Hollywood and Beatlemania

After being released from the Army, Presley resumed his recording career in 1960 but Parker had him doing few concerts.  Rather, the 60's were about Elvis and his movies, many of which were critically lambasted.  I'll have a complete section on Elvis and his movies later in the week.  "It's Now or Never" (#1 for five weeks) and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (#1 for six weeks), both recorded shortly after he got back from his military duty, became two of his biggest all-time hits.  "Stuck on You", Surrender" and "Good Luck Charm" also reached #1 and he had a couple of other Top 10 songs in the next three years, most notably "Can't Help Falling in Love", "Return to Sender" (#2 for five weeks), "Little Sister" and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame".

But Parker pushed Elvis into constant moviemaking rather than singing and performing.  He filmed 27 movies in the 1960's and, while they were critically panned, generally made money.


But when the Beatles hit America, many artists were adversely affected and Elvis wasn't immune to the revolution in rock & roll.  He released 41 singles in the time the Beatles were together over the next five years, and, in sharp contrast to his success prior, Elvis only reached the Top 10 with one of them ("Crying in the Chapel".)  Clearly, it was a new ball game and an entirely different landscape from before the Beatles hit the scene.  By and large, Elvis had the stage to himself in the early days of rock and roll.  But now there was a new phenomenon on the scene who attracted the same wild fanaticism.

Elvis Priscilla Vegas Wedding

Elvis and Priscilla, who had been courting for 7 1/2 years, married on May 1, 1967 in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, was born February 1, 1968.  But while Elvis was experiencing joy in his personal life, substandard material included in formulated movies was taking its toll.  In October, the "Clambake" soundtrack set a record for the lowest sales for a new Elvis Presley album.  It was a wake-up call to RCA but "by then, of course, the damage had been done, as historians Connie Kirchberg and Marc Hendrickx said.   

Not only was Elvis not reaching the Top 10, his releases weren't even reaching the Top 40--only two did so from the beginning of 1967 through May of 1968.  His albums weren't selling either and everywhere you looked, his career wasn't the same as it was.  Of course, any person in the music business could tell you why this was so.  Colonel Parker (through low payment of the two other members of Presley's original trio) had driven elite guitarist Scotty Moore and standup bassist Bill Black away, two musicians largely responsible for Presley's success.  Since Elvis did not read or write music, he was dependent upon others to write for him.  Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the songwriting team who had written many of his greatest hits, were run off by Parker.

Further, since Elvis did not take charge of his own career, rather leaving management decisions and nearly all other decisions to Parker, he would be directly affected by the good decisions his manager made as well as the bad ones.  Parker had done a lot for Elvis, no question, but when he directed Elvis to make 27 movies with inferior material now that he had forced Leiber and Stoller out and neglected the one element of success for any musician (live performances), he served him very badly.  

With key songwriters Leiber and Stoller out of the fold, Black gone and Scotty Moore no longer an insider, the chief tools, indeed the engine behind Elvis, were gone.  Presley needed songwriters to fill the vacuum, but Parker made ridiculous demands of other songwriters.  A singer was a precious commodity, but at the minimum they need quality material.  In the early years of rock and roll, most artists did not write their own songs (Buddy Holly was one of a select few in the time before the Beatles.)  Then the group from Liverpool came along and completely revolutionized the music business in every way.  Now, artists not only wrote their own music, but they arranged the scores, chose their background musicians, produced their own music, signed their own contracts and were in charge of their own careers.  

This was great for the artists who wrote music, but for the stars of the 50's and early 60's, it left them at a competitive disadvantage.  Songwriters were valuable to them, even more so now that most artists were writing their own songs.  To retain them, it was established practice before the Beatles came along that the writers of a song would share in the royalties, often quite substantially.  With Leiber and Stoller, Elvis had a winning combination.  So what did Parker do to attract new songwriters?  He made demands that they would sign over a large portion of the industry norm for their royalties over to Elvis before agreeing to a contract.   

Elvis was a huge star in the early 60's, the biggest the world has ever seen.  But he had lost the original members from the trio he started out with.  Very few talented songwriters agreed to the contract demands of Parker.  And even a star of the magnitude of Elvis couldn't escape the negative effect from not touring.  

But Presley was one of the only pre-Beatles' stars to endure through the Beatles Era (the Beach Boys and the 4 Seasons were the other two), albeit on a much lower scale than those two groups and certainly much lower than the standards he had set for himself in the early part of his career.  He recorded the great gospel album How Great Thou Art in 1967 that won him his first Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance. 

The Grammy Award was really the only outstanding achievement since 1962.  This was Elvis Presley, the greatest singing star in history, the man who had 17 hits his first year, the man who had reached #1 five times in his debut year and 11 in his first three years.  He had won 22 Platinum awards and eight Gold awards for his singles through 1963 but just one Platinum and eight Gold records since.  His albums, which used to consistently reach #1, barely made the Top 100.  Clearly Elvis needed a shot in the arm.

He found it in 1968, and Inside the Rock Era will have that and more as we continue Elvis Week 2011 in Part Five tomorrow--"Special Comeback".  

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Date in Rock Music History--August 13

1959:  Bobby Darin signed a $1 million contract with Paramount Pictures.
1964:  The Supremes recorded "Baby Love".
1964:  Manfred Mann topped the U.K. charts with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy".
1965:  The Beatles released the album Help! in the United States.

1965:  Jefferson Airplane made their stage debut at the opening of the Matrix Club in San Francisco, California.
1965:  The Beatles arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York City for a tour of North America.
1966:  Revolver was the #1 album in the U.K.
1966:  "Yesterday"...and Today from the Beatles spent a third week as the #1 album.  Aftermath by the Rolling Stones moved to challenge while What Now My Love from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass was #3.  Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra remained at 4 with the Soundtrack to "Doctor Zhivago" #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  Somewhere My Love from Ray Coniff & the Singers, Going Places, spending week #45 among the top album sellers for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass was #8, The Soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" was next with If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears from the Mamas & Papas completing the list.

1966:  Definition of a "hot" song--"Sunshine Superman" from Donovan moved from #61 to #20.
1966:  "Summer In The City" by Lovin' Spoonful took over at #1.  Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs remained at #2 with "Lil' Red Riding Hood" and the novelty smash "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV moved to #3.  The Troggs' former #1 "Wild Thing" was #4.  The rest of the Top 10:  Crispian St. Petters and "The Pied Piper", the Mamas & Papas with "I Saw Her Again" at #6, Bobby Hebb climbed up to #7 with "Sunny", "Mother's Little Helper" from the Rolling Stones was song #8, Ray Coniff & the Singers moved to #9 with "Somewhere, My Love" and Tommy Roe was at 10 with "Sweet Pea".
1967:  It was a great show to wrap up the three-day National Jazz and Blues Festival in Windsor, England.  Cream made its first major appearance, and another highlight was the first concert ever by Fleetwood Mac.  Other artists performing on the closing night were Donovan, Pentangle, Jeff Beck, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Chicken Shack (with Christine McVie), Denny Laine, and Blossom Toes.

1971:  King Curtis, the great saxophone player who shared the stage with Buddy Holly and others, was stabbed to death outside his home in Manhattan, New York.
1971:  John Lennon flew from Heathrow Airport in London to New York City with the Beatles.  He never went back to his native England.
1972:  John Lennon, Stevie Wonder and Sha Na Na played a benefit concert to assist the mentally ill.
1972:  Ten Years After and Status Quo highlighted performances on the final night of the National Jazz, Blues, Folk and Rock Festival in Reading, England.
1975:  Bruce Springsteen played the first of five concerts at the Bottom Line Club in New York City.

1976:  The Clash performed in an exclusive concert in London.
1977:  Bachman-Turner Overdrive, one of the top Canadian acts of the Rock Era, announced that they were breaking up.
1977:  The Floaters landed at #1 on the R&B chart with "Float On".
1977:  George Benson moved from 89 to 54 with "The Greatest Love Of All".
1977:  Barbra Streisand still had the #1 AC hit for a third week--"My Heart Belongs To Me".

1977:  Andy Gibb's first hit "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" spent a third straight week at #1, holding off Peter Frampton's "I'm In You", which would have to settle for three weeks at #2.  The Emotions were right there with "Best Of My Love" and Rita Coolidge's remake of the Jackie Wilson song "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher" moved to #4.  The rest of the Top 10:  Peter McCann remained at 5 with "Do You Wanna' Make Love", Barbra Streisand fell from 4 with "My Heart Belongs To Me", the Commodores edged up with "Easy", Pablo Cruise were at #8 with "Whatcha' Gonna' Do?", Alice Cooper was in the #9 position with "You And Me" and the Bay City Rollers reached the Top 10 with "You Made Me Believe In Magic".
1983:  K.C. and the Sunshine Band led the way in the U.K. with "Give It Up".
1983:  Donna Summer earned a third week at #1 on the R&B chart with "She Works Hard For The Money".

1983:  The Police were at #1 for the sixth week with one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*--"Every Breath You Take".  The Eurythmics could not budge with "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)", Donna Summer was still at 3 with "She Works Hard For The Money" and another song from the movie Flashdance--"Maniac" was up to #4 for Michael Sembello.  The rest of the Top 10:  Duran Duran with "Is There Something I Should Know", Stevie Nicks and her smash solo hit "Stand Back", Irene Cara still in the Top 20 after 20 weeks with "Flashdance...What A Feeling", Men at Work jumped into the Top 10 with "It's a Mistake", Sergio Mendes had #9--"Never Gonna' Let You Go" and the Human League were at 10 with "(Keep Feeling) Fascination".

  1985:  Whitney Houston released her single "Saving All My Love For You".

1985:  Sting went out on his first solo tour, kicking off his North American schedule with a show at the San Diego State University Amphitheater in San Diego, California.  (Note:  some websites say the show was September 13, and many say he began his tour on this date.  While it was Sting's first solo show in North America, he had done several shows in Paris, France and Tokyo in the months preceding the concert in San Diego.  And it was on August 13, as you can see from the ticket stub pictured above.)
1988:  To promote their legendary album Hysteria, Def Leppard played the first of two shows at the gorgeous Red Rocks Amphitheater.

1988:  Hysteria had been out exactly a full year but it was just getting started.  The classic album from Def Leppard returned to #1 for a second time, holding off Steve Winwood's Roll With It while the previous #1--Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses tumbled.  The debut from Tracy Chapman remained at 4 with the "Dirty Dancing" Soundtrack #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  OU812 from Van Halen, Faith by George Michael, He's the D.J., I'm the Rapper from D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince #8, Open Up and Say...Ahh! by Poison and Let It Loose moved into the Top 10 after 61 weeks for Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine.

1990:  George Michael released the single "Praying For Time" from his great album Listen Without Prejudice.
1990:  Curtis Mayfield was paralyzed after a rack fell on him prior to a concert in Brooklyn, New York.

1991:  Mariah Carey released the single "Emotions", the title track from her new album.
1992:  Neil Diamond played the first of six sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
1994:  Woodstock '94 was held in Saugerties, New York.  Aerosmith, Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nine Inch Nails performed. 

1994:  Janet Jackson had the #1 R&B song for a 10th week with "Any Time, Any Place".
1996:  Alex Van Halen, drummer of Van Halen, filed for divorce from wife Kelly.
1999:  The KISS movie Detroit Rock City opened in theaters.
1999:  Mick Jagger's marriage to Jerry Hall was declared null and void.
2000:  Former Spice Girl Melanie C reached #1 in the U.K. with "I Turn To You".
2001:  Garth Hudson, keyboardist with the Band, filed for bankruptcy  (Note:  Other sources incorrectly report the date as September 12, but the first account of the bankruptcy appeared in Billboard magazine August 13.)
2004:  Guitarist Wes Borland went back to Limp Bizkit.
2004:  Bjork performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
2014:  Guitarist Chris Walla, a member of Death Cab for Cutie for 17 years, left the group.

Born This Day:
1940:  John Stokes of the Bachelors ("Diane" from 1964) was born in Dublin, Ireland
1949:  Cliff Fish, bassist of Paper Lace ("The Night Chicago Died" from 1974), was born in Ripley, Derbeyshire.

1951:  Dan Fogelberg was born in Peoria, Illinois; died December 16, 2007 of prostate cancer in Deer Isle, Main.
1959:  Danny Bonaduce of the Partridge Family was born in Broomall, Pennsylvania.
1984:  Diamond Blue Smith, singer with Pretty Ricky, was born in Miami, Florida.

Tours of Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

If you're ever in the Memphis area, book a tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland. No matter how big of a fan you are of the King, I'm sure you recognize his success and the phenomenon he was. Known by his first name the world over, he was a monumental figure in rock and roll. When I started listening to the radio, Elvis was pretty much finishing up his career (nine years before he died), so I had a lot of catching up to do.

People who are swept up in the fan frenzy forget what a great vocalist he was.  And he had a style like no one else before.  Sure, there are plenty of people who perform like he did, but there is always only one original.  His body of work is so amazing.  He wasn't the album artist but no one was at the time; it was all about singles.  Elvis gave us some of the most memorable songs of our time.

Graceland has been maintained since Elvis' death.  Due to expenses, it was opened to visitors on June 7, 1982 by his ex-wife, Priscilla, to offset those costs.  The two-story mansion is constructed of tan Tennessee limestone and now includes 23 rooms, with eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms.  The entrances is formed of Corinthian columns.  Elvis pained the mansion blue and gold, and it glows at night.  The Garden's centerpiece is a circular twelve-foot fountain pool with five jets of water on the outside and a larger one in the middle--all lit by colored floodlights.  The curved wall behind the fountain is made of Mexican brick and features four stained glass windows.  Elvis' kidney-shaped swimming pool is near the Meditation Garden.

The front room features a fireplace made of white marble and Louis XIV furniture.  After purchasing Graceland, Elvis added several rooms, most notably a trophy room and racquetball court, and added the famous guitar gates made of wrought-iron.  The trophy room was originally used to race slot cars but now is a tribute to the incredible success of Presley, showcasing his dozens of gold and platinum awards and a sample of his spectacular clothing.  The Jungle Room features an indoor waterfall and contains three air conditioners that Elvis used for livability in the hot Memphis heat.

700,000 people visit Graceland each year; it is second only to the White House as the most visited home in the United States.  What the Graceland tour does is allow you to walk in the footsteps of Elvis at his home in Memphis.  There are personal mementos, memorabilia from his movies, stage costumes, photos, video and much more at the Mansion.  The Graceland Mansion tour includes Elvis’ living room, music room, parents' bedroom, dining room, kitchen, TV room, pool room and the famous Jungle Room. Included in the tour is a stop at his trophy room, containing a staggering collection of his gold and platinum records.  One look around the room will tell you how great he was.  The final stop is Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family were laid to rest.  There is an audio guided tour available.

Elvis loved cars and the Elvis Presley Car Museum displays 33 vehicles owned by Elvis, including his famous Pink Cadillac, a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, Stutz Blackhawks, the red MG from the movie Blue Hawai'i, his Harley-Davidson motorcycles and more.

In 1975, Elvis purchased a 1958 Convair 880 that he named Lisa Marie after his daughter.  You can climb aboard the jet that features a living room, conference room, sitting room, private bedroom and all the bells and whistles.  You can also go inside the Lockheed Jet Star that took Elvis' manager and his staff from city to city when Elvis was touring.  Note:  the airplanes are not wheelchair accessible.

Artifacts from Elvis relating to his media presence are featured in Elvis!  His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story, now open in the Sincerely Elvis museum.  Elvis was a fashion trend-setter, and you can see the clothes at Graceland that helped form his unique style and public image.  The new exhibit, Fashion King, features everything from handmade shirts and suits to flashy jewelry and shoes. 

There are also two free exhibits at Graceland that tell the story of Elvis.  In Elvis Lives:  The King and Pop Culture Exhibit, you can see his overpowering impact on music and the world through video, photos, displays and listening stations.   In the '68 Special Exhibit, videos, photos and displays of artifacts takes yo into the historic 1968 television special. 

Graceland added three new exhibits for 2011.  The Elvis in 1956 Interactive Timeline in the Graceland Trophy Building (which is part of the tour) shows you how it all started.  It was the year that Elvis gave us two all-time classics "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Love Me Tender" (from his first movie).  I already mentioned Elvis!  His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story.  In addition, the Graceland VIP tour allows you to explore The Roots of Elvis Exhibit.  This tells the story of Elvis' early years and the influences that shaped him as  person and a Rock Era legend. 

There are three great tours of Graceland and surrounding area.  Audio tours are available in English, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and French.
Newsmaking Story, the Fashion King Exhibit, the Roots of Elvis exhibit, the '68 Special Exhibit, a special VIP Only exhibit at Graceland, "Front of the Line" Mansion access (hint:  avoid the long lines), a special All Day Ticket and a Keepsake Backstage Pass.

The tour will take you approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours and you can make as many return visits as you wish before closing time on that day.  And a reminder--this is a historic visit so take time to look at each of the displays, watch the videos, observe all the memorabilia, awards and accolades that made Elvis Presley what he was.  Note:  A limited number of VIP Tour passes are available.  Passes you may have do not apply to the VIP Tour.  Discounts for the VIP Tour are only available to Elvis Insiders. 

The Graceland Platinum Tour is $35, Seniors and Students from 13 to College Age (with College I.D.) are admitted for $31.50, tickets for children 7-12 are $17 and six and under are admitted free.  To be honest, though, I don't know how much children under 18 are going to be able to fully appreciate what is before them--might be good to leave the kids at home.  This too provides an audio-guided tour but you won't get the access you can with the VIP tour.  You can tour the Mansion and its grounds, see the two custom airplanes, the Automobile Museum, the Fashion King, King and Pop Culture, the Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story and '68 Special exhibits.  So essentially the difference between this and the VIP Tour are the Roots of Elvis tour and the special VIP exhibit, and once you walk out the door you can not go back in and see something you wanted to explore more.  Plus, you have to wait in the long lines.

The basic Graceland Mansion Tour is $31 for Adults, $27.90 for Seniors and Students 13 to College (again with College I.D.), children 7-12 $14 and kids under 6 admitted free.  This tour will give an audio presentation and tour of the Mansion and grounds only and allow a self-guided tour of the '68 Special exhibit.  That's it.  At the very minimum, most people will want the Platinum package.  The exhibits are what give life to the legend.

The upstairs of Graceland Mansion is not included as part of the tour. The part of Graceland that is shown is the part that Elvis showed anyone who visited him at Graceland.  The upstairs was his private area.  When Graceland opened, Priscilla and Lisa felt that the upstairs should remain private, that letting everyone go up there would be disrespectful and inappropriate.

Purchase tickets online, in person at Graceland during hours of operation, or by calling Graceland Reservations (1-800-238-2000 in the U.S. or Canada or 1-901-332-3322 for visitors from other countries).  You can e-mail the Graceland Reservations Office with any questions or concerns at  You can also cancel reservations up to 24 hours in advance but there is a $4.95 processing fee that is non-refundable so keep that in mind.

Groups of 15 or more can get discounts for meals and admissions by contacting the Group Sales Department at 1-800-238-2010 (1-901-332-3322 internationally). 

Discounts:AAA Members with valid membership card receive 10% off Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to four individuals (tickets must be purchased by the member in one transaction). This discount not available for VIP tour.
  • Active and retired military, law enforcement officers and firefighters receive 10% off Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to six individuals (tickets must be purchased by the qualifying person in one transaction with one payment).
  • Elvis Insiders members receive 10% off the Entourage VIP tour, Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to six individuals (must be purchased by the member in one transaction with one payment).
Please note: AAA members, military personnel, Elvis Insiders, senior citizens 62 and older, and college students - please have your membership card and/or proof of eligibility available to receive your discount.  Discounts cannot be combined. The discounted tickets must be purchased directly from the Graceland Reservations Office or Graceland Ticket Office.

Elvis Insider membership offers:
  • 10% off tour tickets at Graceland, including the VIP Tour
  • $3.00 off parking at Graceland
  • 10% off purchases on*
  • 10% off the published room rate at the Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel**
  • 10% off purchases at the Graceland, Heartbreak Hotel and Sun Studio gift shops
  • 10% off purchases at Graceland restaurants***
  • 20% off tour tickets for Sun Studio
  • $3.00 off tour tickets for Stax Museum.
Might be well worth your time and money to check into membership for that.

General Discount Information

  • If purchasing tickets on the Graceland website, choose the appropriate price corresponding with your eligibility. Proof of that eligibility will be required when picking up tickets or the difference will be charged on arrival. Discounts/refunds can not be applied after the ticket purchase has been completed.
  • If purchasing tickets in advance, the name on the reservation must be that of the eligible person.
  • Discounts do not apply to prior purchases. Refunds/discounts can not be applied after the ticket purchase has been completed.
  • AAA discounts require a valid AAA card (that has not expired) with government issued photo ID in the same name. Ticket office staff can not call AAA offices to verify memberships.
  • Military discounts require government issued active or retired Military ID.
  • Law enforcement and Firefighters discounts require badge/ID issued by department along with government issued photo ID.
  • Elvis Insiders discounts require a valid Insiders membership card along with government issued photo ID.
  • Discounts may not be combined.
  • Discounts do not apply to special events.


From time to time, discount coupons for Graceland tours are available via the Internet and at various area hotels and visitors centers.  The coupons must be presented at time of purchase or when claiming reserved tickets purchased with the discount offer.  Coupons are not valid on previously purchased tickets.  Specific black out dates and limitations apply. Details/limitations are listed on each coupon. Expired coupons can not be accepted.

Still photography is allowed on the grounds but no video and flash photography allowed.  Also, tripods are not allowed as they present a safety hazard.

Parking is $10 per vehicle and $15 for RV's and trailers.

For convenience, Heartbreak Hotel features 128 rooms across the street from Graceland.  The Heartbreak Hotel offers complimentary hotel/airport transfers for guests who are staying at the Heartbreak Hotel.  When you arrive at the Memphis International airport, you will need to go to baggage claim located on the lower level. There will be a courtesy phone there that you can use to phone the hotel for pickup. The shuttle operates from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Heartbreak Hotel does offer transportation to and from Beale Street, located 20 minutes away in downtown Memphis. They charge a $5.00 fee each way. This starts at 6:00 p.m. and the Heartbreak Hotel shuttle runs every hour up until 9:00 p.m. You will need to sign up at the front desk for this service due to limited seating.

If you are booking the trip for a huge Elvis fan, Heartbreak Hotel offers:
  •  Wine Goblets
  • Champagne Flutes
  • Happy Birthday mug
  • Elvis singing Birthday Balloon
  • Balloon (1 Elvis, 4 latex)
  • Elvis wine (red or white)
  • Fresh flowers
  • A Cake
If you would like a cake and/or flowers, the hotel needs 72-hour notice. E-mail*All items are subject to availability.

Another popular attraction is the Tour of the Graceland Stables.  If you choose not to stay at Graceland, you're probably going to have to go through the expense of getting a rental car.  The good news there is that you can get a 25% discount on your rental.  

Sun Studios runs a free shuttle bus to and from Graceland every hour on the hour. For more information on this free shuttle service, please contact Sun Studio at 1-800-441-6249 or visit the Sun Studio website.

Directions to Graceland

Important Addresses

Graceland's Ticket Office is located at 3765 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116.
Graceland Parking is located at 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116. There is a fee for parking.
Heartbreak Hotel is located at 3677 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116

View Larger Map


FROM I-55 SOUTH / JACKSON, MS Take Interstate 55 North to exit 5 (Brooks R.d. & Elvis Presley). At the light, turn left onto Brooks Road going west. At the next light (Elvis Presley Blvd.) you will turn left and go south. Parking will be at the 3rd light on the right.


Take Interstate 240 South to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B(Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 240 South to Interstate 55 South. Off of I-55 South (Jackson, MS), take exit 5 B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 40 West to Interstate 240 West. Then take I-240 West to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 40 East to Interstate 55 South. You will cross the Mississippi River on I-55 South. Once in Memphis, Off I-55 (Jackson, MS), take exit 5B(Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Hwy 78 West o Interstate 240 West. Take 1-240 West to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd.) Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 55 South into Memphis. Once in Memphis, off-I-55 South (Jackson, MS), take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light.

Elvis Week 2011--Part Three: "Life-and-Career-Changing Events"

Elvis had exploded onto the pop scene and into the national consciousness.  He had posted a staggering 17 hit songs in his first year, achieving five #1 songs.  Presley remained at the forefront of the rock & roll scene the following year.  On January 6, he once again appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and on this appearance, he indeed was shot only down to the waist.  Some people have since speculated that Parker organized this appearance of censorship to generate publicity for his prized singer.  

Critic Greil Marcus noted, however, "Presley did not tie himself down. Leaving behind the bland clothes he had worn on the first two shows, he stepped out in the outlandish costume of a pasha, if not a harem girl. From the make-up over his eyes, the hair falling in his face, the overwhelmingly sexual cast of his mouth, he was playing Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, with all stops out." (1)

Jailhouse Rock 080707

Elvis closed the show, against Sullivan's wishes, with the black spiritual "Peace in the Valley".  Sullivan called Presley "a real decent, fine boy".  RCA released the single "Too Much" on the heels of the Ed Sullivan performance.  That too hit #1 and just three months later, Presley released another of the biggest hits of his career--"All Shook Up" which went to #1 for nine weeks.  "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock" followed in the Elvis #1 hit parade, both of which reached #1 for seven weeks.  "Teddy Bear" was from the movie Loving You.  The title song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also wrote four of the songs for Elvis' third movie, Jailhouse Rock.  The movie co-starred Judy Tyler, and the title song is yet another Elvis song in The Top 30 Songs of the Rock Era*, a #1 song for seven weeks.  The soundtrack that also included "Treat Me Nice".

By this time, Elvis was an international star, one so big that even the Soviets could not keep down.  The New York Times reported in its story "Presley Records a Craze in Soviet Union" that pressings of Elvis' music on old X-ray plates were commanding high prices in Leningrad.

Eager for his parents to finally live in a comfortable home, Elvis purchased an 18-room mansion eight miles south of downtown Memphis for himself and his parents--Graceland.  In July, Loving You became Elvis' third consecutive number one album.  Presley went on the road for three short tours during the year, continuing to draw huge crowds and crazy audience reactions.  

Leiber and Stoller were present for a recording session that would put together material for a Christmas album.  The pair wrote a song while there called "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and the release would be called Elvis' Christmas Album.  It too reached #1 and went on to become the top-selling Christmas album of all-time.  

Afterwards, however, both Moore and Black, who were chiefly responsible for the great backing sound that early Elvis records had, resigned.  Both had drawn only modest salaries, a pittance of the huge financial empire that Presley was building.  The two were brought back on a per diem basis a few weeks later.  Presley spent the latter part of the year finishing the movie King Creole.  Leiber and Stoller contributed three songs to the soundtrack but it would be the last time they were a key part of the Elvis story.  "Don't", written by the duo, became Elvis' tenth #1 song, remaining at the top for five weeks.  Presley also hit #1 with "Hard Headed Woman" from the movie.

But Colonel Parker, ever the control freak, could see that Leiber and Stoller had a close relationship with Elvis.  They were certainly an influence and a threat to that control.  To maintain the tight leash on Elvis that he wanted to have, Parker would have to do something about Leiber and Stoller.  When it came time for their contract to be renewed, Parker presented them with a simple, nearly blank sheet of paper with his signature on it.  There was also a line for their signature.  "Sign it, son, we'll work out the details later," Parker remarked.  Naturally, neither would sign a blank contract, so that was the last time they wrote for Elvis; they were essentially run off by Parker.  And on February 1, Black contributed to a recording session for the final time with Presley.  

Then, an event occurred that won Elvis respect from even his naysayers (though people close to him weren't surprised).  It was time for Presley to enter the military draft.  He could have used his superstardom to be granted special privileges but he didn't.  On March 24, Presley was inducted into the United States Army as a private at Fort Chaffee, near Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Presley said that he was looking forward to his military service, and that he did not want to be treated differently than anyone else.  "The Army can do anything it wants with me," he said.  

While undergoing basic training, Elvis was visited by Eddie Fadal, a businessman who had met him in Texas. Fadal noted that Presley was convinced his career was over. On leave in early June, Presley recorded five tracks in Nashville. He returned to training but in August, his mother contracted hepatitis. Elvis was granted emergency leave to be with her, arriving at Graceland on August 12. Two days later, she died of heart failure at the age of 46. Presley was devastated.
elvis army, elvis presley army, elvis army uniform, elvis army base

Upon completion of his training at Fort Hood, Presley joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany on October 1.  A sergeant introduced him to amphetamines and Elvis became enamored with their benefits (not only for energy but for 'strength' and weight loss as well", he said).  Fellow soldiers confirm Presley's wish to be seen as an ordinary soldier, despite his fame.  He donated his Army pay to charity, purchased televisions for the base and bought an extra set of fatigues for everyone in the company.

It was in Friedberg that Presley met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu.  They began a seven-and-a-half year courtship and would eventually marry.  

Elvis was honorably discharged from the army with the rank of sergeant and returned to the United States.  The train that took him from New Jersey to Tennessee was mobbed as fans wanted him to sing at scheduled stops along the way.  Elvis recorded "Stuck on You" at the RCA Studio in Nashville and it quickly reached #1.  Despite his fears that the public would forget him, he still had that Presley magic.  Two weeks later, two more of the Rock Era's Top Songs*--"It's Now or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" were recorded in the same studio and they became huge #1 hits released on the album Elvis Is Back!

On May 12, Presley received an unprecedented fee of $125,000 to appear on Frank Sinatra's television show called Welcome Home Elvis.  It was Elvis' only public performance of the year but drew huge ratings.  G.I. Blues, the soundtrack to Elvis' return to movies, reached #1 in October.  He recorded a gospel album His Hand in Mine that was released in December.  In February, 1961, Presley performed two shows to benefit 24 Memphis charities.  RCA presented him with a plaque to certify worldwide sales of over 75 million records.  

Something for Everybody was the next studio project, and it too reached #1 on the album chart.  Elvis did another benefit concert on March 25 in Hawai'i to raise money for a Pearl Harbor memorial.  It would be Presley's last public performance for seven years.

And, as I reveal tomorrow, this would have a profound and drastic effect on Elvis for the remainder of his career.  Join Inside the Rock Era for Part Four:  "Lost in Hollywood and Beatlemania".

(1)  Marcus, Greil.  Elvis Presley:  The Ed Sullivan Shows.  DVD Booklet Image Entertainment

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This Date in Rock Music History: August 12

1956:  Elvis Presley received the key to the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.
1956:  The Platters performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1957:  Frankie Lymon left his group the Teenagers for a solo career.
1957:  Buddy Holly & the Crickets debuted on the Singles chart with their first hit record--"That'll Be The Day".
1958:  The Crests recorded "16 Candles".
1960:  Pete Best became the new drummer for the Silver Beatles.

1963:  The Ronettes released the single "Be My Baby".
1966:  John Lennon held a press conference at the Astor Tower Hotel in Chicago, Illinois to apologize for his recent remark that "the Beatles were more popular than Jesus."
1966:  The Beatles, Ronettes and Bobby Hebb performed at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois.  It was the beginning of what would turn out to be the final U.S. tour for the Beatles.  
1967:  Ten Years After, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the Nice, Amen Corner, Zoot Money, Paul Jones, and Aynsley Dunbar performed on the second day of the National Jazz & Blues Festival in Windsor, Great Britain.  Pink Floyd was scheduled to perform, but had to cancel due  to the unreliability of lead singer Syd Barrett. 
1967:  Jimmy Hendrix performed at the Ambassador Theater in Washington, D.C. for the fourth of five shows.
1967:  The Supremes sang "Reflections" on American Bandstand.

1967:  "Reflections was the highest-debuting song of the week, giving the Supremes their 21st career hit.
1967:  Bobbie Gentry moved from #71 to #21 on this date with "Ode To Billie Joe".

                                                                                   Procol Harum's best--...

1967:  The Doors spent a third week at #1 with "Light My Fire".  The Beatles challenged with "All You Need Is Love" but Stevie Wonder was on his way down with "I Was Made To Love Her".  The Monkees had another big hit--"Pleasant Valley Sunday", which climbed from #9 to #4.  The rest of the Top 10:  "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" by the Buckinghams, Frankie Valli remained at 6 with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", Procol Harum fell with "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", the Association was still in the Top 10 after 12 weeks with "Windy", the Hollies scored their third Top 10 with "Carrie-Anne" and the Young Rascals climbed in with "A Girl Like You".

1967:  Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles had only been out eight weeks, but seven of those were at #1 on the Album chart.  Headquarters from the Monkees remained at 2 while Flowers by the Rolling Stones locked up position #3.
1968:  The four members of Led Zeppelin played together for the first time at a studio rehearsal on Gerrard Street in London's West End.  The quartet's first song was "Train Kept-A-Rollin'".
1968:  Big Brother & the Holding Company released their one and only big album, Cheap Thrills.

1970:  A promising new singer released his first single on this date--it was called "Fire And Rain" and the artist was James Taylor.  (Note:  some websites falsely say the single was released in February.  It was Taylor's album that was released in February.  The single "Fire And Rain" was released on August 12, according to the book 'Long Ago And Far Away:  James Taylor - His Life And Music' by Timothy White.  The book "Fire and Rain:  The James Taylor Story' by Ian Halperin and Taylor's official website also confirm that the song was released in August.)

1970:  Neil Diamond released the single "Cracklin' Rosie".  (Note:  one website falsely reports that the song entered the 'Billboard' chart on August 16.  The correct date is August 31, according to 'Billboard' itself.)
1970:  Derek & the Dominoes played at the Speakeasy in London.
1970:  Janis Joplin performed for the final time at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts before she died from drugs less than two months later.
1970:  The trial of Jim Morrison of the Doors for indecent exposure onstage began in Miami, Florida.  (Note:  some websites claim the trial began on August 10.  It was originally scheduled to begin that day, but the judge in the case had another trial that took precedence, and the Morrison trial began August 12th, confirmed by the newspaper 'The Examiner'.)

1971:  The Carpenters released the single "Superstar".
1972:  Jim Croce appeared on American Bandstand.
1972:  The Festival of Hope, at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, New York, with Jefferson Airplane and James Brown performing, became the first rock festival to raise funds for an established charity.

1972:  ELO, Faces, and Focus were among the acts to perform on the second day of the National Jazz, Blues, Folk & Rock Festival in Reading, England.
1972:  Alice Cooper had the #1 U.K. song with "School's Out".
1972:  The great Al Green landed himself a #1 R&B song with "I'm Still In Love With You".

1972:  Gilbert O'Sullivan remained on top for a third week with "Alone Again (Naturally)".  Looking Glass held steady at #2 for the third week with "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)".
1973:  What an incredible show this was.  The Eagles, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in the same night at the Corral Club in Topanga, California.

1974:  A new British band released its first single on this date--Bad Company sent "Can't Get Enough" to radio stations.

1978:  Toby Beau reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with "My Angel Baby".
1978:  The Little River Band had the fastest-rising song as "Reminiscing" moved from 56 to 34.
1978:  "Three Times A Lady" was the new #1 on the R&B chart for the Commodores.

1978:  The Commodores registered their first #1 song with "Three Times A Lady".  "Grease" by Frankie Valli and "Last Dance" from Donna Summer each moved up one to fill the void left when "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones dropped to #4.  Foreigner was up to 5 with "Hot Blooded".  The rest of the Top 10:  A Taste of Honey raced up from #17 with "Boogie Oogie Oogie", Pablo Cruise had song #7--"Love Will Find A Way", Barry Manilow enjoyed his 12th hit and 8th Top 10 song with "Copacabana (At The Copa)", Walter Egan reached the Top 10 with "Magnet And Steel" and Andy Gibb climbed from 16-10 with "An Everlasting Love".

1981:  Christopher Cross released the single "Arthur's Theme".

1981:  Dan Fogelberg released the single "Hard To Say".
1982:  Joe Tex ("I Gotcha'" from 1972) died of a heart attack at the age of 49 in Navasota, Texas.  (Note:  some websites report he died on August 13.  He died prior to midnight on August 12, according to his official death certificate and the website ''.)
1984:  Lionel Richie closed the Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games by singing "All Night Long".
1985:  Syu Sakamoto was killed in a plane crash when his flight, JAL #123 (a 747 jet), crashed on a mountain about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo.  Sakamoto was the first Japanese artist to reach #1 in the United States with "Sukiyaki".  He was 43.
1986:  Paul Simon released his amazing album Graceland(Some websites claim Paul Simon released the album August 25.  According to Paul's official website, he released the LP August 12.)

1987:  Heart released the single "Who Will You Run To".  (Note:  some websites report the song was released August 15.  "Who Will You Run To" debuted on the Singles chart on August 17.  For that to occur, it had to be released before the reporting deadline of August 14 in order to make the chart that week.)

1987:  John Mellencamp released the single "Paper In Fire".  (Note:  some websites report the song was released August 15.  "Paper In Fire" debuted on the Singles chart on August 17.  For that to occur, it had to be released before the reporting deadline of August 14 in order to make the chart that week.)
1989:  The Rolling Stones played a secret club concert at Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut.
1989:  Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row performed at the two-day Moscow Music Peace Festival at Lenin Stadium in Moscow, Russia.  This was the first concert in which the audience was allowed to stand up and dance.  This wasn't 800 years B.C., but it really happened in Russia in 1989.  And if Putin had his way, he'd stop you Russians from dancing today.
1989:  Prince owned the top R&B song with "Batdance".

1989:  Richard Marx stepped up to #1 with "Right Here Waiting".
1991:  Bryan Adams had a firm hold on #1 in the U.K. with "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You".

1992:  Don Henley & Patty Smyth released the single "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough".
1992:  The Grateful Dead canceled five shows so Jerry Garcia could recover from exhaustion.
1993:  Jesse Tobias replaced guitarist Arik Marshall in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
1995:  Michael Stipe of R.E.M. had an operation for a hernia.

1995:  A mass wake was held for Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California.
1995:  TLC dominated again with "Waterfalls" at #1 for the sixth week.  Seal was going to make it interesting, though, with his new song "Kiss From A Rose", which was up to #2.
1996:  Alanis Morissette was in concert at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, New York.  Radiohead opened for her.
1996:  The Spice Girls mined gold when their first release "Wannabe" reached #1.
1998:  Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots pleaded guilty to felony heroin possession.
2000:  Robbie Williams scored a #1 song in the U.K. with "Rock DJ".
2001:  Alicia Keys had the #1 song with the great "Fallin'".
2006:  LeToya had the #1 album with LeToya.
2007:  Cary, North Carolina proclaimed the date "Chicago Day" in honor of the great group from the windy city.
2010:  Carl Perkins was inducted into the Memphis Beale Street Walk of Fame posthumously.

Born This Day:

1918:  Sid Bernstein, producer and promoter who brought the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, Herman's Hermits and the Kinks to the United States, and organized concerts for Sly & the Family Stone, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Laura Branigan, Lenny Kravitz and Melanie, among others, was born in New York City; died August 20, 2013 in Manhattan.  (Note:  some websites claim Sid died August 21, but according to the newspaper 'The New York Times', he died August 20.)
1926:  Joe Jones ("You Talk Too Much" from 1960) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana; died after quadruple bypass surgery in Los Angeles on November 27, 2005.
1949:  Mark Knopfler, guitarist, singer and founder of Dire Straits, was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
1950:  Kid Creole (Thomas August Darnell Browder) was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Note:  some websites insist Browder was born in the Bronx, New York, but according to 'Billboard' magazine, Thomas was born in Montreal, then raised in the Bronx.)
1953:  Jerry Speiser, a founding member and drummer of Men at Work
1958:  Jurgen Dehmel, bassist and songwriter of Nena ("99 Luftballoons") was born in Berlin, West Germany.
1961:  Roy Hay, guitarist and keyboardist of Culture Club, was born in Southend, Essex,  England.
1963:  Sir Mix-A-Lot was born in Seattle, Washington