Sunday, August 24, 2008

Elvis Week - Day 2 - August 15, 2008

Friday morning we went to Malco's Studio on the Square, an old movie theater on Court Street, for a screening of the new Graceland tour DVD. It was fabulous! We all thoroughly enjoyed it and I will most definitely add it to my DVD collection. In the lobby of the theater were lots of old movie posters. Here are a couple of pictures from that morning at the theater.

After the screening, we went to Marlowe's for some delicious Memphis BBQ and mmmmmm, it was good!

With our tummies full, we headed to Graceland. Our tickets for the tour were for 2:30 pm so we browsed in the shops for a little while then decided to go through Sincerely Elvis before our tour. Located in Sincerely Elvis, Elvis Jumpsuits All Access is the largest exhibit of Elvis’s iconic costumes ever assembled, featuring 56 of Elvis’s stage outfits from the major concert era of his career. In this exhibit one can see the evolution of Elvis’s stage costumes through the years, from the simple, two-piece karate-inspired suites to the famed jumpsuits with elaborate rhinestones and matching capes.

This was the jumpsuit that Elvis was going to wear on the tour that he was about to begin at the time he passed away.

For more information on Elvis's jumpsuits, click here:

After touring Sincerely Elvis, we got in line for the trolley ride over to Graceland. I was very excited. I thought that I had been to Graceland before but when we went in 1978, it was not open for tours. After talking with my parents and sister, we realized that I had never gone with them; I had just seen pictures so I felt like I had gone.

Once we got off the trolley, the tour guide gave us a little spiel before going into the house and once we went in, it was an audio self-guided tour that you could really take at your own pace except that it was very crowded so you kind of got pushed along anyway. The first thing you saw when entering the house was a picture of Lisa Marie as a little girl, the big sweeping staircase and beautiful chandelier.

On the right is the living room and music room. I love these two rooms. I've seen pictures of Elvis sitting on the couch in this room with his foot propped up on the coffee table and playing the guitar.

To the left is the dining room where the table is set with china that was used by Elvis and his family. At the end of the dining room is where they would put a Christmas tree each year.

Straight back past the staircase is Elvis's parents' bedroom.
At the base of the stairs is a portrait of Elvis when he was younger.

Off the dining room is the kitchen.

This is the Jungle Room where Elvis actually recorded the album "Jungle Room". By 1976 it was impossible for RCA to get Elvis Presley back into the studio. It had only been 11 months since he had been in a studio to record the incredible Today-album and according to bass singer Larry Strickland studio work wasn't among his favorite things anymore. "He had already recorded so many things", says Strickland. So in order to get yet another album, Felton Jarvis arranged to get RCA's mobile recording unit and had it installed in Presley's basement the "Jungle Room", hence the title of this album. Even though the acoustics of the room were limited, the sound quality of the recordings is equal or even better than what had been recorded at the Stax studio's 2½ years earlier.

We were also able to tour the TV room where Elvis shot the screen out of the television because Robert Goulet was on and the pool room.

After touring the inside of the house we walked out to the back and saw some of the grounds and then into the building which was his original business office.

Part of the tour includes Elvis's racquetball court which includes a sitting area and piano and floor to ceiling displays of gold records, awards and the famous jumpsuit from the Aloha Special.
On the morning that Elvis died, he played raquetball with his cousin Billy Smith and his wife and then they went into the sitting area where Elvis played the piano for the last time.

Also, a highlight of the mansion tour is Elvis's trophy building, which houses his enormous collection of gold records and awards, along with an extensive display of career mementos, stage costumes, jewelry, photographs, and much more.

The mansion portion of the tour ends with a quiet visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. This is a beautiful area and it's amazing to see all the floral tributes. As my sister said, "it really brings home how much this man is still loved today....the tributes are made with love and to see them line the after the other....from all over the's overwhelming.......".

At the end of our tour, we went around to the front of the house to get more pictures.

After taking the trolley back to the plaza, we shopped some more and toured the rest of the exhibits, the first being Elvis's Car Museum where you stroll down a tree-lined street with a drive-in theater and see over 33 vehicles owned by Elvis. Highlights include his famous Pink Cadillac, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Stutz Blackhawks, a 1975 Dino Ferrari, a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, the red MG from Blue Hawaii and more. We also saw some of his favorite motorized toys, including a go-cart, dune buggy, motorized three-wheelers and a pedal car.
When you first walk in to the Car Mseum, there is a modern-day tribute to Elvis's passion for cars - a special exhibit of two official 1998 race cars with Elvis-themed designs: the Elvis NASCAR that was driven by racing star Rusty Wallace and Elvis NHRA "funny car" that was driven by John Force.

Next were Elvis's custom jets, the Lisa Marie and his small Lockheed Jet Star.

Last but not least was Private Presley, a special limited-time exhibit which celebrates Elvis's service to his country in honor of the anniversary of his induction to the Army in 1958. Special artifacts include Elvis’s army fatigues, dress uniforms and other items from Elvis’ army service. I have an uncle (my Mom's brother, Tulon) who served in the Army with Elvis. There are some pictures in this exhibit that show Elvis with other soldiers, one of whom looks just like my Uncle. My sister is going to try and find out from Graceland Archives if they have the names of the men in the pictures so we can try to find out if it is him or not.

One of my favorite DVDs is Elvis's '68 Special so of course I loved the '68 Special Exhibit where we got to see some of the outfits Elvis wore during the '68 Special, a script and a timeline of significant historical events occurring in the U.S. at that tme.

By this time, it was raining pretty hard again, so we snagged a table at the Rock 'n Roll Cafe and had dinner there. We had two great waitresses - they were exhausted but very friendly. After dinner we looked around in a couple of more shops then headed over to get in line for the vigil. By the time we got in line, the rain had pretty much stopped; we felt a drop or two every now and then, but it was no big deal. We got in line around 9:30 pm and got finished a little after 1:00 am. We all signed the wall that evening which was really neat. If you've never been to Graceland, the driveway is up hill so as we were standing in line for the vigil, we were standing on an incline. My back was absolutely killing me and I was able to sit down for a few minutes when we got to the area where you pick up the trolley and then we kept going.

My sister and Karen did the vigil last year and they told me about it and how amazing it was but until you actually see it in person and experience it for yourself, really no words can do it justice. It was worth the delayed flight, putting up with the crowds and the back pain to experience the vigil firsthand.

After the vigil, we walked back down the driveway and out the gates onto the street and there were so many people just gathered in the street. Several had set up street memorials and when we saw those, we were just like "wow". These were actual paintings on the street that people had done while we were in line for the vigil.

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