Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elvis Week - Day 3 - August 16, 2008

On Saturday morning we went to Sun Studio, known at the birthplace of Rock-n-Roll. We got there shortly before they opened and only a few people were waiting to get in but about the time they opened up, a huge bus load of people came for a tour that they had scheduled. We went in and bought our tickets and had about a 40 minute wait for our tour to start. That just gave us time to shop and I just had to buy a Sun Studio t-shirt!

The employees at Sun Studio are fantastic. They do a great job with the tours and just make it all so interesting! They had lots of pictures and artifacts displayed, not only of Elvis but of others who had recorded here such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, the Howling Wolf, Little Milton, and Jackie Brenston. Sun Studio is still an active recording studio so at 6:00 p.m. they kick everyone out and lock the doors and it becomes a recording studio again. Many famous musicians have recorded there because they know that this is the place where it all began.

We were able to hear the recording that Elvis first made there in 1953 when he claimed he wanted to record a song for his Mother's birthday. It was a year later when Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, asked Elvis to come back in the studio to record. That is when Elvis recorded "That's Allright Mama" with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. On July 7, 1954 Dewey Phillips played "That's Allright Mama" on the air and people went crazy. He had so many request calls that he played it 14 more times that night. Elvis became an overnight sensation. He went on to record many songs in this small studio but it was "That's Allright" that started it all.

We were able to see the actual recording studio where Elvis and so many others have recorded. We saw the spot where Elvis stood and the microphone that he used. Here are a few pictures of us with the mike.

Over the past decade, hundreds of current recording artists have honored the memories of what started here at Sun Studio. People like Ringo Starr, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Matchbox 20, and U2 have recorded here. Touring Sun Studio was one of the highlights of my trip!

After we left Sun Studio, we went to Neely's for lunch and had more delicious barbecue! The portion sizes were huge and no one could finish their meal. One thing we did notice though was that there was not a single reference to Elvis in there and we mentioned it to the hostess when she checked us out. We told her you can't have a restaurant in Memphis and not have a little picture of Elvis somewhere. She told us she would definitely pass the information along to Mr. and Mrs. Neely. I will be curious to see the next time I go if they have added a picture or poster of Elvis. We'll see....

We had a little time before heading to our 2:00 performance of From Broadway to Memphis so we went to downtown to Lansky's for a little while. Lansky Brothers is where Elvis shopped in the early days. They supplied Elvis with his flashy early clothes (the Hi-Boy collar shirts, the peg-legged pants, the Pink/Black combinations) and his famous Gold Lame' jacket for his early hip-swiveling performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As Elvis spread the word, calls from around the world began pouring in. Everyone wanted to dress like Elvis! I got to meet the Mr. Lansky who is 81 years old and still comes to the shop at least once a day. He was such a delight! We also talked to Mr. Lansky's son, Hal and his wife who was very, very nice (although not an Elvis fan but we decided to not hold it against her!).

Picture of Elvis with Mr. Lansky

Mr. Lansky and me!

We went to the 2:00 matinee performance of From Broadway to Memphis and enjoyed it very much. We all thought it was too short though and wanted more! We thought Leah Hocking and Austin Miller did a fantastic job and loved hearing the Memphis Symphony Orchestra playing while watching Elvis on the big screen. The orchestra did a fantastic job along with the director they brought in from New York.

After the show was over, we headed back downtown to Lansky's - we weren't finished shopping. We had 7:00 reservations at EP Delta Kitchen for dinner and to see Donnie Edwards, and Elvis Impersonator or Elvis Tribute Artist (ETA) as they liked to be called. None of us are fans of ETA's and we were all a little apprehensive about seeing him, but, much to our surprise, he put on a fabulous show. We all enjoyed it and it was over too soon as well. His voice was amazing. He sounded so much like Elvis that if you closed your eyes, you might have thought that you were actually listening to Elvis. We talked to him afterwards and he seemed like a really nice guy who just acted like himself and didn't try to act like Elvis while we were talking to him.

After we left EP Delta Kitchen we headed over to the plaza where we spent a couple of hours basically just watching Elvis on the screen in one of the shops. We also walked over to Graceland and had our picture made in front of the gates like we did back in 1978. Around midnight or 1:00 we headed back to the hotel and started talking about next year's trip!

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