There’s probably very little people alive who do not recognize the name Elvis.
There are very few people alive who can be recognized globally by first name only.
Elvis was a transformative spirit; an individual guided by something special to use his talents to touch the lives of many. He burst through a restricted world where music was tame and gyrations were scandalous.
Elvis showed us all that with a little shake of your pelvis you can completely open up a new phase of evolution – one where it’s more acceptable to express your true self, to break rules, take risks, and follow dreams.
I love visiting Tennessee to follow the Elvis story and learn more about his life.
Last visit was extra special as I took my parents on the same journey.
Elvis was big in our household. We watched his movies, listened to his music and spoke about him over the dinner table many times with my Aunties. My Aunt Trish’s partner, Al, even played trombone in Elvis’ band back in his Las Vegas days.
My Aunt Merle cried for a week when he died.
I didn’t realize how much my Dad liked him either until we visited Graceland, Memphis, TN. He thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Elvis in the Graceland house and museums that are on the estate.
They both walked out saying,
“Oh I love him even more now. How wonderful to learn about what a good person he was. So many things we didn’t know.”
Ever since I can remember my Mum has talked about how much one day she’d love to visit Graceland.
As I wrote in the post about taking my dad to the Alamo, you just never know how dreams can be delivered to you.
I’m so grateful that because of my passion for travel, and living in America, and our travel blog, I was able to help my Mum live out her dream.
It felt so surreal to her to be there walking around Elvis Presley’s House and connecting to him on the Graceland tours and learning more about him at Sun Studio, and RCA Studio B.
Even eating at the Arcade in downtown Memphis, which was where he loved to eat.
She really got into, jumping up to the microphone that Elvis used at Studio B and having photos with cardboard cut outs with him.
Like Mother Like daughter!!
Just look at this photo of my generation of women having a photo with Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) in Nashville!!
As Elvis taught us, dreams can come true.
The Graceland Mansion Tour – The Elvis Presley House
Graceland was Elvis’ happy place and home. A place he could retreat and have good times with those he loved.
A tour of Graceland gives you an insight into his fun giving energy. He had a great love for cars, and golf carts, games and funky décor.
It’s hard to pick a favorite out of the rooms in Elvis Presley House, but the Jungle Room and the Pool Room is bound to gain your attention the most.
You can explore this personal side of Elvis through an interactive iPad tour of Graceland Mansion. It’s hosted by John Stamos and featuring commentary and stories by Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie.
All rooms inside Gracelabd have been left to depict what they looked like when he died. You cannot access the upstairs part of the house.
The racquetball court was the last place Elvis visited on the night he died. He spent time playing the piano and singing Unchained Melody for friends.
It was fitting then that the Graceland tour guides you from there to the Meditation garden, Elvis’ favorite space at Graceland.
It’s now where he lies buried alongside his parents and grandmother, Minnie Mae. A small plaque lies to honor his twin brother, Jesse, who died at childbirth.
Spend awhile in reflection of his great spirit. It’s my third visit to Graceland and I tear up every time.
He touches my spirit and makes me believe in dreams.
Elvis was the great Evolutionary Bridge that gave us permission to walk forth into a new era of freedom of self expression, possibility and new sounds.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis
Elvis Presley’s Memphis is a series of museums and exhibits that follows Elvis life and career gaining insights into his roots, influences and artistry.
Mum and I swooned over every photo gushing about just how handsome he was.
You get to see his favorite automobiles, customized airplanes and fashionable outfits. He loved dressing up and, in just wearing what he liked and felt right, he became a fashion icon and everyone followed him.
The Icons Exhibit shows the vast number of great musicians he influenced like U2, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Elton John, Timberlake – legendary artists across all musical genres.
I loved learning about his time in the army and how respectful and disciplined he was. He rose to the challenge of army service when people said he couldn’t do it.
You feel his presence as you wander though the museum learning his story, watching video reels, and TV appearances.
His charisma and style jumping out of the screen and that deep melodic voice that measured every word. It’s like savoring a rich, velvety, lava cake.
Let the spirit express itself, in whatever form you feel compelled to do or whatever talents it visits you through. Elvis just wanted to sing.
But his rare talent, charismatic energy, slow, thoughtful melodic voice spoke to the dreams of the spirit and set the world on fire.
One of the best Graceland Tours to do is the VIP Graceland tour. (We toured as guests of Graceland.)
The VIP ticket allows you to skip the queues and gives you access to VIP only museum exhibits, and access to his customized airplanes.
Sun Studio, Memphis
The Elvis Presley story does not end at Graceland in Memphis, TN.
Head to Downtown Memphis to visit to Sun Studio, where his career all started.
Thanks to the secretary, Marion Keisker who immediately recognized magnetism and star power in Elvis when he came to record a song for his mother. She begged owner, Sam Phillips to listen and take him on.
Sam was not having it.
His music was slow and melodic, not the blues vibe he was passionate about and trying to promote.
A year later he finally gave in to letting Elvis audition in a three piece band. Again, Elvis did not impress him and he knew it.
During a break he began jamming an impromptu version of “That’s all right Mumma” bringing in an up tempo blues and rock feel to this country song.
Sam was immediately hooked. He sent it to the radio and Elvis became an instant “overnight” success.
Sam later sold Elvis to RCA records in Nashville for a huge $35,000 to pay off debts and get his record company booming.
And boom it did with artist like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all recording and getting their big breaks there. Even U2 has recorded in Sun Studio. Songs from Rattle and Hum were recorded here including, When love comes to town with BB King.
As Rattle & Hum is my favorite U2 album I was stoked to sit at the drums used on that album that still sit in the studio.
You learn all about the birthplace of rock n roll, Sam’s story and his famous artists who have walked through the doors in a fun and informative guided tour of Sun Studio.
You can even stand on the spot where Elvis stood, with the microphone and get your photo.
Visiting Sun Studios is one of my favorite things to do in Memphis.
Historic RCA Records Studio B Tour
Let’s head to Nashville now to the home of RCA records, the place that Elvis was sold to in 1955.
Historic Studio B, in Music City Studio Row, is the place where over 35,000 songs have been produced, over 1,000 of them becoming top 10 hits.
Elvis recorded 250 hit songs here, and over 1,000 top ten songs have Dozens of country and pop stars made recordings here, primarily from 1957 to 1977, when the studio was operated by RCA Records.
Again, we learned stories about how great the King was. He’d come into his recording sessions (always late) but would spend time greeting and speaking with each band member before starting.
He’d often get so struck by inspiration that he’d record multiple songs in a row. In fact, in one session, he recorded 13, several of which went on to be number one hits.
This speaks to the power of the spirit. Let it guide you. When inspiration strikes go with it.
Many people ask me how I can get so much done, it’s usually because I walk hand in hand with flow. When inspiration hits I write furiously, letting the words come. I can often bang out multiple blog posts quickly.
It’s filled with red lines indicating spelling mistakes etc. But I ignore them until it’s time to later edit them once the flow has gone.
Let Elvis show you the way.
I loved sitting in the recording studio listening to the songs that had been recorded there and feeling the energy, especially the Elvis tunes of Are you Lonesome tonight? and How great thou art and it’s now or never, which was Elvis’ favorite song.
I saw my Dad beaming when he learned this as he always says that was Elvis greatest song and he loves it so much.
You can even sit at the piano that still sits in RCA Studio B in Nashville. This is the piano that recorded all those monster hits and that Elvis used to record his hit tunes.
Studio B tours run from the Country Music Hall of Fame as an additional cost. It’s well worth doing it.
A guide takes you on the bus to the Studio taking your through and telling cool stories, not just of Elvis but other artists who have recorded there in including Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, The Everly Brothers and Jim Reeves.
It’s a very important studio in the history of music.
It’s still available for artists to hire and record in today. Wynonna, Carrie Underwood, and Martina McBride came here in 2008 to sing with the voice of Elvis on an album of Christmas duets. Long Live the King!
The Country Music Hall also gives you insight into Elvis’ life with a few displays and one of his favorite gold plated Cadillac’s on display
Long Live the King
Listening to the song “ If I can Dream” as I stood over his grave, the tears pricked my eyes. He represented dreams and helped others believe in the possibility of them.
As Lisa said in the audio at the same time – Elvis had a presence. You felt him even when you couldn’t see him. He filled the space. It was if his spirit reached out and touched others.
I felt that in Graceland.
I’ve felt that the moment I first met Elvis as a young child sitting on the couch in my living room with my Mum every Saturday watching Elvis movies.
A presence, a passion, a zest for life. Sure it came with troubles and loneliness, but his spirit transformed the path of music and the lives of many.
When my girls kept asking me why he is the King, I explained,
“Well, he died 40 years ago and look at all the people you see coming through Graceland just today. They’ve been doing that since before he died. He sang, he acted, he entertained, he served in the military, he was gracious, generous and kind. He changed the face of music and popular culture. There is no one who has done more than him for music. He has inspired hundreds of popular and successful musicians.
He is the King.”
Planning aTrip to Memphis and Nashville
Book Your Accommodation in Memphis and Nashville
- The Guesthouse at Graceland provides a deeper Elvis experience
- We also stayed at Courtyard by Marriott Memphis East – it was a fair driving distance (20 mins) to downtown Memphis attractions, but we visited during festival week so not much was available. We liked the hotel and the food was especially delicious for hotel canteen.
- I’d also recommend splurging for the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. At least go for afternoon tea and their delightful, artistic desserts.
- In Nashville, we have stayed at the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel and Airbnb’s.
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Tours in Memphis
Viator offers a large range of tours in Memphis including cultural experiences, attraction tickets, and activities around the city.
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Are you an Elvis fan? How has his spirit touched yours? Have you followed the Elvis story in Nashville and Memphis?