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There’s probably very little people alive who do not recognize the name Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll.
In fact, you only need to hear his first name, before images of greaser, pompadour hair cuts and sparkly Mexican sundial jumpsuits spring to mind.
If you’re a true Elvis Presley fan, you’re going to want to visit Memphis in Tennessee. As Elvis’s home for many years, it’s where he recorded his songs and rose to fame.
If you’re wondering where to learn about Elvis Presley in Memphis Tennesse, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide we share our experience of visiting the most iconic Elvis Presley bucket list locations in the city, including Graceland, Elvis’s former home, and Sun Studios, where he first recorded his songs, and other iconic Elvis related locations…
- Life of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee
- Where To Learn About Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee
- Where to Learn About Elvis Presley in Nashville, Tennesse
- Long Live the King
- More Nashville Travel Tips
Life of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee
But first, why is Memphis such an important city for Elvis Presley fans?
Elvis lived in Memphis from 1948 to 1953, at first residing in public housing and low-rent homes in the impoverished neighborhoods of north Memphis.
This period of his life, known as his early childhood, played a crucial role in shaping his humble beginnings and inspiring his musical journey.
Memphis became an integral part of Elvis’ story as it was where he moved with his parents in 1948 and graduated from Humes High School in 1953.
The city served as the backdrop for Elvis’ rise to fame and is home to Graceland, his iconic former residence and now a pilgrimage destination for Elvis fans worldwide.
It’s the city where he grew up, where he wrote his most famous songs, where he rose to fame, and where he died.
Where To Learn About Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee
I love visiting Tennessee to follow the Elvis story and learn more about his life.
I’ve followed the Elvis Presley musical trail in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee three times now. Each time is as inspiring as the last.
Here are some iconic locations where you can learn about The King in Memphis and follow the Elvis trail…
1. 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.
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.
2. Elvis Presley’s Memphis Museums
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.
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.
3. Take A Sun Studio Tour, Memphis
Those visiting Memphis who want to learn more about Elvis’s life and musical career may be interested in the Sun Studio Tour.
The Elvis Presley story does not end at Graceland in Memphis, TN.
In Downtown Memphis you’ll find Sun Studio, where his career all started. It’s one of the best things to do in Memphis.
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.
4. The Arcade Restaurant
This iconic establishment holds a special place in Elvis Presley’s history. Known as Memphis’ oldest cafe, The Arcade Restaurant has been serving delicious meals since 1919.
It was one of Elvis’ favorite spots to grab a bite to eat during his early years. Stepping into The Arcade is like stepping back in time, with its vintage decor and old-school charm.
You can sit at the same booth where Elvis himself used to dine and imagine what it was like for him in those early days.
If you want to experience a piece of Elvis’ history while enjoying a tasty meal, make sure to check this place out.
5. Elvis Statue on Beale Street
This larger-than-life statue pays tribute to the King of Rock ‘n Roll and is a perfect spot to capture a memorable photo.
Located in Elvis Plaza, right on Beale Street, it serves as a reminder of Elvis’ connection to Memphis and his influence on music history.
6. Overton Park Shell
This was where Elvis performed his first paid concert. On July 30, 1954, when he was just 19-years-old, Elvis opened for Slim Whitman.
The Overton Park Shell witnessed the electrifying debut of Elvis, marking the beginning of his journey towards becoming the King of Rock ‘n Roll.
Stepping into this open-air amphitheater allows you to walk in the footsteps of music history and experience the same stage where Elvis made his mark.
Where to Learn About Elvis Presley in Nashville, Tennesse
Memphis is not the only place to learn about Elvis. If you head to the iconic city of Nashville, there are some other great museums dedicated to the King.
1. Take The Historic RCA Records Studio B Tour
Nashville is 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.
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 audioguide 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.
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.
We hope this guide helped you plan some places to visit in Memphis if you’re a fan of Elvis!
Tours in Memphis
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- Purple Reign: Celebrating Creativity on a Prince Tour and Paisley Park
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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? Let us know in the comments.