by Shannonn Kelly
07:31AM, EST, January 08, 2013
Elvis Aaron Presley would have been 78 years old today had he not died 36 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee,
The undisputed “King of Rock and Roll” is a phenomenon who single-handedly changed the entire music scene and what we now call ‘pop culture‘ back in 1956.
Most importantly, Elvis crossed racial barriers and brought all people together under one collective rebellious roof of music that parents deemed “Satanic”.
My first time entering Memphis, Tennessee back in the end of the 90’s, I absolutely had to immediately drive directly to Graceland.
It was a wet, chilly and dreary night and I was struck by how it seemed everything – – and I mean everything was named after Elvis or in the least, inspired by Elvis or one of his songs. EP Motors, Hounddog Cafe, Elvis Gas, Presley Pizza, etc.
When I got to Graceland at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard (right on Highway 51 South) , I actually noticed something other than the house right away. The big, white private plane parked across the street from Graceland in a gated carport. On the side of the body near the tail were words painted on the side – “Lisa Marie”.
I saw that lonely plane as a metaphor. All alone in the dark and no one to care for it. The rain falling like tears.
Well-wishers from around the world have made their trek to the “Mecca of Memphis” – – Graceland, Elvis’s beloved home to celebrate his Birthday.
According to the Associated Press:
(Today) Hundreds of Elvis devotees watched as 13-year-old Isabella Scott cut a birthday cake on the lawn at Graceland, the singer’s longtime Memphis home. Scott heads an Internet-based Elvis fan club with more than 2,000 members.
The mayors of Memphis and Shelby County also read a proclamation of Elvis Presley Day during the ceremony, which was attended by fans from Brazil, England, France, Japan, Spain and the U.S.
“Like coffee and cream, grits and gravy, peanut butter and bananas … Memphis and Elvis is a combination that was just meant to be,” Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. told the crowd.
Presley bought Graceland in 1957 for $102,000 from Ruth Brown Moore who said in an old interview:
“When the property was put up for sale, there were three potential buyers — Sears Roebuck Co.; a private party who wanted to turn it into an exclusive restaurant, and Elvis. By then, most of the surrounding land had been sold to developers for a subdivision, and the lake behind the house had been drained.
Graceland Christian Church, wanted to buy 5 acres on the northwest corner of the property. Sears and the restaurant interests did not want to split the 5 acres off for the church. According to Ms. Moore, “When Elvis said he would be glad to have a church next door, that helped seal the deal.”
However, When the church next door, Graceland Christian Church, eventually decided to move, the Presley family bought back the land and turned the church into the headquarters of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Located in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, the almost 14-acre Graceland is a far cry from the two-room “gunshot shack” he was born in, in East Tupelo, Mississippi.
Graceland has eight bedrooms and bathrooms, not to mention the famous Jungle Room that has an indoor waterfall and was eventually turned into a recording studio, a carpeted ceiling found in the game room and a kitchen stocked with everything from banana pudding (to be made fresh nightly) to cans of sauerkraut and bottles of Dristan.
Elvis was a horse lover (as am I) and he would ride his favorites Colonel Midnight, Rising Sun and Bear, a Tennessee Walking Horse to escape from the madness of his popularity and demands on his privacy. Elvis was so attached to Bear, that when the horse died while Elvis was on tour, people kept the horse’s death quiet because the news would’ve devastated him.
Sadly, Elvis died at Graceland on August 16, 1977. His father Vernon, grandmother and other family members remained, but the grieving family paid little attention to the horses that Elvis loved so much.
Because the $350,000 estate cost nearly $500,000 a year to maintain, Priscilla Presley decided to open Graceland to the public to pay the bills. On June 07, 1982 public tours began. It was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006 and to this day Graceland hosts over 600,000 visitors a year.
To see a slideshow of Graceland from the Huffington Post, please Click Here
To find out more about visiting Graceland, please Click Here
To see obtuse factoids about what Elvisgot up to on trips in Los Angeles, please Click Here
To read a quirky article on other people named “Elvis”, please Click Here
To watch the famous “Jail House Rock” dance sequence, please Click Here.