Visit to Graceland in September 2006

My brother, Philip Parrish, was a big admirer of Elvis Presley, and as I drove past Memphis time after time in 2005 I thought I should stop to visit Graceland. Finally on September 1, 2006 on my way to Texas, I spent the night in Memphis at the Heartbreak Hotel, which is on Elvis Presley Blvd. across from Graceland.

Three decades after his death, Elvis remains a legendary figure who continues to sell millions of records every year. For example, he sold a million records in England in 2005. Elvis has sold more records than any other artist. Sirius Radio has a 24x7 channel dedicated to him. The USPS reports that the Elvis stamp is their most popular stamp.

Elvis is a beloved figure who has millions of fans and admirers all over the world. They remain very passionate about Elvis and make the pilgrimage to Graceland. I talked to people from 5 or 6 countries.

Because of limited time, I took the one hour tour of Graceland and was even the first person on the shuttle bus. I found the tour well organized and the staff friendly. I highly recommend a visit to Graceland.

Heartbreak Hotel Entrance Elvis Radio Bus Lines DMP Graceland
Heartbreak Hotel Entrance for Tickets Elvis Radio Channel Ad Lines for Shuttle Bus Everybody is Photographed

Graceland is a very comfortable home, but it is not luxurious. Elvis bought the home when he was 21, and he moved his parents in to live with him. He lived on the second floor which is the only part of the house closed to the public.

The house is on 11 acres and Elvis had many additions and stand-alone buildings constructed over the years. Frankly, these additions made Graceland more livable and functional, but not more beautiful or showy. At his core, Elvis was a poor, humble southern boy who loved his mother and his country.

Graceland Sign Graceland Graceland Sign Graceland Side Elvis Painting
National Register Sign Main Entrance Back Side of Graceland Side View of Graceland Elvis as a Young Man

Because of no flash photography, parts of Graceland aren't easy to photograph. The home is kept the way it was when Elvis died in 1977. Graceland reflects Elvis' tastes, not some interior decorator's. For example, there is a TV room with 3 televisions (one for each network) decorated with mirrored walls and ceiling. (Remember Elvis died before cable or satelite TV.) In the Jungle Room, Elvis used the same green shag carpet on the floor and the ceiling.

In the informal living room, Elvis had the same fabric - 275 yards of it - used on the walls and ceiling. There is a Tiffany lamp in that room. (By the way, Louis Comfort Tiffany is my distant cousin.)

The rest of Graceland is a kind of museum to all things Elvis. For example, there is a model of the home he was born in on January 8, 1935, newspaper clipping, displays of his jewelery, badges, guns, clothes, karate costumes (Elvis had 2 black belts.), saddles, etc.

Living Room Dining Room Tiffany Lamp Elvis Birthplace Elvis Clippings
Living Room Dining Room Informal Living Room Elvis' Birthplace Elvis' Clippings

The display of the 150 gold and platinum records Elvis received is really an overwhelming sight. The display in the corridor is awesome, but then you discover that there are more records! The other half of the gold records are in the converted hand ball court, which also has examples of his Las Vegas costumes.

Elvis Records1 ElvisRecords2 Elvis Records3 ElvisRecords4 Elvis Records5
Example of Gold Record One Side of Corridor The Other Side of Corridor Huge Wall of Gold Records Awards and Costumes

On the side of the main house by the swimming pool are the graves of Elvis, his mother, his father and his grandmother. Both of his parents died relatively young. Elvis died at age 42. Many fans and admirers have left wreaths that adorn the walkway exit. I photographed one wreath from Japan as an example. It refers to the 29th anniversary of his death on August 16, 1977.

When I worked in Japan in the 1990s, I saw dozens of Elvis impersonators who would gather at one of the parks in Tokyo and perform for hours every weekend. They were something with their slicked back ducktails, black leather outfits and swivel hip maneuvers. In 2006, the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, a big admirer of Elvis, made a pilgrimage to Graceland accompanied by President Bush. The Prime Minister broke into song during his visit.

Elvis Grave1 Elvis Grave2 Elvis Grave3 Elvis Grave4 Elvis Grave5
Four Presley Graves Elvis' Grave Text on Elvis' Grave Wreaths Along Walkway Wreath from Japan Fans