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 Memphis Memories, A look at my recent trip to Memphis.
 
GuitarMan66
post Mar 8 2006, 01:07 PM
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Memphis Memories. (part one)

In this article I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and experiences while in Memphis for my 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago. I have scaled it down to what I consider to have been the best (a lot) and worst (not much) of my trip with my wife Angela.
I will tell you about Graceland in a separate article.
First off my impression of Memphis itself and to be honest it‘s a pretty rough place, from what I saw of it. Most of the housing estates seem pretty run down and there just seems to be a lot of general decay about the place. Though I wouldn’t say we were frightened to walk the streets at night around the Graceland area it was very quiet after dark but I would imagine it’s a totally different story in the summer when the fans and tourists are out in force. Downtown Memphis was the worst we lost count of the amount of times we were stopped and asked for money we always refused but at the same time we never felt threatened.
My biggest let down was Beale Street which is really small and full of scruffy shops selling tacky souvenirs and the restaurants and bars aren’t much better. I’m not a snob but for example we went into BB.Kings restaurant for our dinner and my wife was especially put off by the site of two huge cockroaches crawling up one of the windows and the toilets I don’t even want to describe needless to say we weren’t in there long. On our way to Sun studios we passed by the Forest Hills cemetery and also the site of the Baptist memorial hospital which is now only a pile of rubble.
Like I said not much for the worst parts now let me tell you the good parts.
SUN STUDIOS….. what a fantastic place!!! It’s enough just standing outside the place to give you goose bumps but to actually be standing in the same room where Elvis cut all those classic tracks is amazing. Everything in the studio is original from the day Sam and Marion painted the ceilings and light fittings to putting the tiles on the walls. And to actually hold the mic that Elvis used to cut That’s Allright Mamma is something I’ll never forget. The floor is marked out to show you where Elvis and Scotty and Bill stood when recording (you can even see the hole in the floor tile caused by the spike on Bill Black’s bass).Our guide told us that Bob Dylan had came in a few years ago got down on his hands and knees and kissed the floor where Elvis had stood then got up and walked out!!!!
ROCK AND SOUL MUSEUM…..very informative and well presented with many items and artefacts from various artists (inc 2 of Elvis’ jumpsuits) but for me too much soul and not enough rock.
HEARTBREAK HOTEL….the hotel is very nice the rooms are clean and tidy and the staff are very helpful. They serve great food and drink (hic) and also have a 24 hour Elvis movie channel what more could you want? It is definitely the place to stay for Elvis fans it’s also within 2 minutes walk of Graceland and the plaza area.
GRACELAND PLAZA….the plaza is situated straight opposite the mansion across E.P. Boulevard the area comprises of the Automobile museum, Sincerely Elvis museum ,the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog 2 jets and various memorabilia shops and restaurants .Both the museums are very well presented all of Elvis’ cars are in pristine condition and well worth a look, the Sincerely Elvis museum has many items of Elvis’ including furniture jewellery, jumpsuits, guitars, Elvis and Priscilla’s’ wedding attire and also many items belonging to Lisa Marie from when she was a baby. However I felt this place lacked any personal touches as all of the items are behind huge glass screens which I found a little imposing I can understand the clothes etc need to be protected but some of the items to me like Lisa’s toys and some of the jewellery would have been better displayed in smaller “open” cabinets.
Onto the planes and I’ll start with the smaller “Hound Dog 2” which is a little hard to describe as you can’t actually walk through it due to it’s size I don’t think safety regulations would allow it so all you get as you enter the plane is a look at the interior and cockpit area through Perspex panes. The Lisa Marie is a different story as you get to walk the full length of the plane going through the living quarters and onto the bedroom etc and it’s quite obvious that Elvis spent some serious money on the conversion everything is very luxurious the taps on the sink are gold plated and it’s easy to imagine Elvis sitting at his desk where everything could be controlled at the flick of a switch or push of a button EPE have quite rightly covered all the seats etc in plastic coverings to stop the constant wear and tear that would be caused by people touching as they walk through.
Well I hope you enjoyed part one in part two I will tell you about Graceland and the people I met, some of whom knew Elvis.
Some photos from my trip are in the Other Elvis related photos section.


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kenotess
post Mar 8 2006, 03:19 PM
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[img]style_emoticons/default/cheers.gif[/img] Great Pacer,enjoyed reading very much,brought back memories for me..i never went into BB kings,and after reading your article,i am glad i didnt [img]style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif[/img] !!!,dont mind spiders,but i will pass on those things,jeeze,i would have flew out!!..The Sun tour is AWSOME,heres me back in november 2000!!
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Guest_The Batman_*
post Mar 8 2006, 05:51 PM
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It all looks so awesome to me I would probably walk around with my mouth wide open all the time, I will make it to there before my lifetime is over
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First In Line
post Mar 8 2006, 08:30 PM
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ewwww, cockroaches, yuck! I've been to Memphis once and from what I saw of it, it's not a very clean place, far from it. I never got to go by Graceland though. I went through downtown Memphis just imagining the nights Elvis would cruise the city in one of his caddies or on his motorcyle. It's not a very clean city but it is most deffinately a very magical place. If you're a fan you can just feel the spirit of Elvis all over the place, not just at Graceland or Sun Studios. When I was there I was eating at McDonalds one morning thinking if I ever was going to see anything tied into the "Elvis World". Then while I was sitting eating at McDonalds I looked to my left and noticed this very big and tall building with a sign out front that said "Baptist Memorial Hospital". Seeing that brought about so many emotions, sad and happy at the same time. Then after finishing breakfast we left to come home and on the way out of Memphis to my right I looked at saw Sun Studios. Goosebumps came up all over me, knowing that down that little sidewalk Elvis walked to bring something to life back in '54. It was without a doubt one of the best feelings I ever have felt, besides my son being born. Everyone needs to go to Memphis at least once [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]


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GuitarMan66
post Mar 9 2006, 10:49 AM
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I couldn't agree with you more Matt Memphis for all it's frailties has something "special" about it.And I was exactly the same as you,imagining a young Elvis walking into Sun studios all those years ago when I was stood on the very same sidewalk it certainly gives you goosebumps.

Nice picture Jeff, it's a strange feeling holding that mic isn't it?
Batman I was exactly like that mate everywhere I went though especially at Graceland I kept telling Angela to pinch me as I couldn't believe I was actually there. And I hope you make it out there every Elvis fan deserves it [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]


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Guest_The Batman_*
post Mar 12 2006, 04:24 PM
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I say damn to the cockroaches and after all they dont eat that much lol anyway I am much bigger than they are I have seen pictures to prove it lol, I dont care what it is like but to walk in Elvis footsteps even all these years later would be cool for me
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GuitarMan66
post Apr 4 2006, 08:49 AM
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Memphis Memories (part2)

There's something that is quite strange and surreal about standing at the gates of Graceland looking up at the mansion when all you're life you have seen pictures in books and magazines etc of Elvis at the gates and around the grounds where you are actually standing. All the time I kept seeing these pictures in my head like the shot of a smiling Elvis at the gates in '57 just after he had bought the mansion then the photos of him on horseback in '68 wearing a black leather jacket and the many photos from the early '70's were he is pictured chatting and signing autographs just inside the gates and of course the last ever photograph of Elvis waving to the fans as he passes through the gates going back up to Graceland for the last time.
I lost count of the times I said to Angela "this is so weird" shaking my head in disbelief that I was actually here, it was almost as if I was now convinced that the place really did exist and I'm sure if you have been you will understand what I mean.
As we stood at the gates on our first night a guard came out of the hut for a chat and during our conversation he told us that the meditation garden was free to visit every morning from 7.30 till 8.30, needless to say every morning of our stay we were up at the graves to pay our respects. Quite often we were the only people there and it's a wonderful place to just sit and take everything in and also I'm not ashamed to say to shed a few tears.
It was in the garden on our first morning that we met a guard called Wayne, a tall well built man in his late 60's.Within minutes he was telling us of his past, his family like Elvis' had moved up to Memphis from Tupelo and he had gone to Humes High at the same time Elvis was there, though he didn't know him to talk to he knew who Elvis was just like everyone else did at the school because of how different he looked compared to all the other kids.
He said that after leaving school he had gotten a job at a local furniture store and when Elvis had "made it big" he would often come into the store with Gladys to buy furniture for the house on Audubon then a little later for Graceland, he pointed to the patio furniture beside the pool saying that was the last thing he had sold to Elvis. He began to choke a little on his words saying Elvis and his momma were real fine people always so polite, he then looked at us and said in that slow southern accent "Aw heck I've taken up enough of you're time folks I'm real sorry" we assured him there was certainly no need to apologize and that it had been a pleasure to talk with him but unfortunately we had to go as it was almost 8.30.
As we walked back down the drive I kept looking up at the mansion thinking that soon I will be going through that front door and into Elvis' house. Needless to say I could hardly eat my breakfast, after which we went along to the ticket booth and bought our passes we bought the Elvis entourage VIP passes which meant we could tour the house as often as we liked on that day and you also get to go behind the mansion to the old car port area to see where the trailers are that were once homes for Billy Smith etc but are now used to store all of the artifacts from the house that are not on display.
Also with the VIP passes you are given special treatment, as soon as the guards see you have on you're pass you are taken straight to the front of the queue for the shuttle bus or escorted back up to the front door if you want to go around the mansion again, they really take good care of you.
As the bus pulled up in front of the house I was beside myself with excitement here I was on the day of my 40th birthday about to tour Graceland, fantastic!
On the porch we were given a brief history of the mansion then the door was opened and we were walking inside. The first thing I did when I was inside the door was to look up at the ceiling as I know directly above the entrance hall is Elvis' bathroom and we all know what happened there so I said a silent prayer for Elvis before taking in the tour.
I won't describe every room as I'm sure everyone is familiar with them but instead I will try and give you my thoughts and observations.
A lot of people say that the house and the rooms are quite small which I suppose they are but if you know enough about Elvis you can see why he loved the house so much. As for all its grand southern mansion looks it still feels like a home. I thought it would feel like walking around a museum but even though it's been open to the public for over ten years now it felt to me like we were the first people allowed inside, and almost as if Elvis was away on tour or something. This was probably helped by the fact that a lot of the time we were virtually the only ones walking around the house and grounds which made it feel even more personal.
Every room is totally different to the next there is no theme linking rooms together like you see in a lot of stars homes these days and certainly no neutral colours everything is bright and bold, the kitchen is probably the most conservative room with its dark wood units and dark patterned carpet. But the room I was most impressed with was the Jungle room, I was surprised that this room is on the ground floor straight across from the kitchen as for some reason I always thought this room was down in the basement. I stood for ages just gazing around this room imagining Elvis and the TCB band all together in here for the recording of the EP Boulevard album.
It was here that we met a lady who works as a guard at the house called Donna Lewis (type in her name with Elvis' on google search to find out more about her) she is also credited in the book "Elvis Day By Day", we spoke for ages with her as she told us some stories about her father who worked for Elvis as a guard on the grounds for many years. And of the times she herself had spent with Elvis, (the painting she gave Elvis for Christmas is still hanging on the wall in the hallway of the basement), as she said when someone worked for Elvis you're whole family were always welcome at Graceland.
That day we toured the house 3 times always finding something new that we hadn't noticed before and Donna would always go out of her way to come over and chat with us some more.
Walking around Graceland and the outer buildings is obviously a constant eye opener for any Elvis fan I was bombarded with so many things that just made me stop in my tracks like seeing the gold lame suit from '57 the black leather suit from the 68 special or the gold attendance belt Elvis wore so often in the 70's not to mention , guitars various items of clothing from his movies, jewellery items like the TCB ring, the Hawaiian maile vine necklace, his chai pendant and his Jaycees award that is much the worse for wear as Elvis took it everywhere with him.
And of course the jumpsuits, I was lucky enough in that my favourite the 'Concha' suit was on display as well as many others like the 'Rainfall, Mad tiger' and the 'Aztec sundial' most of which are showcased in the racquetball court. As you walk down the steps onto the main floor of the court you are surrounded on all sides of the 20 foot walls by awards that have been posthumously awarded to Elvis as well as the aforementioned jumpsuits and a few others all showcased in glass cases, added to this is a large video screen playing clips from On Tour and the Aloha show culminating in a rousing rendition of American Trilogy and believe me if you don't walk out of there with a lump in you're throat then you better check you're pulse.
The very next day we were both back up at the mansion for another full day, after all that's the main reason we were there, again we spoke with Donna and also another guard Debbie she had seen Elvis at the Mid-South Coliseum in '74 and a couple of times at the gates, on our last trip around the mansion that day we were the last people there and that was because the guards kept us talking everyone is so friendly.
It's just simply an amazing place to visit and every Elvis fan owes it to themselves to get there one way or another. I know it's not easy it took me long enough and a lot of saving but it was worth every penny. After we came back home I said to Angela that I felt like a little child again and that feeling you have when you come back off holiday with you're parents and you just wish that it didn't have to end and that you could stay on holiday forever. I still now a couple of months later find myself thinking back to Graceland and Memphis it has such a draw about the place. For all its rather shabby appearance to me the city has a magic all of its own and if ever I have left a piece of my heart somewhere it's in Memphis.

If you would like to see some pictures from my visit have a look in the Elvis related pictures in the gallery

This post has been edited by Pacer: Apr 4 2006, 09:01 AM


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stefan
post Apr 4 2006, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for posting this. Have never been there, so this first hand accout is 2nd best for me [img]style_emoticons/default/clap.gif[/img] [img]style_emoticons/default/cheers.gif[/img]

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"How do I get placed in situations like this? Ah hell, I guess it's all part of showbusiness "~ Elvis in his limo on his way to perform in Omaha, NE on June 19th 1977

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amzietamzie
post Apr 4 2006, 09:13 AM
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That was an absolutely beautiful account. Thank you so much for posting it! It's much better hearing someone's own trip from the 1st person than what a guidebook says. You almost made me well up just reading about the jumpsuits and American Trilology and the guard who spoke to you in the garden...

I really really want to go to Graceland! It would be amazing... although I'm not sure if I could take seeing Elvis' grave. But to see his home and be close to him I can imagine would be an experience you'll never forget.

My family has been planning a trip to America in the close future and I've been trying to make them take a little detour to Memphis so I can see Graceland lol... it's taking a lot of persuasion skills but maybe I'll succeed...


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Eve
post Apr 4 2006, 09:18 AM
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Thank's for posting that.

I want to be there......................
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GuitarMan66
post Apr 5 2006, 12:25 AM
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Thank you for yor'e kind words it's hard to try and convey exactly what it's like to be there, walking around Graceland and Memphis it's such a strange feeling seeing all these places that are a part of Elvis folklore but I tried my best.And amzie give it you're best shot to pesuade you're family to take that detour believe me you will have the experience of a lifetime [img]style_emoticons/default/king.gif[/img]


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NightRider
post Apr 5 2006, 05:36 PM
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A terrific read Steve. How jealous did you make me feel when you were talking about looking at those gates for the first time. I am not sure how i would feel...it has been a dream for me to go for so many years.

As for shedding a tear. Yep...i have to say...i have no doubt in my mind that i would do just the very same thing.


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One Night
post Apr 5 2006, 09:56 PM
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Thanks Pacer for this account of your visit [img]style_emoticons/default/thumbup.gif[/img]

cant wait till chris + me go [img]style_emoticons/default/clap.gif[/img]

not sure when...but we will........ [img]style_emoticons/default/blush.gif[/img] gotta now.......i promised chris we would go b4 or on his 40th

also......so we aint got long [img]style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif[/img] [img]style_emoticons/default/LSHIC.gif[/img]

found this to be a real good read

Thanks again:up:


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GuitarMan66
post Apr 6 2006, 01:23 AM
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Thanks Chris and Jules I'm pleased you liked my write up [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]
Make that dream come true guys beleive me you'll love it. I'm pleased we went while ther'e are people around who knew Elvis, to hear them talk about their times with Elvis really made it all the more special. There aren't many of them left that work around Graceland it's mostly young kids, don't get me wrong they are great to talk to but they don't have the connection like Donna and Wayne because it's so much more personal for them so get on over there as soon as you can [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]style_emoticons/default/king.gif[/img]


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Tigerman
post Apr 10 2006, 06:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing your memories from the memphis trip Pacer. You are indeed a lucky fan. I hope to get there in the next 2 - 3 years. [img]style_emoticons/default/up.gif[/img]


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jocelyne
post Apr 16 2006, 05:52 PM
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QUOTE (Pacer @ Apr 6 2006, 01:23 PM) *
Thanks Chris and Jules I'm pleased you liked my write up [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]
Make that dream come true guys beleive me you'll love it. I'm pleased we went while ther'e are people around who knew Elvis, to hear them talk about their times with Elvis really made it all the more special. There aren't many of them left that work around Graceland it's mostly young kids, don't get me wrong they are great to talk to but they don't have the connection like Donna and Wayne because it's so much more personal for them so get on over there as soon as you can [img]style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]style_emoticons/default/king.gif[/img]

Thank you Pacer for your account of your trip to Graceland
Well, while reading what you related, I was remembering the same feelings I had when I went to in 2002, seems so far now, but I was thinking to myself "Yes that's what I've seen, What I've felt!"
As you did, I've been staying in front of the mansion, behind the wall, and I said to my friend to pinch me because I could not believe it was me beeing there after so many years while dreaming one day I could fly to Memphis, it was in a dark and quiet night when we arrived and we stand at the wall the first night before going to the hotel. Every one of us was thinking he had not enough eyes to see all of this! The trees lighted in different coulours, the porch and the columns pretty illuminate, I remember I thought that Elvis was still here and saying to me "Welcome to my world fellow"
We shared tears that night, and now at this time, I can't refrain from having a tear, it was a great moment in my life and I left a piece of my heart at Graceland.
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GuitarMan66
post Apr 16 2006, 10:42 PM
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Hi Jocelyne, I'm pleased you like my account of my trip to Memphis. It is indeed a strange feeling to be finally standing at the gates after so many years of dreaming. I still can't believe Iv'e actually been it seems so unreal and Iv'e lost count of the amount of times Iv'e looked through our photos I just dont want to forget anything about my time in Memphis.

This post has been edited by Pacer: Apr 16 2006, 10:42 PM


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songs4u
post May 24 2006, 03:55 PM
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Pacer I loved your story of your trip. You're so descriptive when you write I felt like I was walking right along with you.
You were so right with your description of Memphis as a town. I've never really thought about what people from other countries coming to visit Graceland think about Memphis until I read your post here. I spend most of my time around Knoxville, Tennessee. As a kid I spent a lot of time in Nashville. As you know I went to Graceland in the '70s. You talk about the area around Graceland. It was nothing like that in the '70s. From my memory I believe it was just a two lane road there in front of Graceland. There are parts of the south that are poor, as well as the north. I can say this because I was half raised in the south and I have so much family there. Jobs are hard to come by in some parts. That's why my Dad ventured out. I was in Memphis getting gas in my car a couple of years ago in a very shady part of town. I don't know if people coming to Memphis because of Elvis ever see those parts of town. I've lived in places in the north that were also very poor. It's funny - whenever we were in the south my parents weren't as careful and watchful of me. Maybe, because we came from that culture. If we were in the north I wasn't allowed out after dark. But, I know of places right now in the south that are just as dangerous to be in after dark than being in New York City. It's certainly a different culture. But, I think an interesting experience for anyone who has never been there.
Well, that's just my 2 cents worth.


This post has been edited by songs4u: May 24 2006, 04:15 PM


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