After resting our well-travelled bones in America’s Best Value Inn in Clarksdale for the night, it was back on the road and back into Tennessee for a visit to Memphis. Once we crossed the boarder we headed straight to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s house – Graceland; home of Elvis Presley.
Neither Barry or I are fans of the man with the quiff, but no visit to Memphis would be complete without a nose around his mansion. We’d bought our tickets in advance and they gave us access not only to his house, but also to view his planes and rather large car collection.
Our tour of Graceland didn’t start until one o’clock so with 45 minutes to spare we headed straight for the Automobile Museum. Having already seen one of Elvis’ many cars at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville, we knew he had expensive taste, so I was intrigued to see what other goodies he had in his collection. He had everything from Mercedes and Rolls Royce’s to motorbikes and a sit on lawnmower. But perhaps the most famous of all was the pink Cadillac.
Once we finished checking out the cars, we made our way to the stop where we would board a bus to take us over to Graceland. What struck me the most as we were driven through the gates and up the driveway, was how small the house actually was. It’s nothing compared to the Bel Air mansions of these days. But I guess given that Elvis bought this property at just 22 years old, it was actually pretty impressive. I always assumed that he’d had it built for him, but he purchased it from another family and just added to it.
When we boarded the bus we were given an iPad, which would act as our tour guide for the house. It showed us pictures and gave commentary as we walked round. When we first walked through the doors of the mansion, again I was surprised out how small it was. There was no grand hallway with balconies and a sweeping spiral staircase. It was decorated rather grandly though, with chandeliers, gold paint and soft carpets. Elvis had TV’s in every room and even had cable! Who knew it was even available in the 50’s?
We weren’t allowed to tour the upstairs of the house – the family want to keep it private and don’t want tourists to focus on the bathroom where Elvis died. Morbid I know, but I was kinda looking forward that in a sick sort of way!
As we got further into the house, the décor got a bit funky, with crazy carpets with matching wallpaper, furniture and ceilings. Not sure what he was thinking when he decorated some of these rooms! Money clearly can’t buy you taste!
Once we’d finished in the living quarters of the house we went on to explore the rest. These included lots of rooms, which housed all of Elvis’ awards, gold discs, costumes and other memorabilia. There was so much of it and we were later told that what was on show was only about 10% of what Elvis actually had!
After we’d finished inside, it was time to head out to the gardens and the family grave sites. Elvis, both his parents and his grandma were all buried in the grounds along with a plaque for Elvis’ stillborn twin.
With the house complete, we headed over to the Archives Studio where we shown some rare artefacts. One of things we saw was Elvis’ mobile phone. I’m so glad they’ve come up with better technology. I wouldn’t want to be carrying round a briefcase just to make a call!
For our last part of our Elvis Presley tour, we were able to explore two of his planes. The first plane, which was named after his daughter Lisa Marie, was decorated just as plushly as the house. It had gold speckled sinks, TV’s, a full size double bed and even a dining table.
The second plane was a lot smaller and just had room enough to sit in it. The Presley’s would use the planes for private use and perhaps the story that surprised me the most was when Elvis’s daughter wanted to see snow. Living in Tennessee she had never seen it before, so they hopped on the plane and flew to Colorado where they landed for just 5 minutes so she could touch it. Then they hopped back on and flew off home! Oh how the other half live!!
With all our newly learned knowledge of Elvis whizzing round our brains, we said goodbye to Graceland and headed to our motel to get some sleep before touring Memphis the next day.