How to Celebrate Elvis Week

Whether you’re in Memphis or not, here are a few ways to honor the King.

Albert Wertheimer
This week marks the 39th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, but he is anything but forgotten. Just this year, his 1957 507 BMW was 3-D printed back into mint condition, Graceland will open a new, on-property luxury hotel The Guesthouse, and award-winning impersonator Cody Ray Slaughter launched the Elvis ’56 Tour commemorating the 60th anniversary of his breakout year. Safe to say, the eternal hunk of love continues to burn.
While Graceland may be the epicenter of Elvis Week, we have four other ways to pay tribute to the King this year if you can’t make it to Memphis.
Join in Elvis Week
The ultimate fan gathering, Elvis Week actually encompasses not one but two weeks of activities from a 5K race that encourages runners to dress in sideburns and/or leisure suit-inspired regalia to what is considered the Olympics of Elvis impersonation contests. There is even a seminar hosted by Elvis’ personal stylists and clothing designers along with a convergence of global Elvis fan club presidents (people watching alert). If you have a chunka cash burning (sorry) a hole in your pocket, you can bid on a selection of rhinestone-studded costumes or the American Express card he swiped between 1973 and 1974. But the week’s main event is the candlelight vigil where mourners make their way down Elvis Presley Boulevard to Elvis’ grave at Graceland and set up elaborate roadside memorials and shrines.
See Elvis at 21
In 1956, Elvis was just a baby faced 21-year-old with a guitar sneaking around with girls in the stairwells of theatres or taking naps on the train home from touring the country. So unknown and innocent at the time, he would jump off the train car on the outskirts of town so he could walk home. Photographer Albert Wertheimer who followed the singer around that year captured it all including some of the most famous photos taken of Elvis like that iconic black and white image of him and Barbara Gray stealing a kiss backstage in Richmond, Virginia. Wertheimer’s photos will be on display until October 2nd at Savannah’s Jepson Center commemorating the 60th anniversary since the Kings first concert there that same year.
Visit The Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail
If you’ve driven through Tupelo, Mississippi in the past two years, you’ve likely noticed the mess or orange traffic barrels and road closures from downtown leading to the humble two room house where Elvis was born. This past July the project finally ended, and the trail now connects downtown Tupelo from Green Street, down Main Street and to the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum with sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, landscaping, lighting and green spaces. Throw in a Smash Burger from Neon Pig, and you have the makings of one great summer road trip.
Listen to Way Down in the Jungle Room
In 1976, Elvis turned his green shag-carpeted, fur-upholstered, waterfall-festooned den dubbed the Jungle Room (perhaps the archetypal man cave) into a home recording studio. Although the equipment RCA sent to Graceland had to be towed through the gates, Elvis and his band recorded 16 songs in handful of nights in February and October of 1976 in what would be his last sessions before his death in 1977. Way Down in the Jungle Room, released this past month, is a two-disc set of those songs including rare outtakes and alternate versions; it’s a capstone in any Elvis collector’s anthology.
Read Sam Phillips: The Man who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll
If you haven’t had a chance to read Peter Guralnick’s biography of Sam Phillips, one of our favorite releases from last year, pick it up this week. Phillips’ legendary Sun Studios is where America discovered the voices of Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Presley who famously responded when pressed by the studio’s receptionist as to who she should compare him to “I don’t sound like nobody”.
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