Little did Elvis Presley know that by going to Sun Studio and recording a blues tune with his friends, he would be launching a 60-year legacy. When the young delivery-truck driver's version of “That's All Right” aired on the radio, rock n' roll was born. This historic event happened on July 5, 1954. To commemorate Presley’s journey to stardom, which earned him the title “The King of Rock n' Roll,” Graceland, his former home, is offering a VIP-level exhibit tour called “60 Years of Elvis.” Graceland, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is now a museum. The new exhibit, which runs through February of 2015, features everything from early telegrams from Presley wiring his first earnings to his parents, to his 1955 recording contract, to his last GRAMMY Award.
Fit For a King
Visitors can see Presley’s personal copies of the first five records he recorded at Sun Studios. After recording at Sun for a year-and-a-half, he received an offer from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to record for them. In 1957, Presley bought Graceland. By then, he was well known across the country. People were intrigued by his new style of music—and some even feared it. That same year, fans listened with heavy hearts as they heard the news that their “king” was leaving them for a while: Presley had been drafted into the Army. Presley’s fans wondered if the government was trying to silence rock n' roll.
After his two-year term of military service was over, Presley made movies—lots of them. One of the scenes in Jailhouse Rock, which is shown in the exhibit, is considered by many to be the first music video ever made. The exhibit includes an original script from the film, and his outfits from another movie, Viva Las Vegas.
For most of Presley’s career, Graceland was an important part of his life. He designed it to have quirky décor. Each room has its own theme. The jungle room has detailed wooden carvings in the furniture and a green shag carpet that looks like grass. The TV room has three television sets—Presley often watched all of them at the same time. There is also the fabric-coated pool room, where he played pool with friends. Presley died in 1977, but millions of people flock to Graceland every year to commemorate his contributions to the history of rock n' roll.
A Gift from Japan
Elvis Presley’s popularity extends well beyond the United States to countries around the world, including Japan. On April 25, Graceland hosted a tree planting ceremony to celebrate the friendship between Japan and the U.S. Citizens of Tennessee had donated money to relief efforts after a tsunami struck Japan in 2011. To show its appreciation, the Japanese government presented Memphis with three cherry blossom trees. Officials from Japan and Tennessee attended the ceremony at Graceland, along with members of the Elvis Fan Club of Japan, who dressed head-to-toe in Elvis memorabilia.
Elvis Presley swept through music history and left a lasting impact on both rock n' roll and world culture. As the exhibit at Graceland shows, 60 years after the start of his career, he is still remembered, cherished, and celebrated worldwide.