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Graceland is more than just an estate, it's a well-organized tribute to the King of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. Born into poverty in a run-down two-room house on the wrong side of the tracks in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis' great leap to fame and fortune is an interesting one. Graceland embodies Elvis and goes far in painting the rags-to-riches story that sadly ends in tradegy with his premature death on August 16, 1977.
In a nutshell, Elvis brought rock and roll to the mainstream public. A PBS documentary even went as far to describe Elvis as "an American music giant of the 20th century who singlehandedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s." Presley was a versatile singer, recording a variety of different music, including hard driving rockabilly and rock and roll, lovely ballads, festive Christmas music, and spiritually inspiring gospel pieces.
Elvis' evolution to a premiere artist is an interesting one. Looking to improve their lives, the Presleys moved to Memphis, Tennessee when Elvis was 13 year old. Already having played the guitar for 2 years, upon arrival he played gigs in the malls and courtyards near musically influencial places such as Beale Street. In 1953 he recorded two demo songs at Sun Studios in Memphis. From there, his talent and luck took him from local gigs to venues outside of Memphis. However, it was initially a bumpy road for Elvis because his songs and style were not mainstream. He soon found himself butting heards with conservative folks who considered his music immoral and frequently called it the Devil's music.
Partnership with Colonel Tom Parker in 1955 as acting manager bolstered things for Elvis. What soon followed were a number of television performances and pleny of public relations. Further marketing proved there existed an untapped market of teeny-boppers, aged 10 years and up. Record sales took off like a rocket and it is during this time that many say Elvis was most creative musically.
Elvis was drafted into the US Military in 1957 and served two years in West Germany. It was there he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. Returning from the service, at the prompting of his manager, Elvis entered into his movie making years. He starred in a total of 31 movies, some were well acclaimed, others were just plain silly. During this time, Elvis' music languished due to this demanding movie schedule.
Finally, in 1969, he emerged from his movie making ways and switched back to performing his music. Billed as Elvis' comeback tour, in 1969 he took the world by storm and proved that he was still the King of rock and roll. His performances continued on (more than 1,000) until 1977 when he died at Graceland at the age of 42. Elvis, as well as his two parents and grandmother are buried here at the estate.
Wow! Elvis had quite an interesting life. I'm looking forward to learning more about this amazing man. Come with me, the tour is about to begin!
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