Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elvis Presley’s teenage life in Memphis

Elvis Presley spent his entire teenage life in Memphis. Initially, he and his family decided to move in winter 1948 to Memphis. In the first year, the family lived in rooming houses. Then, they moved over to “Courts”, a public housing complex.

Elvis attended the Humas High School in Memphis. Some of the buildings are listed on the “National Register of Historic Places” concerning of its connection to the King of Rock n Roll. During the first years of high school, Elvis only got a C in music. As a consequence, he wrote a song about his music teacher and began to rehearse the guitar. In his first years in Memphis, Elvis Presley was employed by a lot of different companies, such as “Marl metal products” or “Loews State Theater” for which he served as an usher.

When time went by, Elvis tried to distinguish from his classmates. For instance, he styled his hair with Vaseline and a special rose oil. He bought conspicuous dresses in “Lanksy Brothers” at the Beale Street and spent a lot of time at that street, which is famous for is blues scene (also see my blog entry “Elvis Presley and the Beale Street” He and the legendary BB King sauntered and hanged out many times at the Beale Street. In 1953, he participated at a talent show and became a bit more popular after it.

Time after time, Elvis Presley listened more and more to local gospel music groups in Memphis. He was a big fan of that genre and many of his future songs were inspired by gospel.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elvis' milestone song "Heartbreak Hotel"

Elvis Presley recorded on January 27, 1956 his first official song “Heartbreak Hotel” under his new own record label RCA Victor. However, the song was recorded in Nashville and doesn’t have a direct significance to the city Memphis, but it was such an important milestone for Elvis’ career, that I want to focus my daily blog entry on it. The song was very essential for Elvis and gave him his break. Heartbreak Hotel was Elvis’ first number one hit and was the best-selling track in the year 1956. Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton wrote the song. The King of Rock and Roll earned his first million with the song, which topped Billboard’s Top 100 charts. Additionally, the song reached place one in the Country and Western charts and was number five on the R& B charts. As a consequence, Heartbreak Hotel was certified with double platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Later, in 1995, the song became part of the Grammy Hall of Fame and got named of one of the 500 greatest songs of all time in the Rolling Stones Magazine. Moreover, Heartbreak Hotel also reached a place in the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll”.

I’ve listened to the song many times and definitely think that Heartbreak Hotel is very characteristic for Elvis’ music. The song perfectly embodies what most people associate with Elvis and Rock and Roll. Although the song only has a total time of 2:10, it totally has an earworm function. Heartbreak Hotel is THE Rock and Roll song of Elvis Presley.

What is your opinion about the song? Would you also say, it was THE song, which helps Elvis to his successful career?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Graceland - Elvis' most famous mansion

Today, my blog entry deals with Graceland, Elvis’ mansion in Memphis. Graceland is one of the most visited private homes in the US and attracts every year about 600,000 visitors from all over the world. In 1982, it opened his gates for the public.

The mansion, 17,550 square feet big, includes twenty-three different rooms, containing eight bathrooms and bedrooms. Graceland got famous for its luxury, as well as crazy stuff in it. For instance, it includes a racquetball court, a swimming pool and a room, which is designed like a jungle. The mansion was also used for recording purposes, such as the records of the albums “Moody Blue” and “Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee”. Additionally, Elvis created a Meditation Garden, in which his parents got buried.

After Elvis’ first successes, he bought his first house in Memphis. Time after time, he became more famous and decided to purchase a bigger house. With a budget of $100,000, the Rock’n’Roll legend assigned his parents to buy him a bigger house, Graceland. He lived there with his family, as well as with his several ex-wives and friends. On August 16, 1977, he died in one of his bathrooms through a heart attack.

I’ve visited Graceland and was very overwhelmed by the mansion. It really includes every luxury, an human can imagine. Besides of his dream cars, Graceland exhibits several rooms, such as the “Jungle Room”, a television room with three huge screens and his living rooms. Moreover, Graceland had its own ranch, often used by Elvis and his friends for horse-riding. I was also very interested in his collection of private jets, which includes a plane that was named after his daughter “Lisa Marie”. Also stunning was the diversity of the different rooms. Elvis absolutely had a knack for design and fancy details. Unfortunately, it was not possible to visit every room of the property, because of privacy regulations. Plus, and especially in the point of view of a visitor or tourist, Graceland is definitely too expensive. I paid over $30 for the entrance (student discount already included). It really squeezes money out of its visitors.

Graceland is certainly a flagship of the city Memphis. What do you think about Graceland? Have you ever been there?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The album “Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis”

The album “Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis” is another significant milestone, which describes Elvis’ connection to the city Memphis.

The album was recorded by RCA Records in the year 1974. The release was in front of a live audience at the Midsouth Coliseum in Memphis. All in all, “Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis” was Elvis’ fifth live album and includes some successful songs. For instance, Elvis got a Grammy Award for his song “How Great Thou Art”. Additionally, the album reached a high place in the charts. In 1999, the R.I.A.A. (Recording Industry Association of America) certified the album with gold.

Usually, Elvis’ albums include cover pictures with Elvis by himself, often while he performs. However, the cover of “Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis” shows his house Graceland.

Moreover, the album also shows Elvis’ diversity concerning to different kind of music styles. Some songs were focused on gospel music, for instance “Help Me” and “Why me lord” . Other ones correspond to country music.

I have listened to the album and figured out that my favorite songs are “I Got A Woman” and “Love Me”.

What is your opinion about the album? Which are your favorite songs?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album "From Elvis in Memphis"

The album “From Elvis in Memphis” was recorded between January and Februray 1969 at the American Sound Studio in Memphis. During the recording session, some songs didn’t get a part of the album. But some months later, they were availble at the double album “From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis”.
Pertaining to the content of the album, many songs had a country and western touch, as well as included beats of rhythm and blues. Elvis mixed those music styles successfully and created an overwhelming album. Additionally, the album included the hit “In the Ghetto”, which went to number 3 on the singles charts and was the first top ten single since 1965. All in all, “From Elvis in Memphis” had a significant influence on the American Sound Studio in Memphis and became one of the most popular products of the studio.
Just for my side, I’ve listened to the album and really like the combination of country and rhythm and blues, for instance at the song “Only the strong survive”. In comparison to his other albums, From Elvis in Memphis has a kind of USP (Unique Selling Proposition) through that interesting mix.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Linda Thompson - Elvis' long time girlfriend

Today, my blog entry deals with Linda Thompson, Elvis’ long time girl friend. Linda Thompson was born on May 23, 1950 in Memphis, Tennessee. She is an American actress, song writer, as well as model and is still alive.

Like Elvis, she also has a deeper connection to Memphis. For instance, she won the title of “Miss Mid-South fair” at Memphis. Additionally, she was the winner of a beauty pageant at the Memphis State University. She and Elvis lived from July 1972 until December 1976 together. With reference to her acting career, Mrs. Thompson became a regular on the TV series Hee Haw. Plus, she had some acts of appearances in TV movies, such as Beverly Hills 90210, Fantasy Island and Starsky and Hutch. As a lyricist, she wrote some song texts for the composer David Foster, whom she married in 1991.

Concerning to Elvis Presley and his connection to Memphis, the King of Rock and Roll bought two houses for her in Memphis. Lying in the Lehrstreet in Memphis, Elvis bought an apartment for her parents. Furthermore, he purchased a house in the Old Hickory Road for Linda. (Source: Wikipedia)

All in all, Linda Thompson, Elvis' most famous girlfriend, is still a sight for sore eyes in Memphis. Have you ever heard of her? What else do you know about her?