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Old 26 Sep 17, 08:16 PM  
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CrispyA
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Touring Tennessee: Day 5 Graceland, Sun Studios & BB Kings

Breakfast was a bit confusing this morning as the hotel had introduced a new ticket system - presumably to stop freeloaders from sneaking in! We hadn't got tickets, as they hadn't been giving them out when we checked in, but they were able to check us on a list, so it was all good.

We had got tickets to Graceland for this morning. Paul had grumbled a LOT about the cost and it is expensive, but there was no way I was coming to Memphis and not going to Graceland. It wasn't until we were on the road that I broke the news there was a $10 parking charge . . .

As we parked up, Paul still chuntering about the cost, we spotted Katie & family in the car park as well. We had a quick chat and headed to the visitor centre together, where we got a nice photo of all of us.



(Paul still isn't over the parking charge. If you ever see him and ask about it, you will be treated to a full speech about how disgraceful it was. Don't say I didn't warn you)

Once inside, you go to watch a short film about Elvis' life, including clips from his many films. Then you are given an iPad for the audio/visual tour, which is narrated by actor John Stamos, and you are taken on a bus to the house. The iPad tour is really good and you get a very positive impression of Elvis and his home life.

Graceland is actually pretty small but it does feel like a house that was meant to be lived in and enjoyed. Only the downstairs is open as the family felt that the upstairs rooms were private, and that is reflected in the stories you hear about Elvis - he was always dressed up and always on show when he was downstairs with visitors.

The decor is quite . . . idiosyncratic. This is his TV room - where he had 3 TVs.



Our favourite was the Jungle Room with the carpeted walls and waterfall.



You also go outside and see the paddocks where Elvis loved to ride horses.



One anecdote really made me laugh - when he bought Graceland, his mother Gladys was really excited and looking forward to living there. His father, Vernon, however, grumbled that they had just gotten the old house the way they liked it and now they were having to move again. Typical grumpy Dad!

Elvis comes across as a fun loving, warm family man, who adored his daughter, Lisa Marie. The final room of the house is the racketball court and lounge, where he spent the morning before he suddenly died.



I'm not a huge Elvis fan, but I found his grave really moving. 42 really is far too young to die and it's such a shame that all his fame and money never really made him happy.





After the tour, we had a look around the gift shop before heading back into Memphis. Katie and family were spending a bit more time there, so we had arranged to meet them later to go to Sun Studios.

On the way back to the hotel, we called at the Bass Pro Pyramid, one of those "Only in America" places. It's a huge pyramid, containing a Bass Pro outdoor shop, complete with alligators, fish tanks, bowling alley etc.

We paid pyramid homage. Evan clearly needs to spend a bit more time studying pyramids.



After that, we parked up at the hotel and had a stroll to nearby Lenny's Subs for a very tasty lunch. Then it was time to walk to Katie's hotel to meet up.

It wasn't a long walk to Sun Studios but it was a super hot day so it felt like pretty hard work. We were definitely glad of the AC once we were inside!

It's a really small and unassuming looking building - hard to imagine from the outside that this is the place that changed music history!



We bought tickets for the tour, which is really excellent. You learn all about the history of Sun Records and the owner Sam Phillips, listening to some of the music recorded there. We were particularly taken with Rosco Gordon who often performed with his rooster, Butch!

We heard the story of Elvis booking a slot to record and being heard by the receptionist, Marion Keisker, who then pushed her boss to listen to him. But it wasn't until he started singing an old blues song, "That's All Right", that he really found his voice. And the rest is history!

The actual recording studio was fascinating, with a picture of the Million Dollar Quartet on the wall - Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, who recorded an impromptu jam session at the studio one day.



It was spine tingling to stand in the room where so much musical history had been made. We also got to pose with the famous microphone!



and to sit at the drums.



We had a great time and a selection of Sun Studios t-shirts were also purchased!

Then we got the Sun Studios shuttle bus back to the Rock and Soul Museum where we said a temporary goodbye to Katie before going back to the hotel for a swim.

We were meeting up later for drinks at BB King's restaurant on Beale Street but we wanted to eat at the Flying Fish again. So we did. This time Hannah and me had the grilled catfish with courgettes - it was amazing!



There was a small cover charge to get into BB King's but it wasn't much. We soon found Katie and went to sit with them and listen to the band. Unfortunately, BB didn't join them on this occasion, but it was a real pleasure to listen to such excellent and enthusiastic musicians. We even got on the dance floor to bust some moves - Hannah was easily the funkiest of us all!

Then it was time to bid a real goodbye to family as we went back our respective hotels as we were heading out of Memphis the next day. It was so good to be able to meet up again on holiday and we all had a fantastic time.

Edited at 08:21 PM.
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Old 27 Sep 17, 05:50 AM  
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Melbatb
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What an interesting day! I agree with you that you can't not visit Gracelands if you are that close to it! Is Paul still muttering about the parking charge?
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Old 27 Sep 17, 08:04 AM  
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Mortimer Mouse
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Another day packed full of history. How much were the Graceland tickets? Was it busy? I always imagine it to be heaving with weeping Elvis fans.
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Old 27 Sep 17, 05:54 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
What an interesting day! I agree with you that you can't not visit Gracelands if you are that close to it! Is Paul still muttering about the parking charge?
I don't think he's ever going to get over it
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Old 27 Sep 17, 05:56 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Mortimer Mouse View Post
Another day packed full of history. How much were the Graceland tickets? Was it busy? I always imagine it to be heaving with weeping Elvis fans.
They were $38.75 each, just for the mansion. The cars, planes & jumpsuits were extra! It was pretty busy but I can imagine it was much worse for Elvis week which was the week after.
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Old 28 Sep 17, 09:23 PM  
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WileyCoyote
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Another great day.
Lol, I didn't know about the parking charge till we got there And we had the $95 tickets, kind of thought it would be included !

That white monkey thing, kinda creepy. And there was more than one too.
Looks like you had a great time and even more so at Sun Studios ... It's so weird being in the actual place some of those hit records were made. Quite momentous.
Can't believe you walked to Sun ... Soooooo hot there , you must have been melting.
Fab eats and glad you got to hear the blues this time.
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Old 1 Oct 17, 02:22 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by WileyCoyote View Post
Another great day.
Lol, I didn't know about the parking charge till we got there And we had the $95 tickets, kind of thought it would be included !

That white monkey thing, kinda creepy. And there was more than one too.
Looks like you had a great time and even more so at Sun Studios ... It's so weird being in the actual place some of those hit records were made. Quite momentous.
Can't believe you walked to Sun ... Soooooo hot there , you must have been melting.
Fab eats and glad you got to hear the blues this time.
I'd have thought they would have chucked in parking for those tickets! Sun studios was so cool - looking forward to hearing all about your trip!
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Old 19 Oct 17, 09:40 PM  
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RachelM
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Wow! I am living through your report lol.

What a fantastic day again.
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