Graceland and the Spirit of Elvis 35 Years Later

The surprising thing about Graceland is that it’s more of a home than a mansion. I thought it might be a Versailles of sorts, a personal palace befitting the King of Rock and Roll, but mostly it just felt like a home. That made me like Elvis even more.

The decor it’s known for is a bit on the outrageous side, but it doesn’t feel overly decadent or opulent. The kitchen looks like a regular 1970s kitchen, complete with carpeted floors and laminate counters. According to the tour tape, Elvis spent most of his time in the kitchen. It’s a cozy place, remarkable only because of its homey feel.

In Life & Cuisine of Elvis Presley, David Adler mentions that Elvis wrote out lists of items to be kept in the Graceland kitchen at all times, including peanut butter, pickles, banana pudding, brownies, and three packs each of Spearmint, Doublemint, and Juicy Fruit gum.

Graceland is one of the most visited private homes in the United States, after the White House, with more than 600,000 visitors a year. The home has been left as it was at the time of Elvis’ death. It’s a peek into his personal life as well as a museum dedicated to his music and public persona.

In the Jungle Room, a teddy bear sits on the couch near a guitar. It’s easy to imagine Elvis relaxing and joking around there. A television room in the basement gave him the chance to relax some more while watching three television sets at once.

It’s estimated that Elvis has sold more than one billion records worldwide. His gold and platinum records line the hallways, but even more impressive is a room covered with personal checks of $1,000 or more written to local charities.

His car collection is kept across the street and includes his famous pink Cadillac. At the car museum, a home movie plays showing Elvis and his daughter zooming around the Graceland grounds on a snowmobile. Since they didn’t get much snow in Memphis, he added wheels to the snowmobile. The movie shows the kid in Elvis since he uses small hills as ramps to launch the snowmobile into the air.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death. If he had lived, he would be 77 years old. Every day, fans bring flowers, wreaths, and pictures to the Graceland meditation garden where Elvis is buried along with his parents and grandmother. A memorial gravestone for Elvis’ twin brother, who died at birth, is also in the garden.

According to a tour guide, Elvis was originally buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery but soon after his death people actually tried to dig him up, which is why his body was moved to the Graceland meditation garden. With all the rumors surrounding the death of Elvis and the possibility that he might still be alive, perhaps the gravediggers were hoping to find an empty coffin.

Elvis still lives through his music. His spirit can be felt at Graceland, at Sun Studio, and in the streets of Memphis. For evidence that he is still alive, all anyone has to do is listen to one of his songs.

22 thoughts on “Graceland and the Spirit of Elvis 35 Years Later

  1. Sheila, Thanks! I enjoyed your tour of Graceland. You might like to check out my brother’s blog on photography at TimConnor.blogspot or his friend who wrote a great essay entitled I’m Not a Photographer at ChrisBonney.blogspot. Both are photographers to learn from but with a big city perspective.

  2. It does look more homely than I expected. What is on the walls and roof around the pool table?
    Thanks for taking us along on this trip – its’ beeen fascinating. 🙂

    • Believe it or not, I think it’s some kind of material. It must have been custom made even though I guess it’s not that strange of a pattern for the 70s. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your virtual trip!

  3. I am an Elvis fan and saw him in concert 2 years before he died. Of course, I went with my older sister, so I was only around 10 years old, but he has always been my favorite male singer. I love his voice and music, but really not too crazy about the outrageous side of him, the costumes, etc., but that’s who he was… It’s nice to read that his mansion is more like a home. I know he has millions of fans, Sheila, but it’s not often I meet one of them, so thanks for this tribute and I have, yet, to visit Graceland. It’s on my “bucket list!” 🙂

    • I’m sure you’ll enjoy it when you go! It was on my bucket list for a long time too. That’s great that you were able to see him in concert when you were 10! The closest I ever came to anything like that was seeing an Elvis impersonator. 🙂

  4. Although never an Elvis fan, like so many events ,I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of his death.

  5. What an interesting read. What’s on the walls in the pool table room? Looks like wrapping papers rolls … Wow … He would have been 77 years old, imagine the music he could have made?

    • I think it’s a crazy-patterned material folded up accordion style, then somehow tacked onto the walls and ceiling. 🙂 He did have a lot of energy, it’s too bad he wasn’t able to keep creating that music.

  6. He is the same age as my mother, I never knew. I still love his movies, it brings back wonderful childhood memories, :).

    • It is nice to be able to bring him back that way, by watching the movies or listening to his music. I haven’t watched too many of the movies but might have to now just for fun.

  7. “Elvis ate America before America ate him.”

    I have to say that Elvis is one of the bigger influences on my life. First celebrity death I remember (my mom had to pull over the car when she heard), an vocal styling inspiration after my voice changed and I had to re-learn how to sing, a pop-culture phenomenon, the first rock star, the biggest rock star, and the hips that changed the world. I even got married by an Elvis in Vegas, justg because. Love the King, love your post about Graceland.

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