7 Must-Sees for the Ultimate Elvis Fan

Elvis Statue on Beale Street

7 Must-Sees for the Ultimate Elvis Fan

Elvis Presley, with his unique voice, signature dance style and quirky curled up lip, burst through television sets and juke boxes in the mid-1950s. He didn’t just show up out of nowhere. He came from Memphis.

In Memphis, the spirit of Elvis Presley lives on. Many landmarks of Elvis’ Memphis have been lovingly preserved by his eternal fans. If you claim to be the ultimate Elvis fan, here are seven attractions and off-the-beaten-path places you won't want to miss. 

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See Where Elvis Recorded

In 1954, an unknown Elvis Presley, grabbed a mic and sang his heart out making Sun the most famous recording studio in the world. Take a guided tour through the birthplace of rock 'n' roll where you will experience outtakes from recording sessions, touch Elvis' first microphone and hear the real story of the studio that launched the careers of not only Elvis Presley, but Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and many others that signed with the Sun label.

Tip: The Sun Studio Shuttle picks up and drops off hourly from the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Graceland, Sun Studio and Heartbreak Hotel, and runs 7 days a week. The shuttle is free. 

Dress Like the King at Lansky Bros.

In 1946, with a $125 investment from their father, Bernard and Guy Lansky founded Lansky Brothers. What started as an Army surplus store among the bars and clubs on Beale Street, quickly changed course to sell trendy clothes to the local youth and musicians. The bright, vivid and silky fabrics at Lansky Brothers contradicted the well-defined and traditional styles popular with many in the South at the time.

While Bernard Lansky was initially poked fun at for establishing such an in vogue store on Beale, he quickly proved his foresight in doing so. 

Bernard recalls looking up one day and seeing a young man looking at his windows. He walked up to greet him and told him “Come on in and let me show you around.” The young man said “I don’t have any money, Mr. Lansky, but when I get rich, I’m going to buy you out.” Bernard told him, “Don’t buy me out, just buy from me!”

Presley bought his high school prom outfit from the store. Lansky also outfitted Elvis for his performances on the Ed Sullivan Show (plaid sport coat and pegged pants) and the Dorsey Brothers Show. Bernard was the man who dressed Elvis in the pink/black combination, which defined the cool colors of the ’50s era. 

Stay the Night in Elvis' Apartment

Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, lived in Lauderdale Courts (now Uptown Square) from September 1949 to January 1953. It was from here that Elvis would practice his guitar in the basement laundry room and would also meet and play with other musicians who lived nearby. Elvis would walk to Beale Street and gain inspiration from blues artists. You could find him listening to records at Pop Tunes around the corner.

Today, you can tour (and spend the night in) Elvis' old digs – apartment 328 – which has been decorated to reflect the life and times of the Presley’s in the early 1950s. The Elvis Suite at Lauderdale Courts is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

 

Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley

No trip to Memphis would be complete without a tour of Graceland. Purchased in 1957 for $102,000, Graceland was home to Elvis until his death in 1977. It is one of the most visited homes in the United States. 

Graceland offers a one-of-a-kind journey through Elvis’ humble beginnings and rise to superstardom with up close and personal looks at the influence that forever changed our music and our lives. Discover the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll experience through videos, photos, personal mementos and artifacts, movie memorabilia, stage costumes and much more. 

Hound Dog Tour with Backbeat

If you really love Elvis, don’t miss the special Elvis Week Hound Dog Tour, a musical extravaganza exploring the places that Elvis lived, worked, and played.

Backbeat Tours takes a one-of-a-kind approach to sharing Elvis's legacy in a high-energy concert and sightseeing tour all rolled into one. This 90-minute tour also offers an optional guided tour of the Presley apartment at Lauderdale Courts, where a teenage Elvis lived with his family. (If you choose to visit Lauderdale Courts, the tour will last about 2.5 hours.) 

On the Hound Dog Tour you'll see Elvis' high school, Chisca Hotel, home of WHBQ radio station, Overton Park Shell, the amphitheater where he performed his first big show in 1954, Homes of Elvis' girlfriends and much more. Go here to find out more or to book your tour

Sit in Elvis' Booth at the Arcade Restaurant

When you go to the Arcade for breakfast, try to get a seat at the Elvis booth towards the back of the restaurant (it was apparently his favourite). Even if you can't get the coveted seat, you can still chow down on the restaurant's fantastic sweet potato pancakes and other classic southern breakfast treats. The Arcade is one of the oldest restaurants in Memphis and the classic retro decor hasn't changed in years. 

60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll event at the Levitt Shell. Photo Credit: Andrea Zucker

Elvis' First Concert at Levitt Shell

Elvis sang at Overton Shell (now Levitt Shell) several times. First in July 1954 and according to Scotty Moore, Elvis was so nervous he stood up on the balls of his feet and shook his leg in time with the music, a move he sometimes used in the studio. To his shock and horror the young girls in the audience went crazy, yelling and applauding. Scotty said, "We didn't know what was going on when all those people started screaming and hollering." He later appeared on August 5 and the Shell was jammed with an overflow crowd having several hundred turned away. While in Memphis, try to catch one of the 50 free concerts performed at the Shell yearly

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