Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday & the 60th Anniversary of Rock ‘N’ Roll
Long after Elvis Presley’s death, his fans have never failed to remember his birthday. But 2014 crowns The King’s cake with an added layer of icing, as it marks the 60th anniversary of rock ‘n’ roll.
Imagine: It’s July 1954. Elvis Presley has just recorded his first single, “That’s all Right,” at Memphis’ Sun Studio. Sam Phillips delivers an acetate copy of the record to DJ Dewey Phillips, who debuts the song on his “Red, Hot, and Blue” show on radio station WHBQ. A flood of phone calls to the station prompts the DJ to bring Elvis into the studio for a live interview.
If you read my recommendations for New Year’s Eve in West Tennessee, you’ll know how to get a jumpstart on the celebration. (If you didn’t, check out this VIP deal that combines the Beale Street New Year’s Eve Guitar Drop and dinner with a Graceland Platinum Tour ticket. And watch the guitar closely as it drops – it will feature exclusive artwork commemorating the 60th anniversary.)
If you want to start at the “beginning,” set your party calendar for Weds., Jan. 8, 2014. Here’s what to expect:
• The Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony (9:30 a.m. on Graceland’s front lawn): Officials from Graceland, Elvis Presley Enterprises and the city of Memphis will proclaim the day as Elvis Presley Day – and cut a birthday cake to make it so. What’s sweeter? Free admission to the ceremony plus complimentary cake and coffee afterward (served at the Chrome Grille restaurant across the street from Graceland).
• Special Birthday Stable Tours (11 a.m.-1 p.m.): Meet Max, Tucker, Bandit and Candy, four horses lucky enough to call Graceland home, and view Elvis’ saddles, Western wear and home movies of The King riding horseback at Graceland.
• Graceland Trivia Tour (4:30 p.m.): Meet at the Graceland ticket office to join a tour of the mansion and car museum. No pressure – while the tour is full of questions, it’s also full of the answers you’ll need.
• Club Elvis (8 p.m. to 12 a.m.): An Elvis disc jockey spinning Elvis records just for you? At Graceland? Dancing encouraged? Yes, yes and yes.
On Thurs., Jan. 9, attend the Fan Club Presidents’ Event to hear Elvis’ cousin, Wayne Mann, share stories (10 a.m. at the University of Memphis Fogelman Executive Conference Center). Friday, Jan. 10, experience Elvis Birthday Night as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Phoenix Suns (7 p.m. at the FedEx Forum). Elvis-themed music, movie clips and live entertainment will shuffle throughout the night. And on Sat., Jan. 11, get to the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts downtown, where the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will present Elvis Birthday Pops (7:30 p.m.) As anticipated, fan favorite Terry Mike Jeffrey and his band will perform (Jeffrey is the Emmy-nominated songwriter whose Raised on Elvis recordings pay tribute to the King’s hits and feature former Presley band members including D.J. Fontana and The Jordanaires). Get tickets here or by calling 901-537-2525.
Beyond the birthday celebration, there’s much to look forward to in 2014 for Elvis fans, including the 45th anniversary of Presley’s 1969 sessions at American Sound Studio in Memphis, which produced “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds” among other hits.
For a full schedule of events related to Elvis’ birthday and the 60th anniversary of rock ‘n’ roll, go to www.elvis.com. Then, tell us how you plan to celebrate in the comments section below.
Image of Elvis Presley and B.B. King courtesy of and copyrighted by the Withers Family Trust. All rights reserved. No images can be reproduced without permission.