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Published: June 13th 2020
Elvis Presley age 13
Shortly thereafter the family moved to Memphis.
The end came with a toxicology report that revealed a laundry list of opiates; dilaudid, percodan, demerol, some codeine and qualludes. Years of drug abuse from the time Elvis was in the military when his friends introduced him to “little brown and green stimulants” to keep him awake during patrols. Once military life ended Elvis didn’t walk away from those pills. Elvis’s thirst and addiction expanded over the years and those drugs took a beloved and admired musician, actor, and celebrity on August 16, 1977.
Elvis often referred to as the King of rock and roll, he recorded 710 songs and performed in 31 films. He made women around the world swoon. His fame, movies and music continue on decades after his death. Elvis has now been dead 43 years –he only lived 42 years, so he’s been dead longer than he lived. Take a moment to ponder that information. Yep...he would celebrate his 85th birthday this year.....no way we can imagine him that old. We'll just keep the memories of him where they belong....
We visited Tupelo, Mississippi to take in the birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley which has been designated as a historic landmark by the State
Childhood home place
Born in the front room.
of Mississippi. The museum is on about an acre of land. It contains the house Elvis grew up in and his childhood church, which were moved to this location and restored as best as possible. Years ago, Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father was a consultant in helping to select the furnishings for this tiny home as the originals no longer existed. After all, he took a loan from his employer in 1934 to build this little shack of a house for about $180.
The house is tiny. It is basically a two-room shack with no running water....the outhouse was out back. The house had one lightbulb dangling from the kitchen ceiling. Elvis came from meager beginnings. A docent provides some basic information on early life in this home. Of note is that Elvis had an identical twin brother....who was still born...Jessie Garon.
Part of this historical site is the Assembly of God Church where Elvis and his family attended church until he was 13 when the family moved to Memphis. Elvis had an active church life where he was exposed to gospel music. A video presentation is a re-enactment of Elvis community and church life. It gives one a
Capturing his essence
real sense of the family struggles. A little known fact is that Elvis "only" won three Grammy Awards.....all for gospel music. Surprised? Don't be.....the Grammy's didn't start until 1958.
As we strolled the museum it was often stated that Elvis grew up in east Tupelo. We believe the point was to emphasize that he grew up on the poorest side of town. Elvis truly came from nothing. Elvis loved going to the movies and when his mother could spare a few cents she would send him off to enjoy the westerns that he so loved. For Elvis’s eleventh birthday his mother took him to the hardware store to pick out his present. He wanted a rifle so he could pretend he was in one of those western movies, but his mother was able to talk him into something safer and he left with a guitar. From there the rest is history.
On this property they have built a modern memorial chapel for meditation. There are a few statues as tribute and a story wall which shares memories from childhood friends. It was well done and touching. Once Elvis became famous he came back to Tupelo and performed at
Where Elvis was born.
the county fair in 1956 & 1957 donating the money to the town. Over his life he injected money into the community of Tupelo building a park and youth center.
Personally, we thought the cost of seeing this tiny home, church and museum seemed a bit high at $15 each but we don’t regret spending the money. It was a walk in history and Elvis was larger than life for many years. Graceland, his home in Memphis still gets over 500,000 visitors a year. More on that in a later blog....
In the United States, the deep south is where blues music was born. Music filled back rooms and juke joints where this expressive melodic music exploded over decades and became more popular. The Blues and gospel music was buried deep in Elvis's soul and influenced all of his musical work and career. Elvis was exposed to gospel and the blues as a youth....as the story goes, he would wander past some juke joints playing "that" music on his way home from school. Music he heard on the radio helped shape his musical legend.
If you take a road trip to this small city in Mississippi, you
will find rolling hills, farmland and stands of lovely trees along the highways. This is rural America and offers a very slow pace. Nearby is the Natchez Trace Parkway is in this area which offers 400 miles of scenic roadsides, some bike paths and small civil war battlefields. Food for thought
The question we pose is will Elvis remain an icon after the baby boomers pass on? Will the next generations have any interest in his music, movies and visiting his museums? Do you have a favorite Elvis song? Or are you just happy "Riding with The King".... lyrics from Eric Clapton/BB King fans....this is for you!
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