Elvis Presley’s 80th Birthday in Memphis and Beyond

Posted on January 29, 2015


By Ashley Dill

elvisOn January 8, 2015, the city of Memphis celebrated what would have been Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday. Presley, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, moved to Memphis in 1948 during a time of massive change in the United States. Presley became immersed in the culture of Memphis and was exposed to racial collision, a variety of musical genres, and the opportunities that could only be offered by a big city such as Memphis.

When Elvis was nineteen, he decided to take advantage of the recording opportunities in Memphis by heading to Sun Studios to make a simple record. The sound that Elvis produced at Sun Studios contained a sound Marion Keisker, Sun Studio’s secretary, knew had the potential to be huge. After a long process of trying to find the sound of Elvis, Sun Studios’ owner Sam Phillips eventually found Elvis’s sound in a song called “That’s All Right” that brought Elvis to overnight stardom.

After his discovery, Elvis not only became the face of rock n’ roll music, but he also became a man who continued to break social norms. Breaking social norms is what made Elvis so controversial and such a huge star today.

For his birthday festivities, the King was celebrated widely around Memphis at Graceland, the Orpheum, and even at the Memphis Symphony. Graceland invited tourists and fans from around the world to celebrate the star’s birth at Graceland starting the morning of January 8th. Elvis’s friends and family welcomed the large crowds at Graceland with speeches and anecdotes about his life. There was an auction that night where collectors bid on priceless Elvis memorabilia. The most notable of these items was Elvis’s first recording at the Memphis Recording Service before it became Sun Studios in 1953. The record was of him singing “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” which sold for $240,000.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra held a celebration at the Canon Center the weekend after his birthday to perform Elvis’ biggest hits. The Orpheum did a double feature showing Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas to recognize some of Presley’s biggest films during his time in Hollywood. Many bakeries around Memphis even found their way into the Elvis overload by selling Elvis-inspired treats that consisted of a few of his favorite ingredients; bananas, peanut butter, bacon, and chocolate.

Legacy Recordings has planned a yearlong celebration of Elvis’ music through iTunes, Spotify, and a new website called ElvisTheMusic.com. Legacy Recordings has released The Complete ‘60s Albums Collections Vol. 1 on iTunes to highlight the LPs Presley recorded between 1960 and 1965 with newly mastered sound. Also partnered with Spotify, Legacy Recordings will create its own official collection of Elvis fan favorites. ElvisTheMusic.com went live on Presley’s birthday featuring comprehensive online database of all things concerning Elvis.

Elvis certainly is a central figure in the history and flavor of Memphis’ history, and celebrating his 80th birthday is just one of the few ways that Memphis can recognize the great contributions that the King gave to the city. <span “font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”times=”” roman”,”serif”;=”” mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;color:windowtext;mso-ansi-language:=”” #0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:x-none”=””>

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