Elvis Week 2017, the 40th Anniversary

Oh my gosh! I made it! I’m finally in Memphis and back at Graceland and in the Guest House where I belong! This was the first of seven days celebrating the life and legacy of Elvis Presley, who died 40 years ago. Today was a great first day, but it certainly did not start off that way.

I left my house at 6:30am est Friday August 11th. I was at the airport in Baltimore just before 7am with my two suitcases full of clothes and books. I brought books to autographed and left room for books I know I’ll buy while in Memphis. I never ever check my bags, but this time I had to. I thought no big deal, I’ll just check them with the sky cap outside. Well, we pull up and there is only one (our of two) curbside check in open for Southwest and the line is wrapped around. So I figure inside had to be better because there was more than one counter checking bags. Well I am not sure if it was better, but there were several kiosks to self check your own bags.

1 airport day 1 It looked like the day before Thanksgiving in that airport. I had to wait in line at the kiosk to get the tags for my bags, then wait in another line to actually give my bags to someone, then I had to wait in line at security. There are three security lines, but they only let us in one of them even though the other two had shorter lines. Even with all the people and all the waiting in lines, I was able to get my water and snacks and be at my gate by 7:20am for my 8:15am flight.

While in line to board the plane, three ladies behind me were touring Graceland but had no idea it was Elvis Week. One of them said, “Who knew?” I replied, “Everyone!” I easily boarded the plane and got the front row, but the window because both aisle seats were already taken. The lady sitting on the aisle in my row told me today was her 90th birthday. She was going to Memphis to celebrate with her son. Some woman with a kid spilled a drink on a man seated while they were walking by then a woman a few rows back from jumped up and pushed her way up front to the bathroom screaming she was going to be sick – this is while everyone was still boarding.

2 flight day 1Of course the last person to board was a women wider than myself. She squeezed herself in the middle seat in our row and proceeded to put her arms on both armrests further pushing me toward the window. I had to hold my arm up and over because her arm was pushing into my side. So with my arm up in the air and crossing over my body I watched Wild in the Country (my 2nd favorite Elvis movie) on my fire tablet. We lifted off 8:45am est (a half hour late), but landed in Memphis at 9:45am cst (five minutes early). I quickly got off of the plane and went to retrieve my bags – after making a quick call to the Guest House for the shuttle to pick me up. Luckily my bags made it to Memphis, but one was all wet on the outside and smelled like perfume. I jumped in the shuttle and was at the Guest House by 10:30am, but of course my room was not ready. But at least I saw Dick Grob in the lobby, so maybe my luck was changing. I gave my 2 suitcases (plus all my snacks and bottles of water I bought in the airport) to the concierge to hold for me while I toured Graceland.

I jumped on the shuttle and was inside my beloved Graceland by 11:15am (after waiting 20 minutes for the VIP shuttle). I had no make up, my hair was a mess and I hadn’t eaten but I was in the happiest place on earth! As crowded as it was, I got to spend some alone time in my favorite room, the living room, as tours just passed me by. I quickly made my way through the rest of the house to the very crowded Meditation Garden. Since I had the VIP tour, I decided to come back at the end of the day.

3 fave spot day 14 fave spot day 15 crowded med garden day 1

At 12:15pm cst, I was finally eating lunch! Back at Vernon’s with their five side platter for $9 and of course I added banana pudding and got my free refill of sweet tea in me Elvis Week cup I bought back in March. The macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy were good, but the collard greens were not as good as they were in March and the bbq spaghetti was spicier than I remember. (If you’re only counting four sides, that’s because I got double mac n cheese!) Caroline and her friend Kristy (who would become my friend too by the end of the week) happened to be eating at Vernon’s too, so I joined them. It started raining by the time I left for the Elvis Fan Reunion across the way in the Sound Stage. Luckily I got inside before the downpour started.

The first Elvis Week event, the Elvis Fan Reunion, started at 2pm. The Sound Stage was set up with round tables of eight. The guests on stage was Memphis Jones, Argo, Joey Sulipeck, Dean Z and Tom Brown. They all told stories about they started loving Elvis. Then Tom Brown interviewed Elvis artist Betty Harper. There was a game of trivia, which we did not win but we had the best name ever “Jerry’s (Schilling) Girls!” Tom Brown then interviewed James Burton – for about 10 minutes.

6 fan reunion day 18 fan reunion james burton day 17 fan reunion betty harper day 19 sam phillips day 1

At 4pm, I toured the Sam Phillips museum because it was not open yet in March. And at 4:30pm, I was back up at Graceland – and it was much less crowded. I actually saw everything this time and instead of getting on the shuttle to go back, I went back through the front door just to spend some more alone time in the living room and foyer and then I left and tour the museums until about 6:30.

I took the shuttle back over to the Guest House to have dinner at my favorite EPs Bar & Grill. It was not crowded, so I decided to sit at a table rather than at the bar. I had the famous Memphis Burger (which is two patties with cheese, a fried green tomato, a regular tomato, bacon and special sauce on a buttery bun) and french fries, which are amazing! SO yummy – both the burger and the fries. I was finally in my room by 7:30pm, unpacked and organized all my stuff for the week.

To see all of my photos from Day 1 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Saturday August 12th, my second day of Elvis Week 2017, brought me to the Elvis Fan Club Presidents’ Event, Elvis Con and the Elvis Gospel concert. It was a very full, very good day!

I started Day 2 with the Breakfast Buffet in the Ballroom of the Guest House at 8:45am using my Meal Plan I purchased (6 buffets for $100). It was ok. I expected more of a southern breakfast – no biscuits and no cheese for my scrambled eggs. But the scone was yummy! The buffet consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, fruit, muffins, scones, juice, waffles, yogurt, coffee and tea. I took the shuttle and was across the street at Elvis Presley’s Memphis by 9:30am. Here comes the rain again.

The Fan Club Presidents’ Event began at 10am. I sat in the front row all the way to the left (because the center front was for those who bought the elite package) with Delia, Caroline and Kristy. Jack Soden gave a little intro then EPE surprised him with a Music Note on Beale Street. My first thought was Priscilla better have a Music Note on Beale Street because she hired Jack and without her, there would be no him – just sayin. Argo hosted the event, and his first guest was DJ and author Norm Nite, who just did an eight hour radio special on Elvis. Argo’s next guest was Angie Marchese. She answered fan questions about the Elvis archives and showed a few items such as a charm bracelet from 1956, which was the first Elvis memorabilia, and a script from Paradise Hawaiian Style. Then Argo interviewed Larry Geller. I love Larry, but have seen him many times before and he always tells the same stories very slowly. So when I got up to use the restroom, I just stood in the doorway after but then decided to leave. It was 12:15 as they was no end in sight of his talk, plus I was starving and wanted to get to Elvis Con before all the good books were gone! I quickly ate a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich (it was good, but thin, but only $5) at Gladys’ and called for the shuttle to Elvis Con down the street.

I arrived at the GrandStar Event Center, just down EP Blvd from Graceland, for Elvis Con just before 1pm (there was a little confusion with the shuttle). As soon as I walked in the door, I saw Tish Henley (one of Elvis’ nurses). She autographed her book I brought from home and then proceeded to sell me a Lowell Hays replica ring that Elvis wore during his last concert. It was half price at $80. It’s gold, but some many ‘diamonds’ that it looks silvery (and has 4 black ‘onyx’). But Tish only took cash, and I had exactly $90 cash on me. Luckily most of the other folks accepted credit cards. So in five minutes, I spent $80 cash. But I love my new Elvis ring! My next stop was at Donna’s (from Marlowe’s) table who was selling a lot of Sandi Pichons stuff. I bought a few books and original photographs. I saw my friend Rhonda. Then I finally met Beth Butts, who makes all these great Memphis and Elvis and Grizzlies shirts (we’ve been talking online for a while). I bought a Memphis flash shirt from her, which is so soft and comfy. I met and spoke with Trey Miller who made Dean Nichopolous’ film. I bought some rare, out of print and autographed books like JD Sumner’s book and the Donna Lewis Diaries volume 3 from Norm. Then I met Ronnie Milsap’s drummer Steve ‘Hawk’ Holt. He also played at Elvis’ New Year’s Eve parties. He was the greatest, sweetest man! I told him how much I love the drums and drummers – about my motto borrowed from Larry Mullen (of U2) “it’s all about drums.” He loved it and thought it would make a great tee shirt. I told him I already made a tee shirt. He wanted my phone number, so he could see this shirt, so I gave him my card. I bought Ronnie Milsap’s autobiography and Hawk signed it for me. I bought some buttons books including Dick Grob’s new book from Jon Daly, the Elvis Con organizer. Elvis’ cook Nancy Rooks was to be my last stop (I wanted her to autograph her book I brought from home), but she was busy eating, so I talked to Caroline for a bit. Then I met Tracy (who I had just met online) and her friend Katy – they are both NKOTB fans as well as Elvis fans. We sat and talked for hours. By the time we were finished at 4pm, Nancy Rooks had left. Oh well. I called for the shuttle and went back to the Guest House. I dropped off all my stuff (12 books, 4 buttons, 1 shirt and 1 ring), relaxed a bit then headed downstairs to Delta’s to use my meal plan for the dinner buffet. Coincidentally, Caroline and Kristy were there eating, so I joined them. Then I went out on the back porch, sat on one of the comfy couches and read one of my new books.

I grabbed the shuttle back over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis for the Gospel Concert at 8pm. When I got off the shuttle I noticed this long line going all the way up to the complex – it was the line for the Gospel Concert. I couldn’t believe it! Luckily it was a beautiful night, dare I say chilly, which is unheard of for August in Memphis. The line moved fairly quickly, but there were not a lot of available seats and nothing up close. But luckily they had just added a single row of seats along the wall, so I sat in one of those and was fairly close and had a great view. Saturday Night Church, as Argo referred to it, began at 8:05pm with a clip of Elvis singing “Peace in the Valley” from The Ed Sullivan Show. Terry Mike Jeffrey took the stage at 8:12 and played until 8:48. I was surprised how much I truly enjoyed his set. He played all of my favorites. Duke Mason joined him on stage for one song and was great with his beautiful deep voice. Terry Blackwood and The Imperials took the stage at 8:52 and played until 9:28. They brought the sold out, standing room only audience to their feet when they came into the audience singing “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” But my favorite of the concert was of course The Stamps with Donnier Sumner, Bill Baize, Larry Strickland and Donnie’s son Jeff Sumner. I adore Donnie – he is so funny! The Stamps played from 9:36 to 10:15 including “Sweet Sweet Spirit.” which they would sing alone at Elvis’ shows. The concert concluded with my favorite Gospel song “How Great Thou Art.” Terry Mike Jeffrey and The Imperials joined The Stamps on stage and again the sold out, standing room only audience was brought to their feet! Not a dry eye in the house! Because of Elvis, I learned about and now love Gospel music (and old country music).

I was back in my room at the Guest House by 10:30 and ordered BBQ nachos from room service. They were SO yummy. The pulled pork was VERY tender and lots of cheese and bbq sauce. These first two days have gone by way too fast, but everything has been so great and and transportation everywhere has been so easy. By 12:30am I’m ready for bed after uploading all my pics and vids – and my bbq nachos have settled.

To see all of my photos from my Day 2 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Sunday August 13th, my third day of Elvis Week 2017, was to be my first of four days of JERRY SCHILLING – my favorite of the Elvis world after Lisa Marie of course (Priscilla is a close third). This great day (my favorite of the week) consisted of a phenomenal Book Sale and Signing, Elvis 101, meeting Linda Thompson, GK’s Memphis Mafia Reunion and getting my second photo with THE JERRY SCHILLING!

I woke up at 7am on my Day 3 of Elvis Week 2017, after only four hours sleep. My head was hurting, and I was tired, but very excited for the day’s events. I had to be at Marlowe’s (a couple miles down EP Blvd) at 8am for the Book Sale and Signing, so I just threw on some clothes, put my hair in a ponytail and ordered my Lyft (I’d shower and get pretty for Jerry later). I rode down the elevator with Dick Grob and his wife. I had his book in my bag and wanted Dick to autograph it, but did not want to bother him in the elevator. I figured since he was up and heading out that early he was also going to Marlowe’s. I chatted with the valet guy while waiting for my Lyft. I didn’t want to be at Marlowe’s the second the door opened at 8am, so I was glad to arrive at 8:05am. But much to my amazement, the place was already packed and there were already at least 100 people inside searching through all the great books.

Within fifteen minutes of walking through the door, I spent $500 on 11 books – but I got a free donut and orange juice! I bought an autographed copy of Marty Lacker’s book signed by Marty Lacker, an original printing of Gates of Graceland signed by Harold Loyd, The Donna Lewis Diaries Volumes 1 and 2 signed by Donna and about 8 other gems. After I finished my free breakfast, I moved away from the book buying room and into the book signing room. The first person I saw was Tish Henley, so I told her I love my ring I bought from her yesterday and have received many compliments on it. She was pleased. I saw Trey Miller again, but this time Dean Nichopolous was with him, so I met him and bought his dvd (2 hour tour of Elvis’ places in Memphis) and he autographed it for me. I told him I loved his dad’s book and was hoping he’d write one too. Dean was really nice. I met Bardahl (Will McDaniel), bought his book and he autographed it for me. I met him on Saturday at Elvis Con, but I didn’t have cash with me then since Tish took all mine (for the ring), so I was happy I could buy it Sunday. I saw Sheri Lacker walk in and immediately went over to talk to her. I had been wanting to meet her since I joined her Memphis Mafia facebook group , so I introduced myself to her and her sister Angie. They couldn’t have been nicer. I talked to Sheri for a good while and bought a Memphis Mafia hat from her. I would love to meet up with her again when I’m back in Memphis. I saw Dick Grob was there, so I went over to him and asked him if he would please sign his book for me. I told him I rode down with him in the elevator that morning, but didn’t want to bother him. He told me yeah it’s best not to talk to him before he’s had his coffee. He is so great and so funny. I called for a Lyft at 9am to get over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis for Elvis 101. (Bought 12 books, 1 hat and 1 dvd – not bad for 1 hour.) While waiting for my Lyft, Dean’s girlfriend (or wife or friend) was outside and was talking with her for a while – so sweet.

Unfortunately nothing but the grab and go place is open before 10am at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, and you can’t get a free refill in your Elvis Week cup at the grab and go place. So I just got a banana and a chocolate milk. Elvis 101 started at 10am. The extra seats from the Gospel Concert Saturday night were still up front on the side of the stage, so I got a seat in the front row but on the side – this was to be my seat for the rest of the events of Elvis Week. Tom Brown’s first guest was John Beifuss, who is the movie reviewer from the Commercial Appeal. The next guest was Ernst Jorgensen, who talked with Tom Brown from 10:30 to 10:51. At 10:53am, Roy Turner from Tupelo talk about his many projects (assisting Elaine Dundy and Peter Guralnick with their respective books and producing Elvis Return to Tupelo) until 11:13am. Peter Guralnick took the stage at 11:15 and talked about his books until 11:45am. As soon as Peter was finished, I ran back to get in line to meet Peter and have him autograph his book I brought from home. I have seven of this books, but I brought the first one of his I read. I was one of the first people in line. I told Peter I loved his books and had seven of them. He was so nice and autographed my Last Train to Memphis for me. It occurred to me Elvis really had three distinctive careers: the rock n roll rebel in the 1950s, the movie idol in the 1960s and the concert performer in the 1970s.

At 12:30, I was back at the Guest House eating the lunch buffet at Delta’s with my meal plan. It was sort of a bbq: cheeseburgers, hot dogs and baked beans. I went up to my room after to put away ALL of my stuff from the Book Sale and a rest a bit before getting ready for my big evening (red dress and makeup). I had been looking forward to the Memphis Mafia Reunion the the most out of all the events I had scheduled (probably because it was one of two events Jerry Schilling was going to be at, but he ended up being at five events).

While waiting for my Lyft to the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum (on Beale Street) for Linda Thompson’s book signing, I was talking to the same valet guy from this morning. He looked shocked and complimented me on my dress. Guess I looked a wreck this morning, and I guess I clean up pretty well. I have always wanted to meet her and loved her book. At 3pm, I had my ticket to meet Linda. (They did tickets instead of having people stand in a line and have it wrap around the block.) I was number 109 and the line was moving VERY slowly. My friends Tracy and Katy had an extra ticket, so I moved up to number 27 in line to meet Linda. They didn’t know about Linda’s book signing until I told them Saturday at Elvis Con, so it was fitting they got my bumped up in line. When I finally got up to meet Linda (45 minutes later), she asked “I know you don’t I?” I said, “No but I’ve wanted to meet you for years. I loved your book.” (Maybe she recognized me from Twitter or Instagram since we had just communicated there a few days before.) Linda autographed her book I brought from home, and we took a photo together. She was about my height (but she was probably wearing heals). Linda could not have been sweeter, just as I imagined. Linda’s brother Sam was also there, so I asked him to autograph his photo in Linda’s book. I asked him if he would be at the Mafia Reunion. He said yes and asked me what time it started. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was Sam’s birthday.

67 meeting linda day 3

At 4pm, I went over to Alfred’s for George Klein’s Memphis Mafia Reunion – in the rain. I have been to this event in the past and was always one of my favorites. Basically you eat dinner (from a predetermined menu) then listen to members of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia and others from the the Elvis world share their stories – then hopefully get a chance to meet some of them after. We had a table near the stage: me, Caroline, Kristy, Hannah and her mom, Delia and her friend, mother-in-law and her sister. I had the fried catfish and sweet potato fries with water (surprisingly I had no sweet tea today). The catfish was fantastic, and there was a lot of it! The Q and A started before 5pm – and Jerry Schilling was not there yet. I kept checking the door. On the stage sharing their Elvis stories were Dean Nichopoulos, Dick Grob, Jimmy Velvet, Sam Thompson, Mark James, Marion Cocke, Cynthis Pepper, Charles Stone, Bardahl, Flash and Richard Davis’ wife. Jerry finally showed up at 5:50 and joined everyone on stage, and Larry Geller joined everyone on stage at the very end. It seemed like everyone was pay tribute to George Klein as much as they were to Elvis. Sadly, it is quite obvious George is in poor health. After, it seemed everyone mobbed Jerry. I waited until the crowd thinned out a bit. I have met Jerry a few times and have his autograph and a photo with him, but wanted a more recent photograph (and I just wanted to be close to him). On my way over to Jerry, I talked to Trey a bit and said Hi to Dean who had now joined them after he got off the stage. Then Dean’s girlfriend said Hi and talked to me a bit. I made my way to Jerry. I was right behind him, but he walked away. So I followed him and was again about to ask for a photo, but he suggested we go outside. Fine with me, my iphone will take better photos in the daylight. I was about to get my photo with him as I called out “Jerry!” he turned around and looked at me, but a professional photographer wanted to take his photo with his Music Note on Beale Street so I followed. And when he was finished he turned around, and I sweetly and calmly asked if I could please have a photo with him. Jerry said ‘sure’ and put his arm around me. I took our selfie – twice. The first one no smile, the second one a sort of an Elvis half grin. All of this following Jerry around and finally getting my photo with him took about 15 minutes. I called a Lyft back to the Guest House, as I just missed the shuttle and did not want to wait another hour for the next one. I was back in my room by 7:30 – exhausted. I was in bed by 11pm.

77 mafia day 3

What an amazing day I had! One of my favorites, if not my favorite, of the week! I got to meet Peter Guralnick, Linda Thompson AND JERRY SCHILLING – great day! To see all of my photos from my Day 3 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Monday August 14th, my fourth day of Elvis Week 2017, was to be my second of four days of JERRY SCHILLING! It was actually a double dose of both Jerry and Priscilla, but it was not originally scheduled that way. This great day (probably tied with Sunday as my favorites of the week) consisted of Graceland Insiders and Elvis Radio Town Hall – both were surprises.

I woke up at 7am after a good night’s sleep – finally! (Probably because I had met Jerry that night!) I had the breakfast buffet in the Ballroom at the Guest House with my meal plan – they had cheese for the eggs this morning! Yay! And they were showing the ’68 Comeback Special on a tv. I jumped on the 8:30am shuttle over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

At 9am, the Graceland Insiders’ Conference began. I was in the same seat as Sunday – front row side stage. Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace was the first guest. He was a karate instructor of Elvis’. At 9:34am, Charles Stone took the stage. He assured us Colonel Parker took 25% (not 50%) of what Elvis made. Charles said if Elvis wanted to play a venue and a NHL game, for example, was scheduled for that same date, they would move the NHL game to another date. Charles also said he would get pinned against the stage by women during Elvis’ show and Elvis would see him and laugh and throw a scarf on him. At 9:54am, Ron Strauss shared his stories as the pilot of the Lisa Marie. Then we were shown the movie short Elvis A Boy from Tupelo, which I had watched online a few days prior. At 10:32am, Robert Gordon (who produced the film short), Matt Ross-Spang (from Sun Studio), Ernst Jorgensen and Jerry Phillips (Sam’s son) took the stage to discuss A Boy from Tupelo. I was excited because I have a book written by Robert Gordon titled It Came From Memphis, and I used to chat with Matt at Sun a lot when I lived in Memphis.

As soon as part one of the Insiders Conference was over at 10:55am, I bolted over to Vernon’s – which didn’t open until 11am. I wanted to be first in line because everyone at the conference was either going to be eating at Vernon’s or Gladys’. They were lined up at the door when I was sitting down eating. I again got my five side platter, but it was much better than Friday’s lunch. The Mac n Cheese tasted better and the BBQ spaghetti was not as spicy. I got green beans instead of collard greens, and they were good. The mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread and sweet tea were all good. After lunch, at 11:40am, I went back over to Sound Stage for the afternoon session of the Graceland Insiders Conference that was to start at 12:30pm. I figured I would wait in line to get in because they had just posted a sign that Jerry Schilling and Priscilla Presley were added to the afternoon session. But to my surprise, there was no line because they doors had remained open. So I got my same seat front row on the side of the stage and read my book – one of the 24 I had purchased over the weekend.

At 12:35, Tom Brown introduced Jerry Schilling, Priscilla Presley and Thom Zimny. They discussed the upcoming two part, four hour HBO documentary about Elvis titled Elvis Presley, the Searcher to air in 2018. Both Jerry and Priscilla are producers and Thom is the director / producer. He was actually allowed to film inside Graceland. They showed up a little clip of the film. SO excited! Immediately after, Priscilla was called back out onto the stage, along with Jack Soden, to receive two awards for Elvis’ symphony albums If I Can Dream and The Wonder of You (which immediately went up in the trophy room at Elvis Presley’s Memphis). And after that at 1:10pm, Priscilla came back out on the stage holding hands with Dixie Locke, Elvis’ first girlfriend from before he was famous. I have never seen so much Priscilla before. I think she’s loosening just a bit. At 1:30pm, Dick Grob took the stage. He was hysterical as always. He told the Samari story and the funniest story about how when they were on the train and it stopped and wouldn’t start, so Elvis walked over to a liquor store and the drunk guys drove them to Graceland and then Elvis invited them in and showed them around. Dick says, “That was life with Elvis.” They showed a clip from Elvis on Tour indication this year marks its 45th Anniversary November 1, 1972 – less than a month after I was born. At 2pm, Sam Thompson took the stage and shared some of his stories about life with Elvis. Same said they would walk through back doors and kitchens, and the staff would line up and Elvis would sign autographs. Elvis would always take the time to ask how to spell their names, and the guys would get annoyed because it took too long but Elvis cared enough to take the time. Sam also shared how one time in Cincinnati (I think) Elvis didn’t like his hotel room because it wasn’t cold enough, so he just walked across the street to another hotel to get a room. Then the police had to come to stop traffic because all the guys and their stuff and Elvis’ jumpsuits were being wheeled across the street.

I actually left the Graceland Insiders after the last guest, Wanda Jackson, was announced. Although I would have liked to hear what Wanda had to say about Elvis, I wanted to get in line at the theater over at the Guest House for the the first ever SiriusXm Elvis Radio Town Hall with Jerry Schilling, Priscilla Presley, Mac Davis and Peter Guralnick. The event began at 4:30, but doors were at 4pm and I thought a lot of people would be going. I first found out about this Town Hall when our Lyft driver on Sunday told us he won tickets from Sirius. I told my new friends Tracy, Katy and Sherry about the event, then they heard Sirius was giving away tickets so they got me one as well. (It seemed I told them about events they didn’t know about and they got me into them – a pretty good system.) Apparently, Founders (of the Guest House) and those who bought the Elite Package to Elvis Week received tickets (or wristbands as it was) to this Town Hall – and I have to say were not too please that us regularly folk were also able to attend.

We were let in just after 4pm, and I got a seat in the 4th row in the center section for this great Town Hall on SiriusXM Elvis Radio. The contest winners were seated in the front row and had a meet and greet with the panelists before and they got to ask them their questions during. Peter Guralnick and Mac Davis was only asked one question each by the contest winners (most questions were of course for Jerry and Priscilla), but Argo asked them a few. Mac Davis, who wrote A Little Less Conversation,” “In the Ghetto,” “Memories” and theme to “Charro” among others, is hysterical. What a great guy! Jerry and Priscilla told what it was like being on the movie sets with Elvis. Jerry said he was a stand in for Elvis in about eight movies including Live a Little, Love a Little. Jerry and Priscilla explained why Elvis always carried a huge flashlight everywhere with him, how Elvis never thought he would be this popular 40 years later and how future generations should remember Elvis. Jerry talked about what he learned from Elvis about the music business and said “If I Can Dream” was the closest Elvis ever came to writing a song because he told the songwriter his feelings about what was going on in 1968 with racism and the riots and the assassinations of RFK and MLK.

At 5:30 the great Town Hall was over, Jerry and Priscilla shook hands but did not sign autographs or take photos. I quickly made my way down the hall to EPs, so I could partake in Happy Hour (half priced appetizers and $4 wine). I sat at the bar where the bartender recognized me from when I was there in March. I enjoyed the BBQ Nachos and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio as Moscato was not eligible for Happy Hour. On the way back to my room, I saw Sam Thompson and Charles Stone hanging out on the stairs in front of the replica Graceland staircase and chandelier. I don’t need to get a photo and autograph every time I see these guys. It’s just seeing them hanging out in the same hotel I’m staying in. I went up to my room, dropped off my stuff, grabbed a book and went back down and sat on one of the comfy couches out on the back porch and read for about an hour – until it started getting crowded with smokers.

To see all of my photos from my Day 4 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Tuesday August 15th, my fifth day of Elvis Week 2017, was another great one (tied with Sunday and Monday as my favorites of the week) and my 3rd day of JERRY SCHILLING – and one great surprise!

After waking up at 6am after about only five hours sleep, my day started off just as the previous day, with the Breakfast Buffet in the Ballroom of the Guest House using my meal plan. I took the 8:45am shuttle over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis. I got in the LONG line for Conversations on Elvis – Friends and Family (with Jerry and Priscilla and others) at 10am. Luckily when I got there at 8:55am (an hour early) the line was still manageable, but within a few minutes the line had grown and wrapped around the complex like it did for the Gospel Concert Saturday night. Everyone was excited to see Priscilla Presley – they should have been there yesterday. Jenna Bush was standing right next to us filming for the Today show. Somehow I still got my front row seat on the side of the stage, so I could be close to Jerry. It seemed as if people still did not know about that section of seats – like they weren’t adventurous enough to go up front and check out the situation before settling on a seat in the back just because the front looked crowded.

At 10:08am, Tom Brown introduced the first guest of Conversation on Elvis – Guy Harris, who was Elvis’ childhood friend in Tupelo. At 10:30am, Bill Morris took the stage and shared his stories about Elvis while he was Sheriff of Shelby County. At 10:52am, Bill Medley (of the Righteous Brothers) took and stage and he was hysterical! His speaking voice is as deep as his singing voice. He was great friends with Elvis and told the story when Elvis walked across the stage during The Righteous Brothers show in Vegas, and the crowd went wild. The next show was sold out because everyone in Vegas heard Elvis walked across the stage, and they were not disappointed when he did it again but this time with some of the guys with him. When Jerry Schilling took the stage at 11:13am, he commented on Bill’s story of Elvis walking across the stage and then while he was talking Bill Medley walked across the stage. Hysterical! Jerry broke down. Tom Brown broke down. And the audience roared! The cutest part though was the audience was cheering when they saw Bill Medley come out and Jerry hadn’t seen him yet and thought the audience was cheering for him and he got a BIG smile on his face. Luckily I happened to be filming and caught the entire thing on video! Jerry talked about going into the casino with Elvis, going to Tupelo with Elvis, and how Elvis was concerned his fans would not like his movies. I especially loved sitting on the side of the stage this time because it looked like Jerry was looking right at me when he was talking with Tom Brown. Priscilla Presley took the stage at 11:35am. This was the first time I have seen Jerry and Priscilla talk separately, but they did embrace back stage as Jerry was leaving and before Priscilla came on. Priscilla mostly promoted though rather than tell stories about her life with Elvis. She promoted the Guest House and the new complex and the new HBO film. But she told personal stories at the Town Hall yesterday, so for me it was ok. She did mention that the 68 Comeback Special was the first time she ever saw Elvis perform live, and I had never put that together before.

 

At 12pm, I got a locker because we were told we could not have bags during the candlelight vigil – plus I didn’t want to carry around my heavy bag for hours anyway. Luckily I went when I did because there were only three lockers left. And it was only 75 cents – BUT I found out later it was 75 cents each time I opened the locker and only took quarters. At 12:30pm, I went over to Minnie Mae’s Sweets for our Elvis Generation 2.0 MeetUp with Delia, Caroline, Kristy, Josh, Rebecca and Hannah. And Kristina from Norway made an appearance, so we got to meet her briefly. Delia made everyone these amazingly cool Elvis Week 2017 gift bags – SO generous! Kristy and I had a triple scoop ice cream lunch. I had two scoops of chocolate peanut butter and one scoop of banana peanut butter – only available at Graceland.

At 2:30, I walked over to the Sound Stage for the Songwriters Showcase, hosted by Andy Childs, at 3pm. Mark James was the first guest. He wrote “Suspicious Minds,” Always on My Mind,” Raised on Rock” and “Moody Blue.” He performed little snippets from each. At 3:40pm, Mike Stoller took the stage. He was who I was most excited to see. Mike Stoller is from the songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller, who wrote songs together for 61 years. They wrote “Hound Dog” in about 10 minutes for Big Mama Thornton and never heard of Elvis Presley until he recorded it. Until Elvis, they had only written blues songs for black artists. For Elvis, Leiber and Stoller wrote “Love Me,” “Lonesome Cowboy,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Treat Me Nice,” “You’re So Square” and “I Want to Be Free.” They stopped writing songs for Elvis after the Colonel threatened them when Elia Kazan approached them (not the Colonel) about writing songs for a movie with Elvis. Mac Davis took the stage at 4:14pm. He wasn’t as funny as he was at the Town Meeting Monday, but still very entertaining. For Elvis, Mac Davis wrote “A Little Less Conversation” (the first of his Elvis recorded), “In the Ghetto” (he wrote it in 24 hours for the ’68 Comeback Special) and “Don’t Cry Daddy” (he wrote when his son saw him crying over the Vietnam War). Mac performed bits of each of these songs, then he sang parts of his own songs such as “Hard to Be Humble” and “I Believe in Music.” At the end, all three songwriters were brought on stage to receive their awards for how many songs they had sold. At 5:10pm, I was in the LONG line to meet Mike Stoller and have him autograph his book I brought from home. (I would have been in the beginning of the line had I not been stupid and when the wrong place.) At 5:50pm, I finally made it up to Mike Stoller and noticed his “Dump Trump” button. I told him I loved his button! He smiled and gave a little cheer. As he was signing my book, I told him how to spell my name with 2 E’s. He said oh not with an I? I said no my mom wanted to be different. He said she must not be Italian. I said no we’re German. Then he said something to me in Italian.

Just after 6pm, I went over to Gladys’ diner to get a pizza assuming I wouldn’t get back to my hotel room for another 12 hours and a pizza would keep me filled and happy. Little did I know the restaurants were staying open after midnight for the Candlelight Vigil. But the line was a bit too long for me, so I chatted with Tracy and Katy for a while then Caroline and Kristy came over, so I got in line with them. We ordered our pizzas at 6:45, and they said would bring them out to our table. We paid and found a table and waited and waited and waited. 45 minutes later at 7:30 still no pizza, and the Opening Ceremony for the Candlelight Vigil was to begin at 8:30pm and we heard there were huge lines to get in since this year you had to go through security as the street was fenced off. We walked back over to the front of the line and inquired about our pizzas. They had no idea what we were talking about but quickly made them for us. We quickly ate a couple of pieces then put them in my locker while we went down to the Opening Ceremony. I was down by the gates of Graceland by 8:10pm. I was further from the stage than I wanted, but I didn’t want to get in the middle of those people, so I stood up front but to the left of the gates. It was SO humid out, like being in a sauna. All of a sudden I heard Jerry talking! He was on the screen, but not on the stage – Argo was talking with him in front of Graceland (not sure why he did not come down). At 8:30pm, Jack Soden introduced Priscilla who began the ceremony for the Candlelight Vigil. As tradition, they played “If I Can Dream” then the Elvis Country Fan Club gave their speech. Then Lisa Marie, with her son Ben and twin daughters Harper and Finley, walked down the driveway, gave a little speech and held the flame opening the Candlelight Vigil on the 40th Anniversary of her father’s death.

 

 

By 9pm, I had taken my stuff out of my locker and was back in Gladys’ with my pizza and my bag. I didn’t really want to get in line for the Candlelight Vigil until after midnight because the line would be shorter plus I like being up at the gravesight as late as possible. Caroline and Kristy joined me. Around 10:45pm, I saw on Twitter Lisa Marie and Ben were in the Sirius Elvis Radio booth, so we grabbed our pizzas and bags and took off across the way. There were only a few people outside waiting. All of sudden Lisa walks out with her kids and bodyguard and Joel Weinshanker. She was busy chatting with Joel about going over to Vernon’s, so we didn’t want to approach her. We waited a minute or two before we followed her as to not be SO obvious. When we got to Vernon’s, we saw a LOT of people with their faces pressed up against the window looking into Minnie Mae’s (connected to and next to Vernon’s). Lisa was inside with her family sampling the candy and looked like she was talking to the crowd inside. We decided to go to Vernon’s and sit at a table figuring Lisa would be there next, and we were right. Lisa came into Vernon’s with her family to eat. People were literally following her around to every station. We stood a respectable distance away. Lisa and her family ate in the back room with the door shut so as to have some well deserved privacy. We figured she would be leaving after, so we walked down to entrance and sure enough there were two black SUVs waiting. A few minutes later, at 11:40pm, Lisa comes walking down with her family. Unlike many others we did not run up to the car and put our faces to the window. We stood back, but I did shout out something like ‘waiting for that new album Lisa’ or ‘how’s that new album coming?’ She didn’t turn around, but responded something like ‘Ah OK.’ So for an hour we followed Lisa Marie around the new Graceland complex while carrying our pizzas – too funny. We returned to Glady’s to hang out in the air conditioning and eat some more of our pizza. We ran into our friend Stacy. When Gladys’ closed, we moved over to Vernon’s. At 2:37am Kristy and I got in line for the Candlelight Vigil. Unlike the 30th Anniversary, when the street was still lined with fans and their Elvis Vigil Art, there was hardly anyone left on the street. The line for the Vigil was not that long, still within the ropes, and people were allowed to bring in backpacks and large bags at that late hour. At 3:38am, we were through the gates and lighting our candles. It was very breezy and after the third time my candle blew out, I decided to let it stay out until I got to the Meditation Garden to ensure I had some candle left at Elvis’ grave. At 4:25am about halfway up the driveway, I heard my favorite “Loving Arms.” We noticed the lights inside the Music Room at Graceland were on – not sure why. At 5:26am, we were at Elvis’ grave, and we both lost it. (as I cry writing this now) We were back through the gates at 5:34am and no one was in line. The Elvis Country Fan Club (the last to go through) were waiting on the driveway as we walked down. We were one of the last to visit Elvis’ grave on the 40th Anniversary of his death. I walked back up to gather my things from my locker, then back down and over to the Guest House and was in my room just before 6am. The sun was coming up, and I had been awake for 24 hours and at Graceland / EP’s Memphis for 21 of them. They reported this was the biggest Candlelight Vigil ever, but I completely disagree. I was at the 30th and there were still people lined up at 6:30am when we were coming down.

To see all of my photos from Day 5 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Wednesday August 16th, the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, was my 6th day of Elvis Week 2017 and my 4th day in a row of seeing my JERRY SCHILLING – and my third day in a row seeing Priscilla Presley.

After just four hours of sleep, I woke up at 10:40am with my head pounding as if I was hung over and my feet swollen. I guess that is what I get for staying up for 24 hours and being at Graceland and the new complex for 21 of those hours. Sadly, I skipped the Memorial Service because I just couldn’t get it together to go – and I’m sure this one was a great one. I did make it to the Lunch Buffet at Delta’s at 1:15pm before they closed at 2pm – now my meal plan was complete. Either I was sleep deprived and starving or that was the best buffet I had the entire week! Everything was just delicious! I had mac n cheese (delicious), fried catfish (delicious), collard greens (delicious – so much better than Vernon’s), BBQ chicken (delicious) and sweet tea (delicious). After lunch I booked my shuttles for the concert that night and to the airport Friday. By 2:10pm, I was relaxing in the lobby reading. I saw Donnie Sumner leaving and Bill Baize returning from the Memorial Service. I also saw Ben (as in Lisa Marie’s son) come in from the Courtyard and head toward the South Tower. And 2:50pm, I realized I was too tired to read and didn’t want to fall asleep in the lobby so I went up to my room to take a nap. I had planned on seeing the Elvis movie playing in the Guest House Theater at 5pm, but when I found out it was Love Me Tender I decided not to go. Instead at 5:30pm, I got a fruit and cheese plate from the grab n go place and sat in the lobby and read. I saw Marlyn Mason arrive and head to the South Tower. At 7pm, I got the shuttle over to the 40th Anniversary Elvis concert. Well it was supposed to leave at 7, but didn’t actually leave until 7:25 – and the concert started at 8pm! Luckily, our shuttle driver knew what she was doing and went the least trafficy way and didn’t much care for the speed limit. We were at the FedEx Forum on Beale Street at 7:40pm and the lines to get in went all the way to the street. I was talking to some U2 fans in line behind me, which never happens in Memphis. On the way to my seat, I saw Tom Brown walking on the concourse eating popcorn. (I never understood eating at a concert.) On my way down to my seat, I noticed they were playing Lisa’s second album Now What. How cool! I thought for sure this was a sign Lisa would be performing just as she did at the 30th Anniversary concert – I was wrong.

I finally made it to my seat at 7:57pm. I was dead center 7 rows back from the stage, which was great to see the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and when Priscilla came out but not so great to see Elvis on the big screens above. But I was sure glad I had that close seat when at 8:02pm, Joel introduced JERRY SCHILLING! I let out a VERY loud squeal/scream. I was just so surprised. I had no idea Jerry was going to be on stage. He gave a little talk and then showed a longer clip from the upcoming HBO documentary. Priscilla came out next to introduce the show. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra was playing along to Elvis on the big screens with footage from Aloha From Hawaii and the 1969 concert. Priscilla came back on stage at 8:45pm to discuss her favorite Elvis songs: “Don’t,” “Now or Never,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” These songs were played by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra with no video – just Elvis audio. Then there were some songs with footage from Elvis on Tour. Lisa Marie’s Now What also played during Intermission. Act 2 began at 9:32pm with Priscilla in the audience shaking hands with the fans in the front row while Jerry watched (almost body guard like) from the side. Elvis’ nurse Marion Cocke was on the end in the front row, so Priscilla introduced her. Priscilla took a seat on the stage and narrated her home movies. I had seen the footage before, but never with first hand commentary. I thought for sure this was going to be a segue for Lisa to come on to either sing or just saying something, but I was wrong. There were songs with footage from the ’68 Comeback Special. I of course cried during “American Trilogy” during the lines “So hush little baby don’t you cry. You know you’re daddy’s bound to die but all my trials, Lord will soon be over.” Then I cried again right after when Priscilla gave her closing remarks as she also got a little choked up. Then I cried right after that during the closer “If I Can Dream.” The show ended at 10:30pm, and I ran up Beale Street to make sure I got on the first shuttle back to the Guest House as I was exhausted and didn’t really feel like hanging out waiting a half hour or so for the next shuttle. I was back in the lobby of the Guest House before 11pm and hung out in the lobby for a bit while waiting for my pizza (as I did not have a proper dinner), but I did not see Lisa or Jerry or Priscilla while I was waiting. I did enjoy the 40th Anniversary concert, but nothing will ever beat the 30th Anniversary concert. That was the best opening ever with the video of Jerry and Joe taking ‘Elvis’ from Graceland to the FedEx Forum and me watching Jerry and Joe watching it on the screen. Then having Lisa Marie surprise the crowd by performing “In the Ghetto” live on stage with a Gospel choir. Plus I enjoy the original TCB band playing live to Elvis singing on the big screen rather than a Symphony Orchestra.

To see all of my photos from Day 6 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

 

Thursday August 17th was my 7th and final day of Elvis Week 2017. I ended the 40th Anniversary Elvis Week the same way I started it – touring Graceland.

I actually had a great night’s sleep and slept seven hours until my alarm went off at 8:37am. Of course I finally slept great my second to last night in Memphis. Just ate leftovers in my room for breakfast, since I had finished my meal plan, and caught the 9:30am shuttle over to Graceland. I got my same seat in the front row on the side of the stage for Conversations on Elvis: Elvis in the Movies in the Sound Stage. I was excited for this because I had only seen one of the scheduled guests before so the rest were new to me. A man and his mother asked if they could sit with me, and I said yes of course. They turned out to be the son and wife of the first guest, songwriter Randy Starr, who wrote 12 songs for Elvis’ movies. They were so sweet and so proud and very surprised and impressed at all these people coming together for Elvis.

At 10:08am, Tom Brown introduced Randy Starr. He wrote love songs from Elvis’ movies Kissin Cousins, Double Trouble, Clambake, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Frank and Johnny, Spinout and Live a Little Love a Little. They played some of the demos before and Randy’s wife was the singer on one of them, so he introduced her. She was tickled with that. At 10:30am, Marlyn Mason, who costarred with Elvis in The Trouble with Girls, took the stage wearing the same outfit she was wearing when I saw her at Conversations during the Grand Opening of the Guest House. Marlyn is so funny and full of life. She again told her zipper story. At 10:53am, Pat Priest from Easy Come Easy Go took the stage. She got her role in that Elvis movie right after her role as Marilyn on The Munsters. Pat was really sweet. At 11:15am Laurel Goodwin, who costarred with Elvis in Girls Girls Girls, took the stage. I was really excited to see her as I really like Girls Girls Girls and watch it often, and I have never really heard much about Laurel. I had to admit I was a little disappointed with Laurel because she seemed to me like she felt she was a little above it all, like she was too cool to get excited about Elvis. She never said a mean word about Elvis – no one ever does. Laurel said Elvis was sweet, shy and well mannered, but she was not interested in him romantically and was not all excited to be with Elvis like all the other costars said they were. I just got the feeling Laurel thought she was better than all the other Elvis costars. She even said that she would have never dated or made a life with Elvis because of his entourage and his lifestyle and couldn’t understand why anyone would put up with that. Laurel did say, however, on their two and a half hour drive together to the set, she would make Elvis sing to her the whole way in the back of the limo – she seemed excited about being around Elvis then. At 11:34am, Gary Lockwood took the stage. I was SO excited to see Gary because he was in my second favorite (and rarely talked about) Elvis movie Wild in the Country and costarred with Elvis in It Happened at the World’s Fair. My excitement quickly waned. Gary was SO full of himself, a complete jerk I thought. Again, he never said anything bad about Elvis, but he was bragging about all the women he had been with like Tuesday Weld and Joan Crawford’s daughter and name. He even said Tuesday Weld looked at him and looked at Elvis and picked him – I seriously doubt it. It was the tone he used and the smirk on his when he talked about these women. Gary was name dropping and almost competing with Tom Brown saying I was friends with Jim Morrison and I was real good friends with Ricky Nelson too – again it was his tone. Then Gary said William Shatner was an ass and had a really mean look on his face. After this, I was quite ok that I was going home and missing the screenings of Girls Girls Girls and It Happened at the World’s Fair and Q n A and Meet and Greet with Laurel Goodwin and Gary Lockwood the next day.

At noon, I was over at Vernon’s for my last lunch there, but this time I switched it up a bit and had chicken tenders with two sides (and banana pudding and free sweet tea refill). Side note, the chicken tenders (3 large ones) with 2 sides is two more dollars than the 5 side platter and it’s less food. Caroline joined me for a bit. After I relaxingly toured all the new museums again. I started with the Sam Phillips museum at 1:10pm, since that was really new (it was not there in March) and only my second time through it. At 1:35pm, I was in the Fairgrounds and looking at that exhibit for the first time – I just thought there were games in there. Part of the exhibit was Glady’s Elvis Love Me Tender necklace she wore to Elvis’ return to Tupelo. It was in the Fairgrounds exhibit where I actually heard a grown woman older than me say, “Who is Sam Phyllis?!?” (She obviously meant Sam Phillips since they were walking toward his exhibit.) I thought to myself if you don’t know who Sam Phillips is, you should not call yourself an Elvis fan – luckily I didn’t go up to her and say it to her face. At 1:40pm, I was relaxing on the velvet purple couch in the VIP lounge – and also looking at Elvis’ wallet, rings and guns on display. I bought the new Joe Pettruccio Elvis 70s sunglasses shirt. At 2:15pm, I was in my favorite museum, the Elvis Entertainer Museum. I saw on an Elvis bench in the movies exhibit and watched clips from all 31 movies. The Elvis movies are what introduced me to Elvis when I just a toddler – watching his movies on Sunday afternoons with my mom. I spent a lot of time photographing the 1969 – 1970 exhibit as I have recently realized that although I have always loved the 1950s, my favorite Elvis period is actually the 1970s – especially the 1969-1970 period. Then I found a room that I never saw in March (when I went through three times) when I was here for the Grand Opening and didn’t see the previous Friday (my first day of Elvis Week 2017). It was the Trophy Room with all of Elvis’ awards including his 3 Grammys (I was wondering where they were!) and my favorite The Ten Outstanding Young Men (I just love that acceptance speech video and was also wondering where that was!). After watching it about five times, I went over to the theater, put my feet up (which were still swollen from the candlelight vigil) and sat through the video (spanning performances from Elvis’ career) twice. Luckily I had missed the rain (it poured while I was in there).

At 3:50pm, I was again taking the VIP tour of Graceland. But this time I skipped the intro movie and just put on my headphones and listened to Elvis while went through my five favorite parts of the house. I stayed in the living room (my favorite spot) until 4:13pm. Groups passed me by and I was able to spend some quality alone time in my favorite living room (obsessing over that couch envisioning Elvis sitting on it laughing and talking with his friends) and foyer looking up the staircase imagining Elvis coming down to greet his friends. Instead of going through the rest of the house, I thought I would just hit my favorite spots so I just walked out the front door through the Meditation Garden and backtracked outside to Vernon’s Office, which is my third favorite room after the Living Room and Foyer. I am just obsessed with that 1960 post Army press conference video – watching it in the room where it took place and looking over at the chair Elvis sat in during the press conference. I next walked over to the Racquetball Court and lounge where Elvis spent his last night. I just stared at the piano where Elvis played his last two songs that now play over the loud speaker “Unchained Melody” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Then I made my way over to the Meditation Garden to pay my respects as I was a bit too emotional during the Candlelight Vigil to property do that. As I walking out of the Meditation Garden, “If I Can Dream” came on my iPod – how fitting!

After putting in a full eight hour day at Graceland, I left at 5pm to go back over to the Guest House. Today was a perfect day – everything happened exactly as I had planned. A perfect ending to my Elvis Week. At 6:15pm, I was EPs for dinner. Wasn’t feeling like drinking, so I did not partake in the Happy Hour specials. I got a table and enjoyed the southwest turkey wrap everyone had been raving about with those yummy fries and water. I was back in my room before 7pm reading in the comfy chair enjoying the courtyard view while icing my feet. After a while, I packed for my early morning still dark out flight tomorrow – had to make sure my 24 books fit in my suitcases. All of sudden severe cramps came on (about four days early). I took some ibuprofen and laid down and fell asleep, missing the party in the Ballroom. I woke up just before 10pm and got ready for bed as I had to wake up at 4:40am for my flight.

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To see all of my photos from Day 7 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.

It was a great Elvis Week. For seven days, I did not watch tv and did not read any social media posts or news except for Elvis. It was like I was in an Elvis Bubble for a week, which is a great place to be. My highlights were the two book sales (books are my addiction), finally meeting Linda Thompson (she was super sweet!), getting my photo with Jerry Schilling (his arm around me), Elvis Radio Town Hall with Jerry and Priscilla, following Lisa Marie around the new complex and of course the Candlelight Vigil. Check out my Elvis Week 2017 highlight video below.

 

I have already made my reservations at the Guest House for Elvis Week next year, but I am staying two more nights – August 9 to August 18. I originally was only going to go to the big anniversaries of Elvis Weeks, which is what I have done in the past except when I lived in Memphis, but something has overtaken me and I must go next year (as well as going for New Year’s and Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival). As much as I love Elvis Weeks, nothing will ever beat the Grand Opening weekend of the Guest House. It was like a mini Elvis Week with similar events (which were free) including Conversations with Jerry and Priscilla, the nighttime tour of Graceland, the Gospel Concert and everyone from the Elvis world just hanging around in the lobby because they were all staying there and all the events were there as well. It was the best and will always be a favorite of mine.

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