Hard to believe this was an “everyday belt,” as the tour guide told us. Putting on cotton gloves, we were invited to heft the belt and take photos with it. Mighty heavy. Mighty gaudy. And mighty valuable.
After all, this was a belt once worn by Elvis Presley. On our first pre-cruise night in Memphis, my brother Joe and I went to the complimentary cocktail hour in the Founders’ Room at The Guest House at Graceland. Then we boarded a small shuttle for a behind-the-scenes look at Graceland.
Driven to a private room, we saw the Elvis belt as well as a locket Elvis had bought for his mother Gladys with a picture of the Empire State Building inside. We also saw a set of Kahlil Gibran’s books that Elvis had notated while reading and a motorcycle helmet and leather gloves that Elvis had once worn.
A couple of women on our tour said they were taking home their cotton gloves because the gloves were good souvenirs. After all, the gloves had touched something that Elvis once touched. My souvenir was a photo of Joe holding the stunning belt.
After breakfast the next morning, Joe and I headed to Graceland for the day as part of our pre-cruise package. As a Beatles fan, Joe was interested in the 1979 Yamaha piano on display in the “Icon’s: The Influence of Elvis Presley” exhibit. John Lennon used the piano to compose multiple songs from his album “Double Fantasy.” The piano still has wax visible on the piano from candles he used while writing.
Perched atop the piano is a large photo of John Lennon with his quote, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.” Another nearby note card contains another John Lennon quote, “Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles.”
Elvis thought he would be quickly forgotten
A poignant comment from Elvis also is displayed: “I never expected to be anybody important.”
Elvis’ former wife Priscilla Presley has said that Elvis thought he would be quickly forgotten once he stopped singing.
“Elvis never thought that he would be remembered. That was his thing,” Priscilla has said. “He said, ‘You know, once I pass, nobody will remember me.”
Ah, how wrong he was.
Many musicians were influenced by Elvis and his impact inspired those to follow in his footsteps and create their own sound and pursue their dreams – just as he had done. The Icons exhibit is in “Elvis Presley’s Memphis,” located across from the Graceland mansion. Opened March 2, 2017, “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” features numerous attractions and exhibits. I counted about 15 of them and something new seems to be added or changed each year.
The celebrities featured in Icons are definitely icons on their own. Some decided to go into music because of Elvis and many are thankful to Elvis for creating a world where different musical styles are celebrated.
Icon celebrity selections range from the 1950s and the rise of Elvis to current generations of entertainers who were not even alive when Elvis died 46 years ago.
Some of the entertainers and their quotes and memorabilia items displayed in the exhibit include:
Buddy Holly – “None of us could have made it without Elvis.”
Elton John – “Ask anyone. If it hadn’t been for Elvis, I don’t know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it off, and he was definitely the start of it for me.”
Kid Rock – “The most popular thing in America culture is Elvis Presley No questions asked. He is the king.”
Dolly Parton – “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, do more and become more, then you have accomplished something. Elvis did that and more for me and so many others.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – “When I was a kid, I loved Elvis. He was the ultimate in cool. Every guy wanted to be Elvis, me included.”
Bruce Springsteen – “It was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.”
Bob Dylan – “When I first heard Elvis’ voice, I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody and nobody was going to be my boss. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.”
Blake Shelton – “If you take God and mix him with Fonzie and add the greatest voice of all time, that is Elvis Presley. He has influenced all genres, I mean all genres of music.”
Paul Stanley of KISS – “No one name says more than his: Elvis. It roars while others whisper.”
Gene Simmons of KISS – “Elvis is king. Period.
Post Malone – “I have a tat of Elvis on my finger along with John Lennon, Jim Morrison. If it wasn’t for these guys, I would not be making music right now.”
Trisha Yearwood – “I have been an Elvis fan as far back as I can remember. I wrote him a letter when I was 5, asking him to marry me and he didn’t write back, so I’m still pining over that one. I love the fact that he wasn’t afraid to be himself. He changed everything.”
Toby Keith – “No matter what genre of music you like, no matter who your favorite singer or group is, everyone including myself have been influenced, inspired and emotionally touched by Elvis. He was and still is the king and will forever be a part of our musical history.”
Jimi Hendrix – Although no quote is included from Jimi Hendrix who died Sept. 18, 1970, one of his coats and a drawing done by Jimi is exhibited. A placard notes that on Sept. 1, 1957, an impressionable 15-year-old Jim Hendrix was in attendance at Elvis’ concert in Seattle.
So influenced by the show, Jimi drew a picture of Elvis and listed the entire line-up of songs that Elvis performed that night. Later Jimi did covers of a few Elvis songs live including “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch
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|Day 1||Memphis TN|
|Day 2||Day of River Cruising|
|Day 3||Vicksburg, MS|
|Day 4||Natchez, MS|
|Day 5||St. Francisville, LA|
|Day 6||Baton Rouge, LA|
|Day 7||Houmas House, LA|
|Day 8||New Orleans, LA|