Many music icons have come and gone since Elvis Presley—the hip-swiveling, guitar-playing boy from Mississippi—first took the stage in 1954 and made rock-and-roll a global phenomenon. But none holds our attention quite like the King.
Thousands of fans still make the pilgrimage to Memphis each August for Elvis Week (August 10-16), seven days of film screenings, tribute performances, exhibits, and auctions that ends with an all-night candlelight vigil at Graceland on August 16, the anniversary of his death. Whether you have a closet full of gold lamé jumpsuits or just can’t help belting out the lyrics to “Jailhouse Rock” in your car, you’ll find friends at any one of these Elvis happenings, too:
Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail
After two years of construction, the brand-new, multi-million-dollar trail—a pedestrian- and-bike friendly path that connects downtown Tupelo and the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum in East Tupelo—officially opened in July. It links you up with the Music Bend Trail, where you can visit the entertainer’s favorite boyhood swimming hole on Mud Creek. elvispresleybirthplace.com
This East Main Street landmark is famous for their dough burgers—a Depression-era recipe that adds flour to the patties to stretch the meat. Young Elvis Presley’s preferred order: a cheeseburger and an RC Cola. Diehard fans can dig into their lunch in the Elvis booth—it’s the one marked with a gold plaque. (662) 842-6748
Elvis at 21 Exhibit
In 1956 Elvis turned twenty-one. He released his first record, made his first television appearance, and launched his film career. Photographer Alfred Werthheimer was there to capture it all—the unguarded moments just before and immediately after he became one of the world’s biggest stars. This traveling exhibit, which includes forty photos printed from the original negatives, is timed with the 60-year anniversary of Elvis’ first Savannah concert and is on display at the Telfair Museum through October 2.
Almost forty years after his death, fans still want a piece of the King. Well, they can have it—for a price. On Saturday, August 13, during Elvis Week 2016, a number of artifacts linked to the musician will be up for auction, including a 1960s-era electric guitar, a signed and inscribed guitar case (possibly one of his first), an 8mm film of Elvis performing at the Chicago Amphitheatre in 1957 with five minutes of unpublished footage, and a pair of boots worn by the star. graceland.com/auction.aspx
The Guest House at Graceland
Elvis loved to play host and often entertained many more visitors than Graceland could comfortably sleep, in which case he’d book rooms for them at the Howard Johnson up the road. Before he died, though, he’d already begun plans to build a guesthouse on the property. So he’d no doubt approve of the new 450-room upscale hotel opening on October 27 just steps from his home. Operated by the Presley estate, the sleek hotel houses a pool, an auditorium, two restaurants, and a coffee and cocktail bar. The interiors are more early-60s Elvis than early-70s—nary a sequin in sight.
Little Rock, Arkansas
The same year, 1956, that Alfred Wertheimer was following Elvis around the country with his camera, the King made his very first recording of “Hound Dog” on stage at Little Rock’s Robinson Center—then one of the country’s most technologically advanced theaters. (It had air-conditioning.) This November, the center will reopen after a $70-million renovation. robinsoncentersecondact.com
The King’s affinity for peanut butter and banana sandwiches is well documented. You’ll find them on the menu at many an Elvis-dedicated restaurant across the South and beyond. But there’s another less heralded sandwich—made in Colorado, of all places—that the singer also loved. He first tasted the Fool’s Gold Loaf—an artery-clogging behemoth made with a loaf of French bread, a jar of creamy peanut butter, a jar of jelly, butter, and a pound of bacon—in 1976 at Denver’s now-closed Colorado Mine Company. He liked it so much that several months later he flew his private jet back to Denver just to have another, served to him by a young cook named Nick Andurlakis. Today, Andurlakis offers the sandwich at his Golden, Colorado café. Get the Fool’s Gold Loaf recipe here. (303) 238-9670
The Fool’s Gold Loaf Sandwich at Nick’s Café. (Photo via Wikipedia)
Legends in Concert
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The hologram concerts in Las Vegas might have been nixed, but you can still get a taste of what it might have been like to see Elvis live thanks to the staggering number of impersonators out there. Some are better than others, to be sure. But you’ll find one of the best on stage at Myrtle Beach’s Legends in Concert, where Shelby, North Carolina native Travis Powell, performs. Powell first donned a sequinned jumpsuit at the tender age of five and in 2016, he was named champion of the Tribute to the King contest and took home the $25,000 purse—the largest of any Elvis competition. legendsinconcert.com/travis-powell-elvis-presley