Most readers of Elvisblog are probably familiar with www.elvis.com, the official website of Elvis Presley Enterprises. I don’t know what year it got started, but they have been posting news items since 2000. Currently, 263 items are still available in the News Archives, along with the five current items that have yet to be archived. An article posted this past January 19 led me to a most interesting file.
I followed this link: News and FAQs / 1/19/07 Zakk Wilde is Graceland’s Latest Celebrity Guest / Click Here for article on Graceland visitors since 1982. Sure enough, up came eleven pages of celebrity names – famous folks that have visited Graceland since the first year it opened. The dates of their visits are not listed, except in the case of celebrities who came back a second time. Unfortunately, I’m not sure who some of these famous people are (Zakk Wilde for instance), but I stopped keeping up with current pop culture fifteen years ago.
2006 had two very notable visitors. In July, Pricilla and Lisa Marie hosted President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at Graceland. This visit generated tons of press for several days. As I chronicled on the 7/2/06 Elvisblog entry, Koizumi is a real Elvis fan with an interesting taste in Elvis songs.
In October, Oprah Winfrey and a film crew blew into town to tape a segment that appeared on her show a few days later. I seriously doubt that Oprah is any where near the Elvis fan that Koizumi is, but Oprah managed to get into the mysterious “Secret Room.” This is the fireproof, hurricane-proof, humidity-controlled warehouse of Elvis memorabilia. Among other things, it contains 60,000 photographs and 88 jumpsuits, and it is never open to the public. Maybe Koizumi didn’t know about the “Secret Room,” but Oprah obviously did her homework and negotiated permission to see this very private, off-limits treasure trove. At least, Graceland officials didn’t let her film crew in, but they did provide her with still photos taken by in-house staff.
In addition to politicians and TV stars, the list of famous visitors to Graceland includes movie stars, sports figures, models, country singers, pop music singers, and rock groups – lots of rock groups. It seems like every music act that ever performed in Memphis also make a visit to the home of Elvis Presley. I was especially impressed with all the heavy metal bands that came to Graceland. You know that the music of groups like Ratt and Poison is about as far from “Hound Dog” or “Suspicious Minds” as you can get, but they still paid their respects to rock music’s seminal pioneer. Here’s some of the bigger names in heavy metal music that checked out the Jungle Room and the rest of Graceland:
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zepellin)
Axl Rose (Guns and Roses)
And check out this line-up of hard rock bands who made the pilgrimage to Elvis’ home:
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Keith Richards & Ronnie Woods (Rolling Stones)
Don Henley (Eagles)
John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival)
Bruce Springsteen is listed just like everybody else on the list, but his visit to Graceland has an interesting story. He jumped the fence and tried to get into the house before the security guards escorted him off the premises. This was back in 1976, just after Springsteen had blasted to the top of the music scene. His picture had recently appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. Memphis was a stop on his Born To Run tour, and after the concert, Springsteen took a cab to Graceland. He noticed a light on up at the house, so he climbed the wall and ran up to the front door. When security nabbed him, he asked, “Is Elvis home?” They informed him Elvis was in Lake Tahoe (true). Springsteen tried to explain who he was, but the guards apparently hadn’t heard of him yet.
If Bruce Springsteen ever decides to visit Graceland again, it’s a good bet the security guys will recognize him. He will certainly get the VIP treatment. Maybe he can even use some Oprah-style clout to get into the “Secret Room”.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net