Tag Archives: Graceland Wall

The Night Bruce Springsteen Climbed the Graceland Wall

Bruce Springsteen Getting Readto Jump Elvis Presley's Graceland Wall

Today is the 40th anniversary of the night Bruce Springsteen tried to climb over the Graceland wall and see Elvis. It is an interesting story.

It has been often written that seven-year-old Springsteen watched Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and was moved to pursue a career in music. In fact, he has been quoted saying:

“…it was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.”

Elvis and Young Bruce Springsteen

Photoshopped Picture of Elvis and Bruce Springsteen Early in Their Careers

On April 29, 1976, Bruce Springsteen performed in concert in Memphis. It was called his “Born To Run Tour,” named after his first Top 40 hit and his first hit album that had reached # 3. After the four-hour concert ended, Springsteen was still wired, so he and E Street Band guitar player Steve Van Zandt decided to visit to Graceland. They took a cab, and at 3am on April 30 they arrived at the gate which was locked.

But Springsteen saw lights blazing inside the mansion, so he climbed the wall and ran to Graceland’s front door. Just as he was about to ring the doorbell, he was intercepted by security. Explaining his newfound rock fame and about recently being on the covers of both Time and Newsweek, Springsteen cajoled and begged to be let inside. Instead, the unimpressed guards told him that Elvis was out of town (true – on tour in Lake Tahoe) and escorted him promptly off the premises.

“Later on, I used to wonder what I would have said if I had knocked on the door and if Elvis had come to the door.”


Photoshopped picture of Elvis and Bruce Springsteen early in Their Careers

This is the cover of Springsteen’s Born To Run album. I have drawn a line to point out something on his guitar strap. It is a fan club button from the King’s Court Fan Club of NYC.


Elvis Button Bruce Springsteen wore on Born to Run Cover

Visual proof that Springsteen was still a big Elvis fan twenty years after that first Elvis epiphany.


Alt Photo During Born to Run Photo Session

Another picture taken at the album cover photo shoot


“Elvis is my religion. But for him, I’d be selling encyclopedias right now.”

Springsteen performed a number of Elvis songs in concerts over the years. You may want to click on these:

Jailhouse Rock – 2009 Giants Stadium – Live sound but not video. Stock photos


All Shook Up – 2009 The Spectrum, Philadelphia — Full song video in color, guy gets up on stage in white jumpsuit and sings.


Viva Las Vegas — 2002 – Live video, poor sound


Here are two more Bruce Springsteen quotes talking about Elvis:

“That Elvis, man, he is all there is. There ain’t no more. Everything starts and ends with him. He wrote the book.”

“I remember later when a friend of mine called to tell me that he’d died. It was so hard to understand how somebody whose music came in and took away so many people’s loneliness and gave so many people a reason and a sense of all the possibilities of living could have in the end died so tragically.”


Pensive Bruce Springsteen wearing Elvis Button


© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Graceland Opened to the Public 32 Years Ago

Graceland Opening Flyer

As you can see in the above poster, Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982. Last Saturday was June 7, 2014, thirty-two years later, and my original plan was to post an ElvisBlog article on that day commemorating the anniversary. Then, my cat nearly died and it took three days for her to get out of danger. So, this post is a week late.


Crowd on Opening of Graceland June 7, 1982

When I first saw this photo, I thought it was a shot from Elvis Week. But it was taken on the day Graceland’s gates opened and let the public inside for the first time. Look at that crowd. What a pent-up demand the fans must have had to get a look into Elvis’ world.



This is an aerial view taken on opening day. The tree cover is so heavy that you can barely see Graceland mansion in the upper right-hand corner. What you can see is the crowd massed at the gate, continuing down along the fieldstone wall, continuing beyond the property line down the street and then around the corner into a residential street for a considerable distance.


Aunt Delta and Jack Soden at opening of Graceland, June 7, 1982

This is Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Soden is still in that position and has overseen many changes at Graceland and especially across the street at the welcome center.

The woman in the picture is Elvis’ Aunt Delta Mae Biggs (Vernon’ sister). She and her mother Minnie Mae were living in Graceland when Elvis died, and the estate allowed them to stay there as long as they lived. Minnie Mae died in 1980, and Aunt Delta passed away in 1993. She had occupied Vernon and Gladys’ former bedroom, so it was not part of the tour when Graceland opened. After her death, the room was converted back the way it was when Elvis’ parents lived there. It and the kitchen were then added to the tour.

Elvis' Parents' Bedroom at Graceland

Bedroom occupied by Vernon and Gladys before Aunt Delta.


That’s about it for pictures relating to the opening of Graceland to the public, but there are some other unusual ones in my Graceland file, so let’s look at some.


Newspaper Article about Elvis Buying Graceland

This newspaper article makes it clear that there was no veil of secrecy surrounding Elvis’ interest in buying Graceland. One paragraph in it is interesting. Elvis had been very impressed with comedian Red Skelton’s home in Hollywood. While filming a movie, Elvis had apparently seen Skelton’s hilltop house with a mile-and-a-half drive from the gate and garages for his eleven cars. Elvis is quoted in the article: “This is going to be a lot better than Red Skelton’s house, when I get it like I want it.”


Original 1957 Graceland Mailbox

This is interesting, too. It is the original mailbox dating back to when Graceland was built in 1939 on Highway 51.. Of course, the address is now 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard.


Graceland Farms cattle auction 1942

Although the Graceland house was built much later, the original 500 acre property was a working farm dating back to Civil War times. You can see that as late as 1942, registered Hereford cattle were raised and sold on the property.

The first owner was S.E. Toof, and he named the estate (the house did not yet exist) after his daughter Grace. Her niece and husband built the house, and their daughter sold it and 13-3/4 acres of land to Elvis.


Map of Graceland

There have been several versions of this Graceland map over the years. For example, Graceland Crossing in the upper right-hand corner was not there when I last visited Graceland. Formerly, it was a nondescript shopping center of independent merchants.

Now, go back to the map again. What’s the most prominent feature? It’s not Graceland, which is squeezed into a little space along the right edge. It doesn’t show the pool, Meditation Garden, Vernon’s office, the racquetball building, the horse barn and other things that make the fan experience of visiting Graceland special. What the map does show in detail is Graceland Plaza across the street.

Graceland Corners

The map lists a total of fourteen stores and three restaurants in Graceland Plaza and Graceland Crossing, but just seven attractions (Graceland plus six exhibits/museums). Something just seems out of balance with this.

Next time I get to Memphis, I’ll take in the newer exhibits and probably have a meal at Rockabilly’s Diner, but the main attraction to me will always be this.

Graceland at Sunset


© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.