Less than four miles from the Mississippi border, in the heart of Memphis Tennessee, is the mansion of Graceland. Once owned by Elvis Presley, who surely needs no introduction, this property is located on Elvis Presley Boulevard and stands as a permanent museum to the King. With around three quarters of a million visitors every year, it’s second only to the White House for the most visited property in the US.
On 16 August 1977, Presley died in a bathroom at the property. His private funeral was held there two days later and his tombstone, along with those of family members, can be visited in the Meditation Garden next to the mansion. The first rock and roll-related site to be Listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1991), Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.Arguably the most famous attraction in the locale, there’s more to the area than just Elvis. Not far from the centre of Memphis is the Stax Museum, dedicated to American soul music and home of the label that released music by Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding.
Memphis is also the spiritual playground of blues. Head to B B King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. The club promises to entertain you with its nightly live music shows as you relive the era of music that “will get your feet tappin’, your body reelin’, and your soul jivin’”. With large portions from its restaurant, this club will also come good on its promise to “fill you to the brim” with southern food – go for the ribs, you won’t be disappointed.
Beale Street itself is alive with bars, cafes and galleries and the live music they offer. At 126, you” find the Hard Rock Cafe, or try Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe and Honky Tonk at 310, where there’s always a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on”. It has a great menu too: put some soul in your bowl with Bourbon Chicken, or go for a signature Headliner, such as The Killers Platter – a slab of slow pit-smoked ribs, pulled pork, BBQ beans, Texas Toast and house-cut fries and coleslaw. Disappointingly, there’s no “Great Balls of Fire” option on the menu, but you could try Jerry Lee’s Fire Ball, which comes with its own souvenir shot glass.
Claiming to be the most famous bar on the plant, Coyote Ugly (326) is one of a chain of restaurants that has been immortalised in the film of the name. It now boasts 15 locations across the US and has bars in Russia, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and UK, with more opening in Canada and Mexico.
The legend began with “a girl, a dream, and a little bit of Wild Turkey” – that girl is saloon founder Liliana Lovell who proved that beautiful girls + booze = money. Lovell boasts that Coyote Ugly knows how to take your last dollar, so take plenty.
There’s no doubt that Memphis musicians have had an enormous influence on blues, rock and roll and soul music. Visitors to this city will find the music will have just as big an influence on them.