Jan 272014

1956: Elvis Presley’s single, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was recorded just two days after Elvis’s 21st birthday and released on January 27th by RCA Records, who had just purchased his contract from Sun Records for the then astronomical sum of $35,000.

The song sold 300,000 copies in its first week and would eventually sell over a million, becoming Elvis’s first Gold record. Elvis has had 150 different albums and singles that have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In 1995 “Heartbreak Hotel” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”  Also in 2004, it was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”

Aug 282013

On this day, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the “I Have a Dream” speech, I’d like to bring my readers’ attention to another powerful speech by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  – “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

This was Reverend King’s final speech, given on the eve of his assassination in Memphis, TN. I make reference to this speech in my novel, as well as explore the consequences of Reverend King’s death on my character’s city and relationships.

Reverend King arrived in Memphis on April 3, 1968, to show his support for the Black Memphis sanitation workers who were on strike due to unfair pay and conditions. During this speech, it is clear that the Reverend knew his time was limited with his words:

But it really doesn’t matter with me now…I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

Watch the speech here:

Aug 162013

Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to know. – Muhammad Ali

I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. Last time I saw Elvis alive was at Graceland. We sang ‘Old Blind Barnabus’ together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother. – James Brown

It’s rare when an artist’s talent can touch an entire generation of people. It’s even rarer when that same influence affects several generations. Elvis made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer. – Dick Clark

Elvis was the only man from Northeast Mississippi who could shake his hips and still be loved by rednecks, cops, and hippies. –  Jimmy Buffett

There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king. It was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it. – Bruce Springsteen 

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. – Bob Dylan  

The first concert I attended was an Elvis concert when I was eleven. Even at that age he made me realize the tremendous effect a performer could have on an audience. – Cher 

When I saw Elvis on television, I just fell in love with him completely. As a singer, I want to be able to relate to an audience like this man did. Of course, nobody can – he was the best there ever was. – Faith Hill 

Woman wanted him, men wanted to BE him, or just hang out with him. –  Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson 

Aug 162013

Thirty-six years ago, Elvis left the building. But even after so many years, his legacy and music is still alive and going strong. Visitors from all over the world visit Graceland during Elvis Weeks (Birthday in Jan. & Anniversary in Aug.) and all year long.

On August 15th, the eve of his passing, fans gather in front of Graceland for a candlelight vigil and walk through the gates and up the driveway to pay their respects at the grave, located in the Meditation Garden at the rear of the house. This video is just a glimmer of what I saw and experienced on my trips to Graceland. Long live the King!

Original photos by Margarita R. Kurtz, 2013.

Jul 282013

The first press piece about then 19-year-old Elvis appeared in The Memphis Press-Scimatar on July 28, 1954, two days before his first major concert appearance in his hometown.


Apr 212013

Elvis began an eight-week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with “All Shook Up.” It went on to be the biggest selling single of 1957, selling over two million copies.

In 1964, “Good Luck Charm” spent two weeks at No.1 on the US singles chart. It was Presley’s fifth US No.1 of the 60’s. “Good Luck Charm” was also a No.1 hit in the UK .
Apr 182013

On April 18, 1975, Elvis purchased a Convair 800 jet that had been taken out of service by Delta Airlines for $250,000. He re-christened it the Lisa Marie after his daughter.

He then spent another $600,000 refurbishing the jet with slepping quarters (a custom-made queen size bed, a bathroom with gold faucets and a gold washbasin), a videotape system linked to four TVs, a stereo system with fifty-two speakers, and a conference room finished in teak.

Welcome aboard!

Boarding the Lisa Marie at Graceland

Boarding the Lisa Marie at Graceland

plane bed2