Behind the Doors of Graceland, Elvis’ Kingdom of Rock

Living in Graceland was like living in a whimsical wonderland with no schedule, no time, and no rules. Whether you lounged in the jungle room, fired bullets at TVs in the basement, or rode horses around the garden – you were never bored in the King’s palace.

Elvis Presley walking in his front yard / A front view of Graceland / The backyard of Graceland with a statue of Elvis in it

Photo by Snap, Shutterstock / Steve Ward, Shutterstock / Richard Sowersby, Shutterstock

Every year, more than 600,000 visitors worldwide make their way to Memphis to explore Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, making it the second most-visited house in all of America. For those of you who aren’t able to make the trip, we’ve got your back. Here’s a VIP tour of the King of Rock’s kingdom.

Who Named It Graceland and Why?

Graceland was initially a farm. The land was owned by Stephen C. Toof, who named the lot after his daughter, Grace. It was passed on from father to daughter and from daughter to niece. And in 1939, Ruth Moore (Grace’s niece) decided to scrap the cattle farm and build an impressive 10,266-square-foot mansion instead.

A photograph of the outside of Graceland / Elvis Presley posing in a blue button-down shirt

Photo by Jim Smeal, BEI, Shutterstock / Snap, Shutterstock

Almost two decades later, in 1957, Presley bought the house. But it wasn’t Elvis who made the purchase – his parents did. The successful singer was only 22 at the time but had made enough money to give his old folks $100,000 to buy a house, and Graceland was their pick!

Graceland’s Musical Portal

To enter the house, you first need to pass through its one-of-a-kind gate, which has become a sensation in and of itself. With two rock and rollers on each side and whimsical music notes floating around, the gates of Graceland are iconic. A perfect start to an extraordinary tour.

Boy George standing in front of the gate with musical notes

Boy George 1984. Photo by Andre Csillag / Shutterstock

Leave it to Elvis to customize such a unique looking entrance. He could have built a sturdy and impermeable door, but, instead, his see-through gate allowed fans to watch as he galloped on his horses or rode his golf-cart around the property with his daughter, Lisa.

The Grand Entry Stairs

You know you’ve entered glorious territory the moment you step through the door. With mirrored walls and golden linings, this entry room radiates royalty. Just imagine – Elvis climbing his majestic stairs to nestle his face in those silky, navy-blue drapes.

The entrance hall of Graceland / Looking up the staircase in the entrance hall of Graceland

Photo by Richard Gardner, Shutterstock / Jim Smeal, BEI, Shutterstock

As beautiful as the white décor is, you have to admit that it brings to mind so many dangerous scenarios. Like little Lisa crawling on the carpeted stairs with messy hands or one of Elvis’ guests tripping with a glass of red wine. Either way, we’re sure this never troubled the Rockstar. He could afford to recarpet his house as many times as needed.

A Candle Lit Dining Room

In a marble room decorated with candles, Elvis and his family dined like royalty. They sat on elegant, gold-rimmed chairs and plated their delicacies in beautiful china (this isn’t to say Elvis didn’t enjoy his basic peanut butter banana sandwich from time to time).

The dining room with an oval-shaped table and large wooden chairs around it, a crystal chandelier, and china cabinets along the walls

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

We can easily see the Presleys sitting down to enjoy a delicious, homemade dinner cooked by Mary Jenkins, Elvis’ faithful chef. The singer’s taste in food was as rich and lush as his house. Always sparkling and deeply bathed in golden butter.

A Feast Fit for a King

This is where the magic truly happened! The kitchen was hands down the singer’s favorite part of the house. He even admitted that “the only thing in life he got any enjoyment out of was eating.” His cook would spend hours in the kitchen experimenting and preparing king-size portions for the insatiable singer.

Elvis’ carpeted kitchen with dark wooden cabinets and walls and white countertops

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

What’s unique (but equally unsuitable) about this room is that it’s fully carpeted. Probably not the best choice for space where greasy steaks and caramel frosted cakes are prepared. But what the King wants, the King gets. And he wanted his palace to be beautiful, not necessarily functional.

King of the Jungle

Just behind the kitchen is another one of Elvis’ sacred rooms – the den, also known as “The Jungle Room.” The 14-by-40-foot area was where he dwelled in synthetic nature and calmed his spirits so he could come up with the next big rock and roll hit.

The Jungle Room with light green carpeting and dark leather chairs

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

From stuffed wild animals to a shaggy green carpet, Elvis’ jungle room was a tropical wonderland. No wonder he opened some of his concerts with “I’m the king of the jungle, they call me tiger man!” He genuinely felt like a real-life Tarzan (but with a massive colored television and fancy leather chairs).

A Lavish Living Room

Did Elvis really sit in his living room? Everything is so blindingly white and shiny that it’s hard to imagine him cuddling up near the fireplace. And it’s even harder to picture his daughter crawling on his $1,375 white couch.

Elvis’ living room with white carpets and chairs, blue curtains, and a mirrored wall surrounding the fireplace

Photo by Patrick Frilet / Shutterstock

But the singer truly adored this room and put a lot of thought into its design. He would redecorate it every once in a while, according to the season. For example, when Christmas came around, he would swap the blue drapes for festive, red ones.

His Classic Music Room

As you make your way across his living room, you reach a separate area known as the “Music Room.” This is where Elvis impressed his guests by elegantly coaxing smooth melodies from his piano (or by strongly pounding the keys after drinking too much).

The peacock windows surrounding the opening of the small music room with a grand piano and color television inside of it

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

The room is draped in gold and graced with stained-glass windows decorated with vibrant peacocks. It even has an exciting, innovative colored television! The singer was a self-proclaimed TV junkie and had a total of 14 scattered around the house.

Three TV’s a Charm

This brings us to the next area – his beloved “TV room.” Located in his mansion’s basement, this yellow and blue space is covered with mirrored walls and bejeweled pillows. If that’s not dizzying enough, he placed three televisions side by side, just in case two of his favorite football teams were playing at the same time.

The TV room with three televisions, carpeting, black sofas, and a mirrored wall

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

For the most part, Elvis loved his TVs. But when they got on his nerve, he would pick up his rifle and shatter them to pieces. Why? Usually, because some singer he despised had appeared on-screen or because his favorite team lost a game. No biggy, the King of Rock would buy a new one right away.

The Craziest Room in the House

The amount of details in this room is striking. From the kaleidoscopic walls to the patterned sofas, this room is Elvis’ personality in a nutshell. Many visitors say that when you enter, you’re instantly hit with a warm and familiar sensation.

The pool table room

Photo by Patrick Frilet / Shutterstock

Maybe it’s because the ghost of billiard-playing Elvis is still there enjoying himself a game of 8-ball. Or maybe because the room has been through some crazy things, like his daughter chipping one of the lamps after throwing a ball at her dad’s friend.

His Tear-Jerking Pool

A pool to a celebrity is like a fridge to “normal” people. It’s not a matter of luxury – it’s a necessity. So, of course, one of the first installments in Elvis’ palace was this lush, kidney-shaped pool. It isn’t anything too fancy, but some die-hard fans have broken down in tears next to it.

The swimming pool with fallen leaves inside and out

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

One visitor dipped her hand in the water and was so overwhelmed that she struggled to hold back her tears. She broke down and sobbed by the poolside as other visitors comforted her with words like, “Now now, be strong, everything’s okay.”

Elvis Needed Some Zen in His Life

Our lives are probably child’s play compared to Elvis’ wild adventures, yet we still need a place to quiet our minds. So, you can only imagine how crucial it was for the singer to have his very own “Meditation Garden.”

The gazebo in Elvis’ garden

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

Serene pathways, delicate flowerbeds, and a soothing fountain – Elvis created the ultimate space to wash away his distractions. We’re not sure how much time he actually spent meditating, but even a simple walk around the area was probably enough to calm him down.

His Soul Lives On in Graceland

What better place to bury the King than in his very own backyard? He was initially buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, but after alleged meddling with the grave, he was moved to the safer, protected grounds of Graceland.

The memorial flowers set up around the fountain behind where Elvis is buried

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

Here Elvis is surrounded by his loved ones. His mom, dad, and grandmother are all buried beside him, and there’s even a memorial for his twin brother, who died at birth. If you’re eager to visit the singer’s resting place, the best time would be on the 15th of August, when guests are invited to carry candles and walk up the driveway all the way to his grave.

There Are Monkeys Everywhere

Elvis was crazy about animals. He had horses, donkeys, dogs, chickens, ducks, and even monkeys. His ape buddies were probably his closest pals because he filled his palace with countless white porcelain statues of them.

The Jungle room with moneky statues on the floor next to the window

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

His parents gifted him a cute little squirrel monkey for Christmas, and the singer also adopted a spider monkey named Jayhew. But his ultimate feral buddy would have to be Scatter the chimpanzee. He wore human clothes, yanked up the skirts of Elvis’ female guests, and even went on tour with the singer.

A Burgundy Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is cloaked in purple drapes and velvety bedsheets to match. But why purple? The idea for this beautiful color came from his mother, Gladys. She was the primary decorator and chose to cover the room in magenta.

The master bedroom in white with dark purple drapes and bedding

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

Gladys’s touch is present all over the room. From the glossy chandelier to the antique candle holders, Elvis’ mom had exquisite taste. Sadly, she didn’t live very long in Graceland, but she still managed to make a significant impact on the house’s décor.

The Presleys Are All Around the House

It’s easy to walk around Graceland and get lost in the incredible (and sometimes tacky) design. But have no fear! There are photos all over the house to remind you of whose palace you are visiting. From family portraits to Elvis dressed in his army uniform, there are glimpses of the Presleys all around.

Elvis’ dresser with a portrait of him hung up and a photograph of his parents standing up

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

Some photos are bigger and easier to spot, and others are a bit more covert. But that’s all part of the fun. No matter which room you’re in, you have an opportunity to discover the different moments of the Rockstar’s life.

Father-Son Quality Time

Elvis’ father, Vernon, had his very own office in Graceland, where he managed all of his son’s business. The room is filled with cabinets, a television set, numerous portraits of the talented star, and some tech-savvy phones of the ‘70s.

The bat cave for the boys looks like an office with filing cabinets and two beige metal desks I the middle

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

But this room was a lot more than an office. It was where the two enjoyed their father-son quality time and discussed everything, from life to love to professional issues. Elvis also loved spending his time down there going through fan-mails (which probably took him a whole day!).

A Glamorous Room for the Princess

Lisa Marie Presley spent her first nine years in Graceland. And as the princess of the house, she was granted the full royal treatment. From a magical looking nursery to a fuzzy, round bed, whatever Lisa wanted – she got it.

Lisa Marie standing next to her childhood bed / A photograph of the fluffy circular bed

Source: Pinterest / Flickr

She ran around the mansion and cruised the house with her bike, yet she always got away with it. Because really, who could resist those adorable puppy eyes? Surely not her dad, who was completely bewitched by his little girl.

His Iconic Pink Caddy

The next few sections will be dedicated to Elvis’ great, and we mean great, love of cars. Seriously, his impressive collection of cars could fill a museum on its own. He owned more than 100 cars! From Cadillacs to BMWs, the King of Rock was obsessed with automobiles.

A woman dusting off Elvis’ pink Cadillac, which is on display behind a short white fence

Photo by Nils Jorgensen / Shutterstock

Who could forget the iconic, pink Cadillac Fleetwood he bought in 1955? Elvis loved this car so much he even sang about it in his song Baby Let’s Play House. The car was originally blue with a black roof, but the singer bedazzled it with bubble gum pink and then gave it to his mom, Gladys.

His Grape Cadillac Even Smelled Like Fruit!

This brings us to show stopper number two – his shiny, magenta Caddy. In 1956, Elvis flew to Texas, bought this car in Houston, and cruised back to Memphis. It was initially white, but that was too boring for him. He wanted his car to “pop!” so he ordered painters to shower it with a deep shade of grape.

Elvis’ purple car parked in front of a small diner

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

Rumors have it that the painters even sprinkled it with grape-cool aid so it would smell the part! The proud and loud singer wanted everyone to recognize (and smell) him as soon as he drove out the gates of Graceland.

His Shiny Blackhawk

Probably his favorite car of the ‘70s, Elvis purchased this Stutz Blackhawk III in 1970 for $26,500. But he was met with some resistance at first. Stutz-dealer Jules Meyers told him he needed the car to put on display for other potential buyers to see.

Elvis’ Blackhawk car parked in a driveway

Photo by Julien’S Auctions / Shutterstock

Elvis chuckled and said, “How do you think you will sell more cars when you drive it, or when the people see ME driving it around?” The King of Rock had a point, and Meyers knew it. The deal was done, and Elvis got to flaunt his brand-new black gem.

Flying Around with Lisa Marie

When he wasn’t flashing his stylish cars on the road, Elvis was soaring in the skies with luxurious customized planes. There are two aircraft on display in Graceland: his scarlet Lockheed Jet Star, and the real star of the show, his Convair 880 plane named “The Lisa Marie.”

The private jet named Lisa Marie

Photo by Patrick Frilet / Shutterstock

The singer spent over $100,000 to purchase and remodel his precious aircraft. And after you’ve peeked into his house, you can only imagine how the interior of this plane looks. You guessed it, gold-plated belt buckles, golden sinks in the bathroom, and leather-topped tables.

The Legendary Midnight Run

Elvis didn’t buy a plane to simply show it off and let it rest behind his house (although we wouldn’t be surprised if he did). The singer flew his aircraft as if it were an ordinary car!

Elvis Presley in a uniform with his helmet on ready to fly in the film GI Blues

Photo by Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

He once flew in the middle of the night from Memphis to Denver just so he could land at a local restaurant that served the ultimate peanut butter bacon sandwich. This trip is so famous that the sandwich now has its own Wikipedia page.

He Wasn’t a Fan of His Sparkling Jumpsuits

A lot can be said about Elvis’ bejeweled jumpsuits. They’re tacky, seductive, and all too gaudy. And when he performed on stage with them in the ‘70s, it pretty much tarnished his reputation. But one thing is for sure – those jumpsuits are iconic.

Elvis Presley performing with a white rhinestone-studded suit / A woman adjusting a black rhinestone-studded suit which was worn by Presley

Photo by Fotos International, Shutterstock / Pete Summers, Shutterstock

Surprisingly, Elvis didn’t like them at all. He preferred regular, conservative clothing to those flashy outfits. So why wear them? When he prepared for his comeback in the ‘70s, his managers suggested he flaunt a whole new look, and for some reason, they thought jewel-studded suits would do the trick.

Golden Albums to Match the House’s Décor

When you think of Elvis, the first color that comes to mind is probably gold, right? And not only because of his famous gold lamé suit, or the golden sinks around his house. But because he sold countless gold records throughout his career!

A hallway in Graceland covered in Gold and Platinum records

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

Graceland has a whole room dedicated to the singer’s gold and platinum albums – 101 gold and 57 platinum! This crazy amount has made Elvis one of the highest-selling artists of all time. It’s easy to understand why he was deemed the KING of Rock.

And… Golden Awards to Match!

From golden albums to golden trophies, Graceland has a dedicated area for Elvis’ well-deserved Grammy awards. He was nominated 14 times, winning three of them. His first win was in 1967 for his album How Great Thou Art.

Elvis’ display of Awards

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

His second was for 1972’s He Touched Me and his final one was in 1974 for his live recording of the song How Great Thou Art. His records have made history, and seven of them have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Golfing Around Graceland

Elvis was a huge fan of football, racquetball, and horse riding. Golf, on the other hand, was never really his thing. Yet, he still had numerous golf carts scattered around Graceland’s garden. They were the perfect way to cruise around his sprawling property.

Elvis Presley’s golf carts

Photo by Nils Jorgensen / Shutterstock

Elvis owned a white Harley Davidson cart that was put up for auction in January 2020. They expected it to sell for at least $60,000. But sadly, no one placed even the minimum bid of $20,000. Come on! Elvis’ buggy is legendary. We would have expected a bit more recognition.

Black Belt Elvis

Ahhh…who could forget Karate Elvis? You have to appreciate his guts when he appeared in that robe for the Houston Astrodome Press Conference in 1970. But Elvis didn’t show off his outfit without the skills to back it up.

Elvis Presley’s karate Gi with the black belt draped over it / A close-up photograph of the red and black belt with his name and letters embroidered on it

Photo by Peter Brooker / Shutterstock

He discovered karate when he was in the army and, after a strenuous six weeklong training period, earned his first-degree black belt. He kept practicing all through the ‘60s and earned his seventh-degree black belt by 1972. Elvis had so many facets to him, and Karate Elvis has got to be one of his best.

His Presidential Yacht

This list couldn’t have been complete without Elvis’ prestigious boat. He purchased the presidential yacht (once owned by President Roosevelt), The Potomac, in 1964. The music legend paid $55,000 for the massive ship, and he intended it to preserve it as a “national shrine.”

The USS Potomac docked in front of a ranch-style building

The USS Potomac. Source: Wikimedia Commons

He wanted to donate it to the March of Dimes Foundation as a way of honoring President Roosevelt’s personal struggles with polio. But the organization thought that the maintenance of The Potomac would be too much to handle.

Bruce Springsteen Jumped the Fence to Meet the King

For years, fans have swarmed the gates of Graceland, all in the hopes of one little glimpse at the dazzling Rockstar. But some mischievous fans have taken it way too far and actually jumped the fence. The most infamous jumper was none other than Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen photographed walking down the street circa 1980 / Elvis Presley in uniform and his father standing outside of Graceland

Photo by Barr, Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Globe Photos, Mediapunch, Shutterstock

You would think that this happened when Springsteen was an anonymous little boy, but he was 27 years old at the time and already a well-known singer. One April night in 1976, he jumped onto the mansion’s ground and made a run for the front door. Security guards stopped him at the entrance and kicked him out. Elvis wasn’t even at the house at the time, so Bruce risked it all for nothing.

Elvis’ Biggest Fear

Elvis loved having people over. And who could blame him? His house was packed with entertaining rooms. But there’s another reason he preferred hosting at his place. A little, microscopic, parasitic reason – germs.

Elvis and Vernon Presley in his living room reading a magazine while his father is holding a small dog

Photo by Kobal / Shutterstock

Yup. Elvis was a total germaphobe. So much so that he would bring his silverware to restaurants or other people’s homes. His wife, Priscilla, confessed that “He didn’t like drinking out of cups that other people had drank out of… so when he drank, he would drink where the handle was, knowing that no one would ever drink on that side.”

The Memphis Mafia

Elvis named his close inner circle, “The Memphis Mafia.” A group of members that included his bodyguards, associates, cousins, and employees. Basically, all the people who contributed to this Rockstar’s life.

Elvis Presley posing with the Memphis Mafia

Elvis Presley and the Memphis Mafia on December 28th, 1970. His cousin Billy Smith, Former Sheriff Bill Morris, Aide Lamar Fike, bodyguard Jerry Schilling, Sheriff Roy Nixon, Father Vernon Presley, guitarist Charlie Hodge, bodyguard Sonny West, childhood friend George Klein, personal aide Mary Lacker, Physician George C Nichopolous, and his bodyguard Red West. Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

Many of them spent so much of their time in Graceland that they practically lived there. His two cousins, Billy and Gene Smith were responsible for the singer’s wardrobe and recall endless nights in Graceland, talking for hours “about everything in the world.”

Graceland Disturbs Feng Shui Designers

You can learn a lot about a person just by looking at their home. And according to Feng Shui experts, you can easily tell how disturbed Elvis was. One troubling issue is the countless number of mirrors around the house.

A beige themed room with brown couches, a piano, and mirrors on the walls

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

For example, above the fireplace in his living room, several mirrored tiles split up your body when you stand in front of them. Even worse, the opposite wall is mirrored too! One expert explained: “No matter where you stand in this room, you will never be able to see yourself as a whole, healthy person.” Sheesh! How did Elvis not see that?

The Top-Secret Room You Will Never Enter

There’s one room in Graceland that is completely off-limits. A top-secret room that only Queen Priscilla and Princess Lisa can access. Oh, and Oprah. In 2006, Oprah and her crew toured the house and documented it. But once Oprah approached the untouchable room, the cameras were turned off.

A room with records and photographs lining the walls and his jeweled suits on display in glass cases

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

At least we have a rough description of it. The room is full of drawers packed with posters, suits, jewelry, accessories, and over 60,000 photographs! Lisa confessed that “It’s very comforting that I can come. Nobody actually knows that this is here. I know I can come at any time and rummage through the boxes and grab stuff. It’s quite comforting.”

How Crazy Were Graceland’s Basement Parties?

It’s easy to imagine Elvis as this wild rockstar who made use of his basement to host raging parties. But in fact, most of his Graceland nights were really laid-back. One of his friends, George Klein, recalled that there was rarely any hard liquor or beer around.

The Graceland basement bar with mirrors along the back wall

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

He confessed, “There were nights when the wildest thing that happened was having Elvis lead us through a game of Name That Tune.” Not really what you had in mind from the King of Rock and Roll, right?

Firing Bullets in the House

But then again, this is Elvis we’re talking about. He still had his fair share of wild affairs. And one of Graceland’s employees, Becky Yancey, dished all about it in her book “My Life with Elvis.” This well-detailed confession includes all the weird things she witnessed in the Presley household.

The man-shaped target in the brick covered wellhouse

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

She mentions a bunch of random firings around the house and “short, sharp explosions” that startled her every once in a while. Apparently, Elvis and his friends passed the time shooting bullets at man-shaped targets in the wellhouse. Becky was freaked out because her office was right by their shooting zone!

Graceland’s Weekly Grocery Bill

Is there anything better than having your favorite foods on hand at all times, every day? Probably not. And that’s exactly why Elvis demanded his kitchen be fully stocked and prepared for whatever he was in the mood for.

Elvis Presley holding a cup

Photo by Snap / Shutterstock

His usual shopping list would run around $500 a week, and some of his staples were: Pepsi, biscuits, banana pudding, brownies, ice cream, fudge cookies, gum, and ingredients for meatloaf. The kitchen crew really did their best to buy everything he asked for.

A Tragic Ending On the Bathroom Floor

August 16, 1977, was a terribly sad day at Graceland. Elvis’ girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden, found the singer on the bathroom floor, face down in a pool of his own vomit. She panicked and immediately called an ambulance for help.

Elvis Presley’s office room with a desk in the center and a piano and fish tank behind it

Elvis Presley’s office. Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

The cause of death was a cocktail of drugs. Elvis was heavily hooked on different substances like morphine, Demerol, and Valium. He was so addicted that he carried three suitcases of pharmaceuticals with him when he traveled. What a tragic ending…

The Second Most Visited Home in America

There’s a lot to say about Elvis. He was talented, generous, an addict, a peanut-butter addict, handsome, rich…The list goes on. And love him or hate him, he remains one of the most prominent figures in the music industry.

A guide greeting visitors on the front porch of Graceland

Photo by Richard Gardner / Shutterstock

It’s no wonder that Graceland is the second most visited home in America! People adore this precious piece of history, and it’s easy to see why. The ghosts of Graceland’s past are still there, and some fans swear they can hear the King’s soulful voice echoing from the walls.

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