The city offers a multitude of other exciting activities and attractions too. Sitting on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River visitors will love Sun studio, STAX, Rock n Soul Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street. Beale Street is one of the most important districts in African-American history. It was part of an area that after the abolition of slavery provided a safe haven. It was also a melting pot of musical styles and many musicians, Elvis among them, learned their trade on Beale Street. A historic street that today, lives the legacy of the Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Soul everyday and night of the year.
Memphis is renowned as the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but Memphis is perhaps best known for Graceland, Elvis’ longtime home and shrine to millions of visitors.
Elvis was just 22 when he paid $102,500 cash for Graceland in 1957. A self-guided audio tour leads you through the ‘wild’ interior reflecting the 70’s décor. At the end of the mansion tour, visitors enter The Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried alongside his father, mother, grandmother and twin brother, who died at birth. Opposite the Graceland mansion is the Visitors Centre with Elvis’ cars, Harley Davidsons and his customised airplane, the “Lisa Marie”, as well as gift shops and restaurants.
The STAX Museum of American Soul Music celebrates great Memphis Soul music made famous by the likes of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Bar-Kays, Al Green and Aretha Franklin. The award-winning introductory documentary film is worth the visit alone. The Smithsonian’s Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum on Beale Street tells the story of why Memphis is a root of nearly all American music from Jazz to Blues to Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Also on Beale Street, the Gibson Guitar Factory offers tours to see how these handcrafted pieces are made.
Not far from Beale Street is the legendary Sun Studio. Elvis was 18 when he recorded his first song at Sun, whilst others such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and BB King also made their ‘start’ at Sun Studio. The Studio is still recording by night, but by day it is a tourist attraction with tours every hour. The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the historic Lorraine Motel where Dr Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated in 1968. The museum trails the long history of the Civil Rights movement from slavery to modern times, and a new annex to the museum explores the conspiracy behind Dr King’s murder.