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Elvis was in the building!

This gem-encrusted belt is among the new Elvis items traveling around to promote new exhibits at Graceland.

This gem-encrusted belt is among the Elvis items traveling around to promote new exhibits at Graceland.

Elvis stopped by the AJC today!

Well, actually some of his stuff did.

A team from Graceland is touring 32 states in seven weeks to promote three new exhibits that have opened recently at the King’s home in Memphis. If you’re interested in visiting click here for a coupon worth $4 off admission.

Angie Marchese, Graceland’s director of archives, and Jackie Jones, who works in marketing, arrived with two suitcases of Elvis gear.

They put on white cotton gloves before unpacking the small but priceless trove: Elvis’ first Grammy award, for “How Great Thou Art;” his first gold record, for “Heartbreak Hotel;” the honorary police badge former President Nixon gave him; and a sterling silver-over-gold belt, encrusted with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. The bling was a gift from the International Hotel in Las Vegas (now the Hilton) to commemorate his successful run of performances there.

This is Elvis' first gold record.

This is Elvis' first gold record.

“Elvis didn’t do casual,” Marchese noted.

More than 17 million guests have visited Graceland since it opened to the public in 1982, she said. But no one – not Oprah, not President Bush or Clinton – gets to go upstairs.

“He was private about the upstairs, so we try to honor that,” Jones said.

Marchese, one of the very few people allowed access to the storied second floor of Graceland, said it’s maintained and cleaned but nothing has been changed since Elvis died.

“The records are on the record player. The shag carpet is this thick,” she said, indicating a hefty pile. “It’s like someone just left.”

She and her colleague are driving but when they travel by plane with pieces from Graceland, Elvis gets a first-class airplane ticket.

“They’re never out of our sight for a second,” Jones said.

When on tour with Elvis items, they do not announce ahead of time exactly

This is Elvis Presley's first Grammy, for "How Great Thou Art." He did not accept it in person though. He wasn't into awards shows.

This is Elvis Presley's first Grammy, for "How Great Thou Art." He did not accept it in person though. He wasn't into awards shows.

where they will be, lest unscrupulous treasure seekers get any big ideas. But so far the tour, which included a number of stops at television and radio stations in Atlanta, has been fun. The ladies listen to the Elvis satellite radio station in the car, of course.

“It’s always fun traveling with Elvis,” Marchese said.

- Jennifer Brett/The Buzz/jbrett@ajc.com

One comment Add your comment

Frosty7530

March 23rd, 2011
10:33 am

It is a shame Elvis never got to be on the Grammys, or other Awards Shows. He was a major, (putting it mildly) force on American Music and Pop Culture. From what I’ve read about him, he truly appreciated his fans, and at rare times when he did appear to accept an honor, like the Jr Chamber of Commerce Award for Young American Leadership (can’t recall the exact title, he accepted award in Memphis at a big event) he really feasted on the ocassion. Many from his circle think Col Parker was zealous about “over-exposure”. It was a loss for Elvis, not to hear that live response. It was our loss as well. As a fan, I am grateful the Presley Estate keeps his memory and beautiful voice alive!