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Original Graceland Piano Returns Home


By: Elvis Australia
Source: www.elvis.com.au
September 9, 2017 - 6:34:45 PM
Elvis' Graceland, Elvis Articles, Elvis News

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Elvis Presley's Graceland has announced the acquisition of one of the most significant pieces of Elvis' musical history, which will be returned to Graceland 60 years after it was first purchased by Elvis for the home in 1957 - a white, baby grand piano with gold accents and a custom-made, gold, metal bench designed by Elvis with a white, leather cushion. For the first time ever, the public will be able to see this legendary Knabe branded piano on display in its Graceland home. The music room at Graceland will be restored to its original 1960s-era appearance including the white piano, and will be unveiled on December 16, 2017. Other items returning to the famous music room include original white and blue draperies, and a gold couch that was part of the room's décor in 1964.

The white piano is the most significant piece of original furnishings to come home to Graceland since the Mansion opened for tours in 1982.

Prior to Elvis purchasing and refurbishing the 1912 instrument, it was the house piano at Memphis' legendary Ellis Auditorium from the early 1930s through 1957 which hosted the greatest local and national touring musical acts of the period, including W. C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and many others. This was the very piano played by his favorite gospel and blues performers in shows that Elvis attended as a boy, during which, as an enthralled member of the audience, he dreamed of his own future stardom. Coincidentally, Ellis Auditorium's North Hall (then called Memphis Auditorium) was the venue for Elvis' first sold-out shows on Sunday, February 6, 1955.

In the spring of 1957, then 22-year-old Elvis Presley purchased Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, just a year after he shot to super-stardom and worldwide fame. While he could have afforded any piano on the planet for his new home, when Elvis heard this sentimentally-valuable piano was for sale, he jumped at the chance to own it. On May 28, 1957, Elvis purchased the piano built by Wm. Knabe & Co. of Gallatin, Tennessee, (serial number 70545) from Jack Marshall Pianos-Organs in Memphis for $818.85. Elvis refurbished the piano in white and placed it in the music room at Graceland where it remained until 1968. During those years, the piano was the musical focal point of many hours spent rehearsing and entertaining guests and was played constantly by Elvis as well as visiting celebrities. Elvis enjoyed playing and singing alone in private moments, but especially enjoyed gathering family and friends in the music room as they ran through a broad repertoire of favorite songs - particularly gospel and R&B.

The original Knabe piano was placed in storage in 1968 and was sold in 1976 to Ted Sturges, owner of the Sturges Recording Studio in Memphis where it was used in recording over 50 albums by various artists including Jerry Lee Lewis, who reportedly played the piano with Elvis when visiting Graceland.

From there it changed hands several times and was last refurbished by the C.B. Coltharp Piano Service who maintained it at Graceland and referenced photos and record jacket snapshots to restore the piano to its authentic, original 1957 appearance. Pictures of Elvis with this piano were featured in the first issue of Mid-South Magazine in 1965 giving readers a rare look inside Graceland.

Elvis Presley with his piano at Graceland.
Elvis Presley with his piano at Graceland.

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