Original Graceland Piano Returns Home
September 9, 2017
Elvis' Graceland, Elvis Articles, Elvis News
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's Home Sweet Homes
Elvis Presley's Graceland : The Tour
The Graceland Wall : To Elvis With Love
The 'Den' : The Jungle Room
Elvis Presley : Home Movies of Graceland
Drone Footage of Graceland
The Graceland Music Gates
3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee
Visiting Elvis Presley's Graceland
Elvis Presley : Rising Sun and other Horses at Graceland
Over the years
Graceland Newspaper article : March 1957
Elvis Presley with the music gates of Graceland : April 22, 1957
Photos of Graceland : April, 1962
Elvis Presley at Graceland : March 1965
Elvis Presley : Graceland : February 16, 1968
Jerry Lee Lewis, Arrested at the Gates of Graceland
The Night Springsteen Jumped the Fence at Graceland
Elvis Presley's 1955 Pink Cadillac at Graceland
President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Visit Graceland
Graceland Mansion Designated National Historic Landmark
Elvis Presley Biography
For a more (very) detailed history of Elvis Presley see Elvis Presley 1935-1953
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.