Original White, Baby Grand Piano Returns to the Graceland Music Room
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – One of the most significant pieces of Elvis Presley’s™ musical history has 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 since Graceland opened to the public in 1982, visitors to Graceland are now able to see this original piano, which was returned to the Music Room at Graceland this past weekend during Graceland’s holiday concert events. Additional 1960s-era artifacts which are now on display in the Music Room include the original drapes and original gold couch, which was part of the room’s décor in 1964.
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. Ellis Auditorium 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 member of the audience, he dreamed of his own future stardom.
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, 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, was sold in 1976 and changed hands several times. It was last refurbished by the C.B. Coltharp Piano Service, who had 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.
About Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland, in Memphis, is music’s most important and beloved landmark, with hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world visiting the historic home each year. Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) manages the operations of Graceland and its related properties, including Elvis Presley's Memphis, Graceland's new entertainment and exhibition complex over 200,000 square feet in size; the AAA Four-Diamond Guest House at Graceland 450-room hotel; and the Graceland Archives, featuring thousands of artifacts from Elvis’ home and career. EPE also produces and licenses Elvis-themed live events, tours and attractions worldwide. Graceland Holdings LLC, led by managing partner Joel Weinshanker, is the majority owner of EPE. In 2015, Graceland was named the world’s “Best Musical Attraction” and “Best Historic Southern Attraction” in the USA Today 10 Best Reader's Choice Awards and in 2013, voted the No. 1 “Iconic American Attraction” in the same poll. For more information on EPE and Graceland, visit www.graceland.com.
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