The Province

Exhibit offers insights into Elvis’s early career

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The telegram sent by Elvis Presley to his parents in November 1954 gives a glimpse into the young singer’s priorities and his optimism, as he begins what will become a career as a rock ‘n’ roll icon and cultural phenomenon.

“Hi babies,” says the telegram, sent from Houston by Presley to his parents, Vernon and Gladys, who were in Memphis. “Here’s the money to pay the bills. Don’t tell no one how much I sent. Will send more next week. There is a card in the mail. Love, Elvis.”

The note is being displayed in an exhibit at Graceland, Presley’s longtime Memphis home that today serves as a museum and tourist attraction. The exhibit, which opened Monday, commemorat­es the 60 years since Presley cut his first record, That’s All Right, at Sun Studio in July 1954. It was played on the radio days later, and many believe its release marked the birth of mainstream rock ‘n’ roll.

There are other theories about the creation of rock ‘n’ roll, which was born from a truly American mixture of styles such as country, blues, jazz and gospel. But in the eyes of Priscilla Presley — Elvis Presley’s former wife — it was a defining moment in Elvis’ life, when as a shy 19-year-old he walked into the studio run by visionary producer Sam Phillips and sang the lyrics, “Well, that’s all right mama, that’s all right for you.”

“It had to be on his mind for a long time to get up the nerve to go in that place and want to meet Sam Phillips to record a song for his mother,” Priscilla Presley told The Associated Press in an interview at Graceland on Friday.

“That’s not something that he would have just thought about doing at the spur of the moment.”

 ?? — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Priscilla Presley stands in the 60 years of Elvis exhibit in an annex at Graceland in Memphis. The exhibit opened Monday.
— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Priscilla Presley stands in the 60 years of Elvis exhibit in an annex at Graceland in Memphis. The exhibit opened Monday.

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