published Thursday, April 25th, 2013

City Beat: Treasures from Graceland still fascinate

For the last few years, a couple of the folks from Graceland have grabbed a few goodies from the Elvis Presley collection and made the rounds on a mini media tour. It never gets old, which helps explain why Graceland continues to attract visitors 36 years after Elvis' death.

In the past, the tour has included things like the custom-made gold sunglasses he wore and a watch, and last year they brought his wallet complete with his driver's license and a picture of Lisa Marie. That was cool.

This year, there's a guitar and the cape Elvis wore during the 1973 "Aloha From Hawaii" show. He wore the Aloha cape one time, and then he tossed it into the audience. A sports reporter caught it, and when he died in 1995, he willed it to the Presley estate. The thing is covered in diamonds and rubies and is apparently very heavy. When Presley first put it on, he nearly fell over backward.

They also brought a gold and onyx pendant Elvis wore during the "Aloha From Hawaii" concert; the Country Gentleman guitar he used during his return to Las Vegas in 1969; and one of his gold belts, which was given to him by the International Hotel for breaking all attendance records for his shows in Vegas.

The belt looked way too small, but Angie Marchese, Graceland's director of archives, said the King had a 32-inch waist for most of his career.

All of these items are part of the two newest exhibits at Graceland. Marchese and her crew rotate things around because they have so much stuff, and it gives visitors something new to see each year.

The first new exhibit is called "Elvis' Hawaii: Concerts, Movies and More!" It marks the 40th anniversary of "Aloha From Hawaii."

The second exhibit is "Elvis: Live From Vegas." It chronicles the years from 1957 through the late '70s. From 1969-1977, Presley did two four-week stints a year in Vegas. He did 57 shows each time, and every one of them sold out, according to Marchese.

It might be hard for some to remember just how big Presley was or how colorful he was as a personality, but these artifacts are a fun reminder.

• Season two of "Small Town Security" premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday, May 9. That is a new night for the show, which stars Joan Koplan and the folks at JJK Security in Ringgold, Ga.

Starting at 6 p.m., the AMC network will show each episode of season one leading up to the premiere.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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