Well we went to Memphis last March, partly because it was on our route, and partly because I really wanted to see Beale Street and the home of the blues. We had just spent two glorious weeks in New Orleans, steeping ourselves in the live music venues of Frenchman Street, and I was really looking forward to something similar in Memphis. I have to say I was disappointed in Beale Street. I found it rather tacky and touristy, and the music we heard coming out of the various clubs really wasn’t that great. The touts outside were trying to lure us in, but we resisted.
Instead we checked out Sun Studios, which really was enthralling!
It’s still a working studio, and it’s also a living museum to the history of rock n roll. There are cases full of old photos and records, old recording equipment, even some instruments. We really enjoyed the tour of the Sun museum, complete with old recordings, and yes THE microphone that Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy and company used to record. Yup, Chris had a go!
One of the historical events that Memphis is known for, is the devastating assassination of Dr Martin Luther King. The Lorraine motel he was staying at while speaking in Memphis in 1968, and where he was killed, is now the National Civil Rights Museum, and is a must-see. The place is a shrine to Dr King and the Civil Rights movement, but also talks of the importance of education and moving forward. The Museum is a sad, yet inspirational place, I’m very glad we went.
There is something else in Memphis, something fun and a bit silly, that has developed into a great attraction: the Peabody Ducks! There is a beautiful historic hotel in the centre of Memphis, called the Peabody, and the story goes that a few drinking men went duck-hunting, and brought back some live ducks to the Peabody where they were staying, and set them free in the ornamental fountain in the foyer of the hotel. The next morning to their surprise the ducks were still there, and attracting an admiring audience. The hotel decided to keep them, and appointed a Duckmaster to look after them. Ducks are brought in from a local farm to do duty at the Peabody for a few months, where they live in a luxury penthouse on the roof, and are brought down every morning in a ceremony attended by many!
Just outside Memphis is Graceland, the home that Elvis Presley built.
I enjoy his music so I thought I really had to tour Graceland. It was much smaller than I expected, but every bit of it was pretty much as you might expect! Huge sparkling crystal chandeliers, peacocks on stained glass windows, a luxurious pool room, a very Seventies jungle room… and so it continues! Elvis is buried in the garden, and his costumes and awards are displayed in the museum.
Another place to visit in Memphis is the World’s First Billy Bass Adoption Center, at the Flying Fish restaurant.
If only we had known of this place before we cleared our house, we could have brought our own Billy Bass and had him adopted here! We had a good seafood lunch and enjoyed looking at all the Billy Bass fish on the walls!
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