“ I always try to please my fans not only because of the money but because I simply like showbiz very much. “Performing when you know your fans appreciate you gives you enormous personal satisfaction ,” Elvis Presley said in an interview.
From the moment he recorded the revolutionary single “That’s All Right (Mama)” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”, Elvis’ career began to develop at a rapid pace.
Almost overnight, an unknown, shy truck driver at the Crown Electric Company became the undisputed idol of teenagers (and the public enemy of their parents). ” What is my success? Well, I don’t know ,” he said during meetings with journalists. “ I would say it’s a combination of hard work and a bit of luck. Something like that. Whatever it is, I hope it never ends .
In just a few years, the lives of Elvis and his family changed one hundred and eighty degrees.
After signing a contract with a national record label, first appearances on television and finally making his debut on the big screen, Presley was no longer just a local star and became the most popular and best-selling entertainment artist in the entire United States (and abroad). He became, as he was increasingly called in the press, ” the king of rock’n’roll “.
No one before him was so popular. He sold millions of records, attracted tens of thousands of young people to his concerts, and his fans literally followed him around. ” You know, whenever fans saw a Cadillac or a Lincoln Continental parked in our driveway, they knew Elvis was here, ” recalled Janice Fadal, daughter of radio DJ and Presley friend Eddie Fadal, during our conversation. “ So they often gathered in our yard to see him. Sometimes they even climbed onto the roof and tried to look through the windows. However, people kept calling our phone wanting to talk to him .
Fans followed their idol wherever possible. To the hotel, to the film set, to the airport and even… to the fence of his private house. Always with the same hope that the singer will come out to them at least for a short moment, exchange at least one sentence with them or sign a commemorative autograph on the cover of one of his albums, a poster or a photo.
They wanted to know literally everything about their idol. What he does, what he thinks, who he meets with and even how he likes to spend his free time.
That’s why some of them, almost every day, camped in front of the fence surrounding the single-story, green-painted house on Audubon Drive in Memphis, which Presley had purchased in the first half of March 1956 for royalties from the sale of the single “Hearbreak Hotel”.
Initially, the presence of teenagers fascinated by Presley did not bother anyone. On the contrary. The inhabitants of the previously quiet and peaceful district of the city were happy to know that they had someone so famous and arousing so much interest in their neighborhood (especially since other big names, such as Nick Adams and Natalie Wood, also visited the above address at that time).
Except that as Presley’s popularity grew, the number of people arriving at 1034 Audubon Drive began to increase. The above-mentioned address was visited not only by increasing crowds of the singer’s fans, but also by ordinary onlookers, curious people, journalists and photojournalists trying at all costs to obtain “hot” material for their newspapers.
Sometimes there were so many of them that even normal street use became impossible. People who couldn’t fit on the lawn in front of Presley’s house simply crowded onto the access road leading to it. Therefore, in order to reach their properties, residents of the district often had to use the help of the police.
They were also blocked by cars parked along the entire street. Therefore, Elvis’s more enterprising neighbors even started charging $1 for each vehicle parked on their property. There was never a shortage of volunteers.
It was crazy on Audubon Drive.
The Presley home was under constant surveillance. But not only him. Even the families living in the neighboring houses could not count on a bit of privacy, as Elvis’ fans often reached them to… for example ask whether the singer was currently in his property.
The idol’s level of adoration also took many forms. While some were satisfied with the photos, others tried to take everything they could take as a souvenir of their visit that would in any way remind them of Presley. ” They chipped off pieces of the wall, tore out tufts of grass and besieged the house, looking inside through the windows ,” recalled Faye Harris, a friend of Elvis’ mother, Gladys Presley, quoted by Jerry Hopkins. “ Gladys was always happy when we came to visit. She said: ‘Thank God, because I don’t have the strength to open it every time someone shouts.’ During the visit, we were locked inside the entire time. We couldn’t go out into the yard, and when we left, they followed us .”
The person who seemed to find the best place in this unusual and quite unusual (not to say crazy) situation (and even have fun doing it) was Elvis himself. Witnesses to those events unanimously reported that the singer was always open to his fans and always found time for them.
He talked to them for hours (sometimes the meetings were so long that Gladys had to intervene), he invited them to his house for billiards, he gave them autographs, kisses and even… he took them for motorbike rides around the neighborhood and let them swim in his private pool (at that time the largest in the area).
However, at the beginning of 1957, this lifestyle – without a shadow of privacy and among the sea of kids lying every day in front of the fence and closely watching everything he did – began to bother him too.
For this reason, in March he decided to sell his house and buy a new property (which certainly disappointed his admirers, but for many Audubon Drive residents it finally meant a return to a normal, peaceful life). According to some sources, Elvis allocated a budget of about one hundred thousand dollars for this purpose and asked that the new house be designed or built in the so-called country style and, most importantly, had a clear buffer zone.
He asked his parents for help in finding a suitable property because at that time he was finishing work on his second film, “Loving You”.
A few days later, on March 16, Vernon and Gladys, talking to their son on the phone, informed him that they had found the perfect place that he should definitely check out when he returned to Memphis.
This special place was Graceland. Located on the outskirts of the city, a two-story manor house built in the Colonial Revival style.
Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland), Marius Ogieglo http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/
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