Photo Courtesy Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises
Last year, the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's triumphant first residency in Las Vegas was memorialized with an extravagant 11-CD box set, Elvis: Live 1969
, and it was a revelation. While "Las Vegas Elvis" suggests a rather kitschy affair to some, these recordings (remixed by Memphis' own Matt Ross-Spang) revealed a crack band, a quintet fired up by new arrangements, embellished with a small orchestra and background singers, with a new lease on rock history, post-'68 Comeback
. It was the first iteration of the soon-to-be-legendary TCB Band.
It's such an intense listening experience, one can't help imagining hearing it live. Astoundingly, in that embarrassment of riches that Memphians know well, the classic version of the TCB Band will be in our midst this week, when guitarist James Burton, pianist Glen Hardin and drummer Ronnie Tutt appear together at the Soundstage at Graceland on January 11.
Described as "a special concert experience featuring amazing on-screen performances from the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll," the footage will have the distinction of being backed live on stage by the TCB Band, plus Terry Blackwood & the Imperials, who also sang with the King in that first residency in Las Vegas. Then, none other than Priscilla Presley and long-term Memphis Mafia member Jerry Schilling will make appearances.
It's all part of Graceland's grand celebration of what would have been Presley's 85th birthday. With such a focus on the passage of time, one can't help reflecting on the fact that Elvis was 34 when the iconic Las Vegas concerts began: seemingly washed up to the youth-fixated rockers, but in truth more full of energy and wit than he had been for many years previous.
Now, with a generous segment of the TCB Band still alive and picking, such concerns with time seem meaningless. See them now before time rears its ugly head again.
Other grand events for this special anniversary "birth week" include, on the morning of January 8th (the King's birthday), the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony on Graceland's North Lawn. Of course there will be a birthday cake.
Later, The Auction at Graceland will feature artifacts authenticated by Graceland Authenticated. (All the items in the auction will be offered from third-party collectors and none of the items included in the auction will come from the Graceland Archives).
Then, on January 10th, the full dynamic range of Elvis' repertoire can be heard in force, when The Memphis Symphony Orchestra brings their annual Elvis Pops Concert home to the Graceland Soundstage. Musician and singer Terry Mike Jeffrey and his band will join the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for a birthday salute that will "take you from Memphis to Las Vegas to Hawaii all in one evening." It's a fitting tribute to the King, as we imagine how he might be celebrating this milestone if things had worked out differently.