Books » Book Features

Graceland Too — Revisited

Greetings from the universes* #1 Elvis fan.



On the evening of July 15, 2014, Paul B. MacLeod, age 70, shot and killed the 28-year-old man who tried to enter MacLeod's house in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Two days after the shooting, MacLeod himself was found dead on his front porch, the cause of death ruled to be natural causes. But the crowd that gathers at 200 E. Gholson in Holly Springs on Saturday won't be there just to remember the late Paul MacLeod. They'll be on hand for an auction not only of the house's contents but of the house itself, a house known as Graceland Too.

Since opening his door, any hour of the day or night, to the public, MacLeod acted as the onsite guide to his cluttered collection of Elvis memorabilia, a collection that ran from front porch to backyard and from floors to walls to ceilings. Elvis busts and full-figure cutouts; rooms wallpapered in Elvis albums and album covers; Elvis concert photos, curtains, and wall hangings: It was Elvis everywhere, and never mind the kitsch factor. This was more like folk art run riot and raised to the level of room-size art installation. There was a pink limo parked out back. There was a faux electric chair wired to a (working?) DieHard battery and inspired by Jailhouse Rock. But there were non-Elvis decorative touches too: fake Christmas tree branches, Mardi Gras beads, chain-link fencing, and barbed wire. The house itself (including the glass in its windows) could be painted a bright blue one year and a combination brown/white the next — with little to no rhyme or reason why the colors went where. But the tourists were certainly there. They could be drunken college students by night or foreign tourists by day, and they weren't just treated to one man's fixation on all things Elvis. They met the man himself, Paul MacLeod, who claimed to drink a case of Coke a day.

Among the visitors were journalists and publishers Darrin Devault, who teaches at the University of Memphis, and Tom Graves, who teaches at LeMoyne-Owen College. Devault and Graves are amateur but accomplished photographers too, and they've documented MacLeod's collection in Graceland Too Revisited (Devault-Graves Digital Editions), subtitled "Images from the Home of the Universes*, Galaxys*, Planets*, Worlds*, Ultimate #1 Elvis Fan."

In recent phone interviews, Devault called the house "the wackiest place I've ever seen." Graves — borrowing from music writer and cultural critic Greil Marcus — called it a fine example of a vanishing species: "the old weird America." But Graceland Too isn't just endangered. It's soon to be extinct, and the exact date is that auction date: January 31st. No telling how high the bids on individual items could go, but MacLeod claimed his collection was worth millions, though, judging from Devault's and Graves' images, it's hard to spot the rarities. Impossible, however, not to recognize MacLeod's single-mindedness.

"Graceland Too was a two-part attraction," Devault said. "The first was the artifacts. The second was Paul. He was a raconteur of the highest order."

"A dyed-in-the-wool Elvis guy" is how Graves described him. "Bric-a-brac chaos" is what Graves called Graceland Too — chaos captured in the color-saturated imagery of Graceland Too Revisited.

The publishing team visited Holly Springs twice to take photos: the first visit during Graceland Too's "Blue Period" in July 2011; then in August 2014. The end result, so far as the authors know: the only evidence in book form of MacLeod's collection. "We want readers to be able to touch the pages, get a good sense of the color," Graves said of the book, which differs from the digital editions normally produced by the Devault-Graves Agency.

"We looked at Paul MacLeod as a man who devoted his life to something he believed in," Devault said against any charges that Graceland Too Revisited is simply a spotlight on an eccentric individual. But the book already puts those possible charges to rest. On the dedication page, it's there for all to see: "To the memory of Paul B. MacLeod, an Elvis fan who showed us how to chase our dreams."

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.

Add a comment