Marty Stuart won't be in town till next week when he plays an intimate concert at Graceland's Guest House Theater with his band the Fabulous Superlatives, but a portion of the musician's extraordinary collection of country music artifacts is already on display as part of Graceland's Country Road to Rock Exhibit. Even more will be available June 9th, when Stuart cuts the ribbon on "Hillbilly Rock," a new exhibit, written by Stuart and showcasing artifacts of Hank Williams, the Maddox Brothers and Rose, Lefty Frizzell, and more.
"I like what they're doing across the street," Stuart says of Graceland's expanded exhibit space. "['Hillbilly Rock'] is about evolution, and passing it on," says Stuart, whose personal collection of country music artifacts contains more than 20,000 pieces including Johnny Cash's first black performance suit, the handwritten lyrics for "I Saw the Light" and "Cold Cold Heart," and the boots Patsy Cline was wearing when her plane crashed.
"My first memory on this Earth is being in my mother's arms crying," Stuart says, explaining how even the rigors of the entertainment industry couldn't dampen his enthusiasm. "I know what the fabric on her dress felt like. I couldn't remember why I was crying, but I later found out it was the church bells. They were coming across the breeze in Philadelphia, Mississippi, from the Methodist church across tile town ... That's my first memory on Earth. And nothing has changed. The right piece of music can reduce me to a puddle of tears in a heartbeat. Or get the goosebumps on me. Even through all the ups and downs and victories and defeats. After 40-something years of doing this, I still feel like a 9-year-old kid."
In addition to pieces from Stuart's collection, current Graceland exhibits feature artifacts belonging to James Brown, Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and countless other 20th-century pop icons.
Graceland Exhibits are open daily. Marty Stuart and his Fabulous superlatives play the Graceland Guest House Theater Saturday, June 9, 8 p.m. $35 Graceland.com