Sixty years ago, on January 28, 1956, Elvis Presley performed his first of six appearances on Stage Show. While his performance today would seem timid, at the time Elvis’ shaky hips, long hair and rock and roll music horrified parents across America, and inspired a generation of youth, breaking down social barriers and uniting people from across the country. After his second performance on Stage Show, the show was bombarded with so many complaints about his dancing that they were forced to only broadcast him from the waist up. This controversy would be the first of many that would follow Elvis as he quickly became one of the most influential musicians in history.
To those who witnessed the cultural revolution Elvis created with his music, the world stood still on August 16th, 1977, when he was found dead at his home in Graceland. Although 40 years have almost passed since that fateful day, Elvis hasn’t gone anywhere. He can still be found on t-shirts and coffee mugs, on billboards and on the radio, on television and in “live” performances by the estimated 83,000 Elvis impersonators around the world. In fact, in 2008, Elvis Presley made $52 million, surpassing modern artists such as Justin Timberlake and Madonna.
Elvis can also be found at Performance Marine, on 3310 Pasqua Street, at Regina’s very own Elvis Presley Museum. Celebrating its 11th year of business, the Elvis Presley Museum is Regina’s best kept secret, and is unlike any other museum in the world.
The museum begins with classic character cars from the 1950s and 1960s, ranging from Shelby Cobras, Crown Victorians, Morgans and Thunderbirds. These beautiful cars immediately transport visitors to a long past decade of drive-in-movies, black and white films and gas prices as low as 23 cents a gallon. The space can be rented out and be used for a variety of functions, and has been visited by thousands of people over the past decade, including Premier Brad Wall and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
At the end of the building and up a short flight of stairs is the Elvis Presley Museum. The museum’s walls are pink – Elvis’ favourite colour – and are adorned with everything Elvis. The museum has posters, postcards, photographs, puzzles, magnets, magazines, pillows, blankets, towels, figurines and even Christmas decorations dedicated to “The King”. This includes original records and posters of the 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite” performance, the first of its kind in history.
The owner of the museum, Kathleen Lorch, has been continuously adding to this museum since it first opened, with many boxes of donations coming in from people who have old Elvis albums and magazines and have nowhere else to put them. She has a story about every picture, every album and every movie that she has on display. Kathleen also has very strong opinions about Spinout and Speedway, claiming they were just “formula movies” that didn’t capture the charisma Elvis had when he was on the stage. If asked, she will also show you clips of Elvis’ “1968 Comeback Special”, the first ever unplugged performance of a musician, a trend that would be popularized years later by MTV.
While the museum itself is impressive, there is one more surprise it has to offer. Around the corner of the museum and through a white door is a complete, to scale replica of Elvis’ first house in Tupelo, Mississippi. The porch of the house is covered in records of Elvis’ musical inspirations – such as Mario Lanza, Dean Martin and B.B. King – as well as photographs of the original house. Through the door of the house is Elvis’ childhood bedroom, complete with photographs, toys, a fireplace, period clothing and The King himself, as a small doll on the bed. The next room, the kitchen, has dishes, cutlery, a cast iron stove, glass milk jugs, paintings, and an old Bible, just like what Elvis would have grown up with.
Every year Kathleen goes down to Memphis, Tennessee, for the annual “Elvis Week” celebration in memory of Elvis’ death. There, she sees people from around the world, including celebrities and former band mates of Elvis. She says she sees people from all ages at the celebration, from toddlers to seniors, but the largest group the last few years are the twenty-some year olds, just like they were back when Elvis’ first stepped on stage. This, she claims, is proof that Elvis is timeless, and has a talent and voice that transcends generations, inspiring both young and old alike.
Entrance into the museum is only $10 per person, and all the money goes towards the “I'll Remember You Elvis Fan Club”. The fan club then donates every year to small charities for individuals that need help.
For more information about the museum, its hours of operation and to book a tour, contact Kathleen Lorch at 306 586-9819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.