Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
On 8th January 1935 the boy who would become the King of rock ‘n roll entered the world at this incredibly modest two room home built by his father in Tupelo, Mississippi. This, as they say, is how it all began…
Born Elvis Aaron to Vernon and Gladys Presley in America’s Deep South, Elvis’ twin brother Jessie Garon was sadly stillborn upon birth. Before his meteoric rise to fame, Elvis spent his early childhood in Tupelo, regularly moving around the city, but always surrounded by friends and family. In 1946 he purchased his first guitar from a Tupelo store after his mother persuaded him to play music rather than buy the rifle he initially wanted.
To his credit, after leaving to follow his dreams in Memphis, and despite his subsequent fame and fortune, Elvis never forgot his modest roots and his hometown. Indeed, shortly after he had become a major star, Elvis returned to Tupelo 1956 to the fairground and performed a benefit concert for his home city, before returning a year later on September 27, 1957 to perform another concert to raise money to build a Youth Center and park near his childhood home.
The home is a significant part of his legend, and his rags to riches story. Given his worldwide popularity, The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park is not surprisingly a major tourist attraction, and features much beside his birthplace for fans and rock aficionados to enjoy. The whole park consists of his Birthplace, a museum, Memorial Chapel, an “Elvis at 13” statue, Fountain of Life, his childhood church, Walk of Life, “Memphis Bound” car feature and a Story Wall. The museum itself features a range of artefacts and pictures from Elvis’ childhood which was largely curated by a long-term friend of his family, Janelle McComb.
The Birthplace was designated as a landmark by the state of Mississippi, and is part of the famed Mississippi Blues trail. Well worth a visit for Elvis fanatics and rock ‘n’ rollers who have travelled South to the Magnolia State.
Location: 306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Mississippi, USA 38801
The Johnny Cash museum
A museum celebrating the incredible life and times of the Man of Black opened in downtown Nashville in late May 2013.
Simply named The Johnny Cash museum, it features everything from clothes worn by the country icon, used guitars and much more.
The new museum effectively replaces the old House of Cash museum, which was situated in Johnny’s former home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and closed for refurbishment before being burned down in 2007.
Cash’s daughter Cindy has been quote as saying that “whatever anybody needs to know about my dad that they don’t know already is in that museum,” which is perhaps the highest compliment that could be paid to it.
If you find yourself in Nashville with a few hours to spare than we recommend stopping by here to revel in the history of one of Country and popular music’s most beloved outlaws.
Location: 119 Third Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 37201
Robert Johnson Heritage And Blues Museum
The life, legend and music of Robert Johnson are central to the story of the Blues. Born over 100 years ago in 1911, the ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’ is arguably the most important and influential blues musician there has ever been, and likely ever will be, influencing everyone from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Nick Cave.
Johnson’s short life of 27 years – perhaps the first honorary member of the infamous 27 club – is shrouded in mystery and Faustian myth; most notably that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads for his success.
Born in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, Johnson had little tangible success in his lifetime, but the 1961 release of recordings he made in the mid to late 1930s fittingly entitled King Of The Delta Blues Singers brought him to international attention, and particularly the attention of up and coming musicians such as Dylan, the Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones.
Johnson’s influence on Blues and rock ‘n’ roll is almost impossible to overstate, and his legacy is huge. The Robert Johnson Heritage And Blues Museum does a pretty good job of showcasing his life and talent, with a range of guitars, rare images and other artefacts for fans to enjoy. It is another museum that is part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Location: 218 East Marion Avenue, Crystal Springs, Mississippi, USA 39059
Woody Guthrie Center
Dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of progressive folk icon Woody Guthrie, the Woody Guthrie Center is a must visit for folk music fans who’ve made it out to his home state of Oklahoma.
The Center, which opened its doors in April 2013, prides itself on educating a new generation about Guthrie and his important role in American history through the depression years and World War II until his death in 1967.
The Center houses the Woody Guthrie Archives, a specially climatically controlled section of the museum (to prevent any potential damage to the artefacts) which preserves his legacy and life story and communicating the social, political, and cultural values found in his vast body of songwriting work and political activism.
The Archives include old photographs, notebooks of lyrics, letters, instruments, records and much more. It is the biggest collection of Guthrie related memorabilia in the world.
Oklahoma has had a curiously troubled relationship with one of her most famous sons (due predominantly, it seems, to his defiantly left-wing political beliefs), but this fabulous museum has gone some way to righting those wrongs.
Location: 102 East Brady Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 74103
Buddy Holly Center
One of the early pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, Buddy Holly made a significant mark on both popular culture and music in his tragically short life.
It is no surprise therefore, that his desperately short life’s work has been chronicled and celebrated in a museum in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas.
The Buddy Holly Center is an inspiring museum with dual missions: to preserve, collect and promote the legacy of the bespectacled rocker and the music of his hometown Lubbock and West Texas, and to provide exhibits on Contemporary Visual Arts and Music to educate and entertain the visiting public.
With his trademark black spectacles and boyish good looks, Holly, like Elvis, became a teen idol several years before The Beatles, thrilling fans with a host of hit singles and rocking appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hits such as ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’ created a new energy in rock ‘n’ roll, and indebted bands and artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Bob Dylan soon followed in his wake.
Holly has inspired many artists and songs since, with his own inimitable style and music inspiring covers from the likes of The Rolling Stones (‘Not Fade Away’), John Lennon (‘Peggy Sue’) and Blondie (‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’) and tributes from artists as diverse as Don McClean (‘American Pie’) and Weezer (‘Buddy Holly’). McClean famously referred to the death of Holly in the Iowa plane wreckage as ‘the day the music died’ in that memorable song.
Location: 1801 Crickets Avenue, Lubbock, Texas, USA 79401
B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta close by the famous Devil Crossroads at Clarksdale, the B. B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center is a fine tribute to the blues legend.
The Center opened its doors in September 2008 and was built “to honour the life and music of one of the most accomplished musicians of our time.” Indeed, King is widely regarded as one of the greatest blues guitarists ever, and regularly makes the top 10 of lists made by music publications like Rolling Stone. His music and revolutionary guitar playing earned the respect of his fellow musicians too, including John Lennon and Frank Sinatra.
The museum dedicated to him in Indianola provides an authentic presentation of his life, music and art, featuring many artefacts from throughout his long and storied career and video. It also features educational programming and events.
The museum is part of the famous Mississippi Delta Blues trail, celebrating not only B. B. King but also the Delta blues music heritage and culture. The Center also aims to encourage and inspire the future keepers of the blues tradition.
Location: 400 2nd Street, Indianola, Mississippi, USA 3875
Howlin’ Wolf Blues Museum
The incomparable Howlin’ Wolf was one of the most powerful voices in the blues tradition, and along with Muddy Waters was a key progenitor in the rise of Chicago’s post-war electric blues scene.
Born in White Station, Mississippi in 1910 as Chester Arthur Burnett, he eventually adopted the moniker Howlin’ Wolf for his burgeoning music career. A towering and often intimidating figure, Wolf wowed and scared crowds in equal measure with his forceful guitar playing and shrieking vocals.
Wolf was a huge man with an incredible stage presence, and his influence on many blues-based bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Yardbirds is easy to recognise. Many of his songs have become blues standards, including ‘Smokestack Lightnin’ ‘Back Door Man’ (covered by The Doors on their eponymous debut) and ‘Spoonful’.
Wolf’s museum is on 307 East Westbrook Street in West Point, and features a whole range of memorabilia and artefacts related to his life and career, including rare photographs, records and guitars. Well worth a look if you are following the Mississippi Blues trail.
Location: 307 East Westbrook Street, West Point, Mississippi, USA 39773