MEMPHIS — If this year promises a big menu of Elvis Presley commemorations — centered on the 40th anniversary of his death in August — then the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s birthday celebration this week represents but a sampling, an appetizer, a veritable amuse-bouche to tease the palates of Presley fans.
Make no mistake, 2017 will be a year filled, start to finish, with all manner of Presleyana. With the CMT drama Sun Records (touching on Elvis early years) premiering in February, a planned multipart Presley documentary set to air on HBO (though perhaps not until next year), and the usual array of archival recorded product coming from Elvis’ label Sony/Legacy, there’s more than enough for fans to feed on.
While August’s anniversary plans are still shaping up (full details are expected to be announced in the spring) the next few days will feature a wide-ranging selection of events — from concerts, to auctions to celebratory proclamations — that are mostly open to the public.
Here are some highlights of the Elvis birthday calendar. All times Central. For more information go to graceland.com.
The Auction at Graceland Preview
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rock Meeting Room, The Guest House at Graceland.
Fans can stop by and check out the auction preview room and get a sneak peek at the Elvis lots that will be going under the hammer. Free.
Archives Show and Tell
11 a.m. Guest House Theater, The Guest House at Graceland.
Director of archives Angie Marchese will give a special presentation and an up-close look at some treasured pieces from the Graceland Archives. Free.
Official Graceland Insiders Reception and Graceland Tour
6 p.m. Graceland Plaza.
A special birthday event reserved for members of the Official Graceland Insiders (anyone can pay for membership). The event includes a private evening tour of the Graceland Mansion. The event will move among Elvis’ airplanes, the Elvis Presley Car Museum, Graceland Archives Experience and Sincerely Elvis. In addition, attendees to the event will get to visit the VIP exhibit Elvis in Hollywood. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cash bars will be available. Programming will also feature an autograph session with Robin and Gavin Koon, Elvis’ co-stars in Follow That Dream; and a Q&A with award-winning producer, director and writer Andrew Solt, who owns the rights to The Ed Sullivan Show library and will be talking about Elvis’ third and final appearance on Sullivan exactly 60 years to the date of its airing. Insiders may purchase only three additional guest tickets in addition to their own. Membership cards will be required when picking up tickets. Tickets are $49 for adults, $26 for children 7-12 and free for children 6 and under.
9:30 p.m. to midnight, Grand Ballroom, The Guest House at Graceland.
DJ Argo spins Elvis records for your listening and dancing pleasure. Tickets: $25.
The Auction at Graceland
2:00 p.m. Guest House Theater, The Guest House at Graceland.
Fans and collectors from around the world will have the opportunity to participate on-site and online for this auction, featuring artifacts authenticated by Graceland Authenticated. Registered bidders can reserve a paddle for in-person bidding; go to graceland.com/auction.
“Elvis at the Movies” Featuring Terry Mike Jeffrey and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra
7:30 p.m. The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, 255 N. Main.
Elvis Happy Birthday and Gospel Tribute at the Gates of Graceland
11:59 p.m. Front of Graceland Gates.
Fans can join in the annual tradition. Meet at the gates of Graceland to sing gospel songs and Happy Birthday to Elvis.
Ribbon Cutting for The Founders Path
8:30 a.m. at The Guest House at Graceland
Fans are invited to come for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Founders Path at The Guest House. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests will be invited to walk the path from The Guest House at Graceland to Graceland Mansion to attend the Birthday Proclamation Ceremony. The Founders Path will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. for guests to use to/from the Proclamation Ceremony (weather permitting).
Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony
9:30 a.m. Graceland’s North Lawn. Free admission.
Birthday cake cutting and proclamation of Elvis Presley Day by Memphis and Shelby County officials.
Birthday Cake and Coffee
10:30 a.m. Chrome Grille, Graceland Plaza.
Complimentary birthday cake and coffee served at the restaurant across the street from the mansion following the ceremony. Free to all who attend.
Follow Bob Mehr on Twitter: @BobMehr