Blues Trail marker to honor Elvis birthplace

Published 8:46 am Saturday, January 5, 2008

TUPELO (AP) — A Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be placed at the Tupelo birthplace of legendary musician Elvis Presley on Tuesday, on what would have been his 73rd birthday.

“By all accounts, Elvis Presley was the single greatest influence on modern day rock ‘n roll in America, and much of his musical inspiration drew on the Mississippi blues,” Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement Friday.

The ceremony will honor the king of rock ‘n’ roll for his for his contribution to Mississippi and America’s blues heritage.

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The event is sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Heritage Trails Program, the Mississippi Blues Commission, the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum.

Presley’s early recordings helped revolutionize popular music with a unique mix of blues and country music, which led many rock ‘n roll artists to follow his lead.

Presley first encountered the blues in Tupelo, and it remained central to his music throughout his career. According to Mississippi blues legend Big Joe Williams, Presley listened in particular to Tupelo blues guitarist Lonnie Williams.

Presley and his family lived in several homes in Tupelo that were next to black neighborhoods. A young Elvis and his friends would often hear the sounds of blues and gospel streaming out of churches, clubs and other venues.

Throughout his career blues continued to be a main element in his live performances until his death at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977. He is buried in a small garden beside the famous white-columned house in Memphis.