One of the strongest and most enduring relationships the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has enjoyed is the one we have with Elvis Presley Enterprises/Graceland. As the Museum was being developed, Graceland was on board from the beginning to loan items for exhibition. They’ve always strongly felt that Elvis Presley should have a prominent presence in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and we’re grateful for it.
Every few years, I meet with Angie Marchese, Graceland’s director of archives, in Memphis, to update and gather new items for the Rock Hall's Presley exhibit. Few people in the world are as knowledgeable about Presley’s life and career as Marchese, and she’s been instrumental in helping the Museum curate our exhibit dedicated to “the King of Rock and Roll.”
Two years ago, Marchese reached out to the Rock Hall with an idea for an exhibit that examined Presley’s influence on other artists – and she wanted our help. She didn’t have to ask twice, as it was a fantastic idea and a perfect opportunity for our respective institutions to collaborate. It is Graceland's mission to tell the story of Elvis Presley, and this was a chance to tell the story from an “outside perspective,” a viewpoint the experts at Graceland were eager to explore. Presley was such a musical force and cultural phenomenon that it's not hard to draw connections to other performers. The difficulty was narrowing that group of artists for a single exhibit. (pictured, left: Bono’s “MacPhisto” suit from U2’s Zooropa performances; from the Rock Hall's collection)
After trading ideas and research notes, we developed a list of musicians that stretched from Presley's contemporaries to some of today’s biggest names. The Rock Hall selected artifacts from our permanent collection to represent the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Elton John, U2 and Wilson Pickett, among others, that were loaned to Graceland.
The exhibit, ICON: The Influence of Elvis Presley, is a co-presentation of Graceland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It opened to the public on March 1 and runs through February 2013. Marchese and her crew were working right up until the moment the doors opened. They deserve a huge amount of credit for all the heavy lifting involved in actually designing the space and assembling the exhibit. They did a wonderful job, and the Rock Hall is proud to be part of it.
WATCH: Graceland director of archives Angie Marchese talks about the new Presley exhibit.