Memphis

Memphis is the home of both gospel and rhythm and blues, the clubs on Beale Street having been the starting point for such luminaries as Elvis Presley. But music on Beale Street (or Avenue as it was called then) started back in the 1860s with black travelling musicians.

Elvis lived in Memphis and over 600,000 people visit Memphis each year just to go to Graceland, Elvis’ beloved mansion. You can now also stay at the Graceland Guest House, inspired by the warm hospitality that Elvis always showed his guests as well as reflecting Elvis’ personal style and the unique character of Graceland.

Soul was forged in Memphis. Stax Museum of American Soul Music laid down the tracks of greats who took the funk out of Memphis and carried it all over the world: Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Booker T & the MGs and Isaac Hayes. First opened in a church from where the inspiration for soul music came, you can see the labels, dance to the music and see the original recording equipment.

The Memphis Music Hall of Fame in downtown Memphis on Beale Street, adjacent to the newly relocated Hard Rock Cafe, is the only Memphis museum to focus specifically on the heroes of Memphis music – rock, soul, jazz, blues, R&B and more, while the Blues Hall of Fame in downtown Memphis pays tribute to the great blues men and women including B.B. King, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.

You can also take a guided tour of the most famous recording studio in the world, “The Legendary” Sun Studio “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, where you can literally stand on the mark made by giants: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.

As well as its musical heritage, Memphis is steeped in the history of the civil rights movement; the National Civil Rights Museum at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis is where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The Museum brings the civil rights movement to life, places events in a historical perspective and provides a focus of national remembrance.

On Sunday mornings you can visit the oldest African-American congregation in Memphis, First Baptist Beale Street, started in 1865 as a shelter for the thousands of rural freed men and women who came to Memphis during and after the Civil War. This fabulous structure is the first brick-constructed, multi-storey church in the U.S. built for African Americans; if the church’s history doesn’t move you, the service will.

Slave Haven Museum is a white clapboard house built by Jacob Burkle in 1849. Rumour has it that this house on the Underground Railroad served as a way station for the runaway slaves and today, you can tour the house and cellar where slaves used to wait to escape.

Memphis was named after the Egyptian city, and just outside of downtown you can visit the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid where you can ride the tallest free-standing glass elevator in America at 28 stories. As well as as a multitude of shops and restaurants, an ocean-themed bowling alley and a wilderness hotel, you can get a meal and a drink from the Lookout for outstanding views of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River.

Go to Memphis for the music and stay for the history, the sights  – the historic Peabody Hotel, the Memphis Zoo, Beale Street Landing – and the culinary scene, you will not leave disappointed.

Everything went to plan. The car was excellent, we had no problems with the ferry bookings or the hotel reservations and the information we received was all accurate. We appreciated the very convenient seats that were reserved for us on the flights. Overall, an excellent holiday experience, you did an excellent job in putting it all together for us and in responding to my many queries

Mr Goodyear