Meet the Executive Director Dick Guyton. Dick has been the executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace for 18 years. He was asked a few questions about his Elvis experience.
What is your first memory of Elvis?
I saw him perform at the Tupelo Fairgrounds in both 1956 and 1957. I was a teenager, and we got the day off from school. It was interesting to watch the crowd’s reaction to Elvis, especially all the girls. One girl even got up on stage with Elvis and had to be escorted off. The city was enthralled with Elvis.
When did you become the executive director of the Birthplace?
I interviewed in June 2002. I was hired the 17th day of July in 2002. This was three weeks before the 25th anniversary of Elvis’s death. And, I didn’t truly realize how big of an occasion this would be to the Birthplace until I experienced it. Luckily, the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation Board of Directors stepped up and had everything ready, so I was able to experience and learn about the event. It was quite a day. We had 26 motorcoaches lined up side-by-side in the street. I’d never seen anything like that before. I observed all kinds of activities and people from everywhere. It was amazing.
You will find a sculpture – “Elvis at 13” – and a monument of two sculptures and a base piece – “Becoming” – that are highlights at the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
With “Elvis at 13,” Elvis is portrayed in oversized overalls, a full open-collar shirt and plain shoes as evidence of the poverty and humbleness of those early years. The sculpture shows Elvis carrying his guitar and pointed like he is walking toward the Overlook. The sculpture is life-size with purpose and displayed at ground level so that fans can more directly relate to Elvis as a person.
“Becoming” is two sculptures and a base piece known by one name and is at the top of the Overlook. One sculpture is Elvis as a boy, one sculpture is Elvis as an entertainer, and the base piece represents the broken clay ground of a hot summer day as Elvis would have known it. The base is in a circle with both sculptures on it; this represents the life of Elvis. As a young boy, Elvis and his friends would run the hills and hollows of these 15 acres of property. Near the end of those days, perhaps Elvis picked up his guitar and walked up to the Overlook. Perhaps it was here that Elvis “dreamed the dream” of a better life for himself and his family.
After Elvis died, the front porch of his birthplace was covered in flowers from his many fans. The city of Tupelo began receiving contributions from his many fans, and they needed to make a decision on how the funds would be managed.
Janelle McComb was a family friend of the Presleys. Janelle was also a collector of Elvis’s memorabilia. The city of Tupelo appointed Janelle to be the director of the funds received in memory of Elvis.
At the time, only the birthplace house and a youth center were on the park property. When Elvis came to Tupelo to visit, he would walk around and talk about possibly having a place for meditation on the birthplace park property. It was decided that the funds should be used to build a chapel.
Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation board member Roy Turner was instrumental in helping Elaine Dundy write the book “Elvis & Gladys.”
Young Roy was very involved with the Northeast Mississippi Historical and Genealogical Society and credits the members of the society for his “education,” considering it his alma mater. Through the society’s tutelage, he eventually held every office in the society and wrote, edited, and printed the society’s journal.
Elaine Dundy grew up in New York City and Long Island. After graduating from Sweet Briar College in 1943, she worked as an actress in Paris and, later, London, where she met her future husband, the theater critic Kenneth Tynan. She was an actress, a novelist, a playwright, and a biographer.
Fan Appreciation Day at the Elvis Presley Birthplace will be Saturday, August 8, 2020. In appreciation of our fans, there will be no entry charge to any exhibit at the Birthplace.
We certainly want you to come and experience the Innocence of Elvis with us at the Birthplace, and there is plenty to experience. The city of Tupelo also has Elvis attractions to experience.
In February, when City of Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton had the announcement to reveal the sex of his child, the celebration was held in the Event Center of the Elvis Presley Birthplace. The information was hidden on the marquee of the theater in the Event Center, and Elvis tribute artist Riley Jenkins aided in the reveal.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace is available to book for special events – like the announcement of a child. We’ve hosted anniversary parties with catering and dancing. Business meetings are held here. If you’re looking for a fun and intimate venue, Elvis Presley Birthplace is where you need to be!
It’s not the same without you. We’re missing our friends.
For all of you who have been, this is a reminder of your visit.
For those of you who haven’t been yet, this is some of what you have to experience.
Our new marker for the Reflections area has been installed. The path you see to the left goes from the Reflections area to the parking lot. We have many fans who come and spend time in the serenity of the pond and fountains. Spring will soon be here, and Reflections will have an explosion of colorful plant activity. We invite you to come and reflect.
We appreciate of all of the messages and posts that we received for Elvis’ 85th Birthday milestone. There’s no doubt that Elvis fans are the best fans in the world!
To celebrate the event, we had a brief program with a lot of cupcakes! We thank Tupelo City Councilman Buddy Palmer and Elvis Tribute Artist Taylor Rodriguez for being part of the program.
January 8, 2020, marks Elvis’s 85th birthday!
Please join us at the Birthplace as we celebrate.
Elvis’s birthplace will be free of charge for his birthday. Come visit the home where Elvis spent the first 13 years of his life.
Keep your eyes on our social media pages for updates and celebrations at the Birthplace as we get closer to the day.
Meet Roy Turner, Newest Member of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Board of Trustees.
Just like Elvis, Roy was born and raised in East Tupelo, an area not associated with wealthy and famous people, but he and Elvis made their marks in changing that.
Like Elvis, Roy attended Lawhon School and was taught by Elvis’ teachers. In the third grade, Roy was amazed when a teacher came to the door to announce that Elvis “was in the building.” He and his classmates thought that an impromptu Elvis performance would be the reason to get out of studying math, but Elvis was visiting his former fifth grade teacher that day. Only Elvis’ former teacher got to talk with him.
We continue to enhance your experience of “The Innocence of Elvis”
Have you had a chance to see some of the enhancements that have been made at the Birthplace? If you are planning a party for autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, we still have openings at our event center. Please call Rhonda at 662-841-1245 about availability.
Save January 8, 2020, for The Ultimate Birthday Tribute!
Please join us for The Ultimate Birthday Tribute on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, at the Birthplace. As you can see by the flyer above, it features 2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion Taylor Rodriguez. All seats are $25. For tickets and information, please call the Birthplace at 662-841-1245.
Fan Appreciation Day was Saturday, August 10!
We appreciate your support of the Elvis Presley Birthplace. His legacy lives on, and we do our best to be good stewards of that legacy.
We believe we have captured the “Experience of Elvis” in his formative years.
Thank you for your patronage. Thank you for your calls and emails. Thank you for helping us keep this experience alive.
Fan Appreciation Day is coming!
Mark your calendar for Saturday, August 10, and plan to join us at the Elvis Presley Birthplace!
Special things happening that Saturday include:
If you can’t come in person, visit us on Facebook. We plan to livestream program.
As part of the 2019 Tupelo Elvis Festival, on Thursday, June 6, the Elvis Presley Birthplace hosted the “Becoming” Experience.
A youth workshop on how to be an Elvis Tribute Artist took place in the morning, and a competition was held in the theater in the afternoon. A lot of youth talent was seen.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace Memorial Foundation honored Guy Harris with a bench on the birthplace property.
For those of you who have been to the birthplace, hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to meet Guy Harris. Guy and Elvis were childhood friends, and Guy has been a great friend to the Elvis Presley Birthplace giving of his time to meet with many visitors and groups and telling the stories of Elvis’ early days that he witnessed firsthand.
A friend to us all, we thank Guy for all that he does for us and all the Elvis fans. Congratulations!
We were recently honored by a visit from Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Soden to the Birthplace. Mr. Soden came to Tupelo to address the Rotary Club of Tupelo. He spoke of working with the Presley family after Elvis and how Graceland came to be what it is today. He told us of the additions and expansions to the property in Memphis and talked about his wish list for the future.
After the Rotary Club meeting, Mr. Soden met with Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation Chairman Henry Dodge who gave him a tour of the “Becoming” and “Reflections” areas of the Birthplace property.
Changes are being made to the property of the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
The overview map shown above is the first of the new signage that is being placed around the birthplace property. Some signs are being changed, and some signs are being added. With such a spread out property, we want our guests to be able to find all the venues we have to offer easily. We’re always open to questions, and we feel the signage will assist in our guests finding their favorite spots.
January 8, 2019, marked Elvis’s 84th birthday!
Our friends from Graceland brought a group down the Sunday before Elvis’s birthday. While they were visiting the Birthplace, they had a few minutes to hear from Elvis’s boyhood friend Guy Harris. We were able to have Guy on Facebook live as he made his remarks. To see and hear Guy’s comments, click here.
On January 8, we had a birthday party for Elvis, and the Event Center was full of fans!
Tom Brown addressed the crowd, and we had plenty of birthday cake to go around. Elvis’s house was free of charge to visit as it always is on his birthday.
January 8, 2019, marks Elvis’s 84th birthday!
Won’t you join us at the Birthplace as we celebrate? At 1 p.m. on January 8 in our Event Center, we will have some light refreshments as we wish Elvis a happy birthday!
Elvis’s birthplace will be free of charge for his birthday. Come visit the home where Elvis spent the first 13 years of his life.
If can’t join us in person, check our Facebook page for videos and updates during the day.
We have been blessed with many of you visiting us this year.
We’ve averaged 19 buses of visitors a month. We’ve had 3,900 visitors a month.
Our visitors have come from 44 states and 20 countries. This includes monks from Tibet and fan clubs from Brazil and Germany. We’re happy to see you all!
Our website has also seen many visitors. The top five countries to visit our website this month are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. By state, visitors ranked are Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and Alabama.
We held our annual Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 11. For those of you who were not available to attend, we live-streamed the event on our Facebook page. The video is available on Facebook if you’d like to see it.
We announced a few changes we plan to make at the Birthplace. We’re working with a landscape architect to create a path from our main parking lot to our Reflections lake, so those visitors wishing to go there will not have to follow the path up and down the hill to get there.
We are also negotiating with landowners to be able to increase our parking behind our Becoming statues so that buses and other larger vehicles will be able to park there and that our friends with mobility issues won’t have to worry about climbing the hill.
This is the 41st anniversary of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Fan Appreciation Day. Each year hundreds of fans, both long-distance travelers and locally based, come to the Birthplace to experience the Innocence of Elvis. Elvis’s first 13 years in Tupelo molded the values he kept for the rest of his life.
Please make plans to join us. Make new friends. See how our grounds have expanded. Enjoy the beauty that the Elvis Presley Birthplace has to offer.
We are now publishing our “Tender Notes” as an e-newsletter. This will make it easier for you to read it on a smartphone or tablet. It is also simpler for you to share with your friends by forwarding it.
Your friends can sign up for a copy to be sent directly to them by going to our website – ElvisPresleyBirthplace.com – or by going to our Facebook page – Facebook.com/ElvisPresleyBirthplace – and choosing the “Newsletter Signup” option that is at the bottom of the list on the left-hand side of the page.
Thank you for your continued support.
Enjoy our new format.
Before we know it, SPRING will be upon us. It’s hard to believe but March 20th is the first day of spring for 2018.
Flowers will be blooming, grass begins to green, and then, warm weather will show up. It’s a great time to watch the floral growth symphony at Reflections.
March always brings Spring Holidays and families begin to travel. What better place to travel than our home state. Mississippi has lots of things to see – starting in Tupelo at THE ELVIS PRESLEY BIRTHPLACE, then the Gulf Coast, The Blues Music Trail, Natchez, Columbus, and Jackson and its new museums.
Now is the time to start planning for your spring trip. But, this year, stay at home in our beautiful state and enjoy what MISSISSIPPI has to offer, EVERYONE!
Happy New Year!!!! We have just moved into 2018, celebrated the 83rd birthday of ELVIS, and already planning for Spring at the Birthplace. It won’t be long now until the flowers will begin to sprout and the trees will show little buds all over. Spring will be here before we know it. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and all of your resolutions have come true, so far.
August of this year will be the 41st anniversary of his death. January of next year we will celebrate his 84th Birthday. Things are moving forward at THE BIRTHPLACE. We are already looking at many NEW items for the gift shop. The entrance to the main building has been redone and gives much room inside. We also have 2 or 3 new items that will be placed in the Museum.
Fall is in the air, well sometimes. It really is on the way as we already see Christmas ads and decorations. Here at the Birthplace, we are preparing for an exciting Holiday season.
The Motor Coaches have continued to come to visit all the venues at the Birthplace. Families, traveling to ball games and visits to friends also have not slowed. All the venues are now open and fans seem to really enjoy the newest, “REFLECTIONS”. The peaceful atmosphere, as well as the sights and sounds of fall, make this lake a special place to visit. There are several photo ops that will make excellent Christmas cards. Check them out.
Even though warm weather is still with us, summer is fading away. Fall will be here before you can say “Elvis has left the building”. This has been a terrific summer for all of us in the Elvis World. Because this was the 40th anniversary of his death, the Birthplace and even the streets of Tupelo were covered with FANS from all over the world.
Here at the Birthplace things have really been jumping. During our Fan Appreciation Day and several days following, over 50 motor coaches visited us and most visited the Downtown area as well.
All right, the summer is upon us – a typical Mississippi Summer at the Elvis Presley Birthplace. BUT, this year is the 40th anniversary of the Death of Elvis. If you are an Elvis fan, then you know that this will be the largest anniversary ever.
Here at the Birthplace Park, the crowds have already picked up. Lots of international fans are already coming to see what’s jumping at the Park. Since the 35th anniversary, two new venues have been added.