Johnny Cash childhood home to become a museum

Johnny CashJohnny Cash is a music legend, and now his boyhood home in the otherwise obscure town of Dyess in northeastern Arkansas is being turned into a museum.

Funds from the Johnny Cash Music Festival on August 4 will go towards renovating the home and creating the museum. Family members will be among those performing, as well as George Jones and Kris Kristofferson. Locals are also raising funds with an annual Dyess Day.

So what else is there to see in Dyess? It was built as an agricultural colony during the New Deal and has an interesting past and lots of historic buildings. It’s also close to some beautiful natural areas such as the Ozarks and the Saint Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management Area. More importantly for music fans, being only an hour’s drive from Memphis and Graceland, it makes a cool stop on a musical road trip through America’s heartland.

[Photo courtesy Look Magazine]

Daily Pampering: Graceland Suite at Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Orlando

There’s a luxurious side to rock ‘n’ roll, and it doesn’t involve tour buses and groupies.

The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando recently set up the “Graceland Suite” for guests who want to reconnect with their Elvis days, and embrace their luxurious side like the King himself so often did.

The 2,375-square-foot Graceland Suite features authentic Far East artifacts and subtle nods to Elvis in the wall art. You’ll also find older images of Graceland, a master bathroom with a whirlpool tub, a glass-encased, double-sided fireplace that can be seen from the master bedroom and master bathroom, a baby grand piano in the living room, wall-mounted 65-inch plasma TV in the living area, and a 42-inch plasma TV in the master bedroom.

If Elvis were alive today (and maybe he is), we think he’d totally shell out $2,175 a night for the posh Graceland Suite.

Want more? Get your dose of daily pampering right here.

Celebrate Elvis’ 75th Birthday at Graceland this week

Had he lived, Elvis would be turning 75 years old on January 8. Superfans can celebrate with a week of parties hosted Graceland from January 7 to 10.

Events include a day tour of Tupelo, where Elvis grew up, book signings from authors of books on Elvis, fan club events, and panel presentations from close friends and associates of Elvis. There will be musical performances, including a gospel concert of Elvis songs and a performance of tunes from Elvis done by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Several birthday and dance parties will also be offered. The Elvis 75th Birthday Bash on Beale is just $15 and includes a night of drink specials, live music, and partying at clubs up and down Beale Street on January 9.

Tickets for all events are available online until 5pm Central today. After that, you can purchase them at the door for each event (pending availability) or at the Graceland Guest Services office.

Graceland to get a makeover

In need of a little pick-me-up, Heartbreak Hotel is undergoing a makeover to help revive its natural beauty. The owners of Graceland the Heartbreak Hotel are putting together redevelopment plans for the famous hotel and Elvis’ home.

The owners are no strangers to makeovers. Robert Sillerman, the owner of the “American Idol” franchise, also owns CKX Inc., the company that bought controlling interest of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2004. According to an interview with Memphis’ The Commercial Appeal, Sillerman is ready to revive the Memphis hotspot for the millions of visitors that grace Graceland each year.

These redevelopments have been in discussion for years – a $250 million proposed plan would include a demolition of the visitors center and a revitalization of the hotel, which would include larger and upgraded facilities.

“Heartbreak Hotel, despite the fact it was built as anything but a luxury hotel, maintains the highest occupancy of any hotel in the state of Tennessee,” Sillerman said in an interview. “What we’re talking about is an extension of something that has proven to be successful that will be undertaken by the type of experts who can fulfill the vision.”

The redevelopment discussions start in a few weeks when Sillerman and his planning committee arrive in Memphis to plan phase one of the facelift. Within 90 to 120 days after the planning session, “we’ll have a very specific idea of what it is we’d like to do,” Sillerman said.

We’ll have to wait a few more months to see what redevelopment decisions the owners of the famous Memphis mecca decide on but in the meantime, here’s hoping the soul of Graceland remains perfectly in tact.

[via The Commercial Appeal]

Five famous fathers: Visit where they lived with their children

For a Father’s Day nod to famous fathers, it seemed apropos to do a post on Father’s Day travel with a twist. Read a biography of famous men and it may take more than a few paragraphs to get to their children. The children seem tucked in between those details that made a man famous. Regardless how much or how little press is given to the offspring, there are landmarks where these men lived with the people who helped keep their legacies alive.

Although these are the sites we head to to find out about what made these men tick as contributors to the rest of us, they are also the places that children called home, and where the men who might have tucked them in at night were called “Dad” (or “Papa,” or “Father” or “Pops” or some other variation) by those people whose tiny hands they once held in their own.

Here are five men through history who have had an influence on the world and where you can visit where they lived with their children. From humble houses to elaborate palaces, here are five places where you can imagine the varied conversations that happened within the walls–the type that only fathers and children share.

1. Henry VIII (Religion)–Hampton Court Palace, London. This Tudor palace is where King Henry 8th of England, with a penchant for beheading his wives, lived the most. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture with a fascinating history and a remarkable maze in the garden. Henry’s three children used this palace as a haven after they became adults as well. Son Edward was christened in the chapel and Mary spent her honeymoon here. Henry died when Edward was nine. The two daughters were older. Henry’s desire to divorce his wives led to the England’s shift away from Roman Catholicism.

2. Abraham Lincoln (Politics)–Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois. This is a hallmark year to visit the house where Lincoln lived with his family prior to becoming president. Take a guided walk in the neighborhood where Lincoln took strolls, probably with sons Robert, Willie and Tad (son Edward died.) Lincoln brought the North and South back together.

3. Claude Monet (Art)–Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny, France. Monet moved to this lovely farm with his family and lived here for 43 years. Here he painted is famous works connected to Impressionism and provided a haven of art and creativity for his brood made up of eight children. When you look at Monet’s studio where he painted, inspired by the garden on the property, imagine what his children saw and how the smell of paint and flowers were prominent in their lives.

4. Martin Luther King Jr.(Civil Rights)–Dexter Parsonage Museum, Montgomery, Alabama. Visit the house where Martin Luther King Jr. lived where he was a young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist church. This is where he was living with his four children and wife when someone threw a bomb onto the porch. You can still see the damage. No one was hurt. The house looks as if the King family just stepped outside for a moment. It’s a step back in time for sure. King’s message of equality provides hope and drive to those who are struggling for equal rights. If it wasn’t for him, and those who rallied behind his words, where would we be?

5. Elvis Presley (Music and Popular Culture) Memphis, Tennessee–Graceland. No matter what a person thinks of the over-the-top decor of Graceland, it’s the place where Elvis felt at home and he lived with his wife Priscilla and daughter, Lisa Marie until Priscilla moved out, taking Lisa Marie with her. Still, this is the home where Lisa Marie can still go to remember her dad who made a big time impact on popular culture and music. The photo is of Lisa Marie’s swing set in the back yard.