With the new Elvis movie release a week ago, former fans and new fans are revisiting the King of Rock and Roll phenomena that swept the world in the late 50s until his death in 1977 at the age of 42.
Even though there is always an emphasis about Elvis’ roots in Memphis, Tennessee, some may forget that Elvis spent some of his early years in Germany. Already a superstar, Elvis was sworn in as a US Army private March 24, 1958. At the time, he had a recording contract with RCA, a multi-film contract with Paramount, four completed feature films and several songs on the billboard 100 charts. Elvis in Germany | Stripes Europe He put all that on pause to serve his country.
That same summer, his mother died and after seeing to her affairs, he joined Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps, also known as the “Spearheads”. He completed regular duties like driving officials and cleaning details, but he did get permission to move off the barracks and rented a place in Bad Nauheim where he could bring his father and grandmother over and they shared a house.
In Elvis’ absence, more than 40 of his songs were either released or re-released while he was away on active duty. Filming began on his “GI Blues” movies in Germany with settings in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, on the Rhine, and with the 3rd Armored Division Kaserne. More than 100 soldiers acted as extras for the movie. Elvis himself did not actually work on the movie until he was released from active duty. The film was released in 1960 and its soundtrack was nominated for two Grammys. Elvis in Germany | Stripes Europe
There are probably a number of places that can attribute Elvis’ claim to fame but, in the USA, nothing will top Graceland. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and declared a National Historical Landmark in 2006. Graceland is the most-visited privately owned home in the United States, attracting more than 650,000 visitors annually (2016 data). Graceland – Wikipedia
However, if you find yourself in Europe and want to reminisce about Elvis’ German days in the Ray Barracks in Friedberg, or at his German home, visit Bad Nauheim. They have an Elvisfest each year in August and you can walk in the footsteps of Elvis Pressley. Bad Nauheim for Elvis fans – Elvis’ European Home | Bad Nauheim (bad-nauheim.de)
I have no such travel plans myself, but I do plan to see the movie when I get the chance. Maybe I can find a pair of blue suede shoes.