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Memphis music scene

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Down on Memphis’ Beale Street, Rudy Williams plays his trumpet. The 66-year-old says he’s been performing on Beale Street longer than any local. He remembers that when he was a teen, “musicians were still going to the cotton fields in the day.” (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Welcome to Beale Street: The pedestrian-only walkway is a cacophony of live music. The Memphis street, where Elvis got most of his “hep cat” threads in the ‘50s, once hosted one of the most active African American music scenes in the country. No worries — there are still blues and funk clubs galore. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Guitarist Walter Hamilton and drummer Tyrone McCain play the blues down on Main Street outside the Green Beetle Bar. Memphis is also home to Sun studio, where one night in 1954, a 19-year-old singer named Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right,” and Stax Records, whose classic sound was a gritty, Southern-fried R&B and funk, served up by such artists as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Tourists crowd around for a gander at the “duck walk” at the Peabody Memphis Hotel. Twice daily, the keeper of the ducks herds five or six mallards along a red carpet to the elevator and a ride to their penthouse. The ducks spend the day in the lobby fountain at the landmark hotel. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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David Tate of Memphis points out the direction from which a gunman fired the shot that killed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. The white wreath marks the spot where King fell. The exterior of the motel has been preserved, while the interior is now the National Civil Rights Museum. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Fans gawk at Elvis’ jungle-themed Graceland den. Yes, that’s shag carpeting on the floor AND the ceiling. The jungle motif, complete with a waterfall and an overload of wooden exotica, may have reminded Elvis of relaxed times in Hawaii, but it may remind visitors of a dated ‘60s comedy. Aloha, baby. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Seeing is believing: Elvis’ billiard room is captured for posterity on a visitor’s cellphone. The walls and ceiling are covered with wildly covered fabric. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Her Elvis shopping done, Dina Riley of Birmingham, Ala., is ready to hop aboard a shuttle bus at Graceland, Presley’s Memphis home. Elvis’ Colonial Revival-style mansion attracts 600,000 visitors a year. Across Elvis Presley Boulevard are more attractions, restaurants, plus — for those mementos — several gift shops. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Visitors gather around the circular Meditation Garden and gawk at the tombstone of Elvis Aaron Presley. An “eternal flame” burns at the head end. Resting in peace nearby are his parents and grandmother. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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Inside Graceland, the stairwell leading from the living room down to the den is completely covered in mirrors, giving visitors multiple views of themselves. Figure on spending three to four hours at Graceland, the various museums and the souvenir shops. And while in Memphis, if your heart can stand it, be sure to sample Elvis’ beloved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Fried, of course. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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“Down at the end of Lonely Street” is the Heartbreak Hotel. And yes, the desk clerk was “dressed in black.” E fans will love it — rooms lined with photos of the King, plus two TV channels devoted 24/7 to Elvis Presley’s music and movies. And in the souvenir shop? Such Elvis novelties as “Love Me Tender” tea sets and copies of the work shirt that a teenage Presley wore when he drove a truck for Crown Electric. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
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