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|THE TRUTH BEHIND ELVIS PRESLEY BLVD
May 13, 2016 - Marty Lacker / Elvis Express Radio
A couple of days ago, we published a story regarding the renaming of Highway 51 to Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee. However, it seems that the Highway renaming
actually involved one of Elvis' close friends.
Let's remind ourselves of how the whole renaming dedication idea came about!
Back in the 1960's, the City of Memphis wanted to launch a drive to build, what they called, "the last word" in fountains at the Mid-South Coliseum in honor of Elvis. However, fans of
Elvis were not happy with the idea of a fountain and vowed to continue to try to get the name of the Coliseum changed to the Elvis Presley Coliseum, a bid they had recently lost
back in 1966.
So, just how did the decision to turn Highway 51 in to Elvis Presley Boulevard come about?
In the latter half of 1971, the City of Memphis still could not decide what to rename in honour of their most famous resident. Then, during his 2nd term, Mayor Henry Loeb contacted
one of the leaders of the Memphis Music Industry, Marty Lacker, who was also one of Elvis' close friends and asked him for any suggestion as to what to name after Elvis. Marty
insisted that the best and only logical choice to be renamed in Elvis' honour was the Highway which runs outside his own home, Graceland.
Mayor Loeb was in agreement with Marty's suggestion, he then asked Marty to speak before the Memphis City Council on the idea, which he did and now as history knows, they
passed the proposal unanimously. Now, Highway 51 South would soon become ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD.
That afternoon, after his meeting with the Council, Marty went up to Graceland and after a little time, he was sitting in the Den when Elvis came downstairs into the kitchen, and it
didn't take long for Elvis to notice Marty and he duly gave him one of those famous Elvis smiles. He then walked over and said "Thanks Marty", "Thanks for what" Marty asked?
He had no idea why Elvis was thanking him? "I hadn't told him anything about what i was doing about it all or that I was even involved".
Elvis told Marty that he awoke and turned on the TV to watch the local news and there he was on the screen speaking to the council about the street name dedication. At that time,
the news channels in Memphis covered the Council meetings and screened parts which were of interest on their newscasts.
For the official renaming ceremony, Elvis was not able to attend as he was not in Memphis at the time, and so Mayor Henry Loeb asked Marty Lacker to join Vernon Presley and the
new Mayor of Memphis Wyeth Chandler to dedicate the naming and erect the first street sign at the southeast corner Of Dolan St. which borders Graceland.