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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Elvis's Graceland "Man-Cave"

Above, the Jungle Room with its waterfall (at left). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the most famous rooms at Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion is the Jungle Room. Elvis never called it the Jungle Room. It was just "the den". The "Jungle Room" came about five years after his death. But he enjoyed his den as the decor reminded him of Hawaii.

The den even received a nod in the song by Marc Cohn, "Walking In Memphis":
Saw the ghost of Elvis
On Union Avenue
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland
Then I watched him walk right through
Now security they did not see him
They just hovered 'round his tomb
But there's a pretty little thing
Waiting for the King
Down in the Jungle Room

Above, another view of the sitting area of the Jungle Room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the "tiki bar" area of the Jungle Room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to an article in Rolling Stone:
Elvis Presley never called it the Jungle Room. For him, his breathtakingly garish tiki-tinged lair – sui generis in the realm of ostentatious kitsch – was merely "the den." Constructed in 1965 as an addition to Graceland, Presley's already-fabled Memphis headquarters, the room was the nerve center of his home life. There he would take his breakfast, contemplate the enormous artificial waterfall, entertain his coterie of confidants nicknamed the "Memphis Mafia" and, when the urge struck, shoot out his television set with a revolver. For a man who opened many of his concerts by singing "I'm the king of the jungle, they call me tiger man," this unruly terrain of green shag carpeting, plastic plants, rainbow lights and ersatz animal fur seemed perfectly appropriate.

The den received its evocative sobriquet from a journalist soon after Graceland opened to the public in 1982, five years after Presley's death. The newly dubbed Jungle Room was an immediate fan favorite, and not just because of the novelty. While other areas of the home make concessions to conventional aesthetics, the den brings you closest to the King's personality. His eccentric style, playful humor, manic moods and sheer bravado ooze from every corner. No wonder the room draws 600,000 people to bask in its faux-wood-paneled glory each year.

The storied space also served as the site of Presley's final recording sessions. On a handful of nights in February and October of 1976, Presley and his handpicked team of musicians and engineers – including longtime guitarist James Burton, bassist Jerry Scheff and producer Tom Felton – cut 16 titles there with the help of mobile studio equipment. These tracks formed the bulk of Presley's last two albums released before his death: From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee (1976) and Moody Blue (1977).

Now the historic tapes are getting new life via Elvis: Way Down in the Jungle Room. The two-disc set, out now, is the most complete collection of Presley's studio swansong ever assembled, including rare outtakes and alternate versions.
Above, the exterior of the Jungle Room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Jungle Room from the backyard. The carport is at right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For a panoramic 360° view of the Jungle Room, go here.

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