Memphis and Mississippi mean music. If Mississippi was the birthplace of the Blues then Memphis is where the music grew up and reached maturity. The city became a magnet for aspiring musicians who headed north on Highway 61 to perform on legendary Beale Street. In 1947 the 22-year old Riley B. King hitchhiked to Memphis with his $30 guitar, got his break in local radio and as BB King became a blues legend. Until his death in 2015 he still played regularly at the Beale Street club that bears his name.
Another son of Mississippi, Elvis Aaron Presley, was born in a humble 2-room house in the town of Tupelo. His love of music came from his mother and she bought him a guitar from the Tupelo Hardware Store for his 11th birthday. Two years later, the Presley family moved to Memphis and while still a teenager, Elvis came to the attention of Sun Studios boss, Sam Phillips. The rest, as they say, is history and the King went on to revolutionise popular music.
Follow their stories and many more on this Deep South fly/drive holiday.
Itinerary tip.....we strongly suggest a Wednesday or Thursday arrival in to Memphis to coincide with live music along the Mississippi Blues Trail in Clarksdale and Greenwood. In these small towns, entertainment is only available from Thursdays through the weekend. Near Greenwood, Club Ebony, one of the south's most important African American venues opens Thursday to Sunday night. Po Monkey's, the world famous sharecropper cabin turned juke house, is currently closed as the owner died in the summer of 2016. Stop by for a great photo op and fingers crossed plans to reopen happen soon.
Distance: 74 miles
Distance: 57 miles
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Centre tells the story of King’s life, his career, and stories of the Delta – its history and music, social mores and race relations, literature and legends, adversities and successes.
Continue to Greenwood and be sure to have dinner at the famous Lusco’s – a local institution for more than fifty years.
Distance: 120 miles
Continue west and near Starkville join the Natchez Trace Parkway, which dates back over 8,000 years when it was used as an Indian trade route. By the 1800s, it was the busiest highway in what was then the American Southwest. Extending from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, the Trace offers a scenic drive through pristine forests and lush countryside – without a billboard in sight.
Distance: 180 miles
Continue north along the Natchez Trace Parkway to Nashville, known as Music City.
Distance: 210 miles
Take a slight detour from Jackson and drive through Nutbush – the birthplace of Tina Turner and the title of one of her greatest hits – before continuing to Memphis.
True Elvis fans can now stay at The Guest House at Graceland. Ask for details!