Ryman Auditorium Unveils New Elvis Presley Exhibit Commemorating 70 Years Since His Opry Performance

photo from Ryman Auditorium/Eric Ahlgrim

Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium has unveiled a new Elvis Presley exhibition titled “From Memphis to the Ryman,” commemorating 70 years since Presley’s one and only Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman on Oct. 2, 1954. Renowned as one of the most talked-about moments in Ryman history, Presley’s performance, alongside lead guitarist Scotty Moore and double bass player Bill Black, is revisited through a series of recollections, photographs and artifact displays. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the dynamic storytelling surrounding Presley’s infamous appearance, narrated by Matthew Ramsey, songwriter and lead singer of ACM and CMA award-winning band Old Dominion.

“The Ryman is full of history and stories like this, and it’s great to be a part of telling the story of someone who’s had such a tremendous impact on music and culture, not to mention my own personal musical journey,” said Ramsey. “I’m honored to narrate this incredible exhibit marking the 70th anniversary of Elvis’s historic Opry debut at the Ryman.”

Visitors will experience the tale of Presley’s nerves backstage, his prediction of the audience’s reception and the aftermath of his rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Despite the tepid applause that followed, the night remains etched in Ryman lore. The exhibition’s highlights include unique artifacts, each offering a glimpse into different facets of Elvis’s life and legacy, including the 1954 contract between Presley and Sun Records that jumpstarted his career. A short 64 days after the contract was signed, Presley stepped onto the Ryman’s stage. From an iconic royal blue suit worn by Presley, designed by Richard Davis and tailored by Barry Certo, to a collection of personal items belonging to influential figures who were present for Elvis’s Opry debut such as Sam Phillips, Hank Snow and Bill Monroe, the exhibit immerses visitors in the essence of an era that forever changed the landscape of American music.

“On behalf of the Ryman, I want to extend a special thank you to the Sam Phillips Family, Sam Phillips Recording Service, Graceland, Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion, and Peter Guralnick, who all played a part in bringing this story to life in a way it deserves to be told,” said Gary Levy, General Manager of Ryman Auditorium.

Entry to “From Memphis to the Ryman” is included in all daytime tour tickets at the Ryman, which features other star-studded exhibits, Rock Hall at the Ryman, the Soul of Nashville immersive theater experience and a souvenir photo on the Ryman’s historic stage. Through May 1, visitors will also have access to Johnny Cash’s legendary tour bus, “JC Unit One,” before it travels back to Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For more information, visit www.ryman.com.

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