AUGUST 13,2012 BY WWW.ELVIS.COM
On Thursday, August 9, 2012, Tupelo unveiled a larger-than-life statue to commemorate the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. Hundreds of fans gathered in the Tupelo Fairpark District, former site of the Tupelo fairgrounds where Elvis performed the famous homecoming concert in September of 1956, to see the statue unveiled.
The statue was sculpted by Mississippian William Beckwith based on the Roger Marshutz’s 1956 photograph of Elvis reaching into the crowd in Tupelo. It is known by fans as “the hands.”
The unveiling was held as part of Tupelo’s free summer music concert series titled “Down on Main” and was part of a celebration of Mississippi artists. Mississippians Eden Brent and Marty Stuart headlined the show for the night. The Tupelo Unity Choir opened the night with the gospel music Elvis loved and joined Eden Brent on the stage for a couple of songs.
The statue was met with thunderous applause with many fans breaking into tears. The remainder of the night was spent in line waiting to get their picture made holding the hand of Elvis. Traffic at the statue has been steady since the unveiling and is anticipated to remain that way through the Elvis Week activities.
Of the statue, Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo CVB commented, “The statue is more than just a piece of bronze erected in Elvis’ honor. It’s a constant reminder of how important Tupelo’s cultural influence was to him and how important he still is to Tupelo .”
Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss. on Jan. 8, 1935, where he grew up around his extended family. In the thirteen years that Elvis spent in Tupelo, he was exposed to many different kinds of music that played an important role throughout his career. He was exposed to gospel music in his childhood church, discovered the blues in the Shake Rag community and on “the Hill” where his family lived for a while and he listened to country shows on the radio with his family during this time.
For more information on Tupelo, visit www.tupelo.net.