Rack-n-Roll

A look at the most famous "pool hall" in Memphis.



Photo courtesy Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Had Elvis lived to celebrate his 75th birthday this month, it's safe to say a game of pool would have been part of the fun. Whatever the King of Rock-and-Roll lacked in billiard skills, he more than made up for with the design of Graceland's billiard room.

With input from designer Bill Eubanks, the room — 408 square feet — was transformed in 1974, largely by the addition of more than 350 yards of fabric to the walls and ceiling. (A crew of three spent 10 days cutting, pleating, and hanging the patterned cotton weave.) The fabric provides the room — located downstairs, across a hallway from the mirrored "TV room" — with the kind of color normally reserved for ballrooms or reception halls. A crew of five archivists vacuum-clean the fabric once a week during the winter months, using a special duster to protect the pleats.

Also in 1974, a pair of lamps were custom-made by Laukhuff Stained Glass. Necessities for an otherwise dim room, they were crafted to reflect the stained-glass peacocks Elvis had on panels in his living room and similar glass around the home's front door. One of the lamps actually features a small chip, the result — according to legend — of a young Lisa Marie Presley throwing a billiard ball at a friend.

Though they're covered, the room actually features small windows, for ventilation purposes. It was, after all, originally a part of the home's basement. You'll also find a pair of sofas covered in the same fabric you see on the walls and two chairs in gold wide-wale corduroy. These were the Seventies, folks.

"It's a warm room," says Kevin Kern, director of public relations for Elvis Presley Enterprises. "It actually has a fireplace, though not active in a room covered entirely in fabric. Mr. Eubanks may have just added it for effect.

"It's an iconic room," adds Kern. "It gets the 'wow' from first-time visitors because of the style and grandeur. The furnishings aren't too far off from what you'd see in many homes in Memphis during the Sixties and Seventies. Graceland's a living time capsule, but the billiard room is out-of-this-world. It feels intimate, welcoming. It's probably the closest thing to a family room we have here."

The room has been centered around billiards since 1960, when Elvis first placed the table (three years after he bought the mansion). His favorite games were 8-ball and rotation, and he developed a reputation for repositioning the cue ball if a shot was too tricky for comfort. (The table features a famous tear, though no one to this day knows — or will tell — who wielded the deadly stick.) Kern says the table is among the oldest pieces of furniture in the entire mansion.

Kern clarifies that the famous game Elvis played with the Beatles was at his Palm Springs home. But with skills sharpened, needless to say, at Graceland. "Elvis never lost a game of pool on that table," says Kern with a chuckle. "Everyone knew Elvis had to win."

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