>Lorraine Hotel downtown Memphis, June 4, 2006
Graceland, Memphis Tn
Dr. Porter’s, downtown Memphis
Very early morning, the famous Daisy Theater, Beale St.
Famous A. Schwab in the same morning light, Beale St
On April 4, 2006 I was in Memphis on a assignment for J.R. Simplot Company. We arrived the day before, checked the photo site, and then bolted for Graceland. Home of the King. Took the tour (for the second time) paid homage to the man, felt his presence, checked out the crib, knelt at his grave, imagined hangin with him. Got some incredible images . It is everything you have heard. “Smaller than you thought”, “It’s on a busy highway”, “The pool is so small”, “Was he serious with the Jungle Room”, etc.
One of the things that I couldn’t get was why he would live on that busy street. Later while watching old 8mm of the King driving a snowmobile with front tires on the grand front yard of Graceland. Just tearing the crap out of the yard. Laughing hysterically. As the camera panned I saw the front gates of Graceland and beyond that, miles of beautiful Tennessee forest. The mansion was really out in the middle of nowhere when he bought it. When pesky civilization moved in Elvis bought as much property as he could across the street. This area now functions as the jumping off place for the Graceland Empire. Parking lots, ticket booths, shops. The “Lisa Marie” and “Hound Dog II” are here as well.
Went back to downtown Memphis, strolled the streets went to Boogies on Beale St. for dinner. Beale St. is one of the great American Streets and urban party zones. Lots of history, crazy vibe, gritty.
The next morning I woke up early, in the 6am range and hit the streets. I was shooting for about an hour when my friend Eric (videographer) who was on the trip, called. We met up and jumped the trolley that circles the Riverfront area of the city. The conductor, Randal was a really great guy. Big guy, grew up in Memphis. He was cracking jokes and talking about the area.
As we toured the city, passing through the sultry avenues I asked Randal where the Lorraine Hotel was. He shouted “It’s right here at the next intersection”, Eric and I jumped to our feet grabbed our cameras tipped Randal and split down the street in a mad rush. We came down the slight incline of East Butler and saw the hotel. I have seen that image a thousand times. The famous balcony, now with a wreath in the location where King was gunned down by James Earl Ray. My camera is out and start cranking images. It’s 8 am the sun was still low but behind the hotel.
Two white caddilacs are parked in the driveway. These are the same type of cars that were parked here the day he was killed. Shooting images – every angle is killer. As I was shooting I noticed a sign on the rot iron rail that encircles the hotel. It said that Martin Luther King was shot on April 4, 1968. I couldn’t believe it, today is April 4, 2006. We are there on the 38th anniversary of his assassination. Unreal.
As I started across the front of the hotel, I noticed that Eric was talking to a guy that was wearing a pretty trashed homemade sandwich sign. On the sign was a black and white, obviously “journalistic” 30″ poster of Martin Luthern King Jr., Robert Abbernathy, and a unknown 3rd person. The sandwich sign guy said that the other guy was him. He was there to see King speak and support the sanitation strike.
He came to the Lorraine that day to pay his respects. Quite a moment.
I asked him if he knew from which window Ray shot King and he pointed to the upper window in the little building across the street. The back of the building faces the Lorraine. I walked up the grassy knoll, no kidding there is really a grassy knoll there as well. I stood right below the window and looked across the street and the parking lot of the Lorraine and there was the wreath, clear shot.
Really emotional standing there realizing that 38 years ago to the day, Marting Luther King Jr. was killed with a shot from a window I could almost reach.
Here are some shots from that trip. Adios for now.