All shook up? Ready to retrace the steps of your favorite hunka hunka burnin’ love? January 8 would have been Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday. And though he has left the building, Elvis remains the King of Rock & Roll, the Godfather of Graceland and an icon whose legend will live on forever. Here’s where you would have seen Elvis Presley in Los Angeles way back when … and a few where you can honor his memory today. (Yes, at least one of them involves a peanut butter and banana sandwich.)
Beverly Wilshire Hotel – Beverly Hills
This gorgeous and iconic hotel might be cited ad nauseum as the Pretty Woman hotel, but long before the hooker fairy tale put this place on the movie map, the King called it home when he was busy making movies at Paramount Studios. Years later, John Lennon stayed here while he was estranged from Yoko, allegedly choosing the hotel because he knew Elvis had lived here.
The Knickerbocker Hotel – Hollywood
Elvis has left the building. But before he did he used to stay at the Knickerbocker Hotel (Room 1016, to be exact), which was his home away from home when he filmed his first movie “Love Me Tender” in 1956. (It’s also where Marilyn Monroe honeymooned with Joe Dimaggio a couple of years before that.) Unfortch, this historic building on Ivar has been on the outs for some time and is now a senior apartment building.
Radio Recorders – Hollywood
Although this recording studio at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Drive is no longer, back in its heyday through the 1960s it was considered the best recording facility in LA. Fit for a King, you could say. Everyone from Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix recorded here, and it was here that Elvis put to tape some of his most famous songs including “Jailhouse Rock” and “All Shook Up.”
The Formosa Cafe – West Hollywood
Where else can you have a Mai Tais in Elvis’s red leather booth than at the Formosa Cafe? This historic landmark on Santa Monica Boulevard, located right next to a movie studio, is where the King–along with just about every other famous person imaginable–would hang out while in town filming movies, doing press junkets and all that sort of stuff. Just take a look at the autographed photos on the walls if you don’t believe it.
De Neve Square Park – Holmby Hills
Aside from gyrating on stage, Elvis had some serious moves on the field. This small, well-shaded park in the old-money hamlet of Holmby Hills might not grab your attention if you’re driving along Beverly Glen (it’s at an intersection where Mapleton Drive and Parkwood Drive meet), but that might be why Elvis chose it for the touch football games he regularly organized in the 50s and 60s while here in LA–it allowed him to have fun without getting noticed. FYI, in case you’re wondering, the park is named after Felipe de Neve, founder of Los Angeles.
Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine – Pacific Palisades
Better known as Lake Shrine, this tranquil ten-acre oasis hidden off Sunset Boulevard near PCH hasn’t changed much since the days when Elvis would come here to meditate and be surrounded by nature. He was a frequent visitor and it’s considered common knowledge that he became friends with then worldwide head, Sri Daya Mata, whom he called ‘Ma’ and relied upon for spiritual advice. You can still come here today to enjoy the peaceful environment filled with swans swimming across the lake, lush landscaping, waterfalls, fountains, spiritual statues, colorful gardens and even a windmill chapel.
AND THE KING LIVES ON …
Tiki No – North Hollywood
On Thursday, January 8, this tiki bar welcomes Elvis fans and impersonators alike to celebrate the King’s birthday with music, specialty cocktails like Jail House on the Rocks and food from the Burnt to a Crisp food truck, which will offer The King grilled sandwich made with peanut butter and banana.
Azteca Mexican Restaurant & Crooner’s Lounge – Garden Grove
It’s all Elvis all the time at this incredible shrine to the King that boasts more than 2,000 pieces of Elvis memorabilia lining its walls, ceilings and glass display cases–stop by for the burritos, stay for the karaoke.
Walk of Fame – Hollywood
Find the King’s star under the silver gazebo at the intersection of Hollywood and La Brea.
Grammy Museum – Downtown LA
January is Elvis Month at this music museum featuring special events, curator lectures and free Elvis evening classes.
Which Wich – Los Angeles
This sandwich shop chain is where you can eat like a King. Just order the Elvis Wich made with peanut butter, bacon, honey and banana.
Jacks N Joe – Los Angeles
This breakfast-all-day joint near USC is where to get the Pudgie Elvis: three pancakes with peanut butter and bananas. Thank you, thank you very much.
MB Post – Manhattan Beach
This South Bay hot spot is where you can finish your meal with The Elvis: a wonderful mess of chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse and bacon brittle.
Violet’s Cakes – Pasadena
Stuff your face with the Elvis cupcake made with banana cake and peanut butter frosting. Just remember you can only get it on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.