Although not much of a partier as most think of the term, throughout the 1960s
Elvis hosted lavish New Year’s Eve parties in Memphis. It was an occasion for
all to dress up and enjoy themselves.
In the early 60s they were held at the Manhattan Club, which used to be on
Highway 51, north of Graceland. Elvis would use Monte's Catering and some of the
entertainers he would hire were the Willie Mitchell Band and David Porter of the
duo Sam and Dave.
The popularity of his parties caused attendance to grow out of hand over the
years. In 1966, there were so many friends of friends who showed up that Elvis
couldn't find a parking place. He drove through the lot and told those outside
to have a good time and then left. He couldn't even attend his own party.
In 1967 and 1968 the annual party was held at the Thunderbird Lounge located on
the lobby floor of an apartment tower on Adams Street. The club owner was Ernie
Barrasso, a friend and former Hull-Dobbs Ford car salesman who sold Elvis a 1962
Thunderbird in 1961. Entertainment during these years included the BarKays,
Vaneese Stark, Billy Lee Riley, the Short Cuts, B. J. Thomas, and Flash and the
Board of Directors. At the 1967 party, Elvis, who rarely danced except for his
movie roles, requested the song "Summertime"
and danced with Priscilla.
The parties of 1969 and 1970 were held at T.J.'s Lounge on North Avalon Street.
T.J.'s was a popular new nightclub in Memphis and Elvis' friends Richard Davis
and Alan Fortas were working there. Entertainers were Flash and the Board of
Directors with special guests Mark James who wrote "Suspicious Minds" and future
star Ronnie Milsap who then was an up and coming studio singer.