Elvis Presley: The Creation of His Jungle Room and Why It’s So Famous

If there’s one aspect of Elvis Presley’s mansion Graceland that’s iconic, it’s the Jungle Room. Interestingly, the Jungle Room wouldn’t be the same without the efforts of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s girlfriend, Linda Thompson. Here’s a look at h0w the room was designed — and how a song made it more famous during the 1990s.

Elvis Presley on a futon
Elvis Presley | GAB Archive/Redferns

How the Jungle Room helped Linda Thompson deal with Elvis Presley’s absence

Linda Thompson was Elvis’ girlfriend after his breakup with his wife, Priscilla Presley. She spent much time with Elvis traveling as well as at with him at Graceland. Thompson also spent time alone there when Elvis was away without her. In her book, A Little Thing Called Life, she describes “a special project” she was given by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Thompson writes of March 1974, “Elvis entrusted me with a project that would consume much of my energy and creativity right through to July. It gave me a focus when he was away without me, which began to happen more, as I had anticipated it would, usually only for a few days at a time.” Her project impacted the design of Elvis’ home, specifically what started as a screened in porch that was then enclosed into a room.

Junichiro Koizumi, Lisa-Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, George W. Bush, and Laura Bush in the Jungle Room
Junichiro Koizumi, Lisa-Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, George W. Bush, and Laura Bush in the Jungle Room | PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

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What was Elvis Presley thinking when he helped design the Jungle Room?

The singer had specific ideas for the room. “Honey, I want this to look like you’re in the jungle… And we’re going to put green carpet on the wall,” Elvis told her. The singer envisioned the green carpet “like moss is climbing the wall.” The couple went to Pier 1 imports and bought “fake fur chairs and some of the other wilder decorations.”

Elvis’ taste was his own and he chose items that he liked for the room. Graceland.com states the Jungle Room has “green shagged carpets, Polynesian feel and exotically carved wood.” They relay the furnishings are items Elvis found at a furniture store in Memphis. Elvis enjoyed the Jungle Room because it reminded him of Hawaii, a placed he liked visiting for work or recreation.

How a song made Elvis Presley’s Jungle Room more famous

The Jungle Room, visited by millions on tours of Graceland, is known world-over beyond the walls of the Graceland. The room’s fame is enhanced as it is mentioned in Marc Cohn’s song, “Walking in Memphis.” Cohn states, “But there’s a pretty little thing waiting for the King and she’s down in the Jungle Room.”

Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”

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Did this song resonate with the public? Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” reached No. 13 on the Billboard 100. It remained on the charts for 23 weeks. Further, the song has been covered by many artists, including Cher, John Tesh, and Paul Anka. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s compilation album Down in the Jungle Room was even named after the lyric. Thompson said she was the “pretty little thing” who helped the King decorate the room and is later mentioned in the song. Her “special project” has been immortalized in song and has long outlived the King himself.

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