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BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN

 

 

After 78 years in the Lansky family, the 126 Beale Street building where Lansky’s first planted roots has been sold. It will house the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, The Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, and the Mike Curb Music Initiative.

Explains second generation merchant Hal Lansky (above left, with Priscilla Presley and his wife Geri Lansky), “When thinking about what we should do with the building as we move forward, this opportunity presented itself. It will help preserve Bernard Lansky’s legacy, since lots of memorabilia will be featured, and the newly combined format will attract music fans from across the globe.”

Hal Lansky speaks at press conference announcing the museums’ new home. (Image courtesy of Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.)

In a recent speech in Downtown Memphis to mark the occasion, Hal reminded the crowd that music has always been an integral part of the fashion industry. “Bernard J. Lansky styling Elvis at 126 Beale Street is one of the first documented relationships between musician and stylist. The importance of threading rock and fashion together with Memphis’ most influential musicians will be curated tightly into this museum. As the Lansky family embarks on a new chapter, we feel strongly that this building will bring tourists from around the world looking to see the historic places that tell the Memphis music story. The Lansky family will continuously advocate and support the museum in the future with memorabilia, funds, and special projects.”

Priscilla Presley at a press conference announcing the Museum’s move to the new space. (Image courtesy of Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.)

Hal expands upon the important relationship between music and fashion. “Since Lansky Bros. was founded in 1946, each decade tells a story. And much of the fashion that came out of this building is still trending today. A few examples: My dad would always flip Elvis’ collar; not a day goes by where someone doesn’t come in the shop asking for their collar to be flipped like Elvis’… Lansky’s promoted the black and pink color combinations of the ’50s well before men wore pink. We put white formal tails on men and were the first to offer the South Levi’s bell bottoms, A1 pegged pants, and the Carnaby looks from London, including wild paisley balloon sleeve shirts and velvet pants. The ’70s was a decade of fashion we hope never comes back, but we sold high-stacked platform shoes for men. Long leather coats in fashion colors where we had a full-time furrier adding mink collars and cuffs. We offered no-back-pocket pants because men wanted to show off their Booty…

Hal with Jerry Phillips (son of producer Sam Phillips). (Image courtesy of Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.)

“From the fashion trends to the people, it’s the memories from this building I treasure. My dad would tell the story of how he met this young man looking in the window. He invited him in and the young man said ‘I don’t have any money yet, but one day I’m going to buy you out.’ My dad said, ‘Don’t buy me out, just buy from me.’ This is what started the friendship between Bernard Lansky and Elvis. My dad showed a little kindness and respect to this young man who turned out to be the greatest entertainer of all time. My dad also outfitted Elvis for his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Elvis still had no money so my dad gave him credit and said you’d better pay me back… And 46 years after his death, Elvis is still paying Lansky’s back with the many many customers who come into our stores for Elvis inspiration.

Book chronicles nearly seventy years of the history of the Lansky’s business in Downtown Memphis with three generations telling its story. Image from LanskyBros.com.)

“For more than 78 years, we’ve been proud to have our business in the heart of Downtown Memphis. We love Downtown, Support everything Downtown, and are Staying Downtown! For these last 44 years, The Peabody Hotel has been home to us and our four Lansky shops. We plan to be there, still rock & rollin’, for many years to come.”


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