Elvis Defibrillator of Death.

Rockabilly Hall of Fame: Elvis Defibrillator of Death (Closed)

Field review by the editors.

Jackson, Tennessee

Although Elvis Presley was more rock than rockabilly, and although Henry Harrison would rather talk about the many other highlights of his International Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Museum, there's no denying that the Elvis Defibrillator of Death is this attraction's go-to exhibit.

The defibrillator, difficult to photograph behind a plexiglass wall, is accompanied by a letter from Elvis's doctor describing how "Mack" McQueen placed a secret mark on the defibrillator's paddles shortly after Elvis's demise, then kept an eye on the machine for nearly 16 years until it was finally retired by Baptist Hospital in Memphis. "Doctors and nurses worked frantically on Elvis," the letter recalls, "to no avail."

Rockabilly legends.

The King's postmortem memento is a rare downbeat in The International Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Museum, which is an extension of the life of owner Henry Harrison. Henry is often around, ready to tell stories of how he grew up near Johnny Cash, how he once repossessed the car of Jerry Lee Lewis, and how Carl Perkins once did TV commercials for Henry's auto dealership in exchange for a new Toyota. The museum has a pair of Perkins' blue suede shoes enshrined in a glass case, as well as one of Perkins' stage jackets and a seat from his tour bus (Carl is buried nearby in Ridgecrest Cemetery).

Several walls of the museum are covered with the signatures of rockabilly fans, many from other countries. Henry insists that all visitors watch at least one of his archival videos (We saw an interview with Peggy Lee) and pose for a photo banging on drums that were once used in Nashville's famous RCA Studio B. The paintings behind the drums -- of 16 rockabilly stars -- are life-size oil portraits by Lendon Noe. Henry told us that old oil paintings, not even as big as the ones in his museum, sometimes sell for thousands of dollars.

Rockabilly Hall of Fame: Elvis Defibrillator of Death

International Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Museum

Downtown, on the west side of Church St. just north of Main St. Ring the doorbell.
Museum closed; contents to be moved to another museum in town.

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November 27, 2020

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