Have you ever heard the phrase “Elvis has left the building”? Someone would announce this over the loud speakers after one of his shows so those eager fans hoping to catch one last glimpse of the King would go home.
During the early ’70s, Elvis left the MTSU Murphy Center five times. In a span of two years, Elvis played five shows where the Blue Raiders now dunk basketballs, but he wasn’t the only mega act to grace the Murphy Center.
Spanning the early ’70s to the mid-’90s, many major acts came through Murfreesboro. Before Nashville had the Gaylord Entertainment Center (now Sommet Center) or Starwood Ampitheater (now closed), the Murphy Center was the venue for major touring acts in the middle Tennessee region.
Acts such as The Who, U2, Pearl Jam, Tina Turner, Garth Brooks and The Judds performed at the Murphy Center during its reign as premier regional venue.
MTSU Provost Writing Fellow Brian Dempsey has been working with the MTSU Director of the Center For Historic Preservation Dr. Carroll Van West and MTSU Director of Photographic Services Jack Ross to put together an exhibit highlighting the musical history of the Murphy Center.
“The idea got started by talking about how many MTSU employees and alumni remember going to major shows there,” said Dempsey, “and how a lot of current students don’t really know how major a venue the Murphy Center was in this part of the country.
“We thought we could create an exhibit using a lot of the photographs that MTSU photo services and Jack Ross took over those years,” he continued. “We knew there was a collection of those photos, but no one had really done much with them in the years since.”
The exhibit, titled “When Murphy was King,” held its grand opening at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County on Thursday, Sept. 24.
The exhibit consists of six panels of newspaper clippings, photos and other artifacts of the performances. It is set to run through the spring at the Heritage Center and then will probably find a permanent home somewhere on the MTSU campus.
Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County
225 W. College St.
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.