Photograph by: Supriya Kantak

Memphis’ Blues-Eyed Boy Rides a Cadillac

If you want to discover Elvis and B.B. King, you need to be sat in Tad Pierson’s passenger seat.

Everyone in Memphis knows Tad Pierson. The beige ’55 Cadillac the 67-year-old drives is conspicuous, and Tad is also very affable.

After having founded a tour company called ‘The American Dream Safari’ in 1989, his job has perhaps required him to be personable. In 1995, he says, he swapped his ’50 Buick for a Cadillac because he wanted his clients to have a “more immersive Memphis experience”. “Besides,” he adds, “if you’re living the American dream, you have to buy a Cadillac. I didn’t know this when I bought my car, but the first thing Elvis did when he had the money was buy a Cadillac. The car is a symbol of having made it.” His laughter is infectious. When Tad speaks about Elvis, you listen. He knows both, his blues and his rock and roll. Bluesmen James Cotton and Bobby Rush have sat in his car. They have signed the doors and backseat. The dates he rattles off are accurate. (We checked.) History is novel when oral, and Memphis is best when seen through Tad’s Cadillac. The captions for the photos here were provided by Tad himself because he knows best. “We have a magnet in Memphis,” he says, “and we call it music.”

  • Shreevatsa Nevatia never travels without his headphones, coloured pens and a book. He is particularly fond of cities, the Middle East, and the conversations he has along the way. He works as the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Traveller India.

  • Supriya Kantak poses as a photographer so she can travel. She is happiest at altitudes of 1,000 metres above sea level. She posts on Instagram as @routes_and_shoots.

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