Elvis & Lansky, that is Bernard Lansky!
In 1946 Bernard Lansky cofounded Lansky Bros. clothing store on Beale Street in Memphis. Nearly a decade later, a young Elvis Presley was looking in the window when Mr. Lansky invited him in and showed him around. Elvis confessed to having no money but promised to buy Lansky out when he got rich. Mr. Lansky asked Elvis not to buy him out, just buy from him. That’s just what Elvis did. In fact, Mr. Lansky provided the early clothes on credit when Elvis said he didn’t have the money to buy them. Lansky outfitted Elvis for his early television shows and throughout his career and for his funeral. On occasion after Elvis became famous, he would call in the middle of the night and Lansky would open the store for Elvis so he could shop when no one else was there. As Elvis became known as the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Lansky Bros. became known as “clothier to the king,”
Bernard Lansky died November 15, 2012, at the age of 85.
Lansky Bros. is still in business, though it has moved from Beale Street to the lobby of the Peabody Hotel and remains famous for its association with Elvis. Many other top entertainers visit the store. Not only does the shop still have a wide variety of men’s clothing, it also features dozens of guitars on display signed by perhaps an even wider variety of popular musicians.
If you visit the store these days, you’ll likely meet Hal Lansky, Bernard’s son, who is keeps the store in the family.
If you take a walking history tour with Jimmy Ogle through the downtown streets, you’ll more than likely hear a brief recitation of the Bernard Lansky and Elvis story because through his association with Elvis Presley, Bernard Lansky became a Memphis legend.
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau has a video interview with Mr. Lansky on youtube.com.