By Frank Donovan
We here at VH1 music consider ourselves pretty big music fans and connoisseurs, but even we have our limits. Some music lovers will go so far as to devote their entire lives to a single artist–becoming experts and authorities on their lives, collecting and displaying memorabilia and artifacts. From grand gestures like building exact replicas of Britney Spears’ bedroom and Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, to protecting minutiae like Johnny Cash’s AmEx and a guitar pick that Keith Richards threw at you, the time and effort put in to these 10 museums and shrines put even MTV Fanatic (RIP) fans to shame.
Check out these 10 totally bonkers museums and shrines dedicated to musical heroes.
The Rolling Stones
You think you’re a Stones fan? Slavko Franca probably has you beat. He created The Rolling Stones Museum at his home in Portoroz, Slovenia. According the Wall Street Journal, Franca has amassed 1,000 pieces of memorabilia, including a guitar pick *personally* thrown at him by Keith Richards.
Britney is her hometown’s pride, and they have a wing of the local Kentwood Museum to prove it. The permanent exhibition focuses on Brit’s early years as a regular girl from rural Kentwood, Louisiana, including family photos and a replica of her bedroom. A supremely dedicated fan even created and donated a miniature model of the stage where she performed her HBO concert special.
Your turn, Chris Crocker.
Elvis PresleyAs if the genuine article, that is–Elvis’ Graceland mansion–weren’t already open to the public, some fans are so obsessed, they felt the need to erect their own monuments to the King. First off, we have the late Paul MacLeod, who turned his Holly Springs, Mississippi home into a 24-hour Elvis shrine called Graceland Too. MacLeod passed away last summer, and his treasure trove of Elvis memorabilia went up for auction in January. The entire lot was bought up by a single anonymous bidder (Nicolas Cage?) for $54,500.
And let’s not forget Denmark’s Henrick Knudsen. He built a replica mansion twice the size of Graceland. According to CNN, the memorabilia housed inside is valued at $1.6 million, including instruments, clothing, and the cuff links he received from President Nixon. There’s even a diner inside that serves–what else–Elvis’ famous peanut butter and banana sandwich
Bruce SpringsteenAnyone with wifi (and $9.99 per month) can now access a newly launched virtual museum dedicated to Bruce Springsteen. Admission to blindedbythelight.com lets you view over 300 artifacts, including handwritten lyrics to “Born to Run” and lil Bruce’s first grade report card. Members can download a font of the Boss’ handwriting (finally!), and may inquire with the site’s founder Michael Crane about purchasing items.
ABBAStockholm’s ABBA Museum is dedicated to connecting fans to the Swedish supergroup—for real though. Somehow they’ve rigged a player piano at the museum to sync up with whatever ABBA member Benny Anderson is playing on studio piano in real time. Similarly intimate, a telephone sits in the museum, to which only the four singers have the number. When it rings, lucky visitors have a chance to talk to them. More casual fans can play dress up with replicas of sparkly satin costumes, and yes, get funky on a flashing dance floor.
Jerry Lee Lewis
The only musical museum to boast a drive-through liquor store (that we know of) is the Jerry Lee Lewis Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana. Converted from his childhood home, JLL’s sister Frankie Jean runs the museum and gives personally guided tours. There’s not much official info on this spot, just first-hand accounts from visitors that describe a laid-back experience including piano-playing and lemonade-sipping.
In 1986 Dolly Parton became co-owner of an existing amusement park called Silver Dollar City. But that wasn’t gonna cut it. She renamed it Dollywood! The theme park celebrates Smoky Mountain heritage and one of the greatest musical talents to spring from the region—herself. Plus, it’s in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, just minutes from her hometown. Three million people visit every season to ride roller coasters, cool off at a water park, and attend concerts where Dolly herself is known to make appearances.
Johnny CashThis place has so many artifacts from Johnny Cash’s life, it might as well be his storage closet. The exhibition leads visitors through the rock legend’s life, from marbles he played with as a young boy, middle school yearbooks, his American Express card, passport, and a letter to June Carter shortly after she died. It’s a heart-wrenching experience, Cash fan or not, as the museum concludes with the music video of his rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.”
Alaskan Beatlemaniac Larry Flynn is such a fan, he has a “John Lennon Room,” which a sign reads is, “dedicated to the memory and legacy of John Lennon, the leader of the world’s greatest pop music phenomenon,” according to Alaska Dispatch News. Some of the precious items include a painting of the first time Paul and John met, a replica of the yellow suit John wore on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s (tailored to fit Flynn), 300 Beatles books, and LPs signed by all four Beatles.
Mel Prussak is probably the biggest Dylan fan out there. Just check out his resume to see for yourself. His New Jersey home doubles as The Dylan Shrine. And it’s not your standard collection of posters, books, and records. Prussak creates one-of-a-kind sculptural assemblages he calls “zim-art,” inspired by Dylan lyrics.
[Photo: Getty Images]