Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Kool & the Gang singer’s restaurant showcases Memphis history

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. –Owners of a new restaurant and live event space in South Memphis are hoping a giant mural of famous faces will attract new customers and bring new life to the neighborhood.

Al Paris, a former singer with Kool & the Gang, opened The Rockin Chair nearly a year ago with his brother and cousin and commissioned the mural as a love letter of sorts to the city.

1500 block of Elvis Presley Boulevard

“I’m a music man. Every entertainer you see up there, I like them, every sports guy,” said Paris. “My brother likes entertainers, too.”

The mural, which wraps around most of the parking lot of the eatery on Elvis Presley Boulevard, includes singers, musicians, politicians, athletes, coaches, and broadcasters with ties to Memphis.

Among them are Martin Luther King Jr., Aretha Franklin, Elvis, BB King, Isaac Hayes, Maurice White, Young Dolph, Lorenzen Wright, Penny Hardaway, Ja Morant, a Tuskegee Airman, and former News Channel 3 anchor Claudia Barr.

“That’s my picture in the middle,” said Paris. “These people look just like themselves, don’t they?”

Local artist Dundee has been working on the mural for six months. Dundee has painted murals in Memphis for over three decades and said he’s doing his best to honor the Memphis legends.

“We are putting together a mural to describe how these people came together and made a difference and put their stamp on Memphis,” said Dundee. “LJ Echols is from Arkansas, but he’s a big part of Memphis. We’ve got Rufus, Al Green. You’ve got the Bark-Kays, you’ve got Willie Herenton, you’ve got Bobby O’Jay.”

Dundee is hoping those who come to Memphis to see Elvis Presley’s home will pass by the mural and see just how rich the city’s history is.

“This mural is going to be a big part to beautify and keep the Memphis legacy going,” Dundee said.

The Rockin Chair has been open since October. The restaurant owners are planning a special event to unveil the finished mural.

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