At exactly 3:30 pm CST Elvis Aaron Presley was pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 42 years old. The day was Aug 16, 1977…
Thirty Four (34) years ago today the world mourned the death of the King of Rock n’ Roll and still to this very day, Aug 16 is a major holiday in Memphis and through out the world. The candlelight vigil will end sometime this morning as the last of his fans silently file past his grave and the graves of his parents – all buried in the backyard at Graceland.
I grew up in a small town just 2 hours from Memphis and born the same month and year as the king’s daughter. I grew up in a world where Elvis was a common topic and as an adult moved to the very town that Elvis had called home. My sister went to the last Elvis concert in Memphis and I even remember watching Elvis in concert live on tv. I spent Saturdays watching Elvis movies and I knew most of his songs. But to me, Elvis was not some super human god that so many fans claim him to be. In fact, I did not actually tour Graceland until 2000. Why? It was not because I did not think he was a great entertainer but because I did not want to idolize him in ways that seem to demean all of his accomplishments. I kept things in perspective. However, when I finally toured Graceland, I truly understood just how great the king really was as I stood at one end of a hall and saw literally all the gold records he made as they hung from floor to ceiling.
I have visited Graceland many times during “death week” and even sat in front of the gates with candle in hand on the eve of his anniversary death. It just seem the right thing to do in Memphis, in August, on a hot summer evening, while the world paused to remember a legend.
Some Elvis facts:
- 2011 marks the 34th anniversary of his death
- 2011 also marks the 55th anniversary of the release of his first 2 albums.
- His first hit single “Heartbreak Hotel” was released in 1956
- He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music
- Graceland was opened to the public in 1982
- Graceland became a national landmark in 2006
- Graceland is the 2nd most visited house in the United States (White House is #1)
- The first year of his musical career Elvis sold 10 million singles and 800,000 LPs (albums)
- Elvis was actually born in Tupelo Mississippi
- Elvis moved to Memphis when he was 13 years old
- Elvis began his career at Sun Studio home of Sun Records in Memphis (still operating)
A Message from Lisa Marie Presley at Candlelight Vigil
August 15, 2011
The following message below from Lisa Marie Presley was read tonight to fans who gathered at the gates of Graceland for the annual Candlelight Vigil during Elvis Week 2011:
Thank you so much for being here and continuing to honor the legacy of my father. Your ongoing love and support mean very much to me and my family. My father always said he had the best fans in the world, and he was right. The fact that you are here to celebrate his life 34 years after his passing is a testament to that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our new exhibits at Graceland and I look forward to being involved personally with a very special exhibit called “Elvis Through His Daughter’s Eyes” opening in the Spring of next year.
Before we know it, it will be Elvis Week 2012, which as you all know as the 35th anniversary will be special time. I look forward to being there with you, my mother and entire family.
Thank you all and I’ll see you next August.