Elvis Presley Graceland Vigil Draws 35K Fans 36 Years After Death

Friday, 16 Aug 2013 11:09 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Elvis Presley fans traveled to Graceland in Memphis by the thousands Thursday to recognize "The King" on the 36th anniversary of his death.

More than 35,000 people attended the vigil, carrying lit candles as they walked silently through the Mediation Garden at Graceland, Presley's longtime Memphis home. The garden is the location of Presley's grave and also is the spot where his mother, father and grandmother are buried.



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The vigil was the highlight of Elvis Week, which featured a listening party at Stax Records for the recent release of the three-CD box set "Elvis at Stax." Presley tribute artists performed and there was a screening of the "Aloha from Hawaii" television program from January 1973, according to the Associated Press.

Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977 from congestive heart failure that may have been partially caused by drug abuse.

Elvis Week events wrap up on Saturday.

Last year, Presley's ex-wife Priscilla Presley and his daughter Lisa Marie Presley spoke at the event for Elvis' 35th death anniversary, which drew 75,000, according to the Associated Press. It was the first time the Presleys appeared at one of the vigils.

Vigils for the King of Rock and Roll began a year after his death, when fans started gathering informally. Over the years, however, commemorating Presley's death has become a major tourist event. Fans start lining up at the Graceland gates up to 12 hours before the vigil, and many sleep outside overnight. Friday is the anniversary of his death.

Another event in Tupelo, Miss. hosted fans from Australia, Brazil, England and Japan and other foreign countries.

Presley has been hailed as Rock 'N Roll's first star. Presley had 149 pop singles that made it to the chart; 114 of them landed in the top 40; 40 of them made top 10; and 18 of them were No. 1 hits.

Presley tied together country and gospel music, allowing him to cross the musical color line while performing "it with a natural sexuality that made him a teen idol and role model for generations of cool rebels," Rolling Stone pointed out.

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