Tens of thousands of Elvis fans join ex-wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie for moving candlelit vigil at Graceland on the 40-year anniversary of The King’s death
- Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977; on Tuesday night fans gathered at Graceland to begin an overnight vigil
- His ex-wife, Priscilla, greeted fans before the event; later their daughter, Lisa Marie, lit candles for the visitors
- Organizers haven’t yet released how many people were at the event, but they prepared for as many as 50,000
- Once candles were lit, the visitors walked through the grounds of Graceland in a solemn vigil procession
- For the first time after years of such vigils, Graceland charged for admittance this year – causing some anger
- But the organizers said that the money was needed for the extra security due to the large number of visitors
Elvis Presley’s ex-wife and their daughter joined thousands of his fans at his old Graceland ranch on Tuesday night as they gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of his death with a candlelight vigil.
Priscilla Presley, 72, was seen greeting fans before the event on Tuesday, as they arrived at the 13.8-acre Memphis, Tennessee estate for the gathering.
And Lisa Marie Presley, 49, lit candles for mourners as they gathered to remember the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, holding their lights aloft throughout the vigil, which continued on into Wednesday.
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Greeting: Priscilla Presley is seen left on Tuesday afternoon greeting visitors to an overnight vigil in memory of her ex-husband, Elvis. They pair are also seen right around 1970 with their daughter Lisa Marie
Presence: Lisa Marie was also present at the event, lighting the candles of some of the thousands of visitors that had gathered to remember her father and his impact on modern American culture
Vigil: The visitors were asked to hold their candles aloft as they remembered Elvis at his former home of Graceland, the 13.8-acre property that includes his old mansion
Priscilla Presley, center, former wife of Elvis Presley, is escorted by security after greeting fans at Elvis Presley’s Memphis home
Love: Fans had traveled from all across America – and the rest of the world – to pay respect to the memory of the departed King of Rock and Roll
Memorial: Visitors are seen here taking part in the vigil outside the Graceland mansion, where Elvis died of a heart attack some 40 years ago
Procession: Once they had their candles, the visitors began a procession around the grounds, through the graves that are there: those of Elvis, his parents and his grandmother
Colorful: Many fans set up their own memorial sites at the festival, such as this colorful display
Organizers had planned for as many as 50,000 people at the event, which runs every year on the anniversary of his death.
But this year’s caused some consternation as visitors were charged $28.75 to attend – a first, at an event that is usually free of charge.
‘In order to keep everyone safe and ensure an enjoyable and meaningful event for all, we have worked closely with local, state and federal security authorities to establish new procedures that have been widely used across the U.S.,’ Graceland’s statement said.
Some fans objected to the decision to charge an entry fee.
Longtime fan Fred Schwarz of Springfield, Illinois, said Tuesday that he and his wife have been to several vigils and have enjoyed them. But not this year. He says fans should be insulted at the new charge.
‘I looked forward to going down there this year, and they come up with all this,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to even go to Memphis anymore. The people running that are not Elvis fans. They are in business. Corporations, they want the bottom line.’
Mourners stroll past the grave of Elvis Presley as they gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of the singer
This group of music lovers wore red t-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Elvis Week 2017’
Cheryl Penny assists Ann Lawlor (left), who traveled from England to participate in the candle light vigil where mourners gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of singer Elvis Presley
The pair sported their best Elvis Presley merchandise as they waited in line outside Graceland before the vigil
A woman participates in a candlelight vigil for Elvis Presley at Graceland in Tennessee
Singalong: Jerry Engelby sings along with a recorded performance of Elvis Presley performing ‘America the Beautiful’ during the candlelight vigil
Tribute: Cassandra Fisher traveled all the way from Manchester, England, to pay tribute to Elvis – and dressed as a young Priscilla, complete with beehive hairdo – to do so
Walking: The fans walked slowly and solemnly through the grounds as they remembered Elvis – though a few took some cheeky pictures while they were there
Celebration: Visitors hold aloft their candles in celebration as they watch themselves being projected onto a screen behind a stage at the Graceland vigil
Lighting the way: Although Lisa Marie was on hand to help out some visitors, others had to light each-others’ candles so they could join in the event
Others didn’t mind the charge. Joe Makowski, who saw Presley more than 80 times in concert and came to Graceland after Presley died in 1977, said the cost of security justified a charge, and added that similar charges are seen at other tourist attractions.
‘It goes along with the territory of the popularity of Elvis,’ said Makowski, of St. Petersburg, Florida. ‘There’s a price for that as well, to accommodate all the people.’
Priscilla and Lisa Marie thanked the crowd for their love and dedication before the amassed Elvis fanatics began a slow procession through Graceland.
Thousands of mourning fans holding white candles then made a slow, silent walk through the graves on the property on Tuesday night.
Priscilla was married to Elvis from 1967 until their divorce in 1973. Lisa Marie, their daughter, was born in 1968.
Elvis Presley died of a heart attack on August 16, 1977, in Graceland, at the age of 42.
Got it pictured: Photos, posters and statues of Elvis – as well as some wreaths (pictured far right, rear of picture) were on display throughout Graceland as people gathered to remember the singer
Gathering: Fans gather before the vigil begins on Tuesday. It then continued throughout the night, ending on Wednesday
Bust: This likeness of Elvis was also on display at the event
Mourners left trinkets and stuffed animals in honour of the rock and roll legend at his former Graceland home