36 years ago the world became still. News stories started surfacing the great Elvis Presley, 42, had died of heart failure in connection to prescription drug use. Fans stormed Graceland; their sobs, cries and screams for the legend filled the morning air in Graceland. A cross-genre singer, Elvis illuminated the stage and hearts of millions around the globe. The years have passed and still the legacy of Elvis lives in his fans. Today marks the 36 year anniversary of Elvis’ death. From near to far, from impersonators to nuns, thousands upon thousands descended on Graceland to celebrate Elvis Week.
Born in the winter of 1935, Elvis was raised with music in his blood. When he received his first guitar at the age of 10, it melded soul with song. In 1954 ‘That’s all Right’ became his first single, drawing curious glances from the public. This soulful, dark, handsome singer with dreamy eyes started capturing hearts early on. A year later, Elvis earned his big break- he signed with RCA records and recorded ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’ A single that exploded on the music charts and eclipsed the moment Elvis’ dance moves became as legendary as his voice.
The King’s looks earned him demands from directors. Elvis headed to Hollywood and his first film ‘Love Me Tender’ in 1956 was a box office mega-hit, although critics made commentary, that was ignored by fans, advising his acting needed some brushing up. It was Mother Dolores Hart who starred with the King of Rock n Roll in the 1957 hit ‘Loving You, ‘ and ‘King Creole.’ Mother Dolores Hart later became a nun, but never lost her love for her co-star. She made an exciting appearance during the 2013 Elvis Week. During Elvis’ movie premiers in the mid-50s, Jim Smith, an adventurous 16-year-old-boy became, technically, the first Elvis impersonator. The rambunctious teenager would jump on stage, mocking the motions of The King. In addition, his own dark looks resembled that of Elvis’, creating a stellar line of impersonators thereafter.
From an artist contest, Elvis musical tours, gospel celebrations, fans are lining up to immerse in the week dedicated to Elvis. Long-time friend of The King, George Klein will be holding the Elvis Memorial Service this evening to commemorate the life and times of Elvis. Saturday will conclude the events with the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Final Round, per Elvis week officials. The reach of the legendary singer spans across the globes. Fans from Australia, Europe and Japan descend upon Memphis, Tennessee to show their love and tribute to a singer that changed the face of music.
As the celebration for the The King of Rock n Roll continues, in the heart of many resides the sadness of such a loss in the music world. Fans, while rejoicing the singing sensation Elvis was, continue to question what happened to The King. In the early 1970s when his marriage to Priscilla fell apart, reports surfaced of his addiction to prescription pills. Fans rallied around the legend, but on the morning of August 16, 1977 Elvis passed away. 36 years later, many fans- young and old- celebrate the legend that once was and will forever be, in their hearts. Life-long fan KCRep stirred emotions during Elvis week with her admission, “Standing at this graveside I felt peaceful, not sad for some reason. I stood there for a long time, it was hard to leave. Somehow it seems wrong when a gift from God is taken away at 42 years old.”