Today marks one of the saddest days in music history. It's the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Known the world over as the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Presley was just 42 years old when he passed away at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, from a heart attack on August 16th, 1977.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and Gospel Hall of Fame, Presley was the first rock 'n' roll superstar and was one of the most influential and recognizable cultural icons of the 20th century. Elvis remains the most successful individual music artist ever, with more than 211 million certified units sold worldwide. He's scored 10 chart-topping albums on the Billboard 200 and 18 #1 singles on the Hot 100. Various successful posthumous Presley albums, including compilations, rarities collections and more, continue to be released.
After Elvis' death, Graceland became a huge tourist attraction and has since expanded to include a huge entertainment complex with museums, eateries and a hotel.
In observance of the anniversary of Presley's passing, Graceland is hosting an expanded, nine-day edition of its Elvis Week celebration that kicked off Friday, August 11, and runs through Saturday, August 19. Today's scheduled events include the "ELVIS: Live in Concert 40th Anniversary Celebration," taking place at the FedExForum in downtown Memphis. The show will feature film footage of Elvis performing his classic songs with live accompaniment from a full symphony orchestra, plus a guest appearance by Presley's ex-wife, Priscilla.
Fans flock to Graceland to pay their respects. However, this year, fans are very upset because for the first time ever, they can’t do that for free.
The annual Elvis candlelight vigil kicked off last night and runs through today, and while in past year’s it’s been free, this year Graceland charged $28.75 for an Elvis Week Property Pass wristband that allowed folks to walk past the graves where Elvis and his relatives are buried. Elvis would be rolling over in his grave if he knew his fans were being charged.
Graceland says they made the changes due to the expected high turnout, along with updated security measures. Elvis Presley Enterprises said in a statement, “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.”
Many fans are using social media to express their thoughts. One fan said, “I don’t think Elvis would like it if he knew the fans were charged to go up and see."
Elvis left the building one final time 40 years ago today but he will live on forever in the hearts of millions throughout the world.