Fans flock to Graceland in memory of Elvis Presley

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, Robert MacPherson- Fans of Elvis Presley are flocking to his Graceland estate for Thursday's 35th anniversary of his death, their enthusiasm for the king of rock 'n' roll undiminished by the years.
Organizers of the annual Elvis Week expect this year's edition -- which shifted into high gear on Tuesday -- to be the largest ever, with Presley's widow Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie Presley participating.

Fans flock to Graceland in memory of Elvis Presley
"Elvis is fan-driven," Joe Guercio, Presley's musical director from 1970 until the star's death at the age of 42, told AFP, "and there are not a lot of people (in show business) who are fan-driven."
Actually nine days long, Elvis Week got off the ground in Memphis last Friday, centered around a 1,200-seat air conditioned tent across the street from Presley's Graceland home and next to the preserved remains of his private jet.
Highlights include an all-night candlelight vigil Wednesday at Graceland's gates, where fans this year will have the option of lighting either real candles or switching on virtual candles on a special Elvis Week smartphone app.
On Thursday, a concert at a downtown stadium -- featuring Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, as well as surviving members of Presley's band -- will review the king of rock 'n' roll's roots in blues, gospel and country music.
Tuesday saw hundreds of Elvis Presley fan club presidents get the lowdown from Elvis Presley Enterprises, which closely oversees the rights to Presley's posthumous image, on his enduring legacy in film, commercials and merchandising.
Good-humored boos filled the Elvis Week Main Stage tent when Carol Butler, vice president for international licensing, revealed a Mr Potato Head character resembling Presley in his "Aloha from Hawaii" period.
Much more of a crowd-pleaser -- indeed it was greeted with cheers -- was a Canadian-made suitcase emblazoned with an airbrushed portrait of Presley. "It's really nice," said Butler, who gave $100 as its price.
And in cross-cultural fusion of pop culture icons, Butler lifted the wraps off a forthcoming Elvis version of Japan's Hello Kitty doll. "We just love it," she said. "She's just cute in her little Elvis duds."
In another part of Memphis, unconnected with Graceland, several lots of Presley artifacts went under the hammer, including a hand-painted concert poster from 1954 with an estimated price of $30,000.
It had been created for a show that Presley -- who only a few months earlier had put out his first commercial single, "That's All Right" -- gave at a nightclub on a highway outside Memphis.
Other memorabilia at the sale organized by Heritage Auctions included the only known autographed program from a 1955 show in Dallas, Texas; a signed motion picture contract from 1956; and a Colt revolver that Presley used for target practice in the backyard of Graceland.
The pistol was going on the block with an estimated price of $14,000.
Elvis Presley died suddenly at the age of 42 on August 16, 1977.

Wednesday, August 15th 2012
Robert MacPherson

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