What is it about Elvis Presley that makes people flock to Graceland on the day of his death, year after year, to hold candlelight vigils? Why is his death celebrated, seemingly more than his birth?
On this day 34 years ago, The King was found collapsed on his bathroom floor, dead from an apparent heart attack at the age of 42. The role that his drug use played in his ultimate demise has been debated for decades, with the common knowledge saying that years of abuse led to multiple medical problems that all contributed to his death.
Today marks the end of “Elvis Week,” the 7-day celebration/memorial service held at his long-time home of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. The culmination of the week was last night’s candlelight vigil, where fans were “invited to walk up the driveway to Elvis’ gravesite and back down carrying a candle in quiet remembrance. Free admission. No tickets or reservations. Gates remain open until all who wish to participate in the procession have done so, which typically takes until the early morning hours of August 16, the anniversary date of Elvis’ passing.”
Last night, the crowd reached somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people strong and stretched into the early morning hours. People came from all over the world, including Japan, England and Germany to leave flowers and other tokens at his gravesite.
Why does Elvis still hold so much sway on our national consciousness? Why can we not let him go, as we’ve let so many other icons truly rest in peace? Critic Jon Pareles had this to say on the 25th anniversary of his death:
Twenty-five years after he died of a drug overdose in his bathroom at Graceland, on Aug. 16, 1977, he is still a charismatic figure, as widely recognized as a president or a Coca-Cola logo. And he is still ripe for admiration and exploitation.
Elvis remains an archetype as a musician and a celebrity, as an idol of almost religious proportions and a punch line, as a success story and a cautionary tale, as a touchstone for performers and a cash cow for recording companies.
Does Elvis offer something to everyone? For those old enough to have lived through his rise and eventual fall, has he been elevated to the level of religious icon? For the younger generation who might barely remember when he died, is his story fascinating – a true American tragedy?
Is he just revered as America’s first true mega-star?
Whatever it is, people still truly care about Elvis and his death day is basically a national day of remembrance. He’s a top trend on Twitter and tweets are rolling in by the hundreds every few minutes.
today is the 34th anniversary of Elvis Aaron Presley’s death all these years later..he is still the King and always will be. TCB Elvis
Good AM, My esteemed Tweetniks. Today is the 34th anniv. of Elvis Presley’s passing. I’ve always kind of thought of it as a high holy day.
34yrs ago 2day Elvis Presley died.To quote Johnny Carson “If life were fair,Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead”.
Look no further to get your Elvis fix, as here are the top 5 Elvis videos on YouTube, based on total views. Enjoy –
What is your favorite Elvis memory? Let us know in the comments.[Lead Image from Elvis Week 2010, via elvis.com]