On the 36th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, thousands of fans are gathering at Graceland to pay their respects and mourn the loss of a rock icon.
Every year on this date, thousands descend upon Elvis’s former home in Memphis and leave flowers, notes, cards, and candles in memory of the singer. On Thursday, mourners walked silently through the Meditation Garden on the grounds while carrying candles and laying wreaths out on the graves in the family cemetery. Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother are all buried there.
This year Elvis Week also included a listening party at Stax Records to celebrate the release of their CD box set full of Elvis’s hits, and fans visiting this year can expect to see several impersonators and performances.
Some have wondered how one man can still have such a hold on so many people decades after his death; critic Jon Pareles says it’s because he offers something for everyone.
“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.”
But many will say that it’s simply a tragic star quality that Elvis had, much like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean; taken from us too soon after they achieved such immeasurable fame.