Elvis Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla and their daughter Lisa Marie stunned a crowd of thousands on Wednesday when they greeted fans who had flocked to Graceland for a candlelight vigil marking the 35th anniversary of the singer’s death.
The vigil began on Wednesday night after Priscilla Presley, 67, and Lisa Marie Presley, 44, made the unscheduled appearance on a stage inside the walls of Graceland, Elvis’ Memphis mansion. Together they briefly thanked the crowd for their devotion to the rock ‘n’ roll icon.
It was the first time both women had appeared together at the annual gathering, which became an official event in 1980.
“This is something that Elvis would never, ever have believed could have taken place here,” said Priscilla, who was divorced from Elvis in 1973 after six years of marriage, and went on to forge a career as an actress.
Lisa Marie, herself a singer-songwriter, said she had shied away from making public appearances at past anniversary vigils.
“I’ve always avoided this because I felt that it would be too emotional, but I really felt it was important to come down here tonight,” she told the crowd. “I love you very, very, very much.”
Elvis admirers from around the globe have flocked each anniversary to Graceland, where the singer, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, is buried. Presley died on Aug 16, 1977, from a heart attack after battling prescription drug abuse. His abrupt death at 42 shocked legions of fans still mesmerised today by his singing, sex appeal, and on-stage charisma.
The vigil, which ran into yesterday morning, marked the high point of Elvis Week, the annual celebration of Presley’s life and career. Organisers said about 75,000 people were expected by authorities to take part in the vigil.
Teary-eyed mourners laid flowers on the Graceland gravesite, where Presley’s father Vernon, mother Gladys, and grandmother Minnie Mae Hood Presley are also buried.
Outside, fans used chalk to draw pictures of Elvis’s face on the street, where groups of fans set up folding chairs to queue up.
Sergio Galleguillo, from Santa Cruz, Argentina, said he became emotional when he walked past the graves.
“I felt the spirit of Elvis there, as if he was alive,” said Galleguillo, who was making his first visit to the US. “It really was a beautiful experience.”
Steps away, an Elvis impersonator, complete with white-sequined jumpsuit and red sash, sat in the street in front of the entrance, lip-synching In the Ghetto.
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