Elvis lives. At least he does today, in the hearts of tens of thousands showing their tender love for the King on the 25th anniversary of his death. Refusing to let go of fond memories, fans are once again flocking to Graceland, Elvis– white- columned Memphis mansion1. This annual event is informally known as "Dead Elvis Week", an almost religious pilgrimage that marks the anniversary of Elvis’ death on August 16, 1977.
Feeling like a cross between an Easter vigil and Mardi Gras, the week of mourning is hardly a somber2 affair. In fact, it includes all kinds of parties, concerts, and memorials. The highlight, however, is a candlelight vigil involving more than 10, 000 fans from all over the world. In twos and threes, they walk up to the small poolside garden where Elvis is buried. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ may be dead, but for these devotees, he is never truly gone.
Elvis Aaron Presley wasn’t born a king. In fact, he grew up dirt-poor in rural Tennessee. Legend has it that Elvis was working as a truck driver in Memphis when he made his first recording3: a belated birthday gift for his mother. Later, when Sun Records owner Sam Phillips heard Elvis’ soulful voice, he thought he had finally found what he had been looking for–a white man who sounded black. Phillips boasted that with Elvis on his label, he would make a million dollars.
Early Sun recordings4 had Elvis on vocals5 and guitar, backed by another guitar and a stand-up bass6. He was playing the kind of material he would one day become famous for: blues7, country songs, and gospel hymns8. It was a long way from the white jumpsuits and Las Vegas-style concerts everyone now associates with Elvis. But those early recordings helped define the kind of music that the world now knows as Rock ‘n’ Roll.