Graceland Celebrates 30 Years
This month marks the 30th anniversary of Graceland—the iconic former home and tribute site of the late and great King of Rock’n'Roll, Elvis Presley.
It’s been 35 years since Elvis Presley, the King of Rock’n'Roll, died—but his spirit is still alive and well at Graceland, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.
“Every time I go in there, I feel like Elvis is going to come down the stairs any minute,” Priscilla Presley told The Associated Press. “I have no doubt that he’s there, somewhere, his spirit. I think people feel that.”
Some see it as an over-the-top tourist trap, while others see it as a tribute to one of history’s greatest musical influences. Either way, there’s no denying the popularity of Graceland. In fact, it’s hard to believe the site was opened partially as a way to deal with the tax burden the property had placed on Elvis’ estate after his death.
It was Priscilla who decided to turn it into a memorial site, in the hopes she could not only keep Elvis’ legacy alive, but could also solve Graceland’s financial woes. It worked. On opening day, June 7, 1982, Graceland sold out all 3,024 tickets.
“I have no doubt that he’s there, somewhere, his spirit. I think people feel that.”
Today, Graceland sees approximately 500,000 visitors a year. They come from around the world to walk through the King’s old home, to see his gold records, army uniform and concert outfits on display and to visit his grave, along with the burial sites of his mother, father and grandmother.
While the site is popular year round, August sees the greatest spike in visitors, as fans come—many of them in tears—to commemorate Elvis’ death with an annual candlelight vigil. And with 2012 marking the 35th anniversary of the King’s death, this year’s vigil is likely to be bigger than ever.
“I’m blown away by the mere fact that it’s 30 years,” Priscilla said. “It’s been incredible to see that the legacy of Elvis is still going strong. We wouldn’t have imagined that when it was opened in 1982. Elvis is as popular now as he was then, if not even more.”