45 years after King’s death, he’s still making news

  • 8 min read
  • Aug 11, 2022

45 years after King’s death, he’s still making news

After some entertainers and other celebrities pass away, they fade away, too.

Not Elvis. 

Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977. That event has not kept him off the front page, off the Billboard charts or off the movie and television screen.

Elvis made news for many of the 42 years of his life. But sometimes it seems like the 45 years since Elvis’ death have been just as busy with Elvis-related events and happenings. 

So here’s a chronological year-by-year account of some of the stories about Elvis and his family, his friends and his work that have garnered attention since 1977. We picked one story per year, which means we left out a lot; but we hope that what is here will shed a little light onto the phenomenon of Elvis Presley.

‘FLAMING STAR’:When Elvis met ‘Jeannie’: Barbara Eden on working with the King, Elvis Week and more

ELVIS MOVIE TRIVIA:Can you answer these 22 questions about the rock King-turned-Hollywood star?

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Fans of Elvis Presley attend the annual candlelight vigil outside his home at Graceland on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, with a remembrance that leads into the anniversary of his death on Aug. 16, 1977.

1978: The tradition of the “candlelight vigil” begins on the evening of Aug. 15, when a small group of fans gathered at Graceland in recognition of the Aug. 16 first anniversary of Elvis’ death. Originally a spontaneous show of devotion, the vigil soon becomes organized by Elvis fan clubs and sanctioned and abetted by Graceland. It now serves as the emotional climax of the annual “Elvis Week” celebration, with thousands of fans entering the gates of Graceland each Aug. 15, to make a pilgrimage to the Elvis gravesite. 

1979: Vernon Presley, 63, Elvis’ father, dies of a heart attack on June 26 at the original (and now gone) Baptist Hospital — the same place where Elvis was pronounced dead. Vernon’s first wife, Elvis’ mother, Gladys, 46, had died of a heart attack in 1958.

Icicles hang from the second Elvis Presley statue on Beale Street as below freezing temperatures and snow flurries cover Memphis on Feb. 14, 2021.

1980:  A bronze statue of a guitar-toting Elvis in a late-1960s-style fringed shirt is unveiled on Beale Street, where the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll learned much of his craft. But the statue, by Eric Parks, proves too delicate, and souvenir-crazed fans strip it of its guitar strings and tassels. In 1994, the statue is moved indoors to the Downtown Memphis Tennessee Welcome Center; three years later, its place on Beale is filled by a new statue depicting a rockabilly-era Elvis in mid-gyration, sculpted by Andrea Lugar.

1981: Albert Goldman’s critical and controversial biography “Elvis” is published by McGraw-Hill. An immediate best-seller, the book incurs the wrath of fans and many music scholars, even as it affirms that Presley’s life is worthy of hard-cover, major-publisher treatment.

1982: Graceland opens to the public on June 7. Admission: $5.

1983: With a name endorsed by Shelby County Mayor and Elvis pal Bill Morris, the Elvis Presley Regional Trauma Center opens at what is now known as Regional One Health, the community hospital on Jefferson. It is the region’s only “Level 1” trauma center, for treatment of the most serious injuries and emergencies.

1984: On Feb. 22, Elvis’ two private jets — the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II — arrive in Memphis and are transported down Elvis Presley Boulevard to serve as tourist attractions at Graceland.

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