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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
British Elvis fans wed in Blackpool
The Leightons
Elvis impersonators joined the marriage ceremony
Elvis Presley fans have gathered in Blackpool to mark the 25 years since the King's death, with one couple getting married by an Elvis impersonator.

Dani Leighton, 31, and Juliette Massey, 34, tied the knot at the Winter Gardens on Friday after winning a competition called Elvis Wedding of the Century.

The couple, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, had Elvis impersonators as the best men and bridesmaids included look-alikes of Priscilla Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Elvis Presley
London's HMV shop is exhibiting rare images of Elvis
The Leighton's wedding opened the Elvis Experience weekend in the town, a three-day convention for thousands of Elvis fans, impersonators and look-alikes.

At the ceremony the couple swore special Elvis vows to each other.

"I promise that I am going to love you tender. I'll never put you through heartbreak hotel.

"So if you treat me nice and don't give me any suspicious minds I will love you from rags to riches, " they said to each other.

Among those attending the Blackpool convention are those who believe Presley is still alive.

Elvis
Bets that Elvis is still alive are common
Bookmakers William Hill took a 50 bet - at odds of 1000/1 - that he is still living, somewhere.

"We take scores of fiver and tenner bets each year on the same theme," said spokesman Graham Sharpe.

"I know he would be an elderly gent were he still about - but with a six figure payout on the cards we'd be the ones who were all shook up if Elvis does reappear."

Fans have been marking the anniversary elsewhere in the UK.

More than 100 people attended a mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle to celebrate Presley's life.

Elvis impersonator Marciano Franco takes part in an Elvis impersonation contest in Malaysia
Lookalike competitions are being held around the world
Father Michael Campion told the congregation that Presley had brought joy to millions around the world - but he also asked them to pray for his failings, acknowledging the seedy nature of his death and the fact that he had been a "philandering husband."

"We have come here today not to idolise Elvis but to pray he will have that peace in Heaven that only God can give," said Father Campion in his sermon during the hour-long service.

"He was a man of tremendous talent, good looks, sensuality and charisma who became one of the most important figures of 20th Century popular culture. The least we can do is pray for his peace."

Congregants sung one of Elvis' favourite hymns, How Great Thou Art, as well as two of his hits, Love Me Tender and Can't Help Falling In Love.

Exhibition

In Cardiff, Elvis fan Glyn Nedrud - who has now changed his name by deed poll to Elvis Presley - is marking the day by playing the King's records non-stop for 24 hours.

And Mr Presley, 43, has said he is prepared for the consequences if his neighbours complain.

"I would be prepared to go to court if they want to send the police down - I've got to stand up for myself and for Elvis," he said.

In London, the HMV record shop at 360 Oxford Street is holding a special exhibition of rare images of the King.

It features little-seen photographs from each stage of his career and facsimiles of the original artwork for each of his number one hits including 2002's A Little Less Conversation, Elvis's record-breaking 18th UK chart-topper.

Tribute act

Meanwhile, a new survey has voted Elvis king of the tribute acts in the UK.

The King of rock n'roll was found to be the most imitated star in the UK, ahead of The Beatles and Abba, according to the report from the Performing Rights Society.

And the most popular Presley song performed by any tribute act was The Wonder Of You, followed by Can't Help Falling In Love.

"The less famous names who wrote songs for Elvis continue to benefit from their songs being introduced to new audiences," said John Cooter, who commissioned the survey.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ian Pannell
"Fans will be able to sleep in the Presley honeymoon chalet"
Elvis' step brother David Stanley
"He would be very humbled by the fact that people are gathering to remember his legacy"
Elvis fan Richard Clevin
"He just transcends time"


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