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EDITIONS
Friday, 16 August, 2002, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Elvis: The mood in Memphis
Elvis death
Visitors have been arriving at Graceland all week

At the queue for the check-in-desk, it was obvious that the King's home was not far off.

Six Japanese teenagers, all with huge quiffs and long thick sideburns, were standing in line behind a man with a white suit, complete with flares and silver sunglasses.

When we touched down the captain, in a well practised Elvis voice, said, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Memphis, I'd like to thank you for your custom."


Elvis' success is down to being in the right place at the right time, being a white boy who could sing like a black man

Jimmy Ogle
Museum director
"I just know if Elvis were alive today he would choose to fly with us."

Memphis at the moment is Elvis crazy. The city he moved to as a teenager is doing everything it can to commemorate his death

Every shop window has a picture of him in it, and on historic Beale Street, spiritual home of the blues, Elvis songs spill out on to the street.

The latest attraction is the newly opened Rock And Soul Museum, just around the corner from where Elvis recorded his first ever single That's All Right Mama. Jimmy Ogle is director and shows visitors around.
Elvis lookalike
Elvis lookalikes have been flocking to Graceland

For many people, it's their first trip to Memphis and it's been a lifelong dream.

"People cannot believe it when I show them the actual machine Elvis recorded his first single on, and there are words he actually wrote, " Ogle said.

"You know, Elvis' success is down to being in the right place at the right time, being a white boy who could sing like a black man."

But although a youthful looking Elvis beams down from every shop window, restaurant and souvenir shop, his fans are not getting any younger, and for the past few years the number of visitors to Memphis has declined sharply.

That's why the mayor, Jim Rout, is doing everything he can to welcome the 75,000 or so people who are expected to visit the city over the next few days.
Graceland
Fans have been holding a candlelit vigil at Graceland

"We know this is a huge event, both for Memphis and for the world. I hope all the people who visit our city will come back time and time again."

But 25 years after his death, many fans are still grief-stricken, including Martin and Dawn from Sheffield. They have travelled all the way from England to be married at Graceland, yet for them the day is still tinged with sadness.

"I just wanted to be here for this anniversary," Martin said. "We had thought of getting married in Las Vegas, but this seemed much more romantic."

"I know Elvis would have approved," added Dawn.

For the past week people have been turning up to Graceland, with long queues snaking past his pink Cadillac, his aeroplane, and his trophy room stuffed with golden records and glittery suits.
Elvis' grave
Thousands of visitors have seen Elvis' grave

Crowds have been gathering at his front lawn tomb, where he lies between his mother and father.

Wearing a full Elvis suit complete with sideburns, Raul sobs loudly. He has travelled from Italy to be here.

"I just had to be here for the 25th. I've been to Graceland 14 times but this was the one to be here for."

Across the road, business is booming at the Elvis Memorabilia store. So far this week, wigs have sold out, supplies of silver sunglasses are wearing thin.

The big novelty item this year is aerials shaped like the King. Baby bottles with his picture on the side and All Shook Up written underneath have also been selling well.

"I've been looking forward to this week for 24 years, when I first opened my store. Elvis is now so popular with young kids, they can't get enough of him," the shop's manager Rosie admitted.

Despite the fact the King may not be as immortal as some of his fans may hope, the success of the 25th anniversary of his death shows there is life in the old rocker yet.



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