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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
'Elvis' crowned as tributes end
Shawn Klush
Shawn Klush beat contestants from around the world
Managers of Elvis Presley's Graceland have chosen a man from Pennsylvania to be their first official "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist".

Shawn Klush, from Pittston, beat nine other contestants in the Memphis final of a worldwide competition.

Mr Klush's victory came as 30th anniversary celebrations of Presley's death drew to a close on Friday night.

"It's an overwhelming experience and it couldn't be in a better place," he said.

Mr Klush, 38, won with his versions of Viva Las Vegas, My Way, Bridge Over Troubled Water and You Gave Me A Mountain, dressed in a replica of Presley's 1970s-era white jumpsuit .

He won $5,000 (2,500), a $5,000 shopping trip to Graceland's souvenir shops, $3,000 (1,500) toward a new jumpsuit and other prizes.

Only one winner was chosen, but Mr Klush and two other contestants, Trent Carlini, 37, of Henderson, Nevada, and Donny Edwards, 32, of Las Vegas were called back to perform a third song each.

The others, including British hopeful Paul Larcombe, were limited to two songs.

This first official contest marked a significant shift in attitude by the managers of Presley's estate, who previously had shown little regard for the many impersonators of the rock 'n' roll icon.

The 10 finalists were also officially endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises and signed contracts that could bring them a lot of lucrative work in the future.

Elvis tribute concert
Carefully-edited footage gave the impression Elvis was leading the band

The contest was part of a week of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of Presley's death, which culminated in a live concert featuring footage of the singer.

With many of his former band members on stage, Presley "performed" hits like Burning Love and Suspicious Minds.

Earlier, thousands of visitors had filed past the singer's grave at his Memphis home, Graceland. Presley died of a heart attack in 1977, aged 42.

Large floral displays sent by fans around the world surrounded a walkway leading to the garden where he is buried.

Teddy bears, single red roses and other small offerings covered the grave.

One visitor, Katie Brown, said: "I can't describe how I feel about him because I've loved him since I was a teenager.

Carol Norman said she saved up all year so she could attend the vigil at Graceland.

"I'm married and have children but my husband just thinks that it's a really nice thing to do because we're paying back what he gave us, and that's all we can do," she said.

Shirley Roberts from Tennessee sits among her Elvis paraphernalia as she waits to attend the candlelight vigil at Graceland
Fans began lining up for the candlelit vigil early on Wednesday

Thousands of British fans flew in for the anniversary. Debbie Quinn-Booth was one of them. "I love Elvis," she said.

"He's my hero. He's the love of my life. I can't explain it, it's just something about him," she said.

The singer's former wife, Priscilla Presley, said the singer was still a powerful figure.

"To see the fans from all over the world, it's mind-boggling," she said.

An estimated 75,000 Elvis enthusiasts made the journey to Memphis - where temperatures topped 100F (38C) - to attend events celebrating the superstar's life and music.

Paramedics had to treat several fans for heat exhaustion.

Elvis fans who were unable to travel to Memphis held their own vigils around the world.

Israeli fans gathered at The Elvis Inn - a petrol station on the Jerusalem to Tel Aviv highway.

In Japan, mourners gathered at Tokyo's Love Me Tender fan shop, laying bouquets at the foot of an Elvis statue.

Graceland, where Elvis died as a result of heart disease exacerbated by drug abuse, is now a major tourist attraction visited by almost 600,000 people every year.

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Elvis impersonators celebrate their idol in Memphis

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