Thousands turn out to Graceland for 40th anniversary of Elvis' death

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Forty years ago, the King of Rock 'n Roll died in Memphis.

Thousands of fans are in Memphis this week to honor the man who gave so much to the world of music.

"I feel he's here," Kelly Deaconess, who's visiting from Chicago, said. "It's really a strange thing. I feel he's here. Like he sees us. I don't know. I feel like we are giving something of us to him after he gave himself to us."

Some say they feel a spiritual connection as they walk through the grounds at Graceland.

Four decades later, they still feel the connection to the small town Mississippi boy whose music forever changed our world.

"Oh, Suspicious Minds," Deaconess said of her favorite Elvis song. "Oh yeah, that just makes me feel, a lot of memories, and How Great Thou Art got me through the worst in my life."

"My heart races. You know, I just want to be here," Kay McArtor, who's visiting from Heath, Ohio, said. "I am real excited. I've been getting ready for this for about 8 months."

However, this year's celebration does not come without controversy. For the first time, Graceland is charging people who want to just visit Elvis' grave site.

McArtor and many other guests weren't expecting was the nearly $30 fee charged this year to get inside the gates for the vigil.

"I am not happy about that," Deaconess said. "We, just all of us here, we make up Elvis. You know? It's not what they sell. It's not about all this that they are are doing. It's just us coming here to see him."

Still Graceland expects the largest turnout ever. Patrons will likely be walking through the grounds with lit candles well into the early morning hours of August 16, which is the anniversary of Elvis' death.

Multiple ambulances were called to the candle-light vigil Tuesday as several fans were suffering from heat exhaustion.

WMC Action News 5 was the first television station in the world to broadcast that Elvis Presley had died. You can watch that broadcast here.

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