Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Thousands of fans of Elvis Presley from around the world, some wearing his trademark outfits and thick sideburns, made their way to his Graceland estate Monday for a candlelight vigil ahead of the 34th anniversary of the singer's death on Tuesday.
Droves of fans trek each year to Memphis to remember Elvis, who died on Aug. 16, 1977. Among the first in line was 60-year-old Joe Makowski, who claims he saw Elvis in concert 81 times, and his girlfriend, Pamela Hembree. A New Jersey native who owns four of Elvis' concert-worn scarves and has attended several vigils, he said it was time to introduce Hembree to the Elvis Week experience honoring the life and career of the rock 'n' roll star.
"I get to meet new fans and meet new people, so that's why I line up here early in the day," said Makowski, who went to Las Vegas twice a year between 1971 and 1976 to see Elvis perform. "The biggest thing I get out of it is seeing the young fans that weren't even born until years after he passed away."
This year, fans have something else to commemorate. It was 55 years ago — 1956 — when his first two albums were released.
To mark Elvis' breakout year, music producer Ernst Jorgensen and his team have assembled a five-CD box set called "Young Man With the Big Beat," which RCA/Legacy will begin selling Sept. 27. It includes the first two Presley albums, rare live recordings, outtakes and interviews, plus an 80-page book.