NEW YORK – Elvis lives!
Though he may have left the earthly kingdom 25 years ago, Elvis Aaron Presley is still the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and with the anniversary of his death on Aug. 16, thousands of fans around the world aren't going to let anyone forget it.
The King's castle, of course, was Graceland, and the Memphis, Tenn., mansion is naturally the focus of the 25th anniversary festivities.
"It's going to be a wild week, but we love it," Graceland spokesman Todd Morgan said. "It's great fun and exciting, and it'll be a great challenge to make sure we're taking care of business."
Perhaps the highlight of the celebration will be Elvis: The 25th Anniversary Concert, with a "virtual" Elvis, at Memphis' Pyramid arena. Using modern-day technology, the King himself will be playing with his original bandmates, including the TCB band, The Sweet Inspirations and a veritable singing army of others.
But the festivities in Memphis last for more than just one day: Elvis Week is packed with events such as a parade down Beale Street with grand marshal Gov. Don Sundquist and a Sunday gospel brunch.
Presley fans can also meet Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, hear Elvis tales from his closest friends, take part in a karate tournament dedicated to the honorary black belt, listen to an academic discussion about Elvis' influence on American society, go to an Elvis disco, or participate in a five-kilometer run.
"I like to think he sees all this, and if he does, I don't doubt that it would be a great source of pride and satisfaction for him to know that his career in death is longer than his career in life," Morgan said.
And where would Las Vegas be without the Pelvis?
Sin City shows its appreciation for the King with a Fremont Street Experience with 2.1 million lights, 540,000 watts of sounds and a performance by the Elvis Choir on Aug. 15. Elsewhere in the city, fans will stare in wide-eyed wonder at the relics in the Elvis-A-Rama Museum or the dozen or so Elvis-themed shows and exhibits at hotels and other sites.
But the legend of Elvis began neither in Tennessee nor Nevada. In Tupelo, Miss., where he was born, the anniversary of Elvis' death has the feeling of a holy day. The city of 35,000 expects a larger turnout than ever before to the spot where the messiah of modern music was born.
"He is totally one of a kind and he made his mark in so many ways on our culture, and it's going to be hard for anyone to ever fill his shoes," Linda Elliff, director of sales for the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "Tupelo is extremely proud that Elvis Presley was born here and we feel he was very influenced by his early years in Tupelo."
To honor their native son, Tupelo will have a celebration at the place in East Tupelo where Elvis was born, with live rock 'n' roll and gospel music and storytelling by some of Elvis' friends. A statue of Elvis at 13, the age he left Tupelo, will be officially dedicated to his fans around the world.
Of course, some of those global fans have their own plans. Elvis festivals with music, dancing and impersonators are sprouting up from Miami to Chicago to Minneapolis to the Southeast Alaska State Fair.
An Elvis parade will storm downtown Kansas City on Aug. 16; Elvis will be the order of the day at every Hard Rock Café in the world; and Elvis impersonator contests will be held in, among other places, Branson, Mo. (Aug. 30 to Sept. 1), and Memphis (Aug 11-15).
For those who don't feel like venturing from home but still want to rock-a-hula, there's Elvis, Then & Now, a commemorative publication that includes Elvis-related interviews, essays, rare photos, and a free CD of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "In the Ghetto."
Boob-tube addicts can get their Elvis fix by watching Turner Classic Movies' 24-hour Elvis marathon or VH1's all-day Elvis tribute -- both on Aug. 16.
And fans of the King's style can decorate their homes in the new Elvis collection from Vaughan-Bassett Furniture. The signature pieces are the "Love Me Tender" bed and the "Burning Love" heart-shaped mirror.
But no matter where they are on the anniversary, one million Elvis fans can't be wrong when they speak with one voice to the man who defined rock star: "We want you, we need you, we love you."