Several hundred fans have braved freezing cold to join Elvis Presley’s family in Memphis, Tennessee on what would have been the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s 80th birthday.
Cheers went up as Presley’s former wife Priscilla and their only child Lisa Marie sliced an eight-tier cake frozen by the minus nine degrees Celsius temperature on Thursday.
Fans got a chance to get a bite of the cake at a diner across the street from Graceland, the Presley residence that has become a shrine to his life, work and rich musical legacy.
“My gosh, I’m in total shock. So many of you here!” said Priscilla Presley, 69, adding that Elvis “would have been amazed” to see so many fans come out for his birthday.
“There’s really no where else we’d rather be,” added Lisa Marie, 46, accompanied by her four children — Riley and Benjamin Keough and twins Harper and Finley Lockwood.
An American pop culture icon like few others, Presley rode high in the rock music charts in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s before his untimely death in August 1977 at the age of 42.
His legacy includes 108 songs on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 pop music chart as well as 129 records in the Billboard 200 album chart — most recently in 2002 with a greatest hits set.
Other birthday events Thursday include an auction of authenticated Elvis memorabilia including his first driver’s licence and the jacket he wore in the movie “Viva Las Vegas.”
Also up for grabs is the first recording Presley ever made — an acetate disc from Sun Studios on which he sang the 1940s chestnut “My Happiness” for his mother. He was 18 at the time.
Fans with deeper pockets can meanwhile bid in a separate auction on Presley’s two private jets, which have been on display since the 1980s across the street from Graceland.
Their owners say they are under an April deadline to remove the Lockheed JetStar and Convair 880 after Presley’s estate said it would not renew a joint venture agreement to exhibit them.
But on social media, both Priscilla and Lisa Marie have signaled they are unhappy with the sale, which is being handled by a Los Angeles auction house.
“It is the owners who are doing all of this to try and get more money,” wrote singer-songwriter Lisa Marie on her Twitter feed, to which she added the hashtag: “#Greed.”