Family, friends and fans of Elvis Presley gathered at Graceland on Sunday morning to mark what would have been the rock icon’s 88th birthday.
Led by Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, the annual event featured an Elvis Presley birthday proclamation from the city of Memphis, Tennessee, as well as a ceremonial cake cutting.
The event drew an unusually large gathering of Presley diehards – a number clearly boosted by the success of the 2022 Baz Luhrmann biopic “Elvis” – to the front lawn of Graceland for the 30-minute ceremony.
Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden welcomed the group. “I can speak with some authority having been here every year for a lot of years,” he said. “This is unquestionably the largest crowd we’ve ever had. You all come from all over the world … and we love you for being here.”
Following brief appearances by Alton Mason, who played Little Richard in the Luhrmann film, and Presley’s longtime TCB band pianist Glen D. Hardin, Elvis Presley Enterprises managing partner Joel Weinshanker spoke.
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Fans from around the world gathered on the front lawn of Graceland to celebrate the birthday of Elvis with Lisa Marie Presley on Jan. 8, 2023, in Memphis.
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Weinshanker noted that one of Presley’s career ambitions “was to be in an amazing movie, with an amazing director, and be part of an amazing film. And I think we did that for him this year.”
He added that Graceland was “probably the most famous house in the world, and there is only one person whose house it is,” he said, introducing Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie.
Lisa Marie, wearing a long black coat and sunglasses, was greeted with huge cheers from the crowd. “Thank you. It’s been a while. I missed you. I keep saying you’re the only people that can bring me out of my house. I’m not kidding,” she said, to cries of “We love you, Lisa Marie!”
“I love you back and that’s why I’m here. Today, (Elvis) would’ve been 88 years old, it’s hard to believe. I think that he’d be proud. This year has been an incredible year. The movie is incredible, I’m very proud of it, and I hope you are too,” Lisa Marie said. “But it’s just so moving how every year you come from all over the world. It’s moving to me and my family … so thank you.”
Lisa Marie Presley takes a photo with Elvis Presley fans, who gathered on the front lawn of Graceland to celebrate Elvis’ birthday on Jan. 8, 2023, in Memphis.
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Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley Enterprises officials then unveiled an “Aloha from Hawaii”-themed cake – the famed 1973 satellite concert event that marks its 50th anniversary – as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to close the proceedings.
Celebrations of Presley’s birthday continued on Sunday, with Graceland officially opening the doors to “The Making of Elvis” exhibition, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Luhrmann’s film, which packs props, drawings, annotated scripts, 18 character costumes and other items into a 3,000-square-foot space. The exhibit is currently slated to be on display through Labor Day.