When the world stated goodbye to Elvis Presley at his funeral


Lisa Marie Presley by no means preferred speaking in regards to the final moments she had along with her father.

It was 4 a.m. on Aug. 16, 1977, and the 9-year-old couldn’t sleep. Elvis Presley was recognized to tens of millions because the “king of rock-and-roll,” however within the second he discovered her of their Memphis home, he was a father urging his daughter to return to sleep.

“I ran off, and he had are available in and kissed me good night time,” she recalled a long time later in an interview that aired on TV Land. “That was the final time I noticed him alive.”

Hours after he despatched her again to mattress, Elvis Presley died of cardiac arrest at age 42, the tip of a legendary life that President Jimmy Carter stated had come to represent America’s “vitality, rebelliousness and good humor.” Within the days earlier than Presley was to be buried, his daughter took solace in spending time along with her father’s physique whereas it was saved inside the house.

“There was one thing very oddly comforting about that, which made it not essentially actual for me,” Lisa Marie stated within the TV interview. “I stayed in there with it for nearly the entire time.”

When the time had come to put Presley to relaxation within the mausoleum of Forest Hill Cemetery close to Graceland, it was all too actual — and Lisa Marie wasn’t the one one that had come to goodbye to him. She was joined by hundreds of grief-stricken followers from all corners of the world who descended on Graceland to pay their respects to the fallen king.

“He’s gone,” one lady sobbed within the crowd, in line with the Related Press. “He’s gone.”

Reminiscences of Presley’s public send-off practically a half-century in the past are effervescent up forward of his daughter’s public memorial at Graceland on Sunday. Lisa Marie Presley died on Jan. 12 at a California hospital at age 54. The demise was introduced in an announcement by her mom, Priscilla Presley, hours after Lisa Marie Presley was taken to a hospital from her dwelling in Calabasas, Calif. No reason behind demise has been decided, in line with the Los Angeles County health worker’s workplace. Presley might be buried subsequent to her son, Benjamin Keough, who died in 2020, within the famed dwelling the place different members of the Presley household are buried. Elvis’s physique was moved to the property two months after the Forest Hill ceremony.

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Lisa Marie’s sudden demise and her Graceland burial plan have opened up previous wounds for followers of the Presley household who nonetheless really feel a deep connection to her father, Michael T. Bertrand advised The Washington Submit. He’s a professor and historian of the American South at Tennessee State College in Nashville.

“For numerous individuals her demise felt like this emotional blow in a way {that a} connection to Elvis was misplaced,” stated Bertrand, writer of the 2000 guide “Race, Rock and Elvis.” “She was one of many final direct connections to Elvis. Her demise has hit individuals onerous.”

Roy Turner, government director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum in Tupelo, Miss., likened Elvis’s demise to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — all moments embedded in American tradition’s psyche. And he agreed with Bertrand that the feelings surrounding Presley’s demise have returned together with his daughter’s Jan. 12 demise.

“Despite the fact that you don’t know the particular person personally, you are feeling this deep connection and you are feeling this ache and loss. And I really feel the identical with Lisa Marie,” Turner stated. “It’s very harking back to 1977.”

The final 12 months of his life challenged Elvis — he was pissed off by his residency in Las Vegas, hooked on painkillers, struggling together with his weight, lampooned by critics. However whilst his reputation plummeted within the ’70s, the followers remained loyal to Presley, the pelvis-whirling artist who would carry out 1,684 reveals, document 784 songs and seem in 31 movies in his lifetime.

Actually, individuals had been mourning Presley a lot that FTD, the flowers-by-wire service, reported that greater than 3,100 floral preparations had been ordered on the day of his demise, setting the document for probably the most bought in a single day in the US, in line with CBS Information.

On Aug. 18, 1977, an estimated 18,000 individuals lined Elvis Presley Boulevard for miles — many carrying indicators, flowers and memorabilia on a sweltering summer season day — for an opportunity to catch a glimpse of a funeral procession that includes 49 autos. Among the many vehicles within the procession was the gleaming white Cadillac hearse with the rose-covered coffin carrying the singer’s physique and at the least 10 different white Cadillac limousines that adopted.

Behind Presley’s hearse was the automotive carrying his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, her face hidden behind her veil. Priscilla was noticed clutching Lisa Marie to her breast with overwhelming disappointment. Priscilla recalled to NBC’s “At present” present in 2018 how throngs of followers lined either side of the streets main as much as the cemetery.

“You’d see glimpses, you’d see individuals crying, hysterical, fainting, and that’s how impactful it was and nonetheless to today,” she stated.

A lot of these in attendance had been households from many locations — Wisconsin, Indiana, Colorado — who dropped what they had been doing and traveled many hours and a whole lot of miles to be there. The scene took on a carnival vibe at occasions, with males promoting Presley T-shirts and mementos, ice cream and copies of native newspapers.

“After I heard the information, I simply drove round surprised for about three hours after which we bought on a airplane and got here right here,” Drema Anderson of Baltimore advised the Tennessean.

“There’ll by no means be one other one like him,” one other fan advised CBS Information. “To me, he’ll reside within the hearts of individuals ceaselessly.”

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One of many followers in attendance was Sally Worty, a 25-year-old barefoot, blond lady from Phoenix who clutched a stuffed animal and repeatedly cried out, “Oh, Elvis, oh, Elvis,” in line with the Related Press.

“How can these individuals get of their vehicles and drive away when Elvis is useless?” Worty requested on the time. “How can they simply act regular?”

About 200 relations, associates and shut associates attended the non-public service at Graceland, a star-studded occasion that introduced John Wayne, Burt Reynolds, George Hamilton, Ann-Margret and Caroline Kennedy.

Whereas Invoice Murray was not formally invited, the “Saturday Evening Reside” star later revealed how he felt compelled to be on the public occasions and took a flight to Memphis. Because the procession headed to Forest Hill Cemetery, Murray recounted to the “At present” present how he discovered himself in the course of what he described as “a unprecedented factor to see.”

“As I ran throughout the cemetery, swiftly the bikes got here in and the bike cops checked out me like, ‘If you happen to transfer, we’ll kill ya,’” Murray stated. “I simply froze, and all of the vehicles rolled by. They had been all staring and pointing at me. I assumed, ‘Oh God, I’m busted.’ And I spotted they had been pointing at Elvis’s mom’s grave; I used to be standing proper at her gravesite. It was a really attention-grabbing second.”

However as household and associates helped keep in mind Presley in the course of the non-public service, Eddie Fadal, who described himself as a “lifelong buddy” to Elvis, famous how Lisa Marie was doing her finest to grapple with the concept of life with out her father.

“Lisa doesn’t appear to know what has actually occurred,” Fadal stated in August 1977, in line with the Tennessean. “She’s sitting and taking part in along with her toys across the pool. She has seen the physique, however is simply oblivious to what that is all about.”

Although Lisa Marie’s service might be extra non-public than her father’s funeral, Elvis historians agree that the times since her demise have been an emotional stretch for followers who keep in mind photos of her large smile as she rode round Graceland in golf carts along with her dad.

“All of these emotions we had for Elvis are completely coming again up with Lisa Marie,” Turner stated. “All of us share within the ache for Priscilla and for her kids of their loss, along with no matter personal loss we as followers would possibly really feel.”

Bertrand expects followers will really feel equally in speaking about Lisa Marie’s demise as they’ve every time Elvis’s demise comes up. In different phrases, they received’t like speaking in regards to the lack of the daughter of the king of rock-and-roll: “It’s going to be a tragic day for lots of people.”

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