Elvis Week is now in full swing, with festivities having kicked off last Friday in downtown Memphis. The week’s highlight was definitely its most moving: Last night through this morning, fans gathered outside the gates of Graceland to mark the 35th anniversary of the King’s passing. (The candlelight vigil’s surprise guests were none other than Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley.)
While many people associate Elvis’s life with Memphis and Graceland, the King’s presence can be felt in many other places. Walk in the King’s footsteps through a visit to these destinations — each had a big influence on Elvis’s life and music.
Elvis’s Favorite Hawaii Spots
Elvis fell in love with Hawaii in the late 1950s while on vacation. That love continued throughout the rest of his life: Elvis made 3 movies in Hawaii (Girls! Girls! Girls!, Blue Hawaii and Paradise, Hawaiian Style). Elvis also traveled to Hawaii in March 1961 to give a benefit concert for the construction of the USS Arizona Memorial. But no Elvis appearance in Hawaii was more hyped than the King’s 1973 concert, “Aloha from Hawaii,” which was broadcast live via satellite worldwide.
Relive the excitement of Elvis’s Aloha concert with the 40th anniversary celebration. Explore Hanauma Bay, where many Blue Hawaii scenes were filmed. (Elvis returned here several years later, in August 1965, to film the helicopter rescue scene for Paradise, Hawaiian Style.) Swing by Lanikai Beach, where Elvis rented a private home during his final vacation to Hawaii in March 1977. And be sure to tour the Neal Blaisdell Center in downtown Honolulu, the site of Elvis’s 1973 concert.
Elvis Holy Land Tour
Of the 3 Grammys that Elvis won, each were for his gospel recordings: the albums He Touched Me and How Great Thou Art, as well as a single of the same name. Along the way, Elvis recorded with the gospel group The Imperials. And he reportedly always wanted to go to Israel.
Now get ready for the first-ever Elvis Presley Holy Land Tour. Slated for May 2013, the 10-day tour is open to the first 100 people who sign up. The real draw will be the special guests set to accompany the tour: Elvis’s own gospel backup singers — Joe Moscheo and Terry Blackwood of The Imperials, as well as Bill Baize. They’ll see many of the places, from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem, which informed the power and soul of Elvis’s love of gospel.
Plus, they say Elvis was proud of his Jewish roots. His maternal great-great grandmother was Jewish; he wore a “chai” (Hebrew for “life”) pendant; and he put a Star of David on his mother Gladys Presley’s gravestone. Who knew?
See Elvis’s Hometown
Want to see where Elvis’s mom bought him his very first guitar? Head to Tupelo, MS. Elvis Aaron Presley was born in this small city in the hills of northeast Mississippi in 1935.
To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the King’s passing, the city unveiled a 13-foot statue of the King based on a 1956 photo of him this August. Take an Elvis driving tour of the places he knew in his youth, including Lawhorn Elementary School, Lee County Library, Milam Junior High and Tupelo Hardware — where his mom got the guitar. And mark your calendars for the Elvis Festival — the annual event, held in June, includes a tribute artist contest, Sunday gospel concert and 5K run.
Long live the King!