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Remembering Elvis: 45 years after his death

Elvis Birthday
Posted at 4:33 PM, Aug 15, 2022

Four and a half decades. That's how long it has been since the world lost Elvis Presley. But his life and legacy still influence pop culture today. The most recent biopic about the King of Rock 'n' Roll brought in more than $250 million worldwide.

His time on the throne was cut short — Elvis Presley died at his home, Graceland, on Aug. 16, 1977.

His singing career began in 1954 and was heavily influenced by growing up in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Elvis' career has been both celebrated and criticized. Some say he profited off of Black music. But others, like the legendary B.B. King, defended Elvis, saying he re-interpreted the music he grew up with.

But his legacy doesn't just live and die with his roster of songs.

"The music is great. But if it wasn't his heart and that charisma and what he gave to people in other ways besides songs, he would just be a rock star from the '50s that died," said Brendan Paul, an Elvis impersonator.

Love for Elvis spans decades and generations.

He starred in more than 30 movies and won several awards. But for some fans, the man behind the music is who they fell for.

Elvis' generosity is also of note, like when he gave a Las Vegas hotel employee a car.

"Everything that you hear about Elvis, things that he did, and things that he gave, he really did that," said Alonzo Langstaff, who worked at the Las Vegas International Hotel when Elvis stayed there.

Las Vegas was Elvis' unofficial home away from home, where he spent years of his life on stage at the International Hotel.

"After that first show, I said every time Elvis comes back to town, I'm going to be here, and I managed to do that 15 times," said Susan Lorenz, member of the Elvis Presley Fan Club.

Those were 15 of the more than 830 sold-out shows spanning nearly seven and a half of the final eight years of his life.

Elvis now lives on through his image and likeness, his adoring fans, and his family.

"If there's a heaven and I see Elvis, I would literally say, 'Thank you, truly, for providing a life for my kids … God bless the King of Rock 'n' Roll," said Paul.

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