Fans flock to worship Elvis

We can't get enough of the burger King.

The King of Rock and Roll may be dead, but his British subjects remain faithful. And in August over 1,000 UK Elvis fans will be heading to Graceland, the Presley home in Memphis, Tennessee, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their idol's death.

Most of them may be middle-aged - teachers, accountants, policemen or grandmothers - but two decades on they can't let go of their obsession with the man who put rock on the map.

No matter that the King had grown monstrously fat when on 17 August 1977, at the age of 43, he toppled from his Graceland throne (he had a heart attack in the loo brought on by his diet of burger buns and fried peanut- butter and banana sandwiches.) For the 20,000 members of The Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain, he will be forever young and slim, with his sneer, kiss curl and swivelling hips. House? Garage? Techno? Drum 'n' Bass? Forget it. Give us the rockers: Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Heartbreak Hotel, Don't be Cruel. Give us the ballads: Are You Lonesome Tonight? His Latest Flame, It's Now or Never, Suspicious Minds. We accept no substitute.

"It's going to be wonderful," says Eileen Weston, 55, of London, a fan for 40 years and a member of nine of the UK fan club's branches. "Elvis is just one marvellous human being and I know his spirit is going to be with us all in Memphis."

On their pounds 1,600 trip the fans will visit the annual conference, this year entitled, "Elvis 20/20: Past and Future", take riverboat cruises, visit Elvis's school, karate studio and recording studios, gather for a candlelit vigil, and attend a concert at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. In total, more than 100,000 fans from all over the world are expected.

White jump suits will be dry-cleaned, blue suede shoes dusted down and the waists of poodle skirts let out in preparation for what is purported to be the biggest event in the history of Elvis fandom. "The concert is going to be the biggest reunion of musicians that worked with Elvis ever," says Todd Morgan, of the Elvis Estate, Memphis. "And Elvis himself will be singing - through the use of video technology and dramatic production, of course."

Julie Mundy, the UK fan club president, has commandeered 20 buses, booked five hotels and arranged four Hawaii blue weddings for the three-week tour to Memphis, Los Angeles and Hawaii. "It's going to be a very emotional visit this year," she says. "I've cried at the Graceland gates myself before but this year is going to be quite something."

For those UK fans who cannot afford the trip to America there is always Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, where the annual Elvis Party Week will take place at the Havens Golden Sands Resort. Alternatively, there will be a night of live music at the Equinox Ballroom at The Empire, Leicester Square, London, where Alvin Stardust, Darrel Higham from Elvis The Musical, and Elvis's girlfriend from the Fifties will be appearing.

The spirit of Elvis lives on, and the hiccoughing and crooning of the King will be heard across the nation as branches arrange their own discos, barbecues and parties on 17 August.

According to Bill Burk, publisher of the internationally-distributed magazine Elvis World, British fans are the most enthusiastic in the world. "You can spot them a mile away. They're the only ones that walk everywhere over here [Memphis], they're white as sheets and they don't stop talking about Elvis."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape