Elvis Presley feted in Memphis on 75th birthday

Fri Jan 8, 2010 5:44pm EST
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By Richard Cotton

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Reuters) - The cold couldn't keep them away from the "King."

Hundreds of Elvis Presley fans braved frigid, snowy weather to celebrate the late rock'n'roll legend's 75th birthday on Friday at his Graceland shrine, part of a marketing machine that generates $50 million a year.

"It feels like his presence is here," long-time Elvis devotee Debbie Bradshaw of Texas said during a tour of the Memphis mansion where Presley died in 1977 from heart failure, aged 42.

Some 1,500 people shivered and sang along with the early Presley hit "That's All Right" in 11-degree temperatures (minus 11.7 Celsius) as snowflakes swirled.

Chilled fans gave their warmest reception to Presley's ex-wife Priscilla, daughter Lisa Marie and her two children -- including 17-year-old Benjamin Keough, who bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather -- when they appeared onstage in an open-sided tent at the shopping complex across Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Benjamin and his 20-year-old sister Riley then cut a multitiered birthday cake.

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton quoted Elvis in addressing the harsh conditions: "'I'm glad to be a fool' for Elvis today."

Priscilla thanked visitors for coming, and said later in an interview that Elvis was "probably as popular, or more popular since he passed away."   Continued...

<p>Elvis fans wait to tour Graceland during Elvis Presley's 75th birthday celebration in Memphis, Tennessee January 8, 2010. Presley, who died in August 1977 aged 42, is one of the top earning dead celebrities, bringing in $55 million in 2009 according to Forbes.com and marketed by Elvis Presley Enterprises which entertainment mogul Robert Sillerman revitalized in 2005. His birthday, on January 8, will be marked with a cake-cutting ceremony at his Graceland home, a new exhibit of his costumes, movie marathons, a Facebook application, a cruise later in the year, and a new Jailhouse Rock doll in the Barbie collection. REUTERS/Nikki Boertman</p>