Thousands celebrate the King's 75th at Graceland

MEMPHIS — About 3,000 fans joined Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley’s grandkids Friday at Graceland to celebrate what would have been the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s 75th birthday.

An international contingent of fans came to commemorate the event. Some came from as far away as Europe, while other fans were right from the King’s adopted hometown of Memphis, where he died at Graceland in 1977 at the age of 42.

“I had to come. This is a special day. Seventy-five years is a wonderful period in Elvis’ life. I’m out here to support Priscilla and Lisa Marie, and I think so much of them and respect them and their family,” said Memphis resident Roger Harvey.

“It means everything to be here. You’re counting the days down until you can get on that plane,” said Craig Smith of Britain.

For Priscilla Presley, Presley’s ex-wife and mother of his only child, Lisa Marie, the day was “bittersweet.”

“It’s very difficult for me to even fathom that it’s been 75 years for him. It’s certainly bittersweet,” she said.

“Elvis has got the greatest fans. All of us here at Elvis Presley Enterprises are always amazed at the support, the loyalty. I mean, they have certainly helped his legacy be where it is today, there is no doubt,” she added.

She said Presley probably wouldn’t have made a big fuss over the milestone.

“Elvis wasn’t really big on having a whole lot of people, he liked it a little more intimate. He would definitely bring in family of course, friends, very close, intimate friends that he’s had more many years,” she said. “That’s what he really enjoyed the most is people that he knew and friends that he had for gosh, going back to high school years.”

At the Graceland ceremony, two of his grandchildren cut a birthday cake that was later shared with the crowd.

When asked what went through her mind at that moment, Priscilla Presley said: “I thought, my gosh, if Elvis only knew that he would have such beautiful grandchildren, so supportive to him, and how beautiful they are. It is bittersweet. He would have been very, very proud, absolutely very proud of his grandchildren.”

Caitlin R. King/The Associated Press