Steve Morley/RedfernsToday, August 16, marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, known the world over as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Presley was just 42 years old when he passed away at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, from a heart attack. It’s widely believed that prescription drug abuse was a factor in the singer’s death.

Presley, of course, was the first rock ‘n’ roll superstar, whose charisma, energetic music and good looks helped make him one of the most influential and recognizable cultural icons of the 20th century. His passion for and promotion of artists like Little Richard and Fats Domino helped open the door to the commercial acceptance of black rock ‘n’ roll artists by white audiences. Elvis’ musical talents extended beyond rock to pop balladry, gospel and country.

Elvis remains the most successful individual music artist ever, with more than 211 million certified units sold worldwide. He’s scored 10 chart-topping albums on the Billboard 200 and 18 #1 singles on the Hot 100. Various successful posthumous Presley albums, including compilations, rarities collections and more, continue to be released.

After Presley’s death, Graceland became a huge tourist attraction. The property recently was expanded to include a huge entertainment complex with museums, eateries and a hotel.

In observance of the anniversary of Presley’s passing, Graceland is hosting an expanded, nine-day edition of its Elvis Week celebration that kicked off Friday, August 11, and runs through Saturday, August 19. Today’s scheduled events include the “ELVIS: Live in Concert 40th Anniversary Celebration,” taking place at the FedExForum in downtown Memphis. The show will feature film footage of Elvis performing his classic songs with live accompaniment from a full symphony orchestra, plus a guest appearance by Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla.

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