“Love me tender; love my true.” For thirty years now, people have been flocking to “love” Elvis Presley at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, Graceland is celebrating its 30th anniversary of being a tourist attraction.
Memphis, with the help of Graceland, has managed to turn into quite a tourist attraction with almost 18 million visitors over the last three decades who come to see Graceland, enjoy music and have fun.
As Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ ex-wife, recounts,
“Every time I go in there, I feel like Elvis is going to come down the stairs any minute. I have no doubt that he’s there, somewhere, his spirit. I think people feel that.”
Graceland was actually seen as a burden after Elvis’ death in 1977, as it had high estate and inheritance taxes. Priscilla came up with the idea of opening the home to the public, while others had wanted to sell it. After visiting other famous houses like Hearst Castle, and securing a $500,000 loan, she opened it to tourists on June 7, 1982.
Helped by Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, they sold 3,024 tickets just on the first day and have generated $32 million a year in revenues through their worldwide merchandising and licensing business. About 500,000 people come to Graceland annually and the attraction has revitalized the surrounding area of Beale Street in downtown Memphis.
As Priscilla said, “It’s been incredible to see that the legacy of Elvis is still going strong. We wouldn’t have imagined that when it was opened in 1982. Elvis is as popular now as he was then, if not even more.”
Today’s fans really do still “Love me Tender, Love me True” when it comes to Elvis Presley.