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Elvis Presley died 45 years ago today

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Elvis Presley in 1975; Steve Morley/Redferns

Today, August 16, marks the 45th 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 heart failure. 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 among the most successful individual music artists ever, with more than 230 million certified units sold worldwide. He scored 10 chart-topping albums on the Billboard 200 and 18 #1 singles on the Hot 100. Various successful posthumous Presley albums, including compilations and rarities collections, continue to be released.

After Presley’s death, Graceland became a huge tourist attraction. Several years ago, the property was expanded to include an entertainment complex with museums, eateries, a hotel and a music venue.

In observance of the anniversary of Presley’s passing, Graceland annually hosts the multiple-day Elvis Week celebration, which this year kicked off Tuesday, August 9, and runs through Wednesday, August 17. Today’s scheduled events include the “Elvis Presley in Concert” show, taking place at the Graceland Soundstage venue. The show will feature film footage of Elvis performing his classic songs with live accompaniment from a group that includes members of his TCB Band, plus a guest appearance by Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla.

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