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Elvis candlelight vigil surprise guests: Priscilla and Lisa Marie

August 16, 2012|By Rene Lynch

Elvis Presley fans numbering in the thousands outside Graceland to mark the 35th anniversary of his death got quite the surprise Wednesday evening when the King's former wife and daughter -- Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley -- showed up for the annual candlelight vigil at the cultural icon's estate in Memphis, Tenn.

Mother and daughter have largely avoided the hoopla surrounding the Aug. 16, 1977, death that has turned into an annual celebration of all things Elvis but remains a personal time of pain for them. This year's anniversary was different, however.

"I've always avoided this because I felt that it would be too emotional, but I really felt it was important to come down here tonight," Lisa Marie told the crowd, according to the Associated Press. "I love you very, very, very much."

PHOTOS: Fans remember Elvis at Graceland | Elvis perfoms at the Forum in 1970

It's the first time Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley have appeared together at the annual Graceland gathering attended by faithful Elvis fans, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The newspaper put the crowd count at 75,000 for the candlelight vigil, the centerpiece of a week dedicated to remembering the King. 

Thousands flock to it each year, determined to foster the memory of the rock 'n' roll legend and cultural icon who continues to enthrall followers today just as he did in his heyday.

While the event has a somber undertone to it, it's also a celebration, as evidenced by the many Elvis imitators -- men, women and children sporting rhinestone-studded, bell-bottomed jumpsuits and pompadours.

The Associated Press reported that Elvis' ex-wife and daughter appeared on an elevated stage in front of the crowd, and addressed those in attendance: "You should see this from our point of view. It's amazing," Priscilla Presley said, standing alongside Lisa Marie. "The candles are lit. It's truly a sight to behold."

Elvis died at Graceland after suffering a heart attack. He is buried on the grounds of the estate.

Along with the 35th anniversary, Graceland is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of its decision to open the doors for public tours.

PHOTOS: Fans remember Elvis at Graceland | Elvis perfoms at the Forum in 1970

Elvis Week, which runs through Saturday, includes a variety of hip-swiveling events to honor Elvis, including tours, tributes, memorials, exhibitions and more.

Can't be there in person? Then catch up with daily Elvis Week video recaps, or sign a virtual Graceland wall via Facebook.

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Join Rene Lynch on Google+ and Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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