The ancient Egyptians believed kings were immortal, and as the pyramids attest, they went to great lengths to honor their fallen pharaohs. Thousands of years later, on what would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday (January 8th 2010), history seems to be repeating itself.
More than 30 years after his death, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll remains a beloved figure and major cultural force. Merchandising alone bears this out: A quick eBay search turns up thousands of Elvis trinkets—everything from the small and inexpensive (postage stamps) to the large and mega-pricey (a gleaming white Yamaha grand piano the King once used in the studio).
Of course, plenty of departed celebrities live on through memorabilia. Only Elvis can inspire the kinds of birthday celebrations taking place all over the world (the World Wide Web, included). In Memphis, the King’s daughter, Lisa Marie, and widow, Priscilla, will start the January 8th festivities with a 9:30 A.M. cake-cutting ceremony at Graceland.
Later in the evening, as part of their special “Elvis Birthday Night,” the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies will don “blue suede shoes” for their match-up against the Utah Jazz. And online, you’ll find toy manufacturer Mattel’s special “Jailhouse Rock” doll, and other “Elvis 75” commemorative products, including T-shirts, posters, and “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” a new four-CD box set.
The celebrations aren’t limited to Memphis and e-shopping: From now through the end of January, Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Museum is showcasing one of the King’s classic motorcycles. At Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, tomorrow marks the opening of a new Smithsonian-sponsored traveling exhibition of early Elvis photographs. On February 19, Las Vegas’ Aria Resort & Casino debuts “Viva ELVIS,” a Cirque du Soleil show already in previews. For super-fans, November brings Carnival’s 2010 Elvis Cruise, a four-day trip from Florida to the Bahamas.
Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, fans also have the option of honoring the King from the comfort of their couches. On January 8th, the network will show an Elvis movie marathon—the perfect excuse to fry up a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich and rediscover the star’s dramatic range. Sure, watching his cheesier flicks can be painful, but it sure beats lugging heavy stones across the Egyptian desert, thank you, uh, thank you very much.
For a full listing of Elvis birthday events, visit Elvis.com.
[Photography: Elvis image(s) used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.]