Today marks what would have been Elvis Presley's 80th birthday, and thousands of fans from around the world are gathering in Memphis, Tennessee, to attend special events that have been scheduled to commemorate the milestone at the Graceland estate and around the city.
One of the main highlights of the celebration took place this morning on the Graceland lawn, where a ceremony was held, declaring Thursday to be Elvis Presley Day in Memphis. With Priscilla Presley on hand for the celebration, a specially designed birthday cake was also cut.
Kevin Kern, director of public relations for Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises, shared some details about the festivities with ABC News.
"We've got a cake fit for a king, complete with eight tiers -- one for each decade," he revealed. "And it's an exciting day, with members of the Presley family in attendance."
Kern added that Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie, would join her mother for the ceremony, which also featured a group singalong of "Happy Birthday" to Elvis, who was born Jan. 8, 1935, and died in August 1977 at the age of 42.
Other events happening this week in Memphis in conjunction with the 80th birthday celebration include a number of musical performances, a screening of the Presley movies Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, a Q&A event and fan-club parties. In addition, an auction offering a variety of rare Elvis memorabilia will be held tonight at Graceland, with one of the most exciting items up for bid being the first recording Presley ever made, an acetate dating back to 1953.
Graceland plans to continue Elvis' 80th birthday celebration throughout 2015,” Kern told ABC News. He added that later in the year, "we'll be launching two special exhibits…that highlight various periods of Elvis' life and milestones in his career."
Presley, of course, was the first true rock 'n' roll superstar, a charismatic heartthrob, dynamic performer and powerful singer who propelled the genre into the mainstream of pop music. Regarding Elvis' enduring popularity, Kern notes that "almost half of [Graceland's] visitors were born after Elvis Presley passed, [which] goes to show the impact he still has on popular culture today and music of today."
"There probably wouldn't be The Beatles without Elvis Presley," he said. "It was John Lennon who said, 'Before Elvis there was nothing.' They were tremendously influenced by Elvis Presley and his music."