Elvis Presley no longer just a music icon for fans these days, says author

Two fans are seen in front of a photo of Elvis Presley during a tour of Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, on Aug 13, 2017.
Two fans are seen in front of a photo of Elvis Presley during a tour of Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, on Aug 13, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

MEMPHIS (AFP) - More than 600,000 fans visit each year, paying tribute to Elvis Presley.

He died 40 years ago at 42.

On Tuesday, thousands are expected to attend this year's candle-light vigil to mark the anniversary of his death.

Ms Lisa Bseiso will be one of them. She had what she calls a "very spiritual, deep encounter" with Presley's spirit when she first visited Graceland in 2014.

"He was sitting in a chair. He had tears coming down his eyes and he said: Don't forget me, spread my legacy in your part of the world," she recalled.

The idea that Presley's spirit lives on is central to his fans of all ages, from all countries, who find his music soothing in times of trouble.

"The Elvis known today is not the real Elvis but a mythological figure millions can relate to in their own way," said Ted Harrison, author of The Death And Resurrection Of Elvis Presley.

"For some fans, he also now fills a spiritual and religious vacuum in modern secular society. He is given a semi-divine, quasi-messianic status and mystical stories are told about his life."