When Elvis died, it shocked the world. Hundreds of thousands of fans flooded in Memphis and crowded outside the gates of Graceland. He wasn’t just the greatest star the world had ever seen, though. Inside the house, a family was grieving. The King’s father understood how important his child had been to the fans and made teh extraordinary decision to allow the fans to file through the house and view Elvis lying there in rest in an open casket, which had been placed under the arch between the living and music rooms. Before they did, the family had a private viewing and Lisa Marie made a very special request.
Elvis’ father had asked the star’s hairdresser and spiritual adviser, Larry Geller, to cut and style his hair. The sideburns were redyed and make-up applied. Vernon had overruled everyone on insisting on a public viewing so that the fans had their chance to say goodbye – and he wanted his son to look his best.
Estimates said the crowd outside stretched up to a mile back. It was 90 degrees and some fainted from the heat and emotion.
Inside, Priscilla and Lisa Marie had a final private moment with Elvis, when the star’s daughter asked her mother a special question. The little girl had a special last gift she wanted her father to have with him always.
READ MORE: Elvis confessed his deepest fear to Priscilla before he died
So Kendall walked the young girl to the coffin and asked her where she would like the bracelet to go. She pointed to her own right wrist. Kendall lifted up Elvis’ right arm and slipped the piece of jewellery on. He later said she also asked him if it would stay in place forever and he replied that it would.
As Lisa Marie left the room, Priscilla turned back to Kendall with one last instruction and so the bracelet was concealed beneath Elvis’s shirt sleeve.
After the public was allowed in from 3pm, an estimated 30,000 people filed through the house in just a few hours. Although Vernon extended the viewing hours, not even half of those who waited outside were able to pay their respects.
Elvis’ funeral took place the following day, August 18, as yet more extraordinary scenes unfurled.
The private funeral for family and friends took place at Graceland. An out of control car smashed into the gates of the mansion, killing two female fans and critically injuring another.
Over 80,00 people lined the route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Elvis was laid to rest in the huge family mausoleum next to his mother.
Two weeks later on August 29, there was an easily (some say suspiciously) foiled attempt to dig up the body which gave Elvis’ family grounds to demand his coffin be moved to Graceland for security.
Permission was given on September 28 and Elvis’ body was moved permanently to Graceland on October 3.