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August 18, 2002
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Not even an hour-long thunderstorm and driving rain could dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of Elvis Presley fans who came from all over the world to pay tribute to the undisputed king of rock and roll on the 25th anniversary of his death.

As a record 35,000 mourners filed past the legend’s grave at his Memphis Graceland mansion, Elvis’s former wife Priscilla opened a tribute concert in his honour at nearby Pyramid arena on Friday night. “I want to thank you for your loyalty and support for Elvis,” she told a 14,000-strong crowd who gathered to watch the King “live” on a two-storey screen as his 30-member band played along on stage. “You have given so much back to him.”

Newlywed daughter Lisa Marie also took to the stage for about one minute – long enough to introduce a song she wrote for her father, as hubby Nicolas Cage looked on from the audience. The 34-year-old singer and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises didn’t sing the song – a recording of it was played over loudspeakers instead.

Lisa Marie, Nicolas and Priscilla had secretly visited Graceland early Friday morning and watched from the mansion windows as thousands carried candles to Elvis’s grave in the rain. “If this was a test, we passed,” Graceland manager Todd Morgan told the crowd. “We all love Elvis, rain or shine.”

But it wasn’t just Graceland that drew throngs of Elvis-lovers to pay their respects to the rock ’n’ roller. In the UK, Elvis lookalikes attended “The Elvis Experience”, a three-day convention taking place at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool; and in Germany, about 12,000 groupies flocked to the town of Bad Nauheim, where Elvis served in the Army, for a weekend-long bash.

Meanwhile, impersonators from five Asian nations saluted the King at “Elvis Forever In Asia” festival in Tokyo. Also known as Eribusu, literally “Elvis on stage” in Japanese, the performers included a 15-year-old boy and the Oxford-educated First Secretary at the Thai Embassy in Singapore.

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Photo: ©
“You have given so much back to him,” said Elvis' former wife Priscilla as she thanked 14,000 fans at a Memphis memorial concert Photo: © AFP
Photo: ©
Newlywed Lisa Marie, the King's only child, briefly took to the stage to introduce a song she wrote for her fatherPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
Elvis appeared "live" via a two-storey video screen as 30 of his original bandmates played on stagePhoto: © AFP

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