Elvis Presley fans furious at being charged £22 to see Graceland grave on 40th anniversary of singer's death

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Fans of Elvis Presley have been left furious at being charged to visit his grave on the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death.

Tens of thousands of devotees of the King have been flocking to his home in Memphis, Tennessee, for the annual candlelit vigil marking his death on August 16, 1977.

For nearly four decades music lovers have been able to join the solemn procession past the star’s grave at Graceland for free – but for the first time this year a fee has been introduced.

Fans will have to pay $28.75 – or around £22 – for an Elvis Week Property Pass wristband, allowing them to walk up the long driveway and past Elvis and his family’s graves.

Mourners gather to commemorate 40 years since the death of Elvis. (REUTERS)

The wristband will also let fans into Graceland’s new $45 million entertainment complex.

Fans left less than impressed by the cost of the vigil include Anthony Stuchbury, of Bolton in the UK who has been to Graceland more than two dozen times, but did not come this year.

“I understand they are a business, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them making money,” he said.

Mourners at the grave of Elvis Presley. (REUTERS)

“But the current price-gouging situation has created so much friction, it’s even dividing fans.”

Longtime fan Fred Schwarz of Springfield, Illinois, who has been to several vigils with his wife, said fans should be insulted at the new charge.

He said: “I looked forward to going down there this year, and they come up with all this.”

Elvis fans pay tribute to the star on their pilgrimage to Memphis. (AP)

“I don’t want to even go to Memphis anymore. The people running that are not Elvis fans. They are in business. Corporations, they want the bottom line.”

The vigil, which began on Tuesday night and runs into Wednesday, sees lines of mourning fans walk through the graves while holding white candles. It was expected to attract up to 50,000 people.

Before the procession began, Priscilla Presley, the performer’s former wife, and Lisa Marie Presley, their daughter, thanked the crowd for their love and dedication.

A street memorial is lit during a candlelight vigil for Elvis Presley in front of Graceland, the star’s Memphis home. (AP)

Elvis fans began making their pilgrimage to Graceland the year he died, and they have continued coming ever since. Graceland says it averages 500,000 visitors per year from around the world.

The new fee for the vigil is part of Graceland’s extra security measures for Elvis Week, organisers said.

​Graceland, which is run by Elvis Presley Enterprises, said: “In order to keep everyone safe and ensure an enjoyable and meaningful event for all, we have worked closely with local, state and federal security authorities to establish new procedures that have been widely used across the US.”

Other fans did not have a problem with the charge.

Joe Makowski, who saw Elvis more than 80 times in concert and came to Graceland after he died in 1977, said it is a good idea because of the cost of security. 

“It goes along with the territory of the popularity of Elvis,” said Mr Makowski, of St Petersburg, Florida. “There’s a price for that as well, to accommodate all the people.”

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