The Funeral of the King of Rock and Rock

Elvis Presley was buried in Memphis, TN on August 18, 1977

Cemetary where Elvis was buried
Forest Hill Cemetary. Alain Le Garsmeur/Getty Images

Although rumors are still flying around that Elvis Presley may not be dead (he is), the massive convergence of fans on Graceland in Memphis, TN, in the wake of his death on August 16, 1977, is — if nothing else — a testament to the legacy Elvis left behind. President Jimmy Carter, upon learning of The King of Rock and Roll's untimely demise, issued a statement praising Elvis in that he had "permanently changed the face of American popular culture."

A Funeral Procession Fit for 'The King'

Thousands of fans converged on Memphis in the days following Elvis Presley's death, so many that President Carter ordered 300 National Guard troops to the area to maintain order. All city buildings in Memphis immediately lowered their flags to half-staff. Elvis was embalmed at the Memphis Funeral Home and returned to Graceland on August 17, 1977, where a public viewing of the casket, ordered by Elvis' father Vernon was set up in the foyer. Over 30,000 fans were let in.

Elvis Presley's funeral, held on the 18th, was a modest affair, though attended by stars such as his "Viva Las Vegas" co-star Ann-Margret, James Brown, and actor George Hamilton. Held in Graceland's living room, it lasted from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Wooddale Church of Christ pastor C.W. Bradley led the sermon, which also featured a testimonial from comedian Jackie Kahane, who often opened Elvis' shows. Other Elvis tour vets — J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, the Statesmen, and Kathy Westmoreland — performed some of Elvis' favorite hymns including "Heavenly Father."

Burial and Later Reburial

Later that day, Elvis's body was laid to rest next to his mother Gladys Love in the Forest Hill Cemetery. An estimated 80,000 people came to watch the funeral procession, lining the street and bearing handmade signs expressing their sorrow for the loss of The King. Elvis' last record, "Way Down," topped the United States and United Kingdom music charts over the following weeks.

In late August of the same year, a thief attempted to steal the body of Elvis. As a result, both Elvis and his mother's remains were relocated to the Meditation Garden at Graceland on October 2, 1977.

Posthumous Sightings

Perhaps because of this, many people have claimed to have seen Elvis Presley over the years since his death. Many conspiracy theorists believe he may have faked his own death as a publicity stunt or perhaps even a way for him to escape his mega-stardom to retire to a quiet life away from the throngs of fans. Despite these rumors, the estate of Elvis Presley firmly continues to affirm Elvis did indeed die of a heart attack in his Graceland home in August of 1977.