Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, died unexpectedly on August 16, 1977, at the young age of 42. After changing popular music and culture forever, his sudden death shocked the world.
This larger-than-life icon was laid to rest at a small cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. But the story doesn’t end there.
Let’s take a look at where exactly Elvis was buried after his untimely passing and how Graceland later became his final resting place.
Elvis’ Burial and Funeral
After Elvis Presley died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, he was first buried on August 18, 1977 next to his beloved mother Gladys at Forest Hill Cemetery.
His funeral brought thousands of grieving fans to Memphis as the world mourned. Elvis and Gladys shared a private mausoleum at the cemetery, which already held deep meaning for the Presley family.
Sadly, their time together at Forest Hill would be short-lived. On August 29, 1977, just two weeks after Elvis’ funeral, three men attempted to dig up and steal his coffin.
Fortunately, security guards intervened and the police arrested the grave robbers. However, the Presley family feared further attempts by overzealous fans or profiteers.
As a result, they decided to move both Elvis and his mother Gladys to Graceland. On October 3, 1977, they were reburied in the Meditation Garden on the Graceland grounds. The reburial brought privacy and security to their final resting place.
Fans gathered outside the mansion gates during a solemn funeral procession headed to the garden. There, amidst tears and rain, Elvis and Gladys were laid to rest side by side once more.
History of Graceland
Long before becoming a burial site, Graceland was Elvis’ home and refuge. He purchased the Memphis mansion in 1957 when he was just 22 years old.
After years of non-stop concerts, recording sessions, and Hollywood filming, Graceland became his sanctuary. Elvis spent 20 happy years at Graceland until his death in 1977.
After he passed away, his ex-wife Priscilla Presley decided to open Graceland to the public. It allowed fans to see Elvis’ home, his outrageous fashion, and his memorabilia.
Priscilla worked to preserve and restore the mansion to its former glory. She turned Graceland into a museum that chronicled his amazing life and career.
In 1982, five years after Elvis’ death, the Graceland mansion opened for its first public tours. Fans flocked to Memphis to walk through Elvis’ beloved home and pay respects at his grave.
The Graves at Graceland
The famous Meditation Garden at Graceland is the final resting place for Elvis and his relatives. It’s a small, oval-shaped garden located behind the Graceland mansion near a swimming pool. The peaceful garden with burbling fountains was one of Elvis’ favorite spots to relax.
In the center of the garden lies Elvis’ grave, marked by a modest headstone engraved with his name and lifespan: “Elvis A. Presley, 1935-1977.” Next to Elvis is the grave of his beloved grandmother Minnie Mae Presley. She was very close with Elvis, who called her “Dodger.”
On the other side of Elvis is his father Vernon’s grave, and next to him lies his mother Gladys. A small stone honoring Elvis’ stillborn twin brother Jessie sits nearby. The most recent additions are Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie, buried in 2023, and his grandson Benjamin Keough who died in July 2020.
The Meditation Garden has beautiful landscaping, statues, and stone walkways. But its beauty reverberates with the sadness of losing a brilliant star too soon. For over forty years, the garden has provided Elvis and his family with a serene final resting place.
Visiting Graceland and the Meditation Garden
For music lovers, a trip to Graceland is a pilgrimage. The mansion is open year-round for tours, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Tour groups enter Graceland and wind through the kitschy 1970s decor of Elvis’ home. The Jungle Room, Trophy Building, racquetball court, and more all give a glimpse of how “The King” lived.
The last stop on the tour is the Meditation Garden, where visitors can pay quiet respects. Standing at Elvis’ grave, you can palpably feel his larger-than-life presence. Flowers and memorabilia left by fans adorn the gravesites.
Photography and videography are permitted in the garden, contributing to the preservation of memories. The tranquility of the garden provides a stark contrast to the vibrant musical streets of Memphis, the birthplace of rock and roll.
Though small in size, the impact of the Meditation Garden transcends its boundaries. Over three decades since its opening, thousands continue flocking to Elvis’ final resting place each year.
Impact of Elvis’ Death and Burial Site
When Elvis died at just 42 years old, the world reacted in a way never seen before. His funeral procession drew thousands of weeping fans to the streets of Memphis. Newspapers covered his shocking death and speculation over its cause for weeks.
After Elvis was buried at Graceland, mourning fans flocked to his grave. Over 80,000 people visited Graceland in the first month it was opened to the public in 1982. His gravesite quickly became the most visited grave in America.
Today, Graceland welcomes over 500,000 visitors annually and remains the second most visited home in the country after the White House.
Elvis may have left the building decades ago, but his grave remains a place of pilgrimage. Like ascending the steps of a temple, the journey to his final resting place is one of reverence.
Graceland is now a National Historic Landmark—and for good reason. Its grounds provide more than memorabilia and artifacts. Graceland immortalizes the legacy of a poor boy from Mississippi who rose to dizzying heights of fame.
Elvis’ Enduring Legacy
Over forty years since his death, Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland continues to draw thousands of visitors. Though his life was cut tragically short at only 42 years old, his legacy lives on through his iconic music, films, and memorabilia.
For fans spanning generations worldwide, making the pilgrimage to his final resting place offers the chance to pay respects to the king of rock and roll.
Graceland itself stands as a time capsule honoring his life. While Elvis rests in the quiet Meditation Garden, his spirit will continue rocking and rolling forever.
About the Author
Team Guitar Top Review Talk about Guitars! We are a group of friends that bonded over their shared love of playing guitar. We all have different backgrounds and experiences with music, but we share a passion for writing about the things that we love.