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Elvis Fans Celebrate 70

By: CBS News / Associated Press
By: CBS News / Associated Press

More than 500 Elvis Presley fans gathered on the front lawn of Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. Saturday morning to celebrate the king of rock 'n' roll's 70th birthday.

They sang "Happy Birthday" and cut a cake in honor of Presley, who was born January 8, 1935, and died at Graceland in 1977.

His fans gather each year on the anniversaries of his birth and death.

This year is special for many, though, because it would be Elvis' 70th birthday.

But for fans like Gerri Engelby of Jefferson City, Missouri, age doesn't mean much when you're talking about Elvis.

She put her feeling this way, "He's immortal. There's no age to him."

Elvis fans clad in jean jackets, hats and T-shirts bearing the name of "The King," flocked to the spa town of Bad Nauheim, Germany to celebrate the birthday with a series of shows and events.

Organized by local authorities and the local Elvis Presley Association, the events Saturday included a Las Vegas show, a gospel concert and walking tours of places the singer lived from October 1958 through February 1960 while stationed there as a soldier — his only residence outside the United States.

"His voice was magic — there was so much soul, so much heart in it," said Isolde Sueltemeyer, a classical musician from Cologne.

Sueltemeyer, now retired, was lucky enough to secure a room Friday in the art deco Grunewald Hotel where Presley lived upon arriving in Germany. Complaints from other residents that his rehearsing was disruptive forced him eventually to find his own house.

She was one of several fans who gathered Friday to walk in the footsteps of the man many Germans credit with bringing rock n' roll to Europe.

An exhibit at Germany's national museum, Haus der Geschichte, or History House, in the former West German capital of Bonn also commemorates the singer's unique roll in the history of music in Germany.

Included in the exhibit, which runs until Feb. 27, are countless artifacts gathered by Claus-Kurt Ilge, including a tape recorder and dozens of albums that Presley gave to him before returning to the United States.

Ilge has been instrumental in raising Bad Nauheim's profile as "Germany's home of Elvis," but argues the city could still do more. For years, he says, he has crusaded to have the street in front of the Grunewald Hotel renamed in honor of Presley, but local politicians have been reluctant to do so.

Ulrich Schlichthaerle, head of the city's tourism office, says officials are only now realizing their city's connection to The King can raise its profile.

"Out of more than 100 spa towns in Germany, we are the only one that can claim a 20th-century artist resided here," Schlichthaerle said. "Many of them have connections to Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms, but only we have Elvis."


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