When Graceland was opened to the public on June 7, 1982, approximately 30 years ago, it was hard to tell just how successful it was going to be.
Now, close to 18 million guests later, the house is a profit-making business that has made Memphis, Tenn., a dominant destination for those who love music.
Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s ex-wife, says it is more than just music history; it’s the spirit of her former husband who has flocks of people traveling to Graceland.
“Every time I go in there, I feel like Elvis is going to come down the stairs any minute,” said Priscilla Presley in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press about the landmark’s anniversary. “I have no doubt that he’s there, somewhere, his spirit. I think people feel that.”
Elvis passed away on Aug. 16, 1977, and within a few years, Graceland became a huge burden to take care of, and it faced hefty inheritance and estate and taxes. Many people wanted it to be sold; however, Priscilla felt that the problem would be solved by opening the house to tourists.
She looked into other famous homes and museums and hired Jack Soden to transform Graceland into a profitable business.
“We had no idea, whether 30 people were coming, or 300, or 3,000 that first day; fortunately, it was the latter,” said Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises.