Elvis Week 2008

The Candlelight Vigil

Spotlight by - Susan Graham

EIN's special reports looking back at the highlights of Elvis Week 2008.

This third and final part looks at the Vigil day - plus the Fan Club Presidents' Event with a memorial to Todd Morgan.


EIN thanks Susan Graham for this chance to look back at the highlights of Elvis Week 2008.

Susan Graham has worked on several Elvis projects including the production of the DVD & CD '200 Cadillacs' and is a regular visitor to Memphis. Go here for a previous EIN interview with her about her involvement with '200 Cadillacs' - a documentary about Elvis' generosity.

2008 was the first time in 10 years that EIN's special reporter Sanja Meegin could not make a trip from Australia to Memphis for Elvis week. So this year our good friend Seattle Susie, Susan Graham, has provided us with these three special reports looking at the highlights of this year's Elvis Week.

Vigil Day
Friday August 15th, 2008

Vigil day for me started out slow and easy. I had breakfast with Joe Petruccio and then brought him over to Graceland Crossing where he had his gorgeous artwork on display.

I think he sat there from 11:00am until midnight, autographing calendars, paper, t-shirts – whatever people put in front of him. Joe doesn’t just write his name when he gives an autograph. He does a drawing of Elvis on each and every item he autographs. What a special guy!

The big event of the morning was the David Garibaldi's Rhythm and Hue Performance Art Show. David created several 6-foot portraits of Elvis in under 7 minutes for each to Elvis music. He paints a little, comes forward to dance, goes back to paint some more, either with brushes, his fingers, and sometimes just throws some paint. He was fun. It was SO, SO hot at the time, but it was still interesting to watch him do this.

I decided to stay around Graceland all day.

I was at Graceland Crossing where the tent had Elvis-wannabes singing to karaoke all day long. Some were pretty good, some, um, weren’t. There were a lot of people there.

And then the rains came. It rained HARD for hours! Some thunder and lightning, but mostly heavy rain. We were wondering what was going to happen with the vigil with all the bad weather.

Around 8:00 we went to the Sirius radio booth. They couldn’t go to the sound stage because of the weather. All the local DJs were there, including George Klein. I spoke to Argo about the time frame of my little interview.

George Klein was in the booth, all sorts of people were being interviewed and Doc Walker was limping (he dropped something heavy on his foot just before he came to work). Justin Morgan arrived and he was interviewed by Argo. He’s such a sweet person and you can just sense his sadness.

Jack Sodden came by and was interviewed. Karen (KJ) was interviewed by Doc (which was funny because he asked her where she was when Elvis died – and her response – “in nappies" (diapers)! 

I was finally interviewed by Argo late in the day. (right) He’s really nice and makes you feel very comfortable and not too nervous.

Then we went across the street to the gates to see the opening ceremonies. Guess what? IT STOPPED RAINING! Indeed, it didn’t rain for the next 2 hours (it was starting again when I was leaving).

At 9pm Jack opened the ceremonies with a short statement. It was mostly about how he shouldn’t be there, it should have been Todd Morgan. He talked about how much Todd is missed, especially at times like this (note: understatement of the year).
Then he introduced Kevin Kern to give the rules. I was torn between wishing they had used a little of Todd’s script (“if you’re here for the wrong reasons, you’d better hope security gets to you before these fans do…”) and knowing that trying to “be” Todd would probably not have worked either. No win situation.

One more note about Todd – many of us who talked about this felt that there was no mistaking the sense of a huge void, the deep sense of loss. He was truly a great man.

The ceremony went on with the theme “I Miss You” which was referring to both Elvis and Todd. It was the 30th year of Vigils organized by the Elvis country Fan Club.

The key songs were "I Miss You" by Donnie H. Sumner. "I'll Hold You In My Heart", "Peace In The Valley" and "Can't Help Falling In Love".

The sea of candlelight started to wend its way up the hill. It was a beautiful sight. Of course Elvis music was being broadcast for all to hear, no matter where they were.

When I finally got in line for the vigil. It still wasn’t raining.

Each time I go to Graceland I am reminded just how large this property is and I try to imagine how Elvis must have felt to have all this land to enjoy, to play.


I try to imagine what it was like to be here during Elvis’ life. Then I get a sense of sadness about what might have been.

The line moved fairly well as we waited to light our candles and to start that reflective walk up the hill. 

From the gate to the grave took just under 2 hours. There was no rain and the temperature was in the 70s. What a difference from last year.

The floral arrangements this year are as spectacular as usual.

Thanks for everything Elvis.

Seattle Susie's Video from Elvis Week 2008

Using a new camcorder for the first time I took some video at Elvis week. The quality is only so-so. So please forgive the shaky camera, etc. I've spent hours on this and because of the glitches there are more skips and less footage than I had planned. I hope you can enjoy it anyway. My intentions were good. - SeattleSusieQ

Go here to see Susie's video.

To end this EIN focus on Elvis Week 2008 a final word reflecting on Elvis, the charitable work, as well as the much missed Todd Morgan.

This report is with thanks to "ElvisSessions" who attended the August 12th Fan Club Presidents' Event.
The Fan Club Presidents' Event has now been opened up to anyone who pays the modest admission fee. After the usual run-though the over-marketing of Elvis product - luckily no robotic Elvis head this year - there were moving tributes to Todd Morgan.

Todd Morgan

Jack Soden started it off and speaker after speaker honored our deeply missed friend. For those of us who were able to make it to EPE's memorial service in April, we knew what to expect. But for others, this was their chance to let the tears flow as the speakers choked up and the treasured photos and videos were shown.

Jack Soden promised we'd be hearing more about Todd, and we hope EPE has some special words of honor reserved for him on vigil night, the time when many of us will miss him most of all.

As if our heartstrings hadn't been tugged enough, we then heard from a grateful resident of Presley Place. She talked about all the services the charity provides and how they had saved her and her young son. Once again, much of the audience was in tears.

That set the stage for a parade of fan club representatives to hand their checks to officials from various Memphis-area charities, including the Humane Society and, of course, St. Jude's.

Several fan club leaders took the stage to offer advice on fund-raising, and the results of their efforts spoke for themselves as the dollars accumulated.

Finally, Joe Moscheo, Terry Blackwood and Sherman Andrus of the Imperials took their seats on the stage to entertain the audience. But they didn't sing to us ... we did the singing, to Joe, who was celebrating his 71st birthday.

(Thanks to the Sweet, Sweet Spirit fan club of Ohio for being thoughtful enough to provide a lovely trophy to Joe to mark the occasion.)

All three Imperials in attendance shared memories of Elvis, but Joe and Sherman, especially, had good stories to recount. Joe spoke of meeting Elvis for the first time in 1960 at a gospel quartets competition in Memphis. All but unknown at that time, Joe was amazed that Elvis knew him and the work he had done as an accompanying pianist. Joe spoke of how he bashfully asked Elvis for his autograph, only to be put at ease by Elvis' asking for his signature in return.

Sherman's story similarly illustrated Elvis' fundamental decency, as he told of meeting Elvis for the first time and joking with him about needing a TCB of his own, even though he'd never performed with Elvis. He may have thought he was kidding, but you know Elvis ... sure enough, next time they crossed paths, Elvis handed him a box that held a TCB -- and another piece of jewellery.

It sometimes seems everyone who met Elvis has a story like this, and all of them seem to have been awed by the experience.

We're so fortunate that Elvis Week gives us so many opportunities to hear these stories and to meet friends and to share memories.

Spotlight by EIN Contributor Susan Graham
Copyright by EIN/Seattle SusieQ September 2008.
ALL photographs & images by Susan Graham.

Go here to EIN interview with Susan Graham about her involvement with '200 Cadillacs' - a documentary about Elvis' generosity.

Click here to comment on this article

Click here for Elvis Week 2008 Part 1 - The Insiders Conference

Go here for our special EIN spotlight on Elvis Week 2007.

Go here for our ultimate review of the Memphis 30th Anniversary Concert 2007.













Did You Miss These Popular EIN Features
EIN interview with Ernst Jorgensen
EIN interview with Roger Semon
Review of FTD Book/CD Writing For The King
In depth review of BMG 'Viva Las Vegas'
Lisa Marie Interview
Interview: Sonny West
Priscilla Presley Interview with CNN
Elvis and James Brown - Kindred spirits!?
Elvis was NOT a racist
Book: The Gospel Side of Elvis
CD: The American Way Vol. 4 - Sound of the City
Book/FTD: Live In L.A.
CD 'The King' vs 'The Essential Elvis'
Book: E.P in Concert
Book: Elvis The Louisiana Hayride Years 1954-56
CD: The Complete Million Dollar Quartet
CD: Elvis movies
Book: The "Love Me Tender" Years Diary
Book: Elvis at 21 (Wertheimer)
Book: Inside G.I. Blues
Articles / Spotlights
Tom Petty; How Elvis changed my world
How did Elvis get turned into a Racist?
Elvis in Toledo
Boots Randolph: A Tribute
EP In Concert "downunder" 2006
Elvis in the "gossip" mags - a pictorial review
Elvis In Concert (1977) - should it be released?
The Geraldo Rivera ("20/20") investigations into Elvis' death
The real failure of Elvis' movie career
Is Elvis a religion?
Did You Miss these Popular Interviews?
Priscilla Presley Interview with CNN
Lisa Marie Interview
Sonny West (Part 2)
Wanda June Hill
Joseph Pirzada
Jeanne LeMay Dumas
Larry Geller
Mac Davis
Roger Semon
Ernst Jorgensen
Kevan Budd (Dec 2006)
Ken Sharp (author: Writing For The King)
Wayne Jackson (Memphis Horns)
Ernst Jorgensen (Record Collector)
Graceland cam
Charmaine's Elvis Graphics
EPE's Multimedia Elvis Gallery
Sirius Elvis Satellite Radio
Elvis Radio (ETA's)
Elvis Express Radio
Elvis Only Radio
Sanja's Elvis Week 2007 Photo Gallery