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Wife and daughter greet Elvis fans

Elvis Presley's ex-wife Priscilla and their only daughter Lisa Marie have stunned thousands of fans who had flocked to Graceland for a candlelight vigil marking the 35th anniversary of the singer's death.

Priscilla Presley and her daughter made the unscheduled appearance on a stage set up just inside the walls of the mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, as thousands with candles were about to enter the grounds of Elvis' home and last resting place to honour the "King".

The two women thanked the crowd for their undying admiration of the rock 'n' roll icon. During the brief remarks, Priscilla called the sight of thousands of candles amazing, adding: "This is something that Elvis would never ever have believed could have taken place here."

Lisa Marie, standing beside her mother, told the fans she loved them for their devotion to her father. She also acknowledged she had shied away from making public appearances at past anniversary vigils for fear of being overwhelmed by the mood.

"I've always avoided this because I felt that it would be too emotional, but I really felt it was important to come down here tonight. I love you very very very much," the singer's daughter told the crowd.

They spoke just before a long line of fans, many who had camped outside for hours, were allowed to file past the Elvis Presley grave site on the grounds of the mansion and tourist attraction.

This was the first time both women have appeared together at the annual candlelight vigil, a tradition dating to the early 1980s. Elvis admirers from around the United States and the world have flocked each August anniversary to Graceland, where the singer is buried.

Presley died on August 16 1977 from a heart attack after battling prescription drug abuse. His abrupt death at 42 shocked legions of fans and many today are still mesmerised by his singing, sex appeal and on-stage charisma.

The vigil marked the high point of Elvis Week, the annual celebration of Presley's life and career. Organisers have said they expect 75,000 people to attend Elvis Week, with many taking part in the overnight vigil.

This year also brings another highlight with a 35th-anniversary tribute concert planned at an area arena. Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley are expected to attend the concert that is to feature live musicians playing along with videotaped footage of Elvis singing.

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