Is Anyone Buried at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee?

Updated

Yes, there is. In fact, there’s a whole family plot on the grounds of the iconic home of the legendary King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley.

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On August 16, 1977, Elvis died of a heart attack at the age of 42. He was found in his home, known as Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Two days later, he was interred in the mausoleum at Forest Hill Cemetery, which is also in Memphis. But he didn’t stay there long.

When a celebrity of Elvis’ caliber dies unexpectedly, it can feel very personal to many, many people. As a result, his death and funeral became a large cultural phenomenon that may have surprised even original fans of “The King.”

For example, “an estimated 80,000 people came to watch the funeral procession, lining the street and bearing handmade signs expressing their sorrow for the loss of The King,” according to History.com.

As far as famous graves and memorials go, Elvis’ is at the top of the list for many people. His star shined so bright while he was alive; then it took on a whole new light after his untimely death. 

If you’re an Elvis fan or are interested in seeing a time capsule of pop culture, Graceland Mansion and his burial place are definitely “places to see before you die.”

Why Was Elvis’s Body Moved?

Before we can get to why his body was moved, you need to know why he was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in the first place. 

His mother, Gladys Presley, was the center of Elvis Presley’s world. Like him, she died young. She was 46 when she died of heart failure. At the time, Elvis had been drafted by the U.S. Army. She died in 1958, while he was stationed in West Germany.

Gladys was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, not far from Graceland, and had a traditional underground burial. In loving memory, Elvis had a large marble monument created for her. The monument features Jesus standing in front of a cross and two angels praying on either side of him, and was installed at her grave in March of 1959. In 1964, another headstone was added that featured the Star of David in honor of Mrs. Presley’s Jewish heritage.

When Elvis died in 1977, he was interred in a crypt in Forest Hills Mausoleum. Because of Elvis’ love for his mother, his father knew he’d want to be buried next to her. Gladys’ casket (made of seamless copper like her son’s) was then “disinterred and placed into the crypt just below his, in a gated room in the mausoleum,” according to the Graceland house and museum website.

They would both only be in Forest Hills two more months.

When a man becomes legend

The death of a celebrity can cause reactions that the death of an average person generally does not. In the case of a beloved singer, movie star, and pop culture icon like Elvis Presley, things were destined to get interesting after his passing.

Approximately two weeks after his death, there was a grave robbing attempt of his remains.

On August 29, 1977, three men were arrested for attempting to remove Elvis’ body from the mausoleum that held his and his mother’s remains, according to People magazine. As a result of this botched attempt and fear of other potential robberies, both his body and his mother’s were moved over to Graceland.

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Where is Elvis Currently Buried?

Elvis is currently buried in Graceland’s Meditation Garden. 

Knowing the devotion of his fans – and that there were some people with no-good intentions – the family decided that his grave needed to be under constant watch. That was possible once he was moved to Graceland.

Five years after his death, his ex-wife Priscilla Presley had Graceland opened to the public. It was a way for his fans to get a peek into the life of their beloved singer and star. And with his grave on the property, it would also allow fans to pay their respects to The King in a controlled fashion. 

Elvis Presley is arguably one of the most influential pop-culture figures in the world. It’s more than his fame, good looks, and swiveling hips. He made a huge impact on American music and as a result, is an important part of music history.

Because of this and other reasons, Graceland is the most fitting place for The King to finally rest. He’d owned it since he was 22 years old. It was his home base – the home he could return to from any place in the world or from any stressors he was dealing with. Forest Hills Cemetery would have to take those precautions as well, and it’s a much smaller cemetery. It would be difficult to control. 

Who’s buried next to Elvis?

There are five graves total in the Meditation Garden at Graceland. 

The graves (listed below from left to right) are those of:

  • Minnie Mae Presley (Elvis’ grandmother, whom he called Dodger)
  • Elvis Aaron Presley
  • Vernon Elvis Presley
  • Gladys Love Smith Presley
  • A cenotaph for Jessie Garon Presley (Elvis’ stillborn twin brother)

Elvis’ grave is between his paternal grandmother (to his right) and his father (to his left). His mother lies next to his father, and a smaller memorial stone, a cenotaph, for his twin brother is next to her. A cenotaph is a memorial marker for someone who is not buried in that location. 

Elvis’ brother, Jessie

Jessie Garon Presley was born 35 minutes before Elvis was on Jan. 8, 1935. Sadly, Jessie was stillborn. He was Elvis’ identical twin. Jessie was buried in Priceville Cemetery in an unmarked grave. The cemetery was located near the Presleys’ home back in Mississippi. At that time, Vernon and Gladys were very poor and living in a two-room house in East Tupelo, Miss. The babies were born at home, according to History.com.

What Are the Graceland Graves Like Today?

As mentioned previously, Elvis and his family are interred in the Meditation Garden at Graceland. They are on one side of the small pool in the garden. The graves and the rest of the Graceland complex are under 24-hour surveillance. Both of Gladys’ grave markers are in the Meditation Garden now, though they aren’t right by her grave.

The graves are kept in pristine condition and often have flowers and mementos left on or near them from fans.

Paying Your Respects to the King

If you’d like to visit the final resting place of Elvis Presley, you can see it on the basic Graceland Mansion Tour as well as any other tours that include the Mansion. Once the tour finishes inside the Mansion, you’ll be led outside to the Meditation Garden. Here you’ll be able to pay respects to The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.


Sources 

  1. “Rare Photo: Gladys Presley’s Original Gravesite at Forest Hill Cemetery – Mother of Elvis Presley.” The Memphis City Magazine, 18 November 2012, memphismagazine.com/ask-vance/rare-photo-gladys-presleys-original-gravesite-at-forest-hill-cemetery-mother-of-elvis-presley/ 
  2. “Gladys Presley’s Headstone Added to Meditation Garden.” Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley, 14 August 2018, www.graceland.com/elvis-news/posts/gladys-presleys-headstone-added-to-meditation-garden 
  3. “7 Fascinating Facts About Elvis Presley.” History, 1 July 2014, updated 7 August 2019, www.history.com/news/7-fascinating-facts-about-elvis
  4. “Elvis Ain’t Dead – The Weirdest Elvis Presley sightings and conspiracy theories.” NME, 2 January 2019, www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/weirdest-elvis-presley-sightings-conspiracy-2125270-2125270
  5. Runtagh, Jordan. “Elvis Presley’s Graceland: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Birthday Boy’s Legendary Home.” People.com, 8 January 2020, people.com/music/elvis-presley-graceland-things-you-didnt-know/?slide=5876663#5876663
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