Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM ET
Elvis Presley will never be forgotten. If his continued record sales and pop culture icon status don't prove that, then the thousands of fans who flock to his Graceland home to honor him each year do. But there was a time when some thought he would fade away, and the King of Rock 'n' Roll was one of them.
This year, as more fans than usual gathered to celebrate Elvis on the 35th anniversary of his death, his former wife, Priscilla, and their daughter, Lisa Marie, spoke to TODAY's Natalie Morales about the unexpected impact the legend had.
"I mean, when we opened (Graceland) in '82, we had no idea that we'd, you know, (we knew) we'd have some visitors, but not to this extent," Priscilla revealed. "I was told Elvis passed and that, you know, will be forgotten in the next couple of years -- life goes on. Thank God I didn't listen to any of those people."
Instead, she and Lisa Marie just listened to Elvis' faithful fans, who consider Graceland a sacred spot.
"I'm always really happy when I'm here," Lisa Marie, who was just 9 when her father died, explained of the massive and meaningful house. "It always reminds me of when I was the happiest, I think, in my life. It always just brings me back there when I come back."
According to Priscilla, part of what makes Graceland so special, is that Elvis' presence remains there.
"This was so much a part of him, this home," she said. "He loved this home. He always came back here no matter what. His presence is just all around, going into each room."
She believes that's what draws fans to the home, and it's his enduring presence everywhere else that makes him so unforgettable.
"That's the force of Elvis," Priscilla insisted. "I remember Elvis saying that he didn't really know if he gave up singing, if he did want to retire, he felt that people would forget him. And to see this every year? It's like, 'Oh my gosh, you were wrong. Look at this! Look what you do every year. Look who you bring.' It brings a smile to my face, because … if he only knew."
According to the Memphis Police Department, approximately 75,000 people participated in Wednesday night's candlelight vigil at Graceland.
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