In my new release, TIL DEATH DO US PARTY (the one with the pink cover), Liv and Di are in Las Vegas for Mama and Earl’s wedding and have to find the killer of an Elvis impersonator to get an aspiring Elvis impersonator, Liv’s cousin, off the hook for the murder. Meanwhile back in Dixie, Liv’s assistant is wrangling plus-size Elvis costumes for a problem-plagued Elvis-themed high school reunion.
The events in the book occur during Elvis Week in Memphis, or as the locals call it “Death Week,” when fans from around the world descend on the city. Activities culminate on Aug. 15, extending into the morning hours of Aug. 16, the anniversary of Presley’s death, with a candlelight vigil at Graceland. An estimated 60,000 people lined up for the candlelight vigil last year.
For the most part Memphians (y’all know I’m from Memphis, right?) lock themselves indoors with the air conditioning, while sunburned tourists mill about outdoors doing their Elvis thing. (Most of the uninitiated visitors survive, but EMTs stationed at Graceland for the vigil usually need to treat at least a few people for heat exhaustion.)
If you enjoy people-watching, snag a window seat inside an air-conditioned eatery on Beale Street during Death Week. You’ll see people of all nationalities—there’s generally a large contingent from both Japan and Germany. Even more fun, there are always a number of Elvis tribute artists, some who come for the competitions and others just making a fashion statement. One year, hubs and I had the surreal experience of standing in line on Beale Street for a Saliva concert at The New Daisy Theater, sandwiched between Goth teens and Elvis impersonators—some of them speaking Japanese.
However, I wouldn’t personally recommend visiting Memphis in August when the average temperatures are in the mid-90s and the heat index soars over 100. If you’re an Elvis fan, I’d suggest instead a pilgrimage for his birthday (Jan. 8) when the average temperatures are 50ish. There aren’t as many special activities as there are in August, but there are usually a couple of special events. And year around you can tour Sun Studios, Graceland, the Lisa Marie (his private airplane), his birthplace in Tupelo, and tour—or even spend the night in—the Lauderdale Courts apartment where Elvis lived as a teenager. By the way, there are plenty of non-Elvis attractions in Memphis, including a world-class zoo with pandas, blues music and more on Beale Street, and the best BBQ ribs on earth (I may be biased about the BBQ. But I’m not wrong).
If you still yearn for the unique spectacle that is Death Week, be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat, carry an umbrella for shade while you’re standing in line at Graceland, drink lots of water and take frequent rest periods indoors. The friendly EMTs will wave and say howdy, but they’d prefer not having to give you medical attention.
Are you an Elvis fan? Have a favorite Elvis song? Have you ever been to/plan to go to Graceland, or have made a pilgrimage to some other celebrity site? Share in comments.