LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In the world of Elvis, the International Theatre is sacred ground.
"Where I'm standing is where Elvis stood," said Brendan Paul, a longtime Elvis impersonator and owner of The Graceland Wedding Chapel.
From July of 1969 to December of 1976, Elvis staged an unprecedented comeback tour in Las Vegas, performing a whopping 837 consecutive shows at the International Hotel, then the Las Vegas Hilton, now the Westgate Las Vegas. All sold out.
"The music is great," said Paul. "But if it wasn't his heart and that charisma and what he gave to people in other ways besides songs, he would just be a rock star from the 50s that died."
Elvis Presley died young at the age of 42. But his spirit has lived on through heartfelt impersonators like Brendan Paul and adoring fans like Susan Lorenz.
"After that first show, every time Elvis comes back to town, I'm going to be here and I managed to do that 15 times," said Lorenz, who runs a Las Vegas-based Elvis fan club.
Lorenz agrees with Paul that Presley's power was as much in how he used his influence as it was his pizazz.
"He was quite the humanitarian," said Lorenz.
Lorenz said Elvis and Colonel Parker sold souvenirs from shows and donated the proceeds to the local community.
"I remember seeing the signs on the souvenir booths thinking this is so great, he's actually donating to us, not his hometown but to here in Las Vegas. And I've learned he did that to Lake Tahoe also when he was performing up there so he has supported Nevada," she said.
For Paul, the support feels more personal. By being able to channel and impersonate the King for 25 years, Elvis has, in a real way, supported him and his family.
"If there's a heaven and I see Elvis, I would literally say thank you. Truly, for providing a life for my kids. I have taken them on cruises to Greece and Italy. Their college is all paid for because of one guy, so it's truly humbling and amazing. God bless the king of rock and roll," said Paul.
Even though the King has left the building, his spirit never did. And for that, we wish Elvis a happy birthday.