Elvis Presley fans gather at Graceland to honor the King's birthday

From left, Canadian singer David Thibault, TV/radio personality Wink Martindale, Knox Phillips and Jenna Bush Hager cut a cake to honor the birthday of the late Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.,  Jan. 8, 2014.  AP

Television and radio personality Wink Martindale remembers the day nearly 60 years ago when Elvis Presley's first single, "That's All Right," played for the first time on the radio.

 

 It was July 8, 1954, and a fresh-faced Martindale was working as a disc jockey at WHBQ in Memphis. He was at the studio when legendary producer Sam Phillips brought by an acetate copy of the song Presley cut at Phillips' Sun Records.

DJ Dewey Phillips -- no relation to Sam -- played the song on his influential "Red, Hot and Blue" radio show, and rock n' roll history was made.

"It was almost like an out-of-body experience," Martindale told Presley fans who came to Graceland on Wednesday to celebrate the late icon's 79th birthday. "That was the beginning of Presley-mania."

Martindale and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, attended the annual birthday party at Presley's longtime Memphis home. The event featured a cake cutting and the singing of "Happy Birthday" by 16-year-old Canadian David Thibault.

Bush Hager, Thibault, and Martindale participated in the cake-cutting along with producer Knox Phillips, who is Sam Phillips' son and a member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

Martindale was a longtime friend of Presley, who dated Martindale's wife Sandy before they married.

After his days in Memphis, Martindale went on to TV fame as host of Teenage Dance Party and the game shows Gambit and Tic Tac Dough.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug. 16, 1977. 

Presley has honored by four hall of fames since his death, getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He also entered the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998), the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001) and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (2007). 

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