by Timothy Chilman
Elvis Presley is the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Rapper Mos Def said he was the white man who stole the black man’s sound. He also broke ground by introducing sex to the equation, specifically when he sang Hound Dog on the Milton Berle Show. His suggestive hip movements stupefied television critics, who lambasted him for his “animalism,” “vulgarity,” and “appalling lack of musicality.” He made more than 110 appearances in the top 40, with 18 number ones, and starred in 31 films. No other rock star has come close to equaling his amazing record.
At Graceland, his 18-room mansion in Memphis, Elvis entertained friends by playing a piano and singing the night before his death. The next morning, he played raquetball. It is commonly said that, like King George II of Great Britain, he died on the toilet. The truth is that at 2:30p.m. on August 16, 1977, Elvis was found by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, lying face down on the floor of a bathroom. A copy of The Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus, by Frank Adams, was present. An ambulance was summoned from Engine House 29 of the Memphis Fire Department.
Shelby County medical examiner, Dr. Jerry Francisco, said that Elvis was stricken by a heart attack while astride the john, crawled a short distance, and vomited. Some sources say he was nekkid, but newspapers reported that he was wearing blue pajamas and his pants were around his ankles. He was pronounced dead at the Baptist Memorial Hospital roughly an hour after being discovered.
Other causes of death have been suggested. An autopsy performed by Dr. Eric Muirhead found 14 drugs in Elvis’ system, including ten times the normal dosage of codeine and toxic amounts of ‘ludes. It has been suggested that this caused the death of the King. Another finding of the autopsy was that Elvis’ colon was five or six inches wide, almost twice as wide as that of a normal person, and at nearly eight or nine feet, it was also nearly twice as long. Dr. George “Nick” Nichopoulos was Elvis’ physician for 12 years and attempted to resuscitate Elvis when he was found in his bathroom. He said that some stool had been in Elvis’ colon for four or five months. Elvis was known to suffer from constipation, but the extent did not become apparent until his autopsy. Elvis had been advised to have a colostomy, but his ego prevented him from accepting. Nichopoulos said constipation killed Elvis: “If they had done the colostomy then, he’d probably still be here.”
The suggestion that Elvis did not die on that day is a classic conspiracy theory, and a common example used by people seeking to portray conspiracy theories as lunatic. It is indeed disturbing that, at first glance, a strong case can be made for Elvis not having died when he was said to.
Gail Brewer-Giorgio’s book, The Elvis Files, says that two hours after Elvis’ death was announced, a man “bearing a slight resemblance” to Elvis and going by the name of John Burrows purchased a one-way air ticket to Buenos Aires at Memphis airport, and paid in cash. The name was used by Elvis when making hotel reservations. Lucy de Barbon, a former lover of Presley, said that the day after the King’s supposed death, she received a single rose by mail, with a card saying it was from El Lancelot, her pet name for him.
Elvis’ funeral took place two days after his death, to make it difficult for his biggest fans to come, as they would doubtless recognize that the wax dummy said to be his body was not their idol. Elvis’ casket weighed some 900 pounds and required nine pallbearers, and it has been suggested it contained air conditioning equipment to lower the temperature of the wax dummy inside. Funeral attendants said the air around the casket was very cool. Joe Esposito, long a friend of Elvis after meeting him in the military and later his road manager and bodyguard, said that beads of sweat were seen on the body: the wax dummy was melting. The figure in the casket was photographed, and the photograph made public, leading people to note that the figure in the casket had a nose, eyebrows, and hands unlike Elvis’.
Elvis is not buried next to his mother, as he had requested. His gravestone misspells his middle name as Aaron, when it was actually Aron, signifying that it was not the King who lay beneath. An insurance policy he took out with Lloyds of London was never cashed, as this would have been fraud.
One motive for faking his death was that Elvis had given testimony against Mafia-connected parties, and there might have been retaliation. Another is that his hair was going gray, his voice weakening, and his girth expanding, and he did not wish his fans to see him in such a state. A third is that perhaps he just wanted to walk down a street unmolested, and not be bothered by death threats.
These points shall be examined in turn.
Gail Brewer-Giorgio’s book, The Elvis Files, rose to number eight on the New York Times Bestseller List. It sold more than a million copies, and is one of the biggest-selling Elvis books ever. The book said that the “John Burrows” who purchased a ticket at Memphis airport bore a slight resemblance to Elvis. When the story is retold, the “slight” resemblance often becomes “startling.” According to Patrick Lacy’s book, Elvis Decoded, no international tickets were sold at Memphis airport in August, 1977. Had Elvis entered Witness protection, as it has been suggested Tupac Shakur did, it would have been immensely bad practice for him to use a name that could be connected to him.
Lucy de Barbon made her claim in a book which is presented as a romance novel and lacks facts capable of corroboration. She also claimed that Elvis fathered her daughter, Desiree, and her motives are suspect.
The suggestion that a wax dummy replaced Elvis when his body lay in state was made most powerfully by the Presley Commission, which was formed in 1992. It did not name its members, but said that some were skilled in law enforcement and medicine, which has been questioned due to the Commission’s findings. The Commission released The Presley Report in 1995, which was praised by journalists for its structured, bureaucratic style and inclusion of documentary evidence.
The Report said that before Elvis’ death, a wax dummy had been purchased by a member of his family. While the purpose intended for the dummy was not revealed, comments were made which “raised eyebrows.” The Commission claimed to have interviewed a person present at the time of the sale. The place of purchase and the witness were never identified, and there is nothing to distinguish the claim from pure BS. The Commission also said that Elvis was present at the wedding of Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie, to Wacko Jacko.
Elvis’ $8,000 casket was heavy because it was made of copper. It was the same kind of casket as was used for his mother. The “beads of sweat” could have been embalming fluid. This and the body are supposed to be frozen, but sometimes funeral homes do not do this properly, and some fluid leaks. There have been several instances of this elsewhere, causing legal issues for the funeral homes. According to the not-wholly-reliable Brewer-Giorgio, the air conditioning of the funeral home used by Elvis prior to his incarceration at Forest Hill Midtown Cemetery was broken that day, and it was abnormally hot. Findadeath.com was contacted by a person claiming to be a former employee of Memphis disk jockey, Sam Phillips, who said that he knew a man who had worked at the funeral home. When asked if Elvis was really dead, this man replied, “Absolutely. I shoved the cotton balls up his ass when he was embalmed.”
The photograph of Elvis in his casket clad in a white suit and blue shirt was obtained by the National Enquirer, which bribed Elvis’ third cousin, Billy Mann, at least $18,000 to take photographs with a miniature Minox spy camera. The picture appeared on the Enquirer‘s front page on 6 September, 1977, and that issue set a record by selling 6.5 million copies. The Enquirer made at least 1,000 percent profit on its bribery.
It has been said that the supposed body of Elvis had a pug nose and arched eyebrows, which Elvis did not, and the hands were soft and pudgy, while Elvis’ were calloused. Differences in the nose can be explained by his body lying face down for four hours prior to its discovery. A fat person would be expected to have soft, pudgy hands. And the eyebrows? He was, like, dead, and his brain and other organs had been removed. Any oddities of Elvis’ appearance can be explained by this and that fact that the Enquirer photograph was heavily re-touched.
Elvis is indeed not buried next to his mother, per his wishes, but between his father and grandmother, in the Meditation Garden at Graceland. He was first interred next to his mother, Gladys, in a crypt at the Forest Hill Cemetery on 1661 Elvis Presley Boulevard, but was moved after an attempted break-in by graverobbers. In 1999, Lisa Marie Presley also stated that she was bothered by the number of tourists who visited the site daily, and wished her father to be moved to a new location.
Elvis was given the name Elvis Aron Presley to mark his stillborn identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley. Elvis’ name was misspelled on his birth certificate, and his father, Vernon, made a considerable effort to have it corrected. Later in life, however, Elvis decided to change his middle name to the more Biblical Aaron. On 15 August, 1972, Elvis signed a property settlement agreement as Aaron. This is the spelling used by his estate. Similar confusion exists over the spelling of the name of his stillborn twin, which is usually spelled Jesse but was spelled Jessie on a memorial stone near the graves of Elvis, his parents, and grandmother.
Elvis applied for a million dollar life insurance policy in 1976, but did not purchase it. Alivers stumbled upon this application, but did not learn (or possibly did not mention) that it was never purchased. Elvis had three life insurance policies, and claims were made against two of them and a death benefit check received from the United States Treasury on February 21, 1978.
In 1976, Elvis had lost millions of dollars on a deal with a Mafia-connected organization known as the Fraternity involving one of his three airplanes, a JetStar. It has been said that his collaboration with the government on the investigation, Operation Fountain Pen, would have caused the Mob to retaliate and so he took advantage of witness protection. Elvis gave a deposition. It was his father, Vernon, who had power of attorney for Elvis and actually had contact with the criminals. Vernon gave more damaging evidence and actually testified against the Fraternity, but did not enter Witness Protection.
Elvis’ funeral was a massive media event. In the days after his death, thousands of fans flocked to Memphis, causing President Carter to call out the National Guard. On the morning of the funeral, it took 100 vans five hours to transfer the assembled flowers from Graceland to Forest Hill Cemetery. 80,000 fans passed Elvis’ casket by the time Forest Hill closed at 6:30p.m.
On his final tour, Elvis supposedly joked repeatedly that although he did not look good at the time, he would look good in his casket. It has also been reported that Elvis made a number of night-time visits to funeral homes shortly before he died, with the customary lack of a source. Elvis’ most prized possessions included a bible, pharmaceutical books, books about death, and copies of Chiro’s Book of Numbers and Paramahansa Yogananda’s The Autobiography of Yogi. These books are said to have disappeared after his demise, although as with the previous factoids, it is not clear how this is known.
It has been widely reported, based on no known source, that Elvis ordered no new suits for his upcoming tour of the United States, despite having supposedly put on 50 pounds since the last one. Although he had a predilection for grilled peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwiches, 50 pounds is rather too much to believe and photographs of him at his final concert, on June 26, are not so horrifying. If we ignore that it is unproven that he ordered no new suits or put on 50 pounds, Elvis’ jumpsuits were not form-fitting, or they would have restricted his movement. He used few jumpsuits in his final years, and did not order a new one for the last tour he performed.
Elvis signed a lucrative deal with CBS to televise this tour, and was paid an unprecedented amount up front. RCA amassed an ungodly amount of Elvis recordings and merchandise, which is standard practice in the event of an act which is about to tour, but many people say not to the extent that prevailed. It would, however, be a crap conspiracy if the record company knew Elvis was going to fake his death.
Ellen Marie Foster had met Elvis outside the gates of Graceland in March, 1977 (or possibly some other time). She said he was attracted by her marked resemblance to his mother. Steve Chanzes’ 1981 book, Elvis, Where Are You?, included transcripts of her conversations with Elvis two days before he apparently died. Elvis allegedly said that he would not be going on tour as planned, that his troubles would soon be over, and that Foster should not believe everything she read if the tour did not proceed. Chanzes said that Foster passed a polygraph test, although R. Serge Denisoff and George Plasketes said in their book, True Disbelievers: The Elvis Contagion, that her account contained chronological inaccuracies and contradictions and polygraph tests are as reliable as reading animal entrails. Foster died in 1983, and nobody has suggested that she faked it.
Since then, Elvis has been sighted thousands of times, and other singers have been said to sound exactly like him. A conspiracy to fake his death would have required the participation of his family, friends, and business associates, medical personnel, and funeral home employees. A study of musical fans which was published late in the 1970s found that compared to fans of the Beatles, fans of Elvis were more likely to exhibit low self-esteem, a greater need for control, and more rationalization and cognitive dissonance. These factors would appear to be at work here. Elvis did not fake his death. He was obviously abducted by aliens.
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