As Elvis Presley became one of the richest and most famous celebrities in the world, he found himself searching for something more in transcendent. The King became fascinated with spirituality, having grown up with Christianity and gospel music in Mississippi and Tennessee. As time went on, the star grew became increasingly existential and was fascinated by the unusual, from otherworldly claims to death itself, even visiting a morgue on one occasion.
In the latest episode of Elvis Fans Matter, The King’s cousin and Memphis Mafia member Billy Smith said: “He liked things out of the ordinary that he was interested in. He loved when he could talk about it and somebody else would show interest in it.”
Elvis would invite Billy and his wife Jo up to his off-limits bedroom, upstairs at Graceland, where they’d all sit in a circle with his lover of the time – Linda Thompson or Ginger Alden.
The group would spend hours and hours just sitting in the middle of the bed, talking about anything from UFOs to spiritual experiences, before ending their sessions with a special protection chant while holding hands that went: “Christ love, Christ life, Christ peace.”
During a Q&A in their new YouTube video, the Memphis Mafia couple talked about how people would ask if Elvis went to church.
Jo shared: “Well he did watch services on TV a lot, but not that he was bragging or anything like that, but he would say, ‘I feel like if I go, then it’s going to distract and I don’t want to cause a commotion.”
For Elvis, it was the same reason he didn’t attend the funeral of his Jailhouse Rock co-star Judy Tyler, who was tragically killed in a car crash at the age of 24 soon after filming had concluded on the 1957 movie.
Billy explained: “Church or not, all eyes would have been on him.”
Elvis would say: “I don’t want to take away from what [the preacher] is trying to get across.”
Billy shared: “He had a plaque somebody gave him with the words on it that said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I’m the evilest son of b**** in the valley.”
This was a take-off of Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd. Verse 4 actually reads in the King James Version: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Elvis’ cousin added: “That’s just the way he was. Like we said, all the time, he could find humour in everything.”