A couple years ago he was named ENTERTAINER OF THE CENTURY and worth more dead than alive. I have been to his humble home twice in Tupelo, MS where it all started in that shotgun shack and three times to his home in Tennessee. If anyone lived the “American Dream” it would have been Elvis. From that humble home to magnificent mansion in Memphis sprawled on a Southern Colonial estate named GRACELAND; Elvis lived large. The fact that his twin brother, Jesse dying at birth subconciously made him live a life for two (much less a king).
Elvis had fame, fortune and faith. That is quite a combination and without a strong faith it would cripple most if not all who intertwine them. Regarding FAME, Elvis’ home is the most visited house in the world (second only to The White House) with some 600,000 folks annually paying BIG BUCKS to peek in Presley’s private paradise. Ironically, three decades after his death folks still know him by his first name, album sales are stronger than ever and he recently had a NUMBER ONE HIT overseas two years ago. Not bad, for a man that has been gone for over 30 years.
Regarding FORTUNE, he was the first artist to have a “crib.” His private jets started the trend for musicians to skip commercial flights and he even once attempted to paint one of his planes to resemble “AIR FORCE ONE.” The FAA told him that two birds could not fly in the sky looking alike; the patriotic Presley was dissapointed to say the least.
His FAITH has been talked about for years and ironically, the “King of Rock N Roll” won three Grammy’s but not for his rock, rhythm and blues but Gospel music. I have always said: “Promote the Lord and the Lord will promote you.” Elvis was an avid reader and exhausted books like a muffler to fumes. Sadly, his fame and fortune made it difficult to worship at a church worship service. Even Dr Billy Graham has had a hard time over the years worshipping at the local church. Not because he was “too good” but that his presence may distract others from God.
Elvis like us all had our FAILINGS. This post will not pinpoint or highlight some of his shortcomings because had I inherited a slither of his “success” I am sure I would have failed far worse. Truly, “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
In closing, I had the opportunity to see Elvis Presley “In Concert” TWICE at age five, in 1977. My parents took me to see him at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD (now demolished) and the Baltimore Civic Center. Some of my earliest memories were impersonating Elvis at concerts in my house and at various shows following my parents bowling outings (age 4-8). I saw Elvis about ten concerts before his last performance and my parents dressed me up in an Elvis jumpsuit and I literally knew almost all the songs. During some of his later shows, he would allow on rare occassions for folks to bring their kids towards the stage. My Dad took me forward in my homemade jumpsuit and we got right in front of the stage. That night, we had dead center seats about ten rows back.
We got to the front and even at age five, I just knew that if Elvis picked me out of the crowd and put me on stage that the packed 17,000 audience at the legendary Capital Centre would go “NUTS.” Not arrogant but just accurate when a kid in a jumpsuit could actually sing “Hound Dog.” Elvis was reaching right towards me and at the absolute last second reached for the young boy slightly older than me to my right (without a jumpsuit). Elvis picked him up and for a brief second hoisted him on stage. Ironically, we learned later that the lad was the son of the late Abe Pollin (owner of the Washington Capitals, Bullets and arena). I guess when your Daddy owns the joint you grab the son 🙂
So close but so far away. One of the highlights this past year for me, was growing as friends with Elvis Presley’s step-brother, Evangelist Rick Stanley. Rick wrote a book entitled “THE TOUCH OF TWO KINGS.” Rick worked for several years “On Tour” with EP and accepted Christ weeks after his brother passed. Today, Ricky is a powerful preacher and has travelled the road sharing his experiences with “The King of Rock N Roll” and now serving his Savior – “The King of all kings.” Feel free to click sidebar on the left of my blog and hit “Frank & Friends” and scroll down and find my radio interview with Rick Stanley as he shares his testimony and love for his brother.
Hard to believe that Elvis would have been 75 today and when he passed it seemed time stood still. For some who remember JFK dying in Dallas; I remember learning the news that Elvis had died. Vernon Presley said Elvis looking back would have loved either being a Southern Gospel singer with a group or an evangelist. To Elvis’ credit, he would implement Gospel songs (“He Touched Me, Sweet, Sweet Spirit, How Great Thou Art, Without Him,” etc) occassionally, in his rock concerts. That certainly wasn’t the “politically correct” thing to do but he did it anyways and he exposed millions of fans to Christian Music. For those brief moments, he used his platform at sold out concerts and those stadiums became sanctuaries. In those few numbers, the adulation was no longer on him but he had the attention towards Gods when he sang those spiritual hymns. The late, great JD Sumner who is in the Music Hall of Fame and recorded in Guiness Book of World Records for hitting the lowest bass note said of Elvis: “I have sung Gospel Music for five decades and in my opinion, no one and I repeat NO ONE, sang Gospel like Elvis Presley.” Yes, Elvis LOVED Gospel Music and his step-brother Ricky now shares the Word with the world as an evangelist. Regarding Ricky’s passion for souls; I believe its safe to say that Elvis would have been proud and God is pleased. Rock on Rick!
POINT to PONDER: Should the Lord tarry, what is the one thing you would really like to do or feel called to do? Elvis had a motto: TCB (Taking Care of Business in a Flash). The Lord is coming SOONER rather than later and if we are not in the bottom of the ninth I believe we are in the top of the ninth in the Game of Life. We can no longer sleep or slumber and may we commit our lives to Christ to serve Him like never before. People are watching, souls need saving and God is coming so while we are here lets GIVE GOD ALL WE GOT! In the classic closing comments of almost all his sell out concerts; Elvis would say: “ Until we meet you again, may God bless you. Adios.”