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Friday, August 17, 2007

The King: 'I'm still visiting earth..'

By Joe Mullins
Yesterday (August 16) was the 30th anniversary of Elvis’s death and most people can remember where they were when they heard the news that day in 1977. I was on the Pennines looking up towards Holme Moss. But I’m more likely to think about the last time I spoke to him, which was 12 years later.

We – me and the King, that is - were in a Sheraton hotel room in Toronto. Why Toronto? It was the home of Ian Currie, the man who wrote You Cannot Die. Ian’s dead now though.

Along with Presley’s stepbrother, Billy Stanley, I flew to Canada to set up a séance.

At the time Currie was the world’s top researcher into life after death. He wrote his book after studying a century’s writing about reincarnation and contact with the dead. He was a university lecturer and it was a scholarly work.

Currie and Elizabeth Paddon, a local medium, crossed the great divide and seemed to speak to the dead long before the current crop of TV seers made a mint doing it. They were serious and sincere in what they did. I was a tabloid reporter.

Billy Stanley, then 36, was there to blow them out of the water – or authenticate whatever they channeled.

His mom Dee married Elvis’s dad Vernon after Mrs Presley died. Billy and his two brothers, David and Rick, lived at Graceland and Elvis treated them as both friends and flunkies, often taking them on tours. Billy is a sweet and simple guy who clearly loved his big brother.

Before the séance, Billy told me that he had one big secret and a few smaller ones that only Elvis would know – would the King come across with the details?

As Ian Currie sets the scene by recalling Elvis’s death, English-born Elizabeth slips into a trance and tries to contact his spirit.

Suddenly he’s through. It’s Elvis on the line. Billy scowls skeptically. Me too. But then Elvis hooks him.

Elizabeth relays a question from the King. ‘Do you still have my shirt, the one you cried into?’

It turns out that just before Elvis died, he gave Billy a white shirt that he often wore. Billy kept it as a souvenir. He came across it a few years after Elvis’ death.

‘I had the shirt in my lap,’ he said. ‘I started crying and my tears dropped onto it. I never told a soul about the shirt or weeping. Elvis must be among us.’

I ask Elvis why people keep reporting that they’ve seen him. He says through Elizabeth that he’s responsible for the sightings that occur outside hardware stores in Alabama, supermarkets in Nebraska and truck stops in Tennessee.

‘I’m still visiting earth,’ he says. ‘There are things I’ve been trying to do. I always wanted to bring love to people and I left without achieving that.’

He admits that he sometimes tries to approach people and that’s why so many fans think he’s still alive. It seems the fallen star is in a limbo brought on by his rock n roll lifestyle.

‘I want to move on,’ he says, ‘Mama and Daddy are waiting. My brother too.’ [His twin Jesse was born dead.]

It isn’t his voice, of course, just words coming from Elizabeth to Currie, who repeats them.

The King goes on to reveal more information to Billy, like some of the shenanigans they got up to on the road. He also knows that Billy is working on a book and says he’s nervous about what it might reveal.

‘Just do your work with love,’ he tells Billy. Ian and Elizabeth close the séance by sending my thanks. Elvis says, ‘Joe, remember the music.’ What it means, I don’t know.

Afterwards Billy says he believes Elvis came through with information that nobody else could have known – ‘It sent chills down my spine almost too much to bear,’ he says. He’s shaking slightly and there are tears glistening in his eyes.

What about the big secret? No, Elvis didn’t deliver there. Billy wanted an apology from the King. It seems hound dog Elvis shagged the love of Billy’s life – and the younger brother wanted to hear him say, ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong to take your girl.’

He’s sad that Elvis didn’t understand what the brotherly betrayal meant to him. ‘Maybe he thought that she didn’t love me,’ he says, trying to make excuses.

In the bar later, I wonder why people have a need to believe in some afterlife. Instead of taking the piss, I play Don’t be Cruel on the jukebox. Maybe that’s what Elvis meant. The girls crowd around Billy when they hear he’s Elvis’s stepbrother. The Presley magic still works. As the night draws on, a hooker with an angel face comes on to him.

Ian gives the $1,000 fee I paid HIM for running the séance to Billy so he can be Elvis for the night. I learn later that Billy pays over the cash to the hooker just to talk because he still has the girl that Elvis seduced on his mind. ‘I told her all about Elvis,’ he explains to me the next morning. ‘We talked for hours.’

Elvis has been gone 30 years now and the sightings in rural America seem to have stopped. Maybe he couldn’t get out of Canada.