(by Danielle Beckstrom ldsliving.com 1-28-15)
Elvis didn't relish his title of King. As he said, “there is only one King,” and that was Jesus Christ (Brother Paul’s Mormon Bathroom Reader, Paul B. Skousen, 2005).
Deeply religious and a heavy reader of spiritual topics, Elvis showed considerable interest in the LDS Church and maintained many close connections with Mormons. In fact, after his death, a copy of the Book of Mormon was found in his room with the message, “Priscilla needs to read this” written within the well-worn cover (Brother Paul’s Mormon Bathroom Reader, Paul B. Skousen, 2005).
Elvis received his first Book of Mormon through the gates of Graceland, his home in Memphis. A young LDS woman and ardent Elvis fan, Cricket Butler, often sat vigilantly outside his home or hotel—coming early in the morning and staying late in the night—waiting for a chance to speak with her idol. Butler’s persistence finally paid off when late one evening Elvis walked out to his gates to visit with Butler. During their conversation on life and its purpose, Butler handed him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Found in his room after his death, this ordinary 1976 version of the Book of Mormon took quite the journey, passing from the hands of Cricket Butler to Alan Osmond before finally ending up at Church headquarters (“Elvis Almost LDS?” Lynn Arave).
Inside this well-traveled Book of Mormon were a series of hand-written notations reportedly made by Elvis. During an interview for a 2007 documentary entitled “Tears of a King,” Butler claims she became good friends with Elvis following their late night discussion, and even sat in on missionary discussions at Graceland. In fact, Butler claims to know the date Elvis planned on being baptized (“Elvis Almost LDS?” Lynn Arave ).
Whether Elvis’ baptismal date is fact or fantasy, there is no doubt that Elvis had many close ties with LDS families.
Elvis’ good relationship with Mormons was due in large part to Latter-day Saint and martial arts expert Ed Parker. After training Elvis in self-defense, Parker became Elvis’ personal body guard. Knowing Elvis’ affinity towards religion, Parker gave Elvis a series of LDS books, one of which is still on display at Elvis’ Graceland home. Elvis read these books avidly, asking Parker all kinds of questions on limo drives to and from concerts.
One night, after giving Parker a brand new Cadillac, Elvis drove with his body guard from Las Vegas to Pasadena--who knows what kind of conversations the two men shared along the long drive. Elvis and Parker arrived in California early in the morning, and Parker invited Elvis to meet his two girls who were attending early morning seminary. Elvis met with and embraced Parker’s daughters outside the seminary building. Then, he surprised everyone with his own request: could he speak with their whole seminary class? Elvis complimented these young faithful Saints for taking the time to learn more about the one, true King and provided his own witness of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
While Latter-day Saints like Butler and Parker influenced Elvis’ beliefs and understanding of the Church, Elvis also had a significant impact on the young members in Pasadena. After the early morning witness Elvis gave during seminary, the attendance record for seminary classes remained at 100 percent for years, aided no doubt by rumors that Elvis might return for another visit.
|Ed Parker and Elvis|