When Elvis Presley’s father, the widower Vernon, married Dee Stanley, she came complete with three sons, one of which, David E. Stanley, became part of Presley’s security team at the tender age of 16, and, thus, an integral part of The Memphis Mafia (the cadre of close friends and family Elvis kept with him at all times). With the release of My Brother Elvis (Impello Entertainment), yet another tell-all telling how low The King sunk in his final years, it’s time to rake Elvis over the coals again just in time for the 39th anniversary on August 16 of the day in 1977 when he keeled over dead on the toilet reading a book about the shroud of Turin.
Readable in one sitting, if you don’t mind the spelling mistakes of both common and proper nouns, and the silly practice of naming each chapter a different song by artists other than Elvis (Bruce, Bad Co., Stones, Bowie, Alice Cooper, Clapton, etc.), it’s a fascinating trip back in time with still more clues as to why none of these boys could save their boss. Was it because they were all high on the hog riding the gravy-train never wanting to get off? Sonny West and Dave Hebler were fired after 20 years so they wrote their Elvis: What Happened? reportedly in an effort to shock The King into some sort of voluntary hospitalization. Instead, it hastened his death.
Asked to join the party, Stanley left for the road and on the very first night received his benediction: two hookers as a gift from Elvis. Most of the early chapters are filled with drugs, hookers and guns. Elvis asks David to shoot him up before the huge “Aloha From Hawaii” first-ever worldwide satellite concert. As he hands him the syringe, he says it’s only vitamin B-12.
Prior to going to the White House to receive a special honorary federal narc badge from Nixon, he puts two cotton balls soaked in Grade-A pharmaceutical liquid cocaine in each of their four nostrils.
On the road, stopped at a light, a gaggle of giggling girls spot Elvis in the car, roll down their windows and ask for an autograph. Elvis, who truly loved each and every one of his fans, starts signing and is not finished when the light turns green. The car behind him gets annoyed and burns rubber in passing him. Elvis, angered, orders his driver to take off after the car. He stands up through the sunroof and shoots out their tires with his ever-present loaded handgun.
Stanley, cursed with a temper, beats up Elvis Mafia Member Charlie Hodge for trying to force himself on a girl. Stanley, the link between Presley’s faded glory and a new generation of rock stars who love him, lines up such celebrities as Led Zeppelin, Elton John and Eric Clapton who are all thrilled to meet The King. A tender and magic moment occurs when Robert Plant, clearly in awe, turns around just before leaving and sings, “treat me like a fooool,” to which Elvis smiles and sings the next line, “treat me mean and cruel” before the two do an impromptu a capella version of “Love Me.”
Stanley clearly is loyal to a fault, more so than to his own wife. A strange set of moral parameters ensues when it is deemed perfectly fine for each and every married man in the entourage to first have sex with girls who want to have sex with Elvis. There is no shortage of such. The second strange set of moral parameters have to do with the fact that Elvis, despite getting every drug known to man for both medical and recreational use, despises street drugs like pot and will not tolerate its use amongst his crew.
Finally, in the last few months of his life, Elvis is catatonic. They’d have to clean his mouth out of unchewed food so he wouldn’t choke because he’d conk out while eating. Stanley, more than once, had to wipe his ass because Elvis was too stoned to do it himself after going to the bathroom. In one of the last conversations he had with him before he died, Elvis leans over and whispers in Stanley’s ear, “y’know, man, sometimes it’s better to be unconsciousness than miserable.”
At the funeral, Vernon accuses him of killing Elvis.
At book’s end, one has to simply marvel over the fact that Elvis even made it to 42.