"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






"The king is dead"

(the never before told true story of the funeral of Elvis Presley)

Robert Holton

(2nd edition to be released by Katco Media on 15 November 2004)

click to order: The King Is Dead

Thanks to Katco Media, EIN has two exclusive excerpts (and visuals) from the eagerly anticipated 2nd edition of Robert Holton's book, The King Is Dead.

The book is a very unusual entry in the world of Elvis literature as it is an in-depth account of Elvis' funeral arrangements as:

"Funeral Director Robert Kendall takes you behind the doors of a legally-closed enbalming room to reveal the funeral of rock & roll's greatest legend".




We turned off Union Avenue and into the funeral home parking area where we headed straight for the preparation building and warehouse on the far side of the property. About two hundred and fifty men and women, including television crews with cameras and klieg lights, microphones and other paraphernalia, and still photographers with strobe lights, were crowded against a chain-link fence surrounding the property. In sharp contrast to the respectfully muted atmosphere among the fans at the hospital entrance and those strung out along Union Avenue, the media people were loud and boisterous.

“Hey!” shouted one of their number as we stopped the coach and waited for the door to be opened from inside. “How about a shot of you unloadin’ the body?” “Com’mon guys!” another cried. “Have a heart, will ya? We only askin’ for a shot of you wheeling it into the building. Come on, how about it?”

After waiting several seconds for someone from inside to open the door, Webb pressed the automatic electronic, door-opening device attached to the dashboard and the wide slatted aluminum door of the building began its slow ascent. As soon as it had been lifted just high enough for clearance, Webb pulled the coach into the building and the door began to close behind us. I couldn’t help but rejoice at having disappointed the two loudmouthed cameramen who did most of the yelling from behind the fence. My rancor quickly subsided after I reminded myself that they were merely doing the job they are paid to do and that, personally, most of the guys and gals in the profession are pretty damned good eggs. Still, I had to admit that at times they could bug the shit out of a Mother Theresa.

There they were, disregarding all the rules of civilized decency in dealing with the newly dead by making all manner of unreasonable demands, while the people to whom Elvis really belonged, his fans, asked nothing more than the opportunity to quietly pay their respects to the memory of a man they loved and respected. It wasn’t until we unloaded the stretcher from the funeral coach inside the windowless, cinder block structure and started to wheel it in the direction of the embalming suite that a chilling thought struck me.

I had signed for the mortal remains of one of the world’s most famous entertainment figures without having looked to make certain that what lay under those sheets were even human remains, much less those of Elvis Presley.

Elvis and Kang Rhee (this photo appears in b&w in The King Is Dead




A city policeman standing at the gate spotted my car as I headed toward the gate. He blew his whistle and waved for me to straighten out and move on. I lowered the automatic car window and politely signaled for the officer to approach so that I might explain the reason for my presence. But he shook his head in rejection of my request for a hearing and again waved me on.

“Hey, Bob Kendall,” shouted a voice from somewhere in the shadows behind the closed mansion gates. “It’s me, Dick Grob.”

I stopped the car and waited until the one gate swung partially open and Dick came out with another policeman and said something to the police officer who had been waving me away. This time, when the officer blew his whistle, he accompanied it with a hand signal for me to approach the gate while at the same time motioning for the crowd to let my car through.

When the iron gates swung open, I pulled through onto the bottom of the blacktop road that snaked up the grass knoll to the entrance of the white stone and wooden mansion. Dick, and another Graceland employee came to the car and greeted me with a handshake before they both climbed onto the back seat. I drove to the residence at the crown of the knoll and parked off to the side of the main door.

As the three of us left the car and approached the main entrance to the mansion, a uniformed city policeman guarding the threshold drew open the wide door and invited us to cross into the foyer of the residence named by a former physician owner as “Graceland.”


The old man [Ed, Note, Vernon Presley] reached into one of his trouser pockets and extracted a piece of lined notebook paper on which he had written in his own hand the names headed by George Klein, Joe Esposito, Charlie Hodge, Billy Smith, Lamar Fike, and Dr. George Nicopolis. “Here’s the list,” he said, as he passed the paper to Joe, who passed it to me without even looking at it.

Vernon turned the conversation to the clothing in which Elvis would be buried by pointing to a white linen, two-button suit with fashionably narrow lapels folded neatly on the bed in front of him. I could see from the expressions on Joe and George Klein’s faces that they were as surprised as I was at the suit. I guess we all somehow expected, perhaps I even hoped that Elvis would make his final appearance on this earth in one of the many jump-suits that had become a hallmark of his fabulous career.

“I bought that suit for Elvis at Neubies not long ago when we were in California,” Mister Presley explained, his eyes moistened with tears after having mentioned his son by name for the first time in the meeting. “It didn’t get here until about two weeks ago. You know, he never even got to wear it.” With those words another of my fading hopes for a glitzy showbiz funeral for Elvis was dashed.

To relieve the emotional tension of the moment, Al Stroter, Elvis wardrobe manager, chimed in to suggest that I go to the Julius Lewis men’s furnishings store on Union Avenue the next day to purchase a powder blue shirt and white tie that would color-coordinate with the suit. He needlessly suggested that I spare no expense in the purchases and gave me Elvis’ shirt measurements as a sixteen-and-a-half inch neck and thirty-five inch sleeves. I wrote the measurements in my notebook. Having by then regained his complete composure, Vernon came back into the conversation to announce that C. W. Bradley, minister of the Wooddale Church of Christ, would conduct the funeral service and preside at the interment rites.

“Will the burial be next to Mrs. Presley in the Forest Hills Cemetery?” I asked.

“No,” Vernon snapped. “There’s been so much damage done to Gladys’ tombstone already that I don’t want her buried there any more. I want Elvis to be buried in the mausoleum, and later we’ll move my wife next to him, but we could never bury them in the plot. People would tear it apart for souvenirs.”

click to order: The King Is Dead

EIN expresses its sincere thanks to Katco Media for granting us permission to publish the above excerpts from The King Is Dead



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Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
Ernst Jorgensen
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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 22 Sep 2004)