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THE KING


What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase, “The king is dead - long live the king!”? It is an historical phrase coined in France and said after the death of a monarch through the streets and the countryside of their realm.


Phil Morgan recalls:


"Not too long ago I watched part of a documentary on ABC Television which traced the history of the Royal Family - the House of Windsor. In that program they recounted the passing away of King George VI. In 1952 the sad word went forth from London . . . 'THE KING IS DEAD.' King George VI had died in his sleep at the age of 56. He was somewhat of a private man, in comparison with others who’ve held the throne, but he was greatly respected and admired. His reign had carried him through the rigours of World War 2, the election of a socialist government, and the dissolution of much of the British Empire. His tired heart gave way. All across Britain, people flocked to churches to worship, to pray, and to seek comfort and hope."


I guess as I think about this phrase “The King is Dead” I think of Elvis Presley’s death: I still recall the day that it was announced on August 16, 1977 that the king of rock and roll was dead.


It stopped everyone in there tracks that day. It was my first summer after graduating. I was working as a laborer in Pittsburgh, Pa. hanging out with the crazy five plus one. The news hit that morning and everyone seemed stunned many in shock and grief. The King was dead. We talked about that night at the place we all hung out at “The old ice cream parlor.” I think for some of us teen in the prime of life we realized that living legends could die. There was the discussion about death and life after death and living your mark in history around the tables. The king was dead but we were all full of life and vigor.


What was Elvis legacy? Did he die a Christian? Many knew that he grew up in an AG Church his mom was an active member at her Assembly of God church. What about Elvis?

Article on the life of Elvis:


Elvis knew that God was God and he wasn't. 'He didn't like being called 'The King', says Ray Walker of the Gospel group The Jordanaires that backed Elvis up on many of his hit songs. "The 'king of rock 'n' roll' was one thing, but not 'The King'." He said one time, 'There's only one king, and that's Jesus Christ.' He'd be appalled by the Church of Elvis. He knew who he was. He wasn't fooled." (click here to listen the Jordanaires singing Gospel.)


There are other accounts from the colleagues of Elvis where he would say, "Im not the king, Jesus Christ is the king." He also said it in Vegas.


Elvis has a step brother that became a Christian and he reports that Elvis believed in Jesus. His step brother, David Stanley said, "Elvis read a lot of books, The Impersonal Life, the Shroud of Turin, endless, but he always went back to the Bible."


Elvis had another step-brother, Rick Stanley, who today is a Baptist Evangelist that has spoken in over 4,000 churches. Rick Stanley has written a book, Caught in the Trap where he highlights many of the spiritual events and struggles in Elvis' life. Stanley recalls when Elvis was in Las Vegas, he asked Evangelist Rex Humbard and his wife to be backstage with him. Elvis dedicated "How Great Thou Art" to Humbard that night. It was then that Elvis knelt down to pray with Humbard and recommitted his life to Christ. Elvis was talking about Jesus being the Truth the night before he died. It was Rex Humbard that conducted Elvis' funeral.


David Stanley says that fame caused Elvis to be conflicted about just everything in life. "I would sit down on his bed and watch him open the Bible and cry his eyes out 'God give me strength!' One day he's taking a handful of drugs, next day he's praying for forgiveness."


Elvis' childhood friend, Becky Martin, said that Elvis always wanted to be a preacher. She says that in the 70s Elvis told her, "Becky, just think what I could have done if I had become a preacher! Just think of the good I could have done for the Lord!"


Elvis struggled for sure. He loved doing Gospel music, but he struggled his whole life to connect the two worlds without success.


The great thing is those of us who are believers will see Elvis again. If you missed how great he was in this life, you can meet him in the next. At least that's what his minister step-brothers tell us. But between now and then get some of his real early stuff and you'll see that he truly is one of the originators of roll and roll!


When David Stanley said Elvis was "going back to the Bible" he meant it. Elvis grew up in the Pentecostal church, in the Assemblies of God. He loved the music and went to many Gospel conventions. All his life he would keep "coming back to the Bible."

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