Elvis was a devout Christian who prayed before shows, his half-brother reveals | Elvis Presley

OAs his fans worshiped him as a rock ‘n’ roll deity, Elvis Presley said a prayer before taking the stage, reading the Bible and turning to God for guidance in all he did, his half-believe recalls -brother.

“When we saw him nod, we knew,” said Billy Stanley, who also worked for the singer. Observer, noting that Presley did not recite the prayer out loud. “It lasted about 15 seconds. I asked him once, ‘Why do you say the prayer before?’ He said, “It calms my nerves a bit, but I also want God to help bless this gig, so make it a good one.” He always turned to God whenever he needed help.

Billy Stanley. Photography: Thomas Nelson

Presley once told her that a show was like a first date: “You never really know how the date will turn out, but you always hope it’s going to be a good date.”

Although Presley’s love of gospel music is well known, Stanley believes the depth of his Christian faith is unrealized. “He relied on God for everything,” he said. “That’s where he got his strength. Elvis was so thankful for what the Lord had given him. He thanked God daily and constantly sought God’s guidance through prayer and Bible reading.

He added: “Everyone looked at the glitz and glamor [of Presley]. They didn’t look at the man and try to understand his faith. When you have spent 17 years with an individual, you get to know him well.

Stanley’s ideas about living with his famous half-brother will be described in a forthcoming book, Elvis’ Faithto be published in October.

The king of rock ‘n’ roll modernized blues, country and bluegrass, sparking a musical revolution and mass hysteria with his extraordinary voice, stage presence, matinee idol looks and swaying moves. He died suddenly in 1977, at the age of 42, but his popularity remained, inspiring Baz Luhrmann’s last film, Elvis.

Stanley was seven years old when he and his two younger brothers, Ricky and David, moved to Presley’s Memphis mansion, Graceland, in 1960, the year their mother, Dee, married Presley’s father, Vernon.

Presley was 25 and had already found fame with hits such as Heartbreak Hotel and Love Me Tender. Stanley recalled: “He hugged me and my brothers and exclaimed, ‘Dad, I always wanted a little brother. Now I have three!’

William Mims, Tuesday Weld and Elvis Presley pray in a scene from the 1961 film Wild in the Country.
William Mims, Tuesday Weld and Elvis Presley pray in a scene from the 1961 film Wild in the Country. Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

As a big brother and mentor, he taught them “the value of laughter,” gave relationship advice – “Be protective of women…make them laugh. If you can do that, they will love you forever” – and boosted their self-confidence by saying, “With God, anything is possible.

He took them through bedtime prayers and read the Bible with them, sometimes playing his characters. “It was quite an experience having Elvis as a Sunday school teacher,” Stanley said.

When they arrived at Graceland, he and his brothers were too young to know who Presley was. They were intrigued by the fans waiting at the gates and in the trees outside Graceland. Presley told his half-brothers, “I’m just an artist.”

In 1961, at the age of eight, Stanley attended his first Presley concert: “Suddenly the lights went out and people started screaming. This scared us, so we turned to Mom and Vernon. They gave us a look that said everyone was fine.

Then Stanley asked Presley why everyone was shouting: “He smiled. “That’s what some people do when they like something.” ”

He remembers Presley being such a perfectionist that he never listened to his own recordings: “One time I asked him, ‘Elvis, why don’t you listen to your own stuff?’ He said, ‘Billy, I know I can always do better. When I hear my own music, all I want to do is go fix it. But I can’t, because it’s already done. ”

Stanley heard Presley singing around the house, usually gospel songs: “It was how he relaxed after a concert. He sang gospel songs until the sun came up.

He added that while Presley enjoyed performing rock ‘n’ roll songs such as Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock, his “heart and soul were always with gospel music”, which he likened to “singing the Bible”.

Presley struggled with addiction and his playboy image, and whenever he faced doubts or something negative, he prayed, Stanley said. But Presley never went to church with his brothers, telling Stanley, “I’m afraid if I go in people will pay more attention to me than to the preacher.”

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