BBC reporter who was the first to see Elvis dead in his coffin admits truths

We filmed at the grave of Gladys Presley — Elvis’s beloved mother who had died aged 46 — in Forest Hill Cemetery.

(Her son would be interred next to her, until the fear of grave-robbers forced the family to move both graves to a ‘Meditation Garden’ at Graceland, which was opened to the public in 1982.)

We filmed the funeral motorcade; a dozen white Cadillacs, Elvis’s favourite car. By now the Americans had caught up with the rest of the grieving world; 80,000 people lined the streets.

And I reported that there were many people in Memphis who did not believe that Elvis was really dead.

There was speculation, despite statements from doctors and a coroner, that he may have faked his own death and gone into hiding. Regardless, when the job was over, Bob and I flew back to Washington. There were other stories to cover.

Twenty years later, in 1997, I was telephoned by a BBC producer. He said he was making a programme about cults.

Why was he calling me? Because he was investigating the cult of Elvis Presley. I wasn’t aware there was one.

He said there were many thousands of people who believed Elvis was still alive. They revered him. Some worshipped him.

Really, I asked? Yes, he said, they perform candle-lit rituals at Graceland.

Then he really surprised me. ‘We looked through all the newspaper, radio and television coverage when Elvis died,’ he said.

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