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

The most amazing thing was the size of his face. It was the shape of a very large water melon and deathly pale. I guessed drugs had caused the bloating.

He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and an elaborate white satin cravat.

His hair upset me. I’d been an early Elvis fan. As a 13-year-old, my mother bought me a 78 rpm record of Heartbreak Hotel.

We’d heard nothing like that back in 1956. Elvis was the white man who sang like a black man. His tousled hair was part of the rebel appeal.

But in his coffin, Elvis’s hair had been slicked down. A parting had been drawn on the right, as if with a ruler. I heard later the hairdresser was proud of his work.

I felt it was an awful pity Elvis should meet his Maker looking like that. Bob was not allowed to film in the house.

Outside, I interviewed Elvis’s long-time road manager Joe Esposito. I asked about drugs. Joe denied Elvis had taken any.

The police and Baptist Memorial Hospital where the body had been taken told the same story.

The Medical Examiner, Dr Jerry Francisco, insisted that ‘drugs played no part in Presley’s death’.

I concluded that no one in Memphis was going to rat on their most famous resident. Documents later disclosed there were 14 different drugs in his body.

Bob and I walked down to the four-lane highway that runs past Graceland and which is now named Elvis Presley Boulevard.

In the shopping centre opposite, there was a restaurant used by Elvis’s entourage.

The owner of The Beef and Liberty told me Elvis had never set foot inside. He was a virtual prisoner in the house on the hill.

I interviewed a woman who owned a record shop in Georgia. When Elvis was young, she told me, he would sit on her counter, swinging his heels, hoping to sell a few records.

‘He said he wanted to make his mother proud,’ she told me. ‘For him, that was enough.’


7 thoughts on “BBC reporter who was the first to see Elvis dead in his coffin admits truths

  1. Was raised listening to all kinds of music..but my mother had a 78 Heartbreak Hotel too!…….remember loads growing up in the 60s!…… interesting article!

  2. I knew that he did not die he signed his own death certificate and one of his life insurance is still not being claimed because if they did Elvis would go to jail because of fraud

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