Elvis' step-brother bemused by deification

Monday, August 25, 2003

Evangelist Rick Stanley, step-brother of the late Elvis Presley, is a little bemused by "The King's" deification.

"Elvis was a good man and a great entertainer who made people happy, but leave it at that," Stanley said.

"Elvis was very uncomfortable with it," he continued. "He didn't like being called 'The King.' Whenever he would hear that comment, he would always stop and say, 'No, there is only one king: Jesus Christ."

Stanley is one of the last people to see Elvis alive, and the last person reported to have talked to Elvis, just a few hours before his death due to heart failure apparently brought on by an excess of drugs in his system,

Since that time, "Elvis sightings" have reached, and exceeded, the level of urban myth, and have sparked a cult of Elvis worshippers.

The year after Elvis died, Stanley became a Christian and an evangelist, simultaneously being freed from a drug habit.

Stanley asserts that Elvis was a believer who just lost his way. "There is an unction, an anointing, on his gospel songs," he said, which was the only genre for which Elvis won a Grammy.

"In his gospel songs you are hearing what he truly believed," Stanley continued. "He wasn't a modern-day King David, but he had a heart for God."

Stanley, now 49, has told his testimony in his book, "The Touch of Two Kings; Growing Up at Graceland," and at countless meetings. He says that there was a time when he didn't want to hear the name "Elvis" again, but as he worked through his pride, he sensed God telling him that to be like the Apostle Paul, he needed to stick to "the story" and not be critical of the very thing that sets him apart.

Now, he says, he believes that in some way he is fulfilling one of Presley's own dreams. After his death, Stanley's stepfather, Elvis' dad, told him that Elvis had always wanted to become a minister. "Elvis didn't think he could preach, so he tried to get the message out through music," said Stanley.

Stanley will be a featured speaker in the Revival Fires Round-up, speaking on Friday evening, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Ballroom in Branson, Mo.

For reservations and more information, telephone the Revival Fires offices at 1-800-733-4737.

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