Elvis Presley is celebrated as The King and the one true iconoclast of rock ‘n’ roll, one who epitomised pop culture perfection. However, Elvis left a trail of disaster in his wake due to his ominous behaviour throughout a turbulent personal life.
There’s no denying his musical majesty, and he helped bring rock ‘n’ roll to the masses in a way that tapped into something in the public consciousness that had previously been untouched. He single-handedly changed the cultural landscape of the Western world, and the impact of Elvis can still be significantly felt today.
However, there are simply far too many murky details that have come to light about him as a human, issues that can’t be neglected, and the evidence of vitriolic behaviour is insurmountable.
All these stories combine to depict a monster and somebody we should avoid celebrating at all costs. The devilishly handsome charmer that paraded on stage in Vegas dressed in angelic white painted a heavenly perception of Elvis and deceived the public into falling for this misconstrued image.
5 stories that confirm the dark side of Elvis Presley
He met his wife when she was 14
Elvis notoriously met his wife, Priscilla, when she was just 14-years-old during his time in the Army when he served in Germany in 1959. At the time, he was 24-years-old. However, the illegality of their relationship didn’t stop him from making advances.
After he moved back to the US, they wouldn’t see each other face to face until 1962 but stayed in regular contact over the phone throughout this period before marrying when she was 22 in 1967. Throughout their relationship, Elvis remained promiscuous and was never exclusive to Priscilla, leading eventually to their divorce in 1973.
That wasn’t a one-off
Priscilla wasn’t the only underage girl Elvis reportedly became entangled with while he was at the height of his fame. He abused his power to manipulate young impressionable fans wherever he went on tour.
Joel Williamson, author of Elvis Presley: A Southern Life, claimed that two years before Elvis met his future wife, he took a group of three 14-year-old girls with him on tour who were up “for pillow fights, tickling, kissing and cuddling”.
Elsewhere in Williamson’s book, he claims that Presley had a 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 19 and that the singer was “obsessed with virginity”.
He once fired a gunshot at his fiance
Elvis was a manipulator who had extremely controlling streaks to his behavioural patterns — and he could get violent. He met Ginger Alden when she was 20, and he was 41, she was a pageant queen who he hoped to make his wife, but their relationship was problematic.
His treatment of her was horrifying, and the pair constantly argued during their time together. After one row, he allegedly asked one of his aide’s to pop the tyres on Alden’s car so she couldn’t leave his home, and on another occasion, when she drove away after a fight, it is claimed that he fired a gunshot. The couple were engaged to be married, but their tempestuous relationship never made it that far.
He drugged Priscilla
It wasn’t just Alden who he severely manipulated. Numerous reports have claimed that Elvis went as far as drugging Priscilla and spiking her with amphetamines to keep her awake through their mammoth sex sessions. Allegedly, after being introduced to them in the Army, Presley had grown addicted to the drugs, and they later grabbed control of his life.
During these drugged-up sex marathons with Priscilla, Elvis also took photographs on a polaroid camera, which he stored in a silver suitcase delivered to Priscilla after his death — years after their divorce.
Allegations of racism
Earlier this year, Quincy Jones revealed that he always refused to work with Elvis because he was a “racist”. The superstar producer explained, “No. I wouldn’t work with him. I was writing for [orchestra leader] Tommy Dorsey, oh God, back then in the ’50s. And Elvis came in, and Tommy said: ‘I don’t want to play with him.’ He was a racist mother — I’m going to shut up now.”
Meanwhile, Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ includes the lyric, “Elvis was a hero to most/But he never meant shit to me/Straight up racist that sucker was/Simple and plain.”
While there’s no cement evidence that Elvis was a racist, he undeniably appropriated black culture and repackaged it to the general public. The racism in American society allowed him to have such a fruitful career, and it was certainly something he leaned into consciously or subconsciously.