Elvis death to funeral hour by hour: Dad Vernons wracking sobs and kindness to fans

Elvis Presley performs ‘Hound Dog’ in 1956

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Elvis died on August 16, 1977. His death shocked millions of fans around the world. Despite being one of the biggest stars of all time, the arrangements to bring the body and home and then bury him the following day were remarkably rapid. In the middle of the sudden global shock and dealing with his own crippling grief, Vernon constantly thought of the thousands of fans gathered outside. He overruled everybody else on both days and made sure the fans were given their opportunity to say goodbye to their idol and then made sure they were able to take something personal home with them. 

On Tuesday, August 16, 1977, at 2pm, Elvis’ fiancee Ginger woke up in bed and realised he was not there. It seemed a little strange but no cause for alarm. She called her mother for a chat, dressed and put on her make-up.

Eventually, she went looking for The King. When she opened his bathroom door to find him lying on the floor, she suddenly realized something was terribly wrong.  Elvis wasn’t moving. He had clearly collapsed and suffered some sort of attack on the toilet. At the time, Ginger thought he had fallen and hit his head and passed out.

She called out for Al Strada, the person on afternoon duty at the house. The star’s daughter Lisa Marie came to see what all the fuss was and was taken away by Ginger. Vernon Presley was telephoned (he lived next door to Graceland) and rushed over to the house while an ambulance was called.

At 2.33pm emergency services arrived. The ambulance crew had thought it was just another regular Graceland case of an over-excited fan fainting.

A statement at the time said: “A Memphis Fire Department ambulance from Engine House 29 at 2147 Elvis Presley Boulevard responded to the call at 2:33pm and by 2:56pm had taken Presley to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital, seven miles away from his Whitehaven home.”

At 3.30pm Elvis was pronounced dead and at 4pm the world’s media was informed by Vernon.

From then, Vernon took control of everything that happened over the next 48 hours.

At noon the following day, a single white hearse bore the body of Elvis back home from the hospital in a copper casket, the same as his mother Gladys had been buried in.

Vernon had overseen every detail of his son’s farewell and made sure he looked his best. Elvis was dressed in a white suit given to him by his father and his hair was cut, his sideburns dyed.

Outside the Memphis mansion, over 50,000 fans had gathered and it was Vernon who realised how important it was to them and to the memory and legacy of his son that they be included as much as possible.

That evening, close family and friends held a private wake at home that lasted late into the night.

At 9am the following morning they began to transport the thousands of flowers that had been laid outside to the cemetery. It took 100 vans almost four hours.

Back at the star’s home, the small and intimate funeral service began at Graceland at 2pm and reports afterwards said Vernon’s “wracking sobs” could be heard throughout. 

Afterwards, the coffin was loaded back into a white hearse which drove three miles to Forest Hill Cemetery, followed by the mourners in 17 white limousines.

Source: Read Full Article