Meeting Elvis Presley with Lisa Marie ‘I stood in awe transfixed’

Priscilla Presley delivers speech at Lisa Marie Presley memorial

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Growing up, Elvis Presley’s favourite gospel group was The Blackwood Brothers quartet, who have been going strong with different members since 1934. The King first shared a stage with them in 1955 during his first tour in Texas, refusing to sing rock and roll out of respect for his idols he was so desperate to perform with. Even after becoming the biggest star in the world, Elvis would have them over to Graceland regularly and requested they sing at his mother Gladys Presley’s funeral in 1958. In fact, they did the same for him upon his death in 1977 and most recently sang a couple of gospel tracks at his daughter Lisa Marie Presley’s funeral on Sunday.

After performing How Great Thou Art, Billy Blackwood shared: “In the Spring of 1968, I was a young teenager growing up here in Memphis and my Dad was James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers quartet. I’ll never forget, one night I was at home and the phone rang. My ears perked up when Dad said, ‘Well, hi Elvis’. That was not unusual. Elvis would sometimes call and say, ‘Mr Blackwood, could you get the quartet together? I’m dying to sing some old gospel songs.’ So we’d stay up to all hours of the morning singing. But this phone call’s a little different.”

Billy continued: “My Dad hung up and said, ‘Elvis wants to introduce me to his baby girl, do you want to go with me?’ I said, ‘Of course.’ So we came out here…Elvis came down the steps holding Lisa in his arms. He said, ‘Mr Blackwood, this is my little girl Lisa Marie. Lisa, this is Mr Blackwood, one of my heroes.’ I stood there in awe and transfixed, not saying anything, taking in the moment. 

“Several years before that my Dad had gotten a call. Gladys had passed away. Elvis requested that the Blackwood Brothers sing at her funeral, which they were honoured to do. My Dad sang at Elvis’ funeral as well.”

Struggling to hold back tears, he added: “So, this is kind of full circle. We are so honoured to be here and to be part of Lisa’s celebration today.”

Before singing There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, Billy said: “This is a song that Elvis often had sung in his concerts. He didn’t sing it, he would listen as the Imperials and the Stamps would sing this song. He would ask the audience just to be quiet and listen. As this song was sung, a holy hush would fill the auditoriums. Our prayer is that that same holy hush would fill this place today. Priscilla, Riley, Finley and Harper, our hearts are with you. We are all here today because we love your family. You’re in her thoughts and prayers. May this song be the ushering in of God’s peace and presence in your life I pray.”

Watch Lisa Marie’s funeral again here.

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