Elvis Presley remains ‘The King’ for good reason; he helped define what we have come to expect from a quintessential rockstar, and there wasn’t a day that went by in his life that didn’t involve wild shenanigans. Elvis, it goes without saying, took great pleasure in leading a life that was centred around excess.
Presley is a character who pushed the boundaries so intensely with everything he did. There wasn’t a wealth of difference that separated his salacious on-stage persona – one that respectively riled and wooed audiences every time he performed – and the version of Elvis that existed away from the stage.
Looking further back, Elvis grew up in abject poverty and was always a loner who his classmates often ridiculed. However, music was his ticket to a new life full of riches, and the singer had unlocked unlimited resources to do whatever he pleased.
With his new lifestyle, Elvis took things to the extreme. The breakneck speed at which his life existed undoubtedly played a significant part in why it was cut short so prematurely. However, what ‘The King’ managed to cram into his 42 years exceeds what most people could dream of fitting into a century.
Below, we look at a selection of times when Elvis lived up to being ‘The King’.
Elvis Presley’s wildest moments:
He once grounded a commercial flight
Elvis had an extended entourage, and each member of that group had a role that ultimately made his life easier. According to his stepbrother, Rick Stanley, Presley even employed ‘Hamburger James’, whose sole purpose was to supply burgers for the singer.
However, the two fell out when Elvis suspected that James had stolen money and intimate pictures of Priscilla. He then chased the Hamburger merchant after hearing he’d gone to the airport to return to Memphis. Somehow, Presley worked his magic and persuaded staff to delay take-off on James’ plane to let him on board.
“Elvis reaches over while Hamburger James is looking straight at him, scared to death, and slaps him twice,” Stanley remembered. “Like in the movies, A slap, and then a backhand. Pow! Then pow! again. Then the most amazing thing happened. Hamburger James got a funny look on his face and wilted like a baby. He cried and cried. Like his heart was broken. He said he was sorry he stole, and he would give it all back, and he knew that he had done something that he couldn’t ever be forgiven for.”
He owned an alcoholic chimp
After Elvis got his first taste of money in 1956, a time when his career exploded, the singer decided that he needed to purchase a pet to have by his side. Rather than buy a puppy, Elvis picked up a spider monkey named Jayhew, who was soon joined by a reprobate chimpanzee named Scatter.
It didn’t take Scatter long to adjust to the hedonistic lifestyle which he saw his owner follow, and soon enough, he could outdrink Elvis. Scatter replicated the behaviour perpetrated by his master and the chimp damningly used to lift up women’s dresses and attack them when they’d visit.
Elvis allegedly used to refer to him as a “coconut-headed little motherfucker”, and Scatter was later banned from being inside the main house due to his troublemaking instincts.
When you’re as rich and famous as Elvis Presley, the law suddenly stops being a worry. He lived on his own terms, and the singer was never frightened about the seriousness of his ill behaviour ever catching up with him.
While he was a larger than life rockstar, he was also manipulative and had a controlling streak. Elvis met Ginger Alden when she was 20, and he was 41, but their relationship was tumultuous.
After one argument, he allegedly asked one of his aide’s to pop the tyres on her car to stop her from leaving. Meanwhile, on another occasion, when she drove away following another confrontation, Presly fired a gunshot in her direction, but, fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Not only was Elvis arguably the most recognisable person on the planet, but he was also handy in a fight too. It wasn’t until 1970 that he began learning the discipline of karate, and staggeringly, he learned the ropes just like everybody else without VIP treatment.
His instructors treated him with the same force they did with the rest of his class, and there was no special dispensation for ‘The King’. After being awarded a seventh-degree black belt in 1973, Elvis then graduated onto becoming an instructor, and karate played a significant part in the latter years of his life.
He got drafted at the height of his fame
It’s unimaginable to picture the most successful musician in the world having to leave their career behind and risk their health in the military. However, in 1958, that’s exactly what happened when Elvis Presley took part in national service.
Elvis served in the forces for two years, and he nobly declined to be part of the Special Services team after his draft. Instead, he was just a regular soldier, and his fame didn’t mean anything. His ego-free attitude allowed Presley to fit in with his fellow servicemen, and it also hugely benefitted his career afterwards as America discovered a newfound respect for the singer.
Decadence was a running theme in Elvis’ short life, and perhaps it was best symbolised by his favourite sandwich, the much-fabled, Fool’s Gold. Legend has it that Presley and his friends took his private jet from Memphis to Denver just for a taste of this culinary delight.
After arriving, he had 30 sandwiches delivered directly to an airport hangar, where he and his cronies washed them down with Champagne. Between the group, they digested an eye-watering quarter of a million calories from the sandwiches during their stay in Colorado, and they didn’t even leave the airport.
See the cardiac-arrest inducing recipe below.
- 1 hollowed-out loaf of warmed bread
- 1 jar of creamy peanut butter
- 1 jar of grape jelly (jam)
- 1lb of bacon
- Cover one loaf of French white bread and bake in the oven at 175 °C until lightly golden brown.
- Fry one pound of sliced bacon in oil, until it is crispy and then drain off the fat.
- Slice the loaf of bread lengthwise and hollow out.
- Fill the loaf with a layer of peanut butter, ensuring the whole jar is evenly spread.
- Repeat with the entire jar of grape jelly.
- Layer the bacon on top.