LARRY KING: How did you hear about it [Elvis’s death]?
RICKY STANLEY: I heard about it when David came in, my youngest brother. And I said, David, Joe says we’ve got to get him up at a certain time because we’re going to leave for a tour. And I’m going to run a few errands. So at a certain time, get him up. I ran some errands, and I was sitting in a restaurant, Larry, and I had this premonition — I’ve never had this happen before — that something was wrong. And before the food even came back, I got up and drove back to Graceland. There was an ambulance sitting out in front. And the first thing I thought, Well, maybe it’s my grandmother, Elvis’s grandmother, or maybe something’s happened to my dad, Vernon Presley. But when I stepped into Graceland, it was kind of chaotic and…
JOE ESPOSITO, ELVIS PRESLEY’S BEST FRIEND: Well, it’s a tough one, Larry. You know, it’s the day we were getting ready to go on tour that day, heading for Portland, Maine, and getting ready to go from the house. And I was supposed to wake him up at 4:00 o’clock, but a phone call came from upstairs at 2:00 o’clock from his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, and we all responded, went upstairs and found Elvis in the bathroom. And I knew he was gone and went to the hospital with him. And as we know, 30 minutes after he got to the hospital, they pronounced him dead.
In this 2003 interview on “Larry King Live,” Rick Stanley talks about how he learned of Elvis’s death. The pertinent part of his response is quoted above, along with a comment from Joe Esposito (in the same interview) referencing the 4:00pm wake-up call. As noted previously, Rick Stanley has stated that Elvis told him that he didn’t want to be bothered that day (meaning from early morning until the planned wake-up time), and that he should be woken up at 4 o’clock that afternoon. David Stanley has also adopted this directive as his own, saying that Rick told him not to bother Elvis, and to wake him up at 4:00pm. Here, Joe Esposito claims that he was the person responsible for waking Elvis up at the appointed time, and Rick Stanley states that the directive/request came from Joe, not from Elvis (“Joe says we’ve got to get him up at a certain time”). So going by Joe’s statement, it was he, not David Stanley, who was supposed to wake up Elvis at 4:00pm. And it was Joe who told Rick about the scheduled wake-up time, not Elvis.
Looking at Rick Stanley’s telling of the story of how he learned of Elvis’s death, let’s walk through exactly what he says:
Rick Stanley: I heard about it when David came in, my youngest brother.
When David came in where? In this account, Rick said he arrived at the mansion while the ambulance was parked at the front entrance (directly in front of the house). This means that Rick arrived sometime either between 2:33pm and 2:46pm, or close to 4:00pm when the ambulance returned with Dr. Nichopoulos. David Stanley claims to have left the property en route to Baptist Memorial Hospital at 2:47pm, and returned to the property right around 4:00pm (judging by the time references he outlines in “Life With Elvis”). So here, then, Rick is saying he learned that Elvis had died from David, and yet when David entered the house Rick was already there, “white as a sheet and shaking all over,” according to David. This would place Rick learning of Elvis’s death right around 4:00pm, though obviously he had learned of it prior to his brother’s arrival. So he didn’t learn of the death from David as he said.
Rick Stanley: And I said, David, Joe says we’ve got to get him up at a certain time because we’re going to leave for a tour.
In this statement, Rick is referring to David’s arrival at Graceland at noon that day, when he came on duty. Accordingly, they spoke briefly and Rick says he informed David about the 4:00pm wake-up time, even though he has also acknowledged that this request originated with Joe Esposito, who may have actually been the person responsible for taking care of this task. It appears, then, that Rick is speaking of 12:00pm and 4:00pm interchangeably, meaning he is placing 12:00pm events at 4:00pm, and 4:00pm events at 12:00pm.
Rick Stanley: And I’m going to run a few errands. So at a certain time, get him up. I ran some errands, and I was sitting in a restaurant, Larry, and I had this premonition — I’ve never had this happen before — that something was wrong.
This part of the story is told as if it occurred after speaking with David, which would have been at 12:00pm.
Rick Stanley: And before the food even came back, I got up and drove back to Graceland. There was an ambulance sitting out in front.
The time of Rick Stanley’s arrival at Graceland, as described here, would had to have been at roughly 4:00pm, since he mentions the ambulance sitting in the front of the house, and the fact that there is a chaotic atmosphere inside the house. This does not describe 2:33pm-2:46pm when the ambulance was onsite earlier during the emergency call.
In “Elvis: We Love You Tender,” Rick Stanley is described as running towards the mansion: “He [Rick] started to run. They opened the gate for him and he made for the house, bursting through the front door.”
And recall that in “Caught In A Trap,” Rick Stanley writes that he got out of his car and went in the back entrance of the house.
Rick Stanley: And the first thing I thought, [w]ell, maybe it’s my grandmother, Elvis’s grandmother, or maybe something’s happened to my dad, Vernon Presley.
Recall that Rick Stanley claims to have experienced some sort of premonition that was so powerful it compelled him to leave a restaurant and rush to Graceland because he believed something “bad” had happened to Elvis (whom he does not mention in this account, but other accounts mention that Elvis was the focus of Rick’s premonition), and here he is saying he thought that perhaps something had happened to Minnie Mae or Vernon. This sounds a bit like Rick’s story of entering the house and being concerned about the trunks being moved.
At this time, let’s re-cap a few key points:
The time of his arrival at Graceland has been described by Rick Stanley as occurring when the ambulance was exiting the property (“Caught In A Trap”), which would place the arrival at 2:47pm. Rick Stanley says he left Graceland around noon, just after David Stanley arrived for work, and then went to Grisanti’s for lunch. Allowing for a generous amount of time at the restaurant, Rick says he left Gristanti’s before the food arrived and returned to Graceland, and that he saw the ambulance leaving the property. Again, this places his arrival (return) at about 2:47pm. Note, then, that David Stanley was supposedly jumping in his car at this very moment with Billy Smith, en route to BMH. David did not return to Graceland until just after 4:00pm. So Rick Stanley is describing a timeline of events that occurred anywhere from 12:00pm to roughly 4:00pm, and yet his placement of these events on the timeline, and in this sequence, is impossible. To wit, by Rick’s own account, he could not have seen David when he arrived at the mansion because David was leaving for BMH with Billy Smith. He could not have gone to lunch just after 12:00pm and then left before the food arrived, if he returned to Graceland at 4:00pm, unless Grisanti’s was unable to prepare and serve a meal in 3.5 hours. Rick Stanley says he left Graceland at noon, went to lunch, then returned to Graceland before his meal was served, and that he arrived when the ambulance was exiting the property (while in the CNN interview, he says the ambulance was parked). This must be a 2:47pm arrival time, not a 4:00pm arrival time. The issue is that Rick Stanley’s timeline is impossible. Also, it seems reasonable that if it were 2:47pm and the ambulance had just left for the hospital that Rick Stanley would have then gone there, as well. Instead, he walks out of the house and down the street.
Returning to the CNN transcript:
Rick Stanley: But when I stepped into Graceland, it was kind of chaotic and…
“Chaotic” would describe Graceland at 4:00pm, not at 2:47pm.
Now, what was Larry King’s initial question?
LARRY KING: How did you hear about it [Elvis’s death]?
What was Rick Stanley’s response? He never answered the question.