Here we are again, looking at the strange accounts as presented by Rick Stanley. This time around, there are two particular pieces I’d like to examine, a video interview from 2010, and a short section of his 1986 book, “The Touch of Two Kings.” Keeping things in chronological order, we’ll start with 1986.

On page 111 of Stanley’s book, the author writes:

“I was at a restaurant with a friend when my brother and Dad found Elvis.”

So right out of the gate we have a claim that is simply ridiculous, and runs counter to every other story we’ve been told. Why would he say this, knowing that it didn’t happen? It’s not even one of those pretzel logic moments…it’s just…ya, know…wrong. And Rick knew it. But he said it anyway. David Stanley and Vernon Presley did not “find” Elvis that day.

Rick then describes how he suddenly had a “feeling” that “swept over” him, and he had to return to Graceland immediately because “something’s wrong.” Upon entering the Graceland property via the back gate, Rick then says he saw out of the corner of his eye an ambulance pulling away from the front of the house. This places his return to Graceland, based on the “official” account, at 2:46pm. Rick then entered through the back door, and as discussed in previous posts, he walked through the den and kitchen and “noticed that the trunks that were ready for the tour had not been touched.” He then observed that the men who were supposed to be moving the equipment were just sitting there, “trance-like.” Rick told them, “We’ve got a show tonight,” which was incorrect, and instructed “the men” to get to work. So, same question as before: What “men” were at Graceland at this time loading/moving equipment? We are told of Al Strada being there, and Joe Esposito, and Billy Smith is back in his trailer, but we are not told who these “men” were.

It is also important to look at Rick’s story here from a logical perspective. He walks into the house, after having just seen an ambulance leaving, and after having just had such a powerful and overwhelming feeling that he had to leave his friend and his lunch back at Grisanti’s, and yet here he is with all these strange forces at work, and he is worried about – (pause) – “the men” and the equipment. Does this make any sense? No.

And what about the ambulance he just saw? His first inquiry wasn’t, “Why was an ambulance here?,” it was, “Why hasn’t this equipment been moved?”

One of the maids then informed Rick that Elvis (his “brother”) was found dead. This word choice is noteworthy because for 43 years we’ve been told that Elvis was in bad shape but no one really knew for certain if he was dead; they were supposedly holding out hope, and yet it seems like the general conclusion amongst those at the mansion was that Elvis had, in fact, died, and was deceased when he was taken away in the ambulance. The ambiguity seems to have faded over all these years.

Rick then writes that he had to get out of the house. He tells us that the phone was ringing and people were walking around “from room to room.” So he didn’t leave the house? We’re not sure. Rick then says he, “ran out the gates,” and that the media were already on the scene. And that his friend, Robyn, called and told him she had heard the news. But wait a minute, how much time has passed? Rick just left the house, he wasn’t there for more than a few minutes after the ambulance left, and yet now the media is at Graceland, he is at a location where he can answer a phone, and someone outside the Graceland bubble was aware of Elvis’s death. Again, does any of this make any sense? No.

Let’s switch over to an interview Rick Stanley gave in 2010, where he talks about the same sequence of events outlined above. From the interview:

“When I went through the gates I saw that big ambulance.”

The use of the word “gates” here suggests he entered through the main entrance.

“That’s when I walked in and the stretcher was coming down…”

In his 1986 book, Rick said that when he arrived from the side entrance he saw out of the corner of his eye an ambulance pulling away from the front of the house. This is a critical point. Here, we have one of many examples where an alleged eyewitness describes an event, and then at a different time he describes that same event not just differently but as if it were a completely different event. Consider:

1986: Rick saw out of the corner of his eye an ambulance pulling away from the front of the house.

2010: Rick saw the stretcher being carried down the stairs.

This is not a simple mistake, or a foggy memory. This is an event being described in a way that is simply not possible, ignoring the logic of the whole mess. Quite simply, if Rick saw an ambulance leaving the property, then he could not have entered the house and seen the stretcher being carried down the stairs with the same person who was just taken away in the ambulance that he saw “out of the corner of his eye” a minute or two earlier.***

“And that’s when Lisa Marie said, ‘Rick, my daddy’s dead.’ I said, ‘That’s not funny, I was just with your dad, you know, you shouldn’t kid around like that, Lisa,’ and she said, ‘Ricky, I’m not kidding you, daddy’s really dead.'”

Rick is telling this part of the story as if he had not just told us that he witnessed the stretcher with Elvis being carried out to the ambulance. As if he had no idea what was going on. As if he were speaking with Lisa Marie at a different location. Really, think about this: he is saying he just watched the stretcher with Elvis’s body being carried down the stairs, and up walks Lisa Marie and tells him her father is dead, and he just says, to paraphrase, “Don’t joke around about that, I was just with him.” Um, Rick, you just saw the stretcher carried down the stairs, so how can you address Lisa Marie as if you have no idea what is happening and you can all just hope Elvis will be OK? “Don’t worry, I was just with him” is not something you say to a child after her father has been removed by paramedics. Simply, the conversation Rick describes could not have happened if he and Lisa Marie had just witnessed Elvis being removed on a stretcher.

I’ll say it again:

This. Makes. No. Sense.

“So I was there at Graceland when it happened.”

When what happened?

It is interesting that Rick describes why he should not feel guilty about not attending to Elvis that morning, saying Elvis asked to be left alone, and yet he then talks about the guilt he felt. What did he feel so guilty about if Elvis asked not to be disturbed?

***The Elvis fan community needs to realize that everything we have been told (by supposed eyewitnesses) about 8/16/77 is open to question, and what isn’t false is not automatically true. And what we have been told is true is not necessarily…true. We have been sold a story. And in recent years we have literally reached the point where anyone can place himself/herself anywhere in this narrative, at any time, and no one will care. Was the author of the latest Elvis book at Graceland that day? He initially said he wasn’t, but now he says he was. Doesn’t matter. Was another author running errands at 2:30pm on 8/16/77? Or at the Howard Johnson’s motel? Or at home? Or downstairs? Or at lunch? Or down the street? Or sitting with “the men”? Doesn’t matter where anyone was, the location can be changed to fit the story. Doesn’t matter what time it was, the time can be changed to fit the story. Will the fans care? Nope.

UPDATE 06/15/21

Rick Stanley: Revisited, A Third Time

It’s that time of the month again, time to take yet another look at yet another account of August 16, 1977, offered up by Rick Stanley. This “Elvis World” interview supposedly took place in the late 1970s…1978-1979…and once again we see details that are different than subsequent interviews/statements he gave over the following decades. Recall (above, and here) that Rick said he had some sort of feeling while eating at Grisanti’s restaurant that he had to get back to Graceland, so he left the restaurant and hurried back to Graceland where he entered through the back door and immediately inquired as to why “the men” were not moving the items to be packed for the tour. In 1986 and 2010 he gave us these specific details regarding his arrival at Graceland:

1986: Rick saw out of the corner of his eye an ambulance pulling away from the front of the house.

2010: Rick saw the stretcher being carried down the stairs.

Now, from the late 70’s interview, we have this:

“I saw Elvis about 4 o’clock in the morning. We sat down and talked.” Not mentioned: the 6-Dilaudid prescription, the medication packets, the Demerol shots.

Rick then says that when he came back to the house (not telling us why he came back to the house…where is that big “premonition” story?), he was going straight up to Elvis’s room. But why? He doesn’t say. Then he asks the housekeeper, “Where is everybody?,” even though in subsequent accounts “the men” were present but were not doing any work. The housekeeper then informs him that “they think” Elvis is dead, though we do not know who “they” are. At this point, Rick goes to Vernon and Vernon tells him what is going on. Rick notes that “they” told him about Elvis’s death (presumably), though he does not identify “they.” Then he says he heard the news on the radio. Then he says Dr. Nichopoulos told him.

The sequence of events, as we’ve been told over many years, has Vernon and a small group of people gathered in Minnie Mae Presley’s bedroom, then Dr. Nichopoulos arriving and breaking the news of Elvis’s death, then the news announced at Baptist Memorial Hospital, then the news reaching the public via radio and TV. Stanley’s sequence of events, in this and in later accounts, is all over the place, as are the details he provides. Also, there is no account of Rick Stanley being present with Vernon and the others before the arrival of Dr. Nichopoulos.

Again, in this early telling of his story, let’s note what details are missing, that he later included:

  • The restaurant (a key part of later accounts)
  • The “premonition” (the key part of later accounts)
  • The ambulance (the ambulance is not here but appears later)
  • The stretcher (same thing)
  • Lisa Marie (no Lisa Marie to be found)
  • David Stanley (no David, either)

What should be the takeaway here?