Just when you think the Stanley family can’t offer up yet another book with a contradictory set of claims and accounts, we have David Stanley’s narrative from his 2016 book where he talks about August 16, 1977, and the details of his day. I am a bit late to this one, but let’s jump in anyway.
Stanley writes in the chapter titled, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” that he returned to Memphis late on August 15 (Monday), and that he was residing with “Shelly and Aurelia.” Shelly was the sister of Mark White (mentioned below), and Aurelia was a hair stylist who on occasion cut Elvis’s hair. She released a 2017 book describing her relationship with Elvis and the Presley family.**
Stanley says that his shift on the sixteenth started at noon, and because he “knew” that Elvis wouldn’t be out of bed for a couple of hours, he decided to invite Mark White with him to Graceland, where they would shoot pool in the basement, or just generally hang out. Never mind that a tour was starting that evening, nor that employees typically do not bring their friends to work with them. We will note that Stanley says he “knew” that Elvis wouldn’t be out of bed for a few hours (after the start of Stanley’s 12:00pm start-time), but he doesn’t mention how he knew this.
(When David invited his friend Mark to accompany him to “work,” his brother Rick Stanley had not yet informed him that he would not be needed, according to the stories told by both Stanley brothers. So how did David know prior to leaving Aurelia’s house that he would have a free afternoon with no work?)
Stanley: “My brother Ricky, Al Strada, and Joe Esposito were on the way when we arrived.” Recall that Rick Stanley was on duty from 12 midnight to 12 noon that day, so when David Stanley was arriving to work at noon, Rick Stanley should have already been there. He was on duty, after all, right? But David doesn’t say that, he says that Rick was “on the way.” “On the way” from where?
Joe Esposito writes in his own book that he arrived at Graceland at 12:30pm that day, and the Howard Johnson Motel where he was staying was just a mile up the road. How did David know that Strada and Esposito were “on the way” to Graceland? He doesn’t say.
Next, David tells us that Rick informed him that Elvis said he “didn’t want to be disturbed until around four o’clock.” When Rick told him this, David responded with a question: “Is Ginger with him?” Ricky nodded affirmatively, and with that David writes that, “We both knew what that meant – he had someone watching over him, so our services weren’t needed.”
Do you see what just happened here?
This is a smaller, more subtle form of the hit-job, the simple act of pointing in a direction just to get the reader looking in that direction. Elvis died during the shift of Rick Stanley, and David Stanley hung out with his friend (**we’ll address Aurelia’s claims soon) during his own shift, and yet by asking if Ginger is with Elvis he is shifting the focus elsewhere. That is, the illogical thinking goes, if Ginger is with him, Ginger is responsible for him, and whatever happens on Ginger’s watch is Ginger’s fault. Isn’t that the conventional wisdom these days in Elvis World?
The mere mention of Ginger’s name at this point in the narrative is the key.
While weak-minded folks might take the shiny object bait and get distracted, let’s keep an eye on what David Stanley is saying here: he is saying that since Ginger was in Elvis’s bedroom with him, then Ginger was responsible for Elvis’s well-being, health, medical care, and who knows what else. Was she also responsible for going to the pharmacy for a prescription? Making a sandwich? Getting something for Elvis at the store? Picking up a take-out order? Of course she wasn’t. That is what the aide-on-duty was for (or the household staff, depending), which tells us that even if Ginger were “watching over him” there were still jobs to be done should Elvis request anything. When Stanley writes, “Our services weren’t needed,” he is flat-out wrong (lying), and he is using this statement to separate himself from the events at Graceland that day. Again, this is a low-key deflection of responsibility from himself to Ginger, one of several tools in the toolbox of these “Ginger Did It!” people.
(Note that when Elvis asked Rick to go pick up an early morning prescription for Dilaudid, Rick did not respond, “Tell Ginger to get it.”)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Rick Stanley and David Stanley were supposed to cover two separate shifts that day, and both were absent from their posts. This is not to suggest they could have saved Elvis’s life. I point this out so that fans understand that these two aides should have been available should Elvis have needed them, and that it was not Ginger’s job to “watch over him.”
Note: Has anyone ever heard from Rick or David that since [insert name of pre-Ginger female companion or girlfriend here] was with Elvis, they were free to go do something else (shoot pool, shoot Demerol, etc.), while still being paid, and that their “services weren’t needed”? I haven’t. Seems like it’s only Ginger Alden who is assigned this burden.
To continue, David writes that he and Mark White went downstairs shortly after arriving at Graceland, while Strada and Esposito stayed upstairs working on tour tasks and such prior to the evening departure. Curious why some people were preparing for the tour, actually working, while others were zonked out on Demerol or shooting pool with a friend. Did David Stanley have no job responsibilities that day?
Stanley then writes that “about an hour later” Lisa and Amber (Ginger’s niece) came downstairs and told him that Elvis was sick. This would place the emergency call at ~1:00pm. David then asks Lisa, “Who’s with him?,” to which she responds, “Joe and Al are going up to see him now.” (What a question: “Who’s with him?,” asked by the person who is supposed to “be with him.”)
Has anyone ever heard of such an exchange between David and Lisa before reading it in this book? Where was Lisa in the house that she determined “Joe and Al” were “going up to see” Elvis? According to the official account, they did not go upstairs at the same time, so why did Lisa (according to David Stanley) say that they both went upstairs at the same time? And, does “Joe and Al are going up to see him now” sound like something a 9-year-old child would say?
Stanley: “I looked at Mark, knowing my workday was just about to begin.” Had it not already begun at noon? It is interesting, and perhaps a bit flippant to say, but I have seen David Stanley’s paychecks from this period of time, and not once was there a deduction for time not worked, i.e. the hours being adjusted and the pay being reduced. Was he allowed to ditch his job duties on a whim, and perhaps take a pay deduction, or were these guys on salary, and they got paid the same no matter how many hours they did drugs or played pool while on the clock…? Anyone ever see a paycheck for Ginger Alden, if she was “on duty” and expected to “watch” Elvis? Of course not. She wasn’t Elvis’s employee, they were. Anyway…
At this point, David knows Elvis is sick, and that two people have gone upstairs to attend to him. So what does he do? He offers his friend a ride home, down to Timothy Drive about ~2 minutes from Graceland, but in this 2016 account David doesn’t just drop Mark off, he goes inside the house. Why? Why on earth did Stanley drive his friend back to Aurelia’s house a half-mile away, and then enter the house…? Stanley then writes that he heard the “first wail” of the ambulance siren and it was at this point (when he was already in the house) that he realized he had to “get back there.” So, it was the siren that reminded him what was going on, not that Elvis was sick and was being attended to, while David was the aide on duty…?
Any idea why David had to drive Mark White back to Aurelia’s house? Couldn’t Mark have just walked there? It’s 10 minutes or so down the road.
Stanley then writes that he returned to Graceland and as he approached the gates (from the south), the ambulance turned into the driveway directly in front of him.
[Reminder, from 1986’s “Life With Elvis,” by David Stanley: After being alerted to the emergency by Lisa Marie and Amber, Stanley “suddenly realized that an ambulance was pulling into the Graceland driveway.” Here, Stanley is placing himself inside the house, in the pool room, at the time the ambulance arrived. Compare to Stanley’s 2016 account.]
Stanley notes that it was at this moment that he “felt that this could be serious.” He says that the ambulance “followed the circular drive around to the front,” while he went in the other direction towards the back of the house. If the ambulance video is accurate on this point, we have a conflict, since the ambulance is facing the opposite way as described here by Stanley (Nichopoulos also describes [by inference] the ambulance facing in this direction [north], which is opposite what we see in the AV). Stanley describes himself entering the house and running upstairs, then entering the bedroom “from one side” while the paramedics entered “on the other side” of the room. How would this have worked? There is one primary entrance to Elvis’s bedroom, and one entrance to the bathroom from the spare bedroom on the other side of the bathroom. What Stanley describes here makes no sense.
Stanley says that he looked towards the floor and saw that Charlie and Joe “had turned Elvis over.” At this point, then, we have Al, Charlie, Joe, Ginger, Vernon, and Sandy Miller in or around the room/area, and Stanley implies that they (Charlie and Joe) had just turned over the body. Really? What had they all been doing up to that point, then, while David was driving his friend home?
When the paramedics asked what was going on, Stanley says he replied, “Drug overdose.” Yet others present say it was Al Strada who said, “We think he OD’d.” Stanley then says he saw “Attack Pack” envelopes, pills, and empty syringes on the bathroom floor, which made him angry. This anger led David to think, “He had done this on purpose.” He reminds the reader that Elvis had allegedly, two days prior, said goodbye to him, suggesting that this goodbye now made sense.
Let’s think about this. Over all these years, the suicide theory has bounced around the Stanley family, popping up every decade or so, and here, in his 2016 book, David Stanley is resurrecting it again. In several online news items in the summer of 2016, Stanley pushed back on some reporting that he said took this specific claim out of context, but if we review the wording from the book, we can clearly see that this is not the case. From the book:
“I noticed empty syringes, and the only emotion that was penetrating my shock was a dull sense of anger. Damn him! He had done this on purpose. I knew that now. He had known that when he told me good-bye two days earlier. How could he do this to us?”
Here is what the reporting said on this statement, but nothing in this piece is presented out of context, nor can I even imagine how anyone can present the declarative statement, “He had done this on purpose,” out of context. The meaning of “out of context” is where someone takes a statement and leaves out or adds (or in some way changes) details that alter the meaning of the original, singular statement. Stanley writes in his book that in Elvis’s bathroom as Elvis lay dead on the floor, he found syringes and pills, and in seeing these items he realized that Elvis had committed suicide (according to his interpretation of the scene). He makes this very clear when he writes, “He had done this on purpose.” What else could Stanley have been referring to? If anyone has this book handy, go to page 304 and read it for yourself…is there any other meaning one could find here? Is there any other context that could misrepresent what Stanley was thinking? “He had done this on purpose.” “He” is Elvis, “this” is the death by drug overdose, and “on purpose” means with intent. “Elvis took these drugs to cause his own death with intent.” When David Stanley says that this was taken out of context and that this is not what he meant, he is using a form of gaslighting, where he is saying one thing, and then when you read it and understand its simple meaning, he turns around and tells you that you don’t understand what he said because he really said or meant something else. If I write “The car is red,” and you read this and conclude that the car is red, it would be a form of gaslighting if I then tell you that is not what I meant, and that you are taking my words out of context, and that the car is not red. Even though you have eyes and a brain and can understand simple language and concepts, you are being told you misunderstand the meaning; it’s not me who miswrote the claim, it’s you who doesn’t understand it.
Read it again: “He had done this on purpose.”
There is no other meaning. With this statement, even referring to a thought from 39 years prior, David Stanley is stating his belief that Elvis committed suicide. He cannot say it and then say he didn’t mean it, or that the readers are simply misunderstanding the meaning.
A similar article in The New York Post is here. In it, Stanley is quoted as saying that Elvis died of “a self-induced drug overdose.” This is not the article Stanley claims took his words out of context.
Is Stanley arguing that a “self-induced drug overdose” is not suicide, in contrast to a drug overdose that was self-induced but accidental? No, because he said the overdose was “on purpose.” There is only one reason to intentionally overdose on drugs. Here is Stanley’s Facebook post in response to this alleged “completely out of context” misinterpretation of his words:
Notice anything interesting about this post? One interesting thing about it, as presented in this article, is that Stanley does not, in fact, defend himself at all, nor does he explain how his words were taken “completely out of context.” Strange, huh? Was anything left out? No, the full post includes nothing about what was presented out of context. In the Facebook comments section, only one person asked about this (a handful of the others inexplicably criticize the media), and Stanley didn’t respond to the inquiry. So here is the bottom line: The NYP published an article that did not take David Stanley’s words about Elvis’s death out of context, David Stanley claimed they did take his words out of context, and then to “refute the articles [sic] content and delivery,” he ignored the topic and a specific inquiry. He says he’s refuting the article but he doesn’t refute it. And the fans bought it.
(And why is God dragged into this? Is God the Stanley cover for everything?)
Stanley writes that he was shoving pills and syringes into his pockets, since “this was still my job,” and he “wasn’t going to let him down.” Interesting. Ten minutes earlier he was downstairs shooting pool. I guess obstructing a possible police investigation was part of his job description.
Stanley writes that Elvis was wearing “pale green pajama pants.” Not yellow. Not blue. This time, it’s green.
Next, we have a claim that is very strange. Stanley writes that after Nichopoulos boarded the ambulance, he [Stanley] “slammed the ambulance door and slapped it, signaling that they were good to go,” but if we look at that brief section of the AV, we see that there are no film breaks there, and there is no one standing at the rear of the ambulance as it pulls away. Watch from 02:29 to 02:33…there’s no one there.
After the Billy Smith encounter, which I discuss elsewhere, Stanley then writes that as his car reached the end of the driveway he saw Dick Grob and Sam Thompson pulling in, unaware of what was happening. This runs counter to Grob’s claim that he was reached by phone at home and then went straight to Baptist Hospital.
The pronouncement of death supposedly occurred at ~3:30pm. David Stanley says he then left the hospital and upon getting in his car and leaving Baptist “reached down and turned on the radio,” at which time he heard a news report on Elvis’s death. This would have been a few minutes after the 3:30pm pronouncement of death. This is incongruent with the official account, as the death had not been publicly announced until ~4:00pm, or just after.
David says he drove to Baptist with Billy Smith. Upon his return to Graceland, he mentions the presence of a number of people in the house, including Sandy, Ginger, Lisa Marie, and several other relatives. He also mentions Billy Smith, and yet David previously said that Billy Smith had traveled with him, in his car, to Baptist just after the ambulance had left. Now, more than an hour later, he places Billy Smith amongst the relatives at Graceland. How did Billy Smith get back there?
To close, here we have yet another Stanley mish-mash of who, what, where, and when, and I see little reason for any of it other than to pander to the fans, and to push the responsibility of Elvis’s care over to Ginger Alden during the critical time period. (And, in this 2016 book, David Stanley writes that he believed/believes Elvis committed suicide. He said it, and he meant it, and he hasn’t denied it.) For years, these people have boasted about the care and protection they provided Elvis, and that Elvis had the greatest support staff in recorded history, but when push comes to shove, a 5.5-hour block of time has become so poisonous that Every. Single. One. Of. Them. has disavowed any responsibility for Elvis’s care and support, that day and for the time immediately prior. And several of these folks continue to praise themselves for the excellent care they provided Elvis. How much longer are the fans going to buy this nonsense?
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