Graceland upstairs: Elvis kept his room ‘so dark and freezing you could hang meat in it’ | Music | Entertainment


This year marks some big anniversaries for Elvis Presley as the film’s biopic premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week. Not only has it been almost 45 years since the king died, but also 40 years since his home in Graceland – where he died upstairs on the toilet – was opened to the public as a museum. To this day, at the request of her daughter Lisa Marie Presley, the floor remains off limits as it was the star’s private space.

When Elvis first moved into Graceland in 1957, he immediately had a privacy wall installed on the upstairs landing with one-way mirrors for safety.

The mansion had an open door policy for its Memphis Mafia, however, the inner circle would have to be personally invited upstairs to its safe haven.

Up there, in this mysterious space, are his bedroom, his office and the bathroom where he died on August 16, 1977.

To this day, the space is meticulously preserved by Graceland archivist Angie Marchese, who admits the bed is made and even a styrofoam cup still sits on a shelf. She said, “It’s like he just got up and left.”

Amid mountains of books on religion and spirituality sits a record player that still has Elvis’ last vinyl playing before his death at 42, a new demo by JD Sumner and the Stamps. Two days after his death, they would sing at his funeral.

Aside from the few people who have special permission to go up to Graceland, there are surviving members of the Memphis mob who spent hours with the king in his bedroom.

One couple is Jo and Billy Smith, the latter being Elvis’ first cousin who knew him even before he became famous.

During a Q&A on their son Danny’s YouTube channel, Memphis Mafia Kid, they were asked if it was true that Elvis liked his dark, cool bedroom.

Billy and Jo spent many nights in bed with Elvis and his 1970s girlfriend, Linda Thompson.

There they watched television, told stories, and discussed spirituality and paranormal activity like UFOs.

At the end of their time together, in the early hours of the morning, they all held hands and said, “Christ love, Christ life, Christ peace.”

For Elvis, it was a special chant of protection for his Memphis Mafia entourage and himself.


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