This is Part 2 of last Sunday’s Tales of Rock – The King’s Obsession – Part 1
Often these star-struck youngsters were distraught that their idol had not tried to go further and Raphael had the job of letting them down gently.
‘I’d say: “He’ll call you again.” Of course he never did, but with some of the younger ones he’d be like the tooth fairy, slipping hundred-dollar bills into their school books.’
Even in those more innocent times, it seems remarkable that the girls’ parents allowed them to attend such unorthodox sleepovers. But they were as won over as their daughters by Presley’s huge celebrity and charming southern manners.
As his friend Joe Esposito recalled: ‘Elvis could talk anyone, particularly women, into anything.’
This plausibility would prove vital in his wooing of Priscilla, the U.S. serviceman’s daughter he met in Germany during his national service.
It’s well documented that Priscilla was only 14 when she was introduced to Presley by an airman named Currie Grant. But this first encounter was far from the chaste affair that Colonel Parker had the world believe.
After meeting Priscilla at a club for service families, Grant took her to meet Presley at his home in the town of Bad Nauheim, near Frankfurt. Petite, dark-haired and with deep-set blue eyes, she was his ideal woman, not least because she reminded him of his mother Gladys in her youth.
‘Elvis jumped up like he was sitting on a hot plate,’ recalled Grant. ‘I had never seen him react to any girl like that.’
According to Grant, Presley soon had Priscilla ‘backed up against the wall, kissing her’. At 8.30pm he took her up to his bedroom and they did not emerge again until 1.30am, when it was time for Grant to take her home.
As their nights together continued, Priscilla’s concerned parents asked to meet Presley. Unaware that he had boasted to an army friend that he could ‘train her up any way I want’, they were instantly charmed by their daughter’s new boyfriend.
Indeed, he was encouraged to see Priscilla by her mother Ann. She had long dreamed of a career in show business and perhaps believed that some of Presley’s star dust might rub off on her.
Elvis and Priscilla with baby Lisa-Marie. Once his wife was pregnant, Elvis no longer wanted to have intimate relations with her, a book claims.
While Presley assured the Beaulieus that he and Priscilla just played music together as they spent hours hidden away in his bedroom, they both admitted many years later that they had full intercourse at this time.
Bizarrely, Presley convinced himself Priscilla remained a virgin because he would stop himself continuing their love-making just before the vital moment. This vaguest of notions of her purity was key if he was to continue finding her attractive, but he considered himself free to see other women as he pleased.
Back in the U.S. in March 1960, with his military service over and Priscilla pining for him in Germany, Presley started work on his next film, GI Blues. He also began dating Sandy Ferra, the 14-year-old daughter of a nightclub owner in Los Angeles.
Chaperoned everywhere by her mother Mary Lou, 25-year-old Presley got no further than kissing Sandy – so passionately that her face was red raw – but he had other intentions. One night he asked Mary Lou if she and her daughter would consider moving to his new mansion, the soon-to-be-legendary Graceland, where he would ‘raise’ Sandy as his future wife.
Sandy’s father vetoed the idea, but Presley had a back-up plan in Priscilla. In 1963, when she was 17, he convinced her parents that she should continue her education at a convent school in the U.S., living with him at Graceland on the understanding that they would one day marry.
Unaware that an identical offer had been made to another family only three years previously, the Beaulieus agreed, and so Priscilla began a strange new life in Memphis.
‘I was a prim and proper schoolgirl by day and Elvis’s girlfriend by night,’ she recalled.
Still determined Priscilla should be a virgin when they married, Presley continued with his bizarre definition of what constituted love-making. But this did not stop him capturing his fantasies on Polaroid – photographing Priscilla as she seduced him in her school uniform, or pretending to be her teacher.
Eventually these role-play sessions extended to simulated lesbian sex with another girl, a hairdresser Presley knew. To keep Priscilla awake during these long, late-night sessions, he began giving her the amphetamines to which he was addicted, ignoring the fact that she had to get up for school the next morning.
Slowly Presley turned Priscilla into a doll-like version of his ideal woman – with a giant beehive hairdo and heavy eye make-up – the look he had encouraged Frances Forbes and her little friends in Memphis to want.
‘I was someone he created,’ she said. ‘I was just a kid and I was consumed by him. All I desired was not to disappoint him.’
Beloved: Elvis was close to his mother Gladys, centre, pictured weeping as he left for Fort Chaffee.
For Priscilla, the greatest fear was that Presley would leave her for another woman. Soon after moving into Graceland, she heard he was seeing Ann-Margret Olsson, 22, his glamorous co-star in Viva Las Vegas.
In a child-like attempt to win back his affection, she began styling her hair like Ann-Margret’s and copying her dance moves from the film.
‘She’d stand in front of a mirror cussing Ann-Margret and all the time trying to be as much like her as possible,’ recalled Jo Smith, wife of Presley’s cousin Billy. ‘It was pitiful.’
At one point, Presley was dating five women including Priscilla. Given that he had proposed to Ann-Margret, it’s doubtful whether he ever intended to marry Priscilla, but in 1967 his hand was forced by his ever-controlling manager Colonel Parker.
Fearful that rumours of the singer’s reckless drug use would reach the studios, he decided that a wedding would reinforce his image as a purveyor of family values.
Priscilla hoped that the marriage would stop Presley’s philandering and make him commit to her, but in fact it achieved exactly the opposite.
She conceived their daughter Lisa Marie on honeymoon in Palm Springs but, as soon as Presley realised she was pregnant, his sexual interest in her disappeared. He was first attracted to Priscilla as a virgin and her pregnancy was proof this was no longer the case.
This made little sense outside of Presley’s own drug-addled mind, but it spelled the end of the marriage, although not his interest in much younger women.
In 1974, just two years after their divorce, he began seeing 14-year-old Reeca Smith, a friend of his stepbrother Ricky Stanley.
According to Smith, that relationship lasted only a few months and never went beyond ‘sweet, innocent kisses’. It ended when she became worried about the drug use that had bloated his body and contributed to the heart attack that eventually killed him in August 1977.
He left behind not just millions of grieving fans, but Lisa Marie, the daughter whose own love life would later link the Presley name with another of music’s murkiest legacies.
In 1994, Lisa Marie married Michael Jackson, just as he faced allegations of child molestation with the involvement of complicit parents. History, it seemed, was repeating itself.
I’m stunned by all of this. I always loved Elvis and I am struggling with who he really was now.
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