The King of Rock n Roll and the King of Kings
Today is the 38th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the singer, I can remember where I was when hearing the news about him passing away. My family and I were at a Neil Sedaka concert in Fargo, North Dakota. Neil announced from the stage Elvis died that afternoon and then sang his composition “Solitaire” (a hit by the Carpenters but also sung by Elvis) as a dedication to the late singer.
Elvis was often referred to as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll” or simply “The King,” a title he repeatedly resisted. Having been raised in an Assembly of God church, Elvis often declared there’s only one King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Early in his career, Elvis confessed to his pastor, the Reverend James Hamill:
“Pastor, I am the most miserable young man you have ever seen. I have got more money than I can ever spend. I have thousands of fans out there, and I have a lot of people who call themselves my friends, but I am miserable. I am not doing a lot of things you taught me, and I am doing some things that you taught me not to do. But no matter what I do, I don’t forget about God. I feel He’s watching every move I make. And in a way it’s good for me. I’ll never feel easy smoking a cigarette. I just don’t think those things are right for me…I just want to let a few people know that the way I live is by doing what I think God wants me to. I want someone to understand.” (From, Last Train to Memphis, Peter Guralnick, Back Bay books)
Although Elvis strayed from the faith somewhat by dabbling in other spiritual practices, he never forgot his Christian roots as he recorded many gospel albums. It’s noteworthy that apart from a Lifetime Achievement award, the only Grammys won by Elvis were for his gospel recordings.
It’s sad Elvis is still idolized so much in American culture. However, I know one man who is using that for good. Bruno Bigsley performs as an Elvis impersonator but uses it as a way to share his faith in Jesus. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
It will be interesting to see Elvis praising the Lord on the streets of gold. I’m sure he isn’t singing “Heartbreak Hotel” from his heavenly mansion.
“Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth.” - Psalm 96:1