It’s been roughly 40 years since Elvis Presley’s death, so you’d think everybody would know everything about the King by now: his loved his mama, he loved weird food, he died on the toilet, and as an aside, sang some of the greatest songs of all time. But there’s a lot more about Elvis that often goes unreported, and much of casts him in a less-than-flattering light. Which is probably why you never hear about it.
He never wrote anything, and barely played the guitar
Nobody sees Elvis as a Dylan-esque songwriting genius, but you’d be shocked to know he literally wrote nothing. Despite being credited on ten songs as a co-writer, Elvis never contributed anything past the odd title here and there (he apparently thought of the phrase “all shook up” after a bad dream, and then somebody else turned that into a song. The “co-writer” credits were simply there for publicity, and the man himself admitted as much. In a 1957 interview for Dig magazine, Elvis confessed “I never wrote a song in my life…I’ve never even had an idea for a song.” In that same interview, he also told the world that, despite walking around with a guitar and strumming it during it during concert, he couldn’t actually play. To him, it was simply a “brace,” not to mention a good-looking prop that made him look more competent and musical than he really was. Oh, the things you could get away with before the Internet.
He was a gun nut
Elvis loved shooting things almost as much as Elmer Fudd did. He was a humongous gun nut, and collected enough of them to fund his own militia. By the time he died in 1977, he owned close to 40 handguns, countless rifles, and even a machine gun. Just in case the guys from “Jailhouse Rock” broke out and went on a rampage, apparently. By the ’70s, he had grown paranoid enough to bring guns with him on stage, though thankfully never the machine gun. Instead, he would regularly stuff two small guns into his boots, just in case someone in the crowd got too rowdy. To Elvis’s credit, he followed the concealed-carry law to the letter, filling out legal forms for every gun he owned. To his lack of credit, he evidently saw them as mere toys. As recounted by the Daily Mail, singer Tom Jones visited Elvis’s dressing room, only to find a loaded Colt .45 automatic pistol just laying there in the King’s bathroom. He wrapped it in a towel and gingerly gave it to Elvis, who nonchalantly responded with “aww s*** man, ma’ .45.” We panic more when we leave our phone in the bathroom, never mind a potential murder weapon.
He regularly impersonated police officers
As just about everybody knows, it’s illegal to impersonate a cop outside of costume parties. It’s DEFINITELY illegal to pull people over and pretend to give out tickets. But Elvis did both, and quite regularly, too. He loved the police and law enforcement, but was too busy being a rock star to become an actual cop (either that, or he was simply unwilling to give up peanut butter and nanner sandwiches to properly train). So instead, according to Priscilla Presley in her book Elvis, By The Presleys, he would slap a police siren on his car, don one of the many fake badges he had accumulated over the years, pull speeders over, and tell them something like, “son, you were speeding. Just want to warn you to slow down.” And then, he would give them a ticket that was actually an autograph, not that that made pulling people over under the guise of “I am the law” any less wrong. If only he had spent less time cosplaying as Barney Fife, and more time learning to play guitar and write music.
He fancied extremely young girls
Simply put, Elvis was a pedophile. According to Alanna Nash’s book Baby, Let’s Play House: Elvis And His Women, Presley was shockingly insecure about his sexuality, manhood, and self-worth. So he often found himself intimidated by older women, who might judge him for the Mama’s-boy man-child he basically was. To get around that, he almost exclusively dated young girls, who were too naive and inexperienced in life to realize their famous lover’s many, many flaws. Of his many sexual conquests, the vast majority were no older than 15, which even in Elvis’s time was incredibly illegal. Not that he cared—perhaps he himself was too naive to realize what he was doing. After all, this is a man who once asked the mother of a 14-year-old girl he liked if she could move to Graceland with him. As he reasoned, “”I just want to raise her…I want her there as my wife.” No, nothing creepy about that at all!
He was obsessed with James Dean
As you’ve probably gathered by now, when Elvis liked something (young teens, guns, the police) he really liked it. Add actor James Dean to that list, a man Elvis was apparently quite obsessed with. Basically, Elvis wanted to be taken seriously as an actor, but his turns in such cinematic masterpieces as Tickle Me, Fun In Acapulco, and Kissin’ Cousins just wasn’t making that possible. So, using true Elvis logic, he began studying James Dean’s films, memorizing all his lines, and doing everything he could to become as great an actor as Dean. This—and once again, blame Elvis logic—involved stalking Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause costar, Natalie Wood. He began dating her, apparently thinking that if he slept with the same woman that Dean did, he might magically gain his thespian superpowers. Sadly, before these powers could take root in Presley’s DNA, Elvis’s mother went all mama grizzly on Wood and scared her away. It’s like she wanted her son to make Girl Happy II: Girl Happier.
His manager forced the ‘womanizer’ image on him for profit
Elvis might have dated countless girls, but it was at least partially because his manager wanted him to. Colonel Tom Parker was tireless in marketing Elvis as the ultimate ladies man, and the idea that Elvis might finally find The One was a nightmarish thought, indeed. Parker’s control over Elvis’s love life was never more evident than in 1956, when Elvis’s girlfriend, June Juanico, told reporters she was his steady. Immediately, Parker sought to squash the news, having Elvis “confess” to a reporter from the Miami Daily News, “I got about 25 girls I date regular.” Don’t worry, ladies, Elvis wants you to know there’s still hope. You too can be one of the 25, but you have to buy a ticket to his show if you want a shot!
We’re guessing Elvis’s fetish for illegal barely-teen sex didn’t exactly tickle Parker’s fancy, but if it meant his charge wasn’t destroying his career with monogamy, he was likely willing to look the other way. After all, the more money he made, the easier it would be to bail the King out if the law ever decided to treat him like a regular person.
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